What I’m Looking for In Sunscreen

tips for picking your best sunscreen
I’ve had a lot of readers asking me recently about my personal preferences/choices for sunscreen, so I thought a quick little post was in order. I’ve covered a lot of the background info on how sunscreens work and different things that you need to keep in mind when picking one in my sunscreen 101 series.

Physical vs Chemical Sunscreens
You should note that I am not particular about chemical vs. physical sunscreens, though I know some people are.
• If you have any sort of sensitivity to your skin or a skin condition, typically a physical sunscreen is the way to go.
• If you are concerned about chemical sunscreens being absorbed, look for a physical sunscreen. However, micronized physical sunscreens can also be absorbed.
•I know that the EWG makes a big deal about oxybenzone and estrogen mimicry. I’ve looked at the literature, it was a study in rats. Not humans. Obviously our endocrine systems are exactly the same. So, I’ve decided that for me, oxybenzone is fine, so I don’t avoid it. This is a personal decision, but know that the jury is still out (I haven’t seen anyone duplicate the study, though no one has come out with evidence against it either).
• Physical sunscreens tend to feel heavier on the skin, this is the main reason I go more for chemical sunscreens. If I’m not comfortable in my sunscreen I won’t wear it, so what’s the point?

I think about sunscreen for different situations, and my preferences are a little different depending on what I need. So, my preferences for each of these situations can change.

Everyday Sunscreen
I don’t usually wear a sunscreen every day on my body. I wear one every day on my face, and for this I want one that is built into my daily lotion, not a separate product. I tend to skip it if I need to do an extra step.
• I want at least SPF 15, 30 is better. Since this is meant to protect me just as I go about my daily business and not protect me for major sun exposure (such as hanging out at a pool, yard work, etc), I’m not picky about covering the entire UV spectrum. I want some UVA coverage, but I don’t freak out if I only have part of the UVA range covered.
• The sunscreen can not be part of my makeup or come in a powder form. I don’t apply enough foundation/tinted moisturizer to count and I’m not going to apply enough powder to reach that actual SPF (the average woman applies 1/14th of the amount of powder needed to get that SPF). Not gonna happen. So, those SPF numbers are a little bonus, but I completely ignore them.
• I want to not feel the sunscreen that I’m wearing, don’t want it to make my skin shiny and I certainly don’t want it to interfere with my makeup application.

High Suns Exposure Sunscreen
When I am spending more time outside than walking to and from the car, I’ll go for a higher level of sun protection. For a typical day outside doing gardening, hanging out at Disneyland (oh, how I miss my yearly pass) or just with family, I’ll go for a SPF 30. If I’m on a beach vacation with my hubby, we tend to spend a lot of time chilling at the pool, so I’ll go for SPF 50+, even as high as 80 or 100.
• Full UV spectrum coverage is a must.
• I’m ok with feeling the sunscreen on me, but I can’t be uncomfortable with stickiness.
• I actually kind of like smelling like sunscreen a little at the pool, but it can’t be overwhelming.
• For those SPF 30 situations, I like to be able to put some makeup on without issues. If I’m at the pool I wear minimal makeup so this is not as important.

So, that’s what I look for. Starting soon I’ll be featuring some sunscreen reviews, so watch for those. What do you look for in your sunscreen?



  1. April 24, 2014 / 5:23 am

    Hi Christine!! Is Neutrogena Dry Touch SPF 100 safe for pregnant women? Thank You!!!

  2. April 24, 2014 / 11:19 am

    They change the formula every year, I haven't seen this year's bottle yet so I don't have an answer. Sorry!

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