Chemical Sunscreen Smackdown

For the best in cosmetic elegance and invisibility, you simply can’t beat chemical sunscreens. They’re light on the skin, smooth to apply, and don’t leave you looking like Casper the ghost. They’re not without downsides, though. Chemical sunscreens always tend to be a bit volatile in formulation, so this is one product that will expire, oxidize, and stop working. The chemicals in these sunscreens also tend to irritate skin and give you a nice pre-sunburn red flush.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 60

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This amazing sunscreen spent a long time in France before it was approved for release in the USA. Maybe they were trying to stave off the competition, because this sunscreen is the holy grail. It goes on matte, doesn’t flake under makeup, and lasts all day even in the Florida heat and humidity. There’s nothing particularly special about the active ingredient mix; the trick seems to be the method and proportion of the formulation. La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid does what most chemical sunscreens do, but it does it better.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 100

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You won’t find a more elegant formulation with this high of SPF than Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch. I used this daily to protect my skin barrier when it was heavily damaged by harsh prescription products. The feeling is so clean and lightweight and it truly is dry to the touch. There is one major hangup with this product: you can’t use it under clothes. It has a volatile avobenzone mix and tends to leave orange stains on fabric.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50

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Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence is in a class of its own; it’s the only sunscreen on the market with a watery gel consistency. The gel has a milky pearl-like appearance and quickly goes on clear. It appears to work just as well as traditional formulas, though sometimes I wonder if something so lightweight is actually protecting my skin. There are no downsides to this product other than it has to be bought online and the price fluctuates wildly.

What chemical sunscreens help protect your skin in the summer?

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