Tuesday, 4 August 2015

SPF - the prep post


I thought I'd round up the SPF posts into groups - by brands - otherwise it will be wayyyyy too long a post. With the best will in the world I could never write one post for body and one for face. There are just too many options. I'll try to give a very brief overview of the products I particularly rate based on the questions I am asked the most often, rather than going in-depth into ingredients.
If you think of any other key points you would like covered, leave a comment and I'll add them in if there is enough demand. If you have any questions I'll try and answer them below the individual SPF product post but you may have to go directly to the brands for specifics.
And please - Don't shoot the messenger people!
Some of you want 'natural'/'physical (which is a chemical but whatevs), some want chemical, I'll try and dish up ones that I actually think are great no matter what the category. And I'm just going to bang them out as quickly as I can, not just once a day - because you know - AUGUST ALREADY.

I'm breaking them up into beach/city and face/body, but that doesn't mean that you can't use a beach SPF year-round in London - it just means there may be something more suited to that specification - if that makes sense.

I thought I would double-check the most-requested questions before I kick off tomorrow so if there is something not covered below leave me a comment and I can add it in. Ooh so organised!

General things to bear in mind:


  • I pay very little attention to the scare-mongering of the EWG. If you love them, great, crack on, but I don't use the words 'toxic' when it comes to products. It's a nonsense.
  • Always apply SPF at least 20 minutes before going outside unless otherwise stated.
  • Always apply last after moisturiser, before makeup - unless otherwise stated.
  • PPD, however useful, is very rarely mentioned by brands, but I'll see what I can find out.
  • Some typical UVA protecting ingredients (not exclusive):

    • MEXORYL SX- also known as ECAMSULE or TEREPHTHALYLIDENE DICAMPHOR SULFONIC ACID-
    • MEXORYL XL- also known as DROMETRIZOLE TRISILOXANE
    • TINOSORB S- also known as BEMOTRIZINOL or BIS-ETHYLHEXYLOXYPHENOL METHOXYPHENYLTRIAZINE
    • TINOSORB M- also known as BISOCTRIZOLE or METHYLENE BIS-BENZOTRIAZOLYL TETRAMETHYL BUTYLPHENOL
    • AVOBENZONE- also known as BUTYL METHOXYDIBENZOYL METHANE
    Some typical UVB protecting ingredients (not exclusive):
    • PADIMATE O
    • OCTINOXATE
    • OCTISALATE
    • OCTOCRYLENE
    • ENSULIZOLE
    • HOMOSALATE - also known as 3,3,5-TRIMETHYL- SALICYLATE CYCLOHEXANOL; 3,3,5-TRIMETHYLCYCLOHEXYL 2-HYDROXYBENZOATE; 3,3,5-TRIMETHYLCYCLOHEXYL SALICYLATE; 
    Both UVA and UVB:

    OXYBENZONE - also known as Benzophenone-3 or 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone

    Physical - UVA and UVB:
    ZINC OXIDE
    TITANIUM DIOXIDE

    Broad Spectrum? UVA symbol (in EU)?

    Physical or chemical?

    SPF active ingredients (in order of %)?

    Cream/gel/spray/oil?

    White/ash residue on darker skins?

    Absorbs well even at high SPF?

    Potential to block pores based on the above?:

    Works under makeup?

    Does it leave you shiny?

    Is it sticky?

    Contains fragrance?

    Suitable for all skin types?

    Water resistant/waterproof/sweat resistant?

    Antioxidants/any skin benefits?

    Price?

    43 comments:

    1. This may be filed under cream/gel/spray/oil, but what about the finish once on skin? Powdery, primer-like (slippery), etc?

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    2. I know it's not here, but best for redness without make up :)

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      1. This would be great. I have mild rosacea and very sensitive skin. I'm trying to find a non-irritating SPF that won't flare up my skin and rosacea and make the redness worse. I don't wear make-up everyday, just concealer when the redness is awful. It just feels too sore a lot of the time to put make-up on it. Thank you :)

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      2. I have really bad rosacea and I swear by la Roche posay sp50 I've never had a bad reaction to it and sits great under make up

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      3. Hi I have really bad rosacea and I swear by la Roche posay sp50 I've never had a bad reaction to it and sits great under make up

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    3. Hi Caroline, great idea, much needed series of posts! Thank you for such a thorough approach to the subject. Would be nice to know if each product contains silicones. Looking forward to it!

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    4. Some SPF are so irritating on my eyes. I am careful about about not applying too close to my eyes because I wear sunglasses. But somehow some product does tend to migrate there. It would be helpful to point out if an SPF is irritating on the eyes. But other than that I think you've covered all the bases. I'm so looking forward to your next post.

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      1. Yes, me too. Do we really need a separate sunscreen for the eye area such as Clinique or Skinceuticals sell? We're all different sensitivities, of course, but it would be great to know which ones in general we could slap on the eye area (including lid). Right now I use an SPF concealer and good sunglasses.

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      2. Not exactly what you're asking, but... Clarins used to make a fantastic sunscreen just for the eyes, and of course they discontinued it. It never irritated my very irritation-prone, contact wearing eyes (I've since given up on contacts and switched over completely to glasses, but the Clarins never bothered me.) Skinceuticals also makes one just for around the eyes but I haven't tried it, so I don't know if it's as gentle as the Clarins was. Very few companies seem to make eye-specific sunscreen, which is a bummer for those of us with sensitive peepers.

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      3. The new Kiehls one for the eyes is amazing. It has some coverage, vit c, and spf 30 :)

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    5. Hi Caroline, don't know if my other comment went through, and if it did, I'm sorry for the reposting! Some new sunscreens contain Retinyl Palmitate (Peter Thomas Roth) or glycolic acid (Dennis Gross). I was of the opinion that these make the skin sun-sensitive, so is it ok for us to use sunscreens with these ingredients? Thank you!

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    6. I'd like your take on the nanoparticle debate with physical sunscreens, and if there is any cause for concern, which of the physical ss listed contain nanoparticles. I'm not losing sleep over it or anything, but I hear it brought up so often, especially referring to titanium dioxide. Cannot wait for this series! Thanks so much for it.

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      1. Same here! I remember reading Dr Marko Lens saying he wouldn't feel comfortable using nano technology on children but I would love to know the reasons why and if that also applies to adults. Nearly every sunscreen I look at says it uses nano. Also, Dr Lens says he favours chemical while I believe I read Dr Bunting recommends (I think I read on her blog, please shoot me down if I'm totally wrong here) physical... Such a minefield! I don't mind using physical or chemical, nano or not, I just want to feel confident that I'm using the best possible product to protect against increase risks of cancer!
        Thanks so much for tackling this, Caroline!

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    7. Brilliant approach. I'd also like to know whether the brand reviewed tests on animals. Thank you for your very helpful blog, I am looking forward to this post.

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    8. Brilliant approach. I'd also like to know whether the brand reviewed tests on animals. Thank you for your work, your blog posts are so helpful.

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    9. I can't wait!
      I wear SPF daily for ant-aging benefits, I just want you to tell me what to buy! lol
      Although I think the EH prep and prime is going to be my next purchase...

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    10. Yes! My sensitive skin doesn't tolerate any spf ingredients except for titanium dioxide - not even zinc, so looking forward to this. Thank you Caroline!

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    11. Which layers well under makeup and how does one reapply multiple times per day when working and wearing a face full of makeup?

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      1. I was going to ask the exact same thing. I currently use Peter Thomas Roth mineral sunscreen over my makeup during the day. Do you recommend this? If not please could you suggest something in its place? :-) xx

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    12. My skin is acne-prone and sensitive and unfortunately a lot of sunscreens have made it worse (even if I don't wear any make up on top), so it would be great if you could recommend any sunscreens you think would be good. Really appreciate the time you put into these posts :)

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    13. What about Heliocare? From a usability, price and results perspective, it's one of the best face sunblocks this particular household has tried, and we've tried a bucket load. Not sure what the verdict is on it by the cognoscenti. Would love to know if it is considered a worthy contender

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    14. Been looking through all your posts for recommendations as I'm travelling around SE Asia next year and wanted some guidance on what facial sunscreen to take with me... Yay! Perfect timing. Any particularly good ones for a very freckley, oily-skinned person would be welcomed with open... Pores?! Haha. Really looking forward to the post. x

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    15. I've got rush after the very first application of Physical Protectant SPF 45 by Jan Marni, and didn't get any after applying of Skin Ceuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50. What's the difference between these two?
      And - is it necessary to put sun-screen under eyes?

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    16. You can find PPD in the spanish brand Singuladerm

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    17. Been looking through all your posts for recommendations as I'm travelling around SE Asia next year and wanted some guidance on what facial sunscreen to take with me... Yay! Perfect timing. Any particularly good ones for a very freckley, oily-skinned person would be welcomed with open... Pores?! Haha. Really looking forward to the post. x

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    18. What is the shelf life of the SPF in products? Does it last indefinitely or does it loose its effectiveness over time? By the way, I've only just 'discovered' you Caroline, but I am loving the wealth of information on your blog and am very grateful for it. Thanks!

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      1. 12 months after you first opened it

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    19. Would love to know what brands are good for everyday SPF that also work well under make up/don't cause irritations etc. Also interested to find out what % SPF you should be wearing for every day. Thank you for tackling this confusing subject! X

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    20. The only thing I look at in a sunscreen is - will it make me look greasy (I have oily skin already)? and does it work? If the sunscreen does those two things, then I don't care whether it is chemical/natural/ or any of that other stuff as I am not eating it.

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    21. I'm really looking forward to these posts! I would also be keen to know about sunscreens which are non-comedogenic too. Thanks!

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    23. Which sun block is the best for protecting against age spots/ pigmentation? I am in my late 40s and I started getting age spots on my face for about 5-7 years every summer during my holiday. Whatever product I use it does not help. It seems that if I hide my face all the time it make things even worse (I use spf as well and I reapply it often), as when I swim I get some reflection from the water and the pigmentation looks like dirty spots on my lower part of the face. What is next? Do I have to wear burka?

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    24. Please recommend a sunscreen with spf 30+ that offers a nice velvety finish/won't make me sticky/shiny, for those of us who don't wear make-up on a daily basis! :) Been searching for yeeeears!

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      1. Try Skinceuticals or Medik8 Physical sunscreen or EltaMD's range

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    25. Apologies if an answer is floating around the blog somewhere, but do you have any product recommendations for those with sun damaged skin? I know the ultimate answer is to not get burned like an idiot in the first place, duh. But unfortunately my teenage rebellion was paired with years of abusing my skin under the sun (including tanning beds, eek!) because I thought my fair skinned, freckled, blue-eyed self needed to somehow catch up with my bronze goddess friends in order to have any sort of self esteem. I did have two standout terrible burns on my face, especially my nose that have really left it with an odd texture, even 10 years on.

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    26. I'm desperate for an SPF that works under makeup. I've tried a million of them and they all flake when I'm applying foundation. I end up having to remove everything and start again without the SPF which is very bad I know.

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    27. What do you make of the Asian brands and their high protection 'watery essences'?

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    28. I can't wait for the posts to be online! Yay! The questions above is good enough for me :)

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    29. Apparently the Asian market has some brilliant spf 50 products for the face...have you ever used them? I'm willing to turn to eBay or Asian retailers in the US to buy them if they are really that good..

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    30. Would love to know if any are kind to perorial (is that how you spell it?! Oops) dermatitis. Scared to put some on, but scared not too! Thanks flower X

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    31. Hi Caroline,
      Could you please recommend the best sunscreens (that can be used on a daily basis and under makeup) for pregnant women? My favourite one was Armani Luminessence BB fluid SPF50/PA+++ but the second ingredient on the list is ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate which, based on the information found on the internet, should not be used during pregnancy.
      Btw any post on pregnancy skincare more than welcome :)

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    32. My main problem is finding a moisturiser/SPF combo which doesn't make me feel like my skin is suffocating! Please, please find me a product which can help! Your advice is always worth reading. Thanks so much for all the info on the blog.

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    33. I know that PA+ measures UVA protection but how many "+"s are sufficient protection?

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