A Sunscreen Discussion & Overview of New Formulas

It’s officially the first week of summer so it’s time to talk about sunscreen. I haven’t done a new sunscreen post in a while so I warn you ahead of time that this is a long post. I’ve recently been going crazy testing out new brands and versions of sunscreens. It feels like sunscreen has really made some advances with some interesting new textures and formulas.

I talked about the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen here. I’ve also talked about some other sunscreens I’ve tried here. I do feel differently about a few points in my chemical versus physical post. At the time I was pretty distraught about my dads cancer and was going through ingredients like crazy. I was reading the EWG and picking apart everything. To be honest, it’s exhausting to do that. Especially when you try as many skincare products as I do.

Yes UV light comes in the windows and you should wear sunscreen all day in theory. When you’re busy, not always going to happen. Most likely the sunscreen in your foundation or primer is just fine if you’re indoors only. I tend to wear an SPF 30 when going to work or leaving the house for basic stuff. There’s no need to wear above SPF 30 on a regular daily basis. It’s overkill. The difference is so marginal in the increase in protection. If you want to have an interesting read about it from the Skin Cancer Foundation go here.

There’s multiple issues to begin with on the SPF rating system, so bigger is not always better. The SPF rating is UVB only and SPF 30 provides 97% protection, SPF 50 is 98% or so. Not one SPF provides 100% protection. So it’s such a marginal difference. You have to pay attention to the UVA as well with the + rating(However, not used in the US yet as FDA doesn’t require it. Big surprise there). There’s also the issue that most people don’t apply enough sunscreen to begin with to even get the rating their using, and they don’t reapply either. So logically a SPF of 50 isn’t that much better. SPF of 30 will do just fine and that’s what I prefer to use.

I went on a rant for a while in that first post for a while about a Vitamin A derivative retinyl palmitate. I’ve changed my mind about that topic. There isn’t really enough evidence to say combined with sunscreen it’s that much of an issue. And to get on myself if retinyl palmitate is such a mild Vitamin A it shouldn’t make a difference if you use it in the daytime. A lot of people are actually using Vitamin A products in the daytime now. I still prefer night only for my retinol, but I can handle retinyl palmitate in the day.

You have to take the EWG with a grain of salt. They list stuff that can freak you out about what you’re putting on your skin. However, it really is worthwhile to research more into the ingredients they rate bad by looking on the NIH and look at the actual research articles. Doing that changed my mind about several ingredients the EWG rates as “bad”. Parabens for example. But that’s a whole other discussion. Don’t believe every research article though, you really have to be trained to read one to be able to sort out the BS in a study. There are quite a few bad research studies that I’m sure people believe and made life changes off of. As a nurse I have some official training in that area so I do sort through it when I look into a specific ingredient.

I only used physical blocks while I was pregnant and nursing. I still avoid Oxybenzone completely, pregnant or not, because of it’s potential hormone disruption once absorbed into the body. I will not use a product that contains it. I do use other chemical blocks as they truly do make some of the best sunscreens with chemical blocks. I just haven’t found that really awesome physical block yet. I think the UVA protection is better with certain chemical blocks as well. I like combo sunscreens that have physical and chemical.

Now that I have ranted enough about sunscreen time to talk about the new ones I’ve been testing. I said earlier that sunscreens have been really making good advances in formulas this last year or so. There are quite a few clear almost serum like sunscreens now, as well as light creamy emulsions. Physical sunscreens continue to make advances in reducing the white cast and heavy texture as well. I’m sure if I get pregnant again the search for all the good physical blocks will begin. Right now I’m enjoying being able to go through all the chemical blocks and retinol at night since I have no restrictions.

I’m going to sort the above sunscreens into 3 textures: clear serum, light milky emulsion & lotion like. I have two out of each category to discuss. I’ll start with the two clear serum like chemical blocks. I grabbed Glossier’s new Invisible Shield when I first saw it pop up on the site. I was very intrigued by this new idea of a clear serum sunscreen. Details per Glossier:

Not optional. If you don’t already use sun protection every day, now’s the time to start. If you do, good! Now it’s time for an upgrade. Introducing sunscreen for people who hate wearing sunscreen—a clear watergel formula filled with active microcapsules that instantly absorbs into skin with no greasy residue and zero white cast. It helps prevent sun damage and skin cancer, but also works to neutralize harmful free radicals inside your skin, and keeps pollutant junk from getting in there in the first place—that’s the “+”. We want you to use it every single day as the last step in your skincare routine. 

Active MicrocapsulesLittle spheres packed with UVA/UVB filters (Avobenzone, Homosalate, and Octisalate) freshly delivered to your skin with every application.
H2OWatergel formula with no drying alcohol and no thick, greasy ingredients for a texture that disappears onto skin.
Antioxidant ComplexPowerful mix of Vitamin E, Vitamin P, Broccoli, and Aloe Leaf extracts help neutralize free radicals inside skin.
Fermented Yeast and Vegetal ExtractCreate an invisible and breathable matrix on top of skin that prevents pollution from getting in.
Sweet Orange Peel OilA tiny dash provides a pleasant scent.

Directions Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply at least every two hours for optimal protection. Invisible Shield is not water-resistant—we recommend using a water-resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.

Invisible Shield is SPF 35, comes packaged in a nice pump container and it’s $34 for 1 oz. It smells like citrus and truly is clear for a sunscreen. It looks and feels like a clear hydrating gel serum. I absolutely love the texture. For a basic daily sunscreen it hits the spot. It’s not ridiculously high in SPF and adds no greasy or heavy feeling to my face. There’s no reason you can’t use this sunscreen everyday. This is not waterproof and not for outdoor lots of fun in the sun. Use a higher SPF and waterproof version for those days. This is for daily going to work use. The only negative to this sunscreen for me is that this stings the eyes if you sweat. I put this on, then we decided to go to the Bayou Zoo with the baby and being Texas summer I was sweating like crazy, and my eyes just started stinging. I realized it was this sunscreen. This is for daily life not outdoor fun.

I was so happy with the Glossier texture and Glowrecipe had the make p:rem UV defense me. Capsule sun gel back in stock so I grabbed it. Details per Glowrecipe:

A lightweight sun gel that provides broad spectrum SPF 50+ protection. Fine lines, wrinkles and sun spots from photoaging can be prevented with daily use of a high SPF sunscreen. Make P:rem’s Capsule Sun Gel gives you the best of both worlds, providing superior sun protection while letting you say goodbye to greasy, pore-clogging sunscreens and white casts. This innovative sunscreen gel dries clear for all skin tones. It’s formulated with birch sap and sea buckthorn, ivy leaf, and sunflower seed extracts to lightly moisturize and nourish the skin as SPF 50+ protects from sun damage. This mattifying sun gel works perfectly under makeup and can be used as a perfecting primer. Ideal for all skin types, especially combo and oily skin.
Directions Apply right after the final steps of your skincare routine, to primer and protect skin before makeup. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure for best results.

This sunscreen is very much like Glossier’s in texture and feel on the skin. Invisible with the encapsulated sunscreen beads. No greasy heavy feel. Good for all skin types as you can always add more moisture for dry skin if needed. This has a very light clean scent maybe with a hint of floral. It’s barely there so it shouldn’t irritate anyone. This one is SPF 50+ PA+++ and you get a 2.53 ml pump for $32. The UV defense me is more than twice the size of the Glossier and the texture is the same all for the same price. While it doesn’t say this one isn’t waterproof I’m assuming it’s not. This one also doesn’t sting my eyes when I sweat, I tested it on purpose just to see. 

You get more product for the same price, no stinging in the eyes & there’s really no difference in texture between them. Which is why I pick the make p:rem as my choice between the two. These both absorb completely into the skin like a serum. No residue or anything left behind. It’s really quite good for a sunscreen texture wise. It’s like not wearing anything.

Onto the two milky emulsion style sunscreens, both are chemical blocks. I grabbed Dr.Jart+ UV Sun Fluid last year as a deluxe sample on Sephora. I was instantly in love with it as it was so different than other other sunscreen I had tried to date. This one has a milky light emulsion style texture. Like a lotion and essence had a baby. Details per Sephora:

This formula provides powerful sun protection and a cationic shield that blocks fine dust to protect the skin. By utilizing the characteristics of magnets that repel each other, it is designed to have the same electrical charge as fine dust in order to form a protective skin barrier. Cypress water and seaweed extract purify the skin while soothing and moisturizing. The liquid gel formulation is moist without being sticky to impart immediate moisture for a refreshing burst of hydration. 

-Cypress Water 10%: Purifies, soothes, and relaxes.
-Seaweed Extract: Purifies, eliminates toxins, and moisturizes.

Directions At the last step of your skin care routine, gently apply to the entire face, dotting the nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. Can also be used on the body. Apply at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure.

This is a hydrating formula, but it’s not heavy nor greasy. There’s no white cast. It absorbs completely into the skin. Those with dry skin might like this better than the clear gels as it’s more hydrating. This could still be used on most skin types, people with oily skin could still try it and see. It might work as a light lotion and sunscreen in one for some. This one left me with no stinging in the eyes either. It was really quite nice all around. Its SPF 30 and you get 3.4 oz for $34. 

Next I decided to try innisfree perfect UV protection essence water base. Details per innisfree:

A refreshing and moisturizing UV protection essence with hyaluronic acid for added moisture. ∙ Sunflower oil and Jeju green tea extract protect your skin against UV rays. Hyaluronic acid and ceramide provide abundant moisture to keep your skin moisturized and refreshed. Portulaca oleracea and centella asiatica extracts soothe your skin that has been exposed to UV rays and other harmful environmental conditions and offer a strong astringent effect. Sunflower oil in innisfree sunblock keeps your skin healthy and safe from UV rays.

Directions At the last stage of your skincare routine, evenly apply onto easily exposed areas of face.

This has the same light milky emulsion texture as Dr.Jart+. This one absorbs completely into the skin as well. However, it is more hydrating than the Dr.Jart+. There’s more moisture to it. The sunflower oil perhaps? It’s completely clear on the skin and doesn’t sting my eyes either. It’s not heavy nor greasy in texture. It might be too much for oily skin. It’s SPF 50+ PA+++. You get 1.67 oz for $16.

I love the lightweight feel of both of these. They’re both still hydrating so suitable for winter, but also suitable for summer depending on your skin type and climate. Because Houston is so hot and sticky in the summer I prefer the clear serum versions above in the summer. I would use these any other time of year. I do like the Dr.Jart+ better. It’s a touch less hydrating and only SPF 30 which is all I need.

Last up is the lotion style sunscreens. Both are chemical and physical block combos. The SUQQU Face Protector 50 UK is described as a water based cream. I already reviewed it here so I’m not going to go into it a lot here. It’s a thin watery lotion texture, with a light pink hue. The texture is just like the La-Roche Posay Anthelios fluids. It does contain alcohol which can make it drying to some. You can get a 1 oz bottle for $42. This one has a touch of a white cast due to the physical block in it. It is offset by the pink tint and it goes away on my light medium skin tone for the most part. It wasn’t an issue for me. I love that this bottle is so tiny, makes it portable for fun in the sun touch ups. This isn’t for your body, face only. You would go through a bottle each excursion into the sun if you used it on your body too.

Directions Take 1 pea-sized amount onto your palm, and gently spread over the face and the neck.

I really wanted to try the make p:rem blue ray sun gel but it was sold out when I was ordering. So I grabbed the make p:rem UV defense me. Blue ray sun fluid instead as the concept was very interesting. I figured it could be my new body sunscreen. Details per Glowrecipe:

An all-over Sun Fluid that provides broad spectrum SPF 50+ PA++++ UVA/UVB protection while dramatically cooling down skin’s temperature. Make P:rem’s Blue Ray line counteracts the damage cause by hot Infrared waves and radiation by cooling down the skin surface by multiple degrees while still providing superior UVA and UVB protection. The milky texture of the Sun Fluid glides across skin, spreading evenly and disappearing within seconds. Formulated with hydrating Chia seed extracts and calming Centella extract, the Sun Fluid refreshes and soothes overheated skin to protect from sun damage. Ideal for all skin types, especially combo and oily facial and body skin.

Fine lines, wrinkles and sun spots from photoaging can be prevented with daily use of a high SPF sunscreen. Infrared (IR) waves and radiation, which along with UVA/UVB rays, cause oxidative and free radical damage with exposure. IR is generally experienced as the heat radiating from the sun. Make P:rem’s Blue Ray line protects skin against IR by cooling the skin surface down. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure for best results.

Directions Apply right after the final steps of your skincare routine to face, to prime and protect skin before makeup. Apply liberally all over body 20 minutes before sun exposure.

This has a light lotion texture with a minimal light scent. Nothing noticeable or irritating. It does have a white cast to some degree as it has physical blocks in it. The white cast is so barely noticeable, it goes away fast. This absorbed into my skin in a minute or so. No 10 minutes while waiting for your sunscreen to sink in. This lotion isn’t greasy or heavy feeling it’s actually quite light. It is heavier and more hydrating than the clear serum style sunscreens but it’s similar enough to the creamy emulsions. 

I actually find any sunscreen with a physical block like zinc oxide slightly drying as time goes on. Zinc can help control oil during the day. So I find this less hydrating than the two emulsion style sunscreens. And the SUQQU with it’s alcohol content is also not heavy or hydrating. This really could be suitable for any skin type. This sunscreen doesn’t sting my eyes either when I sweat.

The concept of cooling down the skin while being protected in the sun was intriguing. I tested it out in the Texas sun one day and oddly it was good. It felt like it worked. I used it on my neck not my face to see if my neck would feel cooler, and it did. Whether or not that was in my head always remains to be seen. This is a really pleasant sunscreen to use. You get a large 6.76 oz bottle for $38. It’s a steal. This is good for both the face and body. I made this my fun in the sun sunscreen for this summer. It doesn’t say it’s waterproof, but I don’t do anything needing waterproof. I really want to try the gel version now.

Top to Bottom–p:rem gel, Glossier, innisfree, Dr.Jart+, SUQQU, p:rem fluid:

Go to the links for each product to see the full ingredient list. I linked them all in order to save this post from being too long. Don’t forget to shake sunscreens well before you apply, except these new serum gels don’t seem to need that step. My top picks are the p:rem Capsule sun gel, Dr Jart+, and p:rem Blue ray sun fluid.


  1. I am eyeing the fluid version of the make p:rem sun cream but am hesitant as I have heard it can be trying as well. I am thinking of giving it a go but layering a heavy cream underneath. The fluid is 100percent mineral based which is one of my requirements but I can't seem to find any info on whether they use nanoparticle minerals. Do you happen to know? Do you know anything about uvc and whether it covers it? Is a buzz word maybe but it got my attention. Lastly, do you know if this line covers 'blue light' or whatever it is that is emitted from screens (phone screens etc) like the Labiotte Blue Safety Sun Gel (SPF50+ PA++++) one claims?

    If I get the fluid I'm let you know how it goes, thanks for your review.

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