Thursday, September 19, 2013

Testing, Testing: Four Mineral Sunscreens For All-Over Body Sun Protection

[Products all purchased by me.]

Summer has finally given up the ghost, I guess (although we are having a couple of beautiful days here right now!), so, erm, what better time to talk about sunscreen, right?

I know, I know. I just take long to do reviews, okay? And really, sometimes it is still sunny outside on crisp fall days, so if we're going to take Dennison on a long walk or something, I do put sunscreen on at least my hands and neck, or any other parts that might be exposed. Sunscreen is very important in this household.
All four are mineral sunscreens (titanium dioxide + zinc oxide combinations as active ingredients), and paraben-free.

All four of these are mineral sunscreens, and pretty readily available, at least in the US. I bought the Solbar on Amazon, Mustela on Sephora's website, Alba Botanica at Ulta, and Neutrogena at Bartell Drugs (yay, PNW!). Mustela is the most expensive ($22, 3.4 oz); Solbar Shield is usually around $10 for 4.4 oz, Alba Botanica (4 oz) and Neutrogena (3 oz) are usually between $5-10, depending on the sales. I'm going to briefly go through some of the details, as well as talk about which ones S. and I liked the best. Mineral sunscreens are usually pretty thick by nature, and all of these are a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (see my beauty of science posts here and here about sunscreens for more information!) for UVA and UVB protection. All of these claim some water resistance, as well. [Edit: I forgot to mention that I use a separate sunscreen for my face, so I haven't tried these on my face.]

Alba Botanica Natural Very Emollient Sunscreen: Broad Spectrum SPF 30, Zinc oxide 14.5 %, titanium dioxide 2.0 %. This is my least favorite, mostly because it tends to separate a lot and has to be shaken very vigorously prior to use, but it does have a high percentage of mineral sunscreen ingredients. It can also feel a little bit gritty sometimes because of this. However, it is composed of vegetarian ingredients and the brand does make an effort to "go green," which is always nice to see, but I don't necessarily need my body sunscreen to be moisturizing.

Solbar Shield: Not bad overall, but pretty thick and hard to rub in. Zinc oxide 7.5 % and titanium dioxide 5.0%; Broad Spectrum SPF 40. S. doesn't like this one very much because it's hard to rub in, so I've been using it to finish it up. It is pretty water resistant though, so if you're going to splash around for the day, this isn't a bad one to consider.

Mustela: I don't know much about this brand, but I'm always on the lookout for mineral-only sunscreens. Rated Broad Spectrum 50+ SPF, titanium dioxide 4.9 %, zinc oxide 4.7 %. It's not as thick as the Alba or Solbar Shield versions, but it is quite pricey. I think this is a brand that caters to babies and children, especially, though, so if that's something you need to look out for, I'd recommend looking into this line.

Neutrogena Sensitive Skin: Broad Spectrum SPF 60+, titanium dioxdie 4.9%, zinc oxide 4.7%. S. picked this up for his trip and said it was pretty nice (he used it for face and body while he was in the Midwest for a conference) - not as thick as some of the others, so it rubbed in pretty nicely and held up in the humid, humid, humid Midwest summer. I haven't tried it too many times myself, but I'd agree with his assessment. It's nice to see a mineral-only sunscreen from a widely available drugstore brand! I think this may be the one we repurchase the most often, simply because it's so easy to obtain and the texture isn't bad.

I know this would have been more useful at the beginning of the summer, but at least you know I spent a lot of time with all of these! They've all been in rotation over the beautiful summer that we had here. None of these are very greasy, and they were fine to wear all day without feeling like you rolled around on greasy hamburgers. I'd say my favorites are the Mustela and the Neutrogena; after considering the price, though, my recommendation has to be Neutrogena's.

What's your favorite mineral sunscreen? Any fab finds this summer?

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