Additional sunscreen successes and failures

I’m on a plane headed to Alaska on vacation. So exciting! I have a lot of flight hours ahead of me, though, so I am going to take advantage of this time to compose some webpage posts. Sunscreen might not be the most obvious subject for me to write about when I’m headed for a less than tropical destination (I’m looking forward to some cooler weather now that summer has arrived in LA), but I wanted to share my recent experiences before too much time passes. (Speaking of which, I still need to finish a post I’ve been working on about my amazing trip to Hawaii in June, but that might have to wait until I get back from my current vacation. I’m just traveling all over the country this summer!) I’ve combined my latest two sunscreen experiments into a single post for brevity and to avoid boring my faithful readers (all two of you) too much!

Sunscreen experiment #14: Bare Republic Mineral Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
After my overwhelming success with the Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 I was eager to try the “sport” version of this sunscreen. Usually when brands market different varieties for face vs. body they are extremely similar products, so I was expecting something light and comfortable when I slathered the sport sunscreen on my arms and legs for a trip to Disneyland. Unfortunately I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was thick, sticky, and hard to apply. Not greasy like some other sunscreens, but not as pleasant as the face variety. What a disappointment. However, since it’s a mineral sunscreen my skin was very well protected all morning at Disneyland. At least it was effective in that respect. But despite that point in its favor, I’m adding this one to the growing list of sunscreens that have failed to meet my high expectations!

Sunscreen experiment #15: Coola Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish
After exhausting the cheaper Coola sunscreen options (Bare Naturals) I turned back to the original brand for inspiration. If the “cheaper” face sunscreen was so amazing, might the more expensive alternative be just as good? Way back in sunscreen experiment #8 I tried one of Coola’s mineral sport sunscreens with mixed results. It definitely provided superior sun protection, but it felt sticky on my skin. Not ideal. This time around I ordered a tube of the mineral face sunscreen from the Coola website. Once again, I used this stuff on my face, arms, and legs for a trip to Disneyland. The cucumber scent smelled pretty good which was a major plus, and it felt light and powdery on my skin during application. So far, so good! However I noticed something funny when I used it on my face. If I rubbed the same area too much I started to see white flakes forming. Very annoying. It didn’t look very good, but I just shrugged my shoulders hoped not to see anyone I knew at Disneyland that day. Luckily I didn’t notice the same problem with flaking on my arms and legs, even later in the day. As another test I also used this sunscreen at the OC Fair 5K last weekend and it worked great (since I wasn’t exactly concerned with my appearance during the race!). So this sunscreen isn’t a complete loss! I will definitely continue using it, especially on my arms and legs.

Sunscreen experiment #13

I’m kicking off this year’s sunscreen experiments with a positive review! About a week ago I was perusing the sunscreen aisle at Target, as I usually do when it looks like summer is imminent, and I saw something new. It was called Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (the untinted version). I was initially drawn to it because it was a mineral rather than a chemical sunscreen, which I generally prefer. Luckily a lot more companies are coming out with “natural” options that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which makes my fair skin and me very happy. Unfortunately most of these mineral sunscreens have turned out to be thick and gooey, make my skin feel sticky, and leave a ghostly white cast on even my pale skin. But I keep trying them, looking for a diamond in the rough! One of the reasons I picked up the Bare Republic sunscreen is because it’s made by Coola. Back in 2013 I tried Coola Sport Mineral Citrus Mimosa Sunscreen (SPF 35) with mixed results, but it did have one thing going for it – no yucky sunscreen smell! That benefit was enough for me to take home a tube of the Bare Republic sunscreen (which seems to be Coola’s less expensive drugstore line) and give it a try. I first used it on my face and neck when I went to Disneyland yesterday. And it was great! Initially I was skeptical because the sunscreen is more liquid than cream, which I wasn’t expecting, and my skin didn’t absorb it quickly. But after about a half hour my face was powdery soft with a surprisingly flattering matte finish. No greasy or shiny skin? I was sold! And the best part was that I spent about three hours at Disneyland with no hint of a tan. Very promising. Then this morning I gave the sunscreen a bit tougher challenge – the LA Galaxy 5K. June Gloom abandoned us today so it was hot and sunny at 9 AM when the race started. I wasn’t sure if the Bare Republic was going to do well in this particular environment, I slathered it on my face, arms, and legs this time to put it to the test. And it worked great! There wasn’t much shade on the course so I sweated profusely during the race, and the sunscreen didn’t get sticky or run in my eyes. It was a brilliant success! I will definitely be taking the Bare Republic sunscreen with me to Hawaii in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait!

Sunscreen experiment #7 revisited

Aveeno Protect + Hydrate SPF 30 has become my go-to sunscreen for days at Disneyland. As I mentioned in my previous review of this product, it’s one of the only options I’ve tried that doesn’t have that distinctive sunscreen smell that makes your nose wrinkle. This sunscreen actually smells pretty good. And since I get up really early the mornings I go to Disneyland, slathering my body with something that isn’t an assault on the senses is a definite plus. I hate when my clothes and skin reek of sunscreen all day, so this Aveeno is ideal. And it seems to do a good job protecting me from the sun, despite its lack of mineral sunscreens. I’ve worn it quite a few times to Disneyland this summer, mostly hot and sunny days, and I haven’t gotten any noticeable sun on my arms or legs. My only complaint about this otherwise excellent product is that it makes my skin a bit sticky. Granted, a moisturizing sunscreen is beneficial to my Accutane-parched skin these days, but the Aveeno is still a little too much for even my dry skin to absorb. But the pros outweigh the cons so for now I’m sticking to the Aveeno Protect + Hydrate for Disneyland weekends. As always, though, the search continues for the perfect sunscreen.

Sunscreen experiments #11 and #12

Sunscreen experiment #11 – LaRoche-Posay Anthelios SPF 40 Sunscreen Cream

Last year two of the most successful sunscreens I tried were from the Anthelios line (see experiment #1 and experiment #5), so after a couple of failed experiments so far this summer I broke down and ordered some more products from their website. This time I went for a couple of the mineral sunscreen options. The Accutane I’ve been taking for a while has made my skin much more sensitive to the sun which I think is why I’ve gotten burned while wearing some other sunscreens. At this point I’ve decided that I should only rely on titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to protect my skin. Unfortunately the first new option I tried wasn’t that great. LaRoche-Posay Anthelios SPF 40 sunscreen is a cream rather than the liquid I like so much, but I figured I’d give it a try. Unfortunately, unlike the liquid varieties, it’s thick, a bit sticky, and very white. Anyone even slightly less pale than I am would look silly wearing it. And I discovered that this sunscreen is not sweat-friendly either. During a warm morning at Disneyland a couple of weeks ago my skin started to feel pretty gross. Strike this one off the list!

Sunscreen experiment #12 – LaRoche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid

I think we may have a winner. Minerals? Check. Liquid? Check. Everything I’m looking for? Check! I first tried the LaRoche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid when I ran the Huntington Beach July 4th 5K last week and it worked really well when the sun and heat started getting to me. Let’s face it, no sunscreen is ideal when you’re dripping sweat, but this stuff was actually bearable. I was impressed. And then, a couple of days later, I used this sunscreen to protect my arms during a sunny morning at Disneyland. It worked great! It felt light on my skin and it didn’t leave a pasty white layer on my skin. It’s perhaps slightly stickier than the non-mineral varieties, but still leaps and bounds more comfortable than anything else I’ve tried. The only downside is that the Anthelios brand comes with a hefty price tag (and it’s hard to find in stores), but I’m willing to pay (and order from the website) if it means almost perfect sun protection. Bring on summer days at Disneyland with this sunscreen! I won’t stop trying new products, of course, but at least I have a go-to sunscreen when I really need it!

Sunscreen experiment #10

After chucking the defective Coppertone Clearly Sheer sunscreen which didn’t keep me from a nice sunburn, I found a coupon for L’Oreal sunscreen in the paper so used it to buy a small bottle of L’Oreal Advanced Suncare Silky Sheer BB Face Lotion SPF 50+ to try. (Yes, I’ve spent a small fortune on sunscreen over the years. It’s ridiculous.) This one is a liquid sunscreen, much like my favorite Clarins and both of the La Roche-Posay Anthelios varieties I’ve reviewed in the past, which I generally prefer because of how light they feel on my skin. So last Saturday I slathered this sunscreen all over my arms, neck, and chest in preparation for a trip to Disneyland. I couldn’t afford another sunburn at the Happiest Place on Earth! In case you’re wondering, yes, I realize that I used a “face lotion” on body parts that aren’t my face (I actually used something completely different on my face), but I don’t put much stock in the face vs. body distinction in the area of sun protection. As expected, the sunscreen liquid didn’t feel heavy or greasy on my skin after I applied it, but it wasn’t quite as nice as others I’ve tried. It didn’t have the same powdery finish as the more expensive liquids. That might be because it’s a chemical sunscreen rather than a mineral one, but I’m not sure. I know I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m not a fan of chemical sunscreens, but I still try them to see if I can find that diamond in the rough. Unfortunately I don’t think this L’Oreal BB Face Lotion is the winner. While it seemed to protect my skin from the sun (no noticeable burn the next day), it was warm in Anaheim that morning and I learned that this sunscreen does not react well to sweat. In spots like the crooks of my elbows I got a white build up that was very annoying. Kinda slimy. Gross. I must admit that I only spent about three hours at Disneyland last Saturday so I didn’t really challenge this sunscreen too much, but based on its performance the anticipated verdict didn’t look promising. I did give it a second chance when I went running this evening. Unfortunately that was the nail in its coffin. I sweat a lot when I run and I discovered that this sunscreen is not very pleasant in that situation. I’m afraid I won’t be using it again. On to the next experiment!

I take it back

Remember that rave review I wrote about Coppertone Clearly Sheer Sunny Days SPF 30 sunscreen last week? Well, I take it back! On Sunday morning I slathered my arms, shoulders, and chest with that stuff before going to Disneyland and I thought I’d be in good shape. I was wrong. When I got home in the afternoon I discovered that I’d gotten burned on my chest and shoulders after only four hours. How frustrating! I thought I was doing the right thing, protecting my skin from the sun, but obviously I picked the wrong product to trust with that job. I guess some chemical sunscreens just don’t work for me. I really should stick to titanium dioxide or zinc oxide stuff instead. Lesson learned. So, in conclusion, disregard all of the nice things I said about Coppertone Cleary Sheer. It doesn’t work!

Sunscreen experiment #9

A 6 AM alarm doesn’t usually make sense on a Sunday, but yesterday I was headed to Disneyland. Summer has arrived, which means big crowds at the Happiest Place on Earth, so I wanted to be at the gates right when the parks opened in the morning. And since it was too warm for a jacket (it’s way to warm for this early in the year, as far as I’m concerned) that meant I needed sunscreen. Based on a good review I read in a magazine recently I bought some Coppertone Clearly Sheer Sunny Days SPF 30 lotion to try, and a morning at Disneyland seemed like the perfect test. Based on the number of sunscreen experiments I’ve conducted over the last year or so it should be pretty obvious that I’m still searching for a sunscreen that doesn’t make my skin feel really gross. Some of the ones I’ve tried have been good for different reasons, but the holy grail of sunscreens still eludes me. Like the Moby Dick of SPF. But I digress. As promised, the Coppertone Clearly Sheer sunscreen felt nice and light when I applied it, a lot like moisturizer, and it smelled pretty good too. A sunscreen that doesn’t smell like sunscreen is a major plus. I ended up spending four hours at Disneyland yesterday morning and I got plenty of sun exposure because the clouds cleared out around 9 AM. So much for June gloom! In general I was very happy with this sunscreen. Only two instances were less than ideal – 1) When the temperature rose and I got a little sweaty on the insides of my elbows, and 2) When my arm got splashed by a little water on the Matterhorn. Other than that I loved the Coppertone Clearly Sheer! And it seemed to do a good job protecting my skin. It’s not a mineral sunscreen, which is my weapon of choice, but when it comes to comfort (and water is no where in sight) this stuff is the way to go. I will definitely be using it again on future Disneyland trips.

Sunscreen experiment #8

Last Saturday morning I went to Disneyland in the early morning to take advantage of the last 8 AM opening day of the summer. Even though it was cloudy and foggy when I left the house I knew it was going to be sunny and warm that day so I wore a tank top and covered all of my exposed skin with Coola Sport Mineral Citrus Mimosa Sunscreen (SPF 35). I read about the Coola brand in a magazine and not only was it supposed to smell great, but its only active ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (non-chemical sunblocks are good!). I couldn’t find a store anywhere nearby (or even sort of nearby)that sold it so I ordered a tube from the website ( so I could give it a try. Like the Anthelios sunscreen that I wrote about in experiment #1 and experiment #5, this stuff isn’t cheap, but I’m willing to shell out a little more money for a top-notch product. So what’s the verdict? Well, the Coola Citrus Mimosa Sunscreen did indeed smell very good, not at all like sunscreen which is a plus, and it felt more like a lotion on my skin than a sunscreen except for the fact that my skin never really absorbed it. My arms felt tacky and a little gooey all day which was annoying at Disneyland. But I was out all morning in direct sunlight and I didn’t get even a hint of a tan so the mineral sunblocks did their job without making my skin look white or pasty. I appreciate that. I think this will be a good beach sunscreen for me. Too bad it’s so expensive and hard to find. That’s why I’m partial to Ocean Potion Clear Zinc Oxide Face Potion (SPF 45) – it’s cheap and available in every corner drug store. And it comes in little 1 oz jars so you know you’ve used enough sunscreen on your body only when the tub is empty! But if you’re looking for something that has no hint of an offensive sunscreen smell, definitely try the Coola Citrus Mimosa Sunscreen.

P.S. I intended to try another sunscreen over this holiday weekend, but it’s been hot in Los Angeles for the last week or so. Really hot. I might not have another experiment to share until after I get to Florida. Stay tuned!

Sunscreen experiment #7

The day I got back home from my business trip to DC I was determined to go jogging since I’d been so lazy the week before. However, I didn’t get home from the airport until about 1 AM so I was kinda dragging when I woke up on Saturday morning. Fortunately the weather was still nice by the time I got going so I decided to go for a jog first thing. This required sunscreen. So I dug through my suitcase and pulled out the Aveeno Protect + Hydrate SPF 30 that I’d been meaning to test when I was in DC. I slathered it on my face, arms, and legs (all of which were dry from airplane travel), and went out for that much-needed jog. The sunscreen brought mixed reactions. First of all, it smells pretty good which is a quality that most sunscreens don’t possess. I definitely appreciated that. Wearing sun protection that doesn’t make your nose wrinkle when you catch a whiff of it is like a breath of fresh air. Literally! Also, as advertised, this sunscreen is very moisturizing. If you have perpetually dry skin then you will love the Aveeno Protect + Hydrate. And it might have been great for some activities, but unfortunately it didn’t absorb as much as I would have liked for a sunscreen to wear while exercising. This was my main complaint. It might not have been hot in Seal Beach that morning, but it was fairly humid so I was sweating a lot while running. And after my experience I would suggest that you not use this on your face if you’re going to sweat. It works great as a sunscreen and moisturizer, but not so good as eye drops. Usually I’m pickier about the sun protection I use on my face, but my skin was feeling particularly dry that morning so I just applied some of the Aveeno. I must say that it did moisturize extremely well, but my eyes were not happy when it started to drip. I won’t make that mistake again! (On a related subject, I’ve discovered that the downside of wearing a tank top while exercising means I don’t have sleeves to wipe sweat off my face!) So while I might use this Aveeno Protect + Hydrate sunscreen again, it won’t be for jogging!

Sunscreen experiment #6

Business travel has its advantages and disadvantages. Pro: All of your food is paid for. While I’m on travel I usually hit the grocery store every other day to pick up water and granola bars, and then grab a sandwich from somewhere or another for dinner every night. So I don’t slurge on expensive meals, but it’s still nice to not have to worry about how much it costs. Con: Living out of a suitcase. I forgot to pack a blazer on my most recent trip and that meant I had to wear to work were two pairs of jeans, some tank tops, and two sweaters. Not a lot of possible variation there. And I didn’t have time to go shopping while I was out there. I wanted to, but it didn’t happen. Pro: The only essential things you really need to worry about are working, eating, and sleeping. Just about everything else in your daily life can fall by the wayside and it’s no big deal because you’re away from home. I always enjoy not having to wash dishes or clean or anything like that. Con: Perturbing your established routine. This basically means that my exercise schedule is thrown completely out of whack and I have a hard time adapting. I’m generally lazy by nature so I’ll use any excuse possible to stay in bed for a few extra hours rather than get up and work out. But I still try to burn a few calories while I’m on travel. Case in point, my first jogging expedition in DC last week. It was raining, but I went anyway because I knew I’d be mad at myself if I slept in AGAIN that morning. So I braved the weather, and squishy Nikes, to get some exercise. I intended that morning to be sunscreen experiment #6 because I had slathered on some Neutrogena Ultra Sheer (SPF 30) before I left my hotel, but obviously that went out the window the minute the water hit my skin. Of course I’m aware that you can still get sunburned when it’s cloudy/rainy, but I’m pretty sure most of the sunscreen washed off at some point. So I tried the Neutrogena again the next morning when I went jogging in some more inviting weather. I’m not sure it was the most demanding test of the sunscreen because I was in the shade at least half the time I was on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, and because it was actually quite cool that morning after the rain went through, but the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer was still pretty good. It didn’t make my skin feel oily or greasy and I definitely didn’t get any sun during the hour and a half I was outside. Too bad this stuff just has chemical sunscreens rather than titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, but it’s still much better than a lot of options on the market!