My Favorite Sunblock or Sunscreen

It's been sunny and in the 70s and 80s for the last week in the Chicago area. This is an unusually early thawing for us, but I'll take it. We will, no doubt, get days or even weeks of low temperatures again, but there's no question that it's that time of year again: time to dedicate myself to protecting my skin from sun damage by using sunscreen or sunblock.

I've spoken with two dermatologists, and they both confirm the same thing: wearing sunscreen or sunblock to protect the skin is far superior to using any serum, cream, or even performing chemical peels--in terms of the benefits it can impart.

The biggest problem for me has been finding a sunscreen or sunblock that works for/with a myriad of issues: safety, oily/dry skin, breaking out, makeup, heavy or light, appearance; and the list could go on depending upon the time or year or even the time of the month!

So the question is not Should I wear sunscreen or sunblock? The question remains, Which sunscreen or sunblock should I use? to protect my skin from future damage and to preserve what I've achieved with my chemical peels so far.

I wish I felt more enthusiastic about wearing sunscreen or sunblock, but it has become my nemesis: if it's safe, it's too oily; if it doesn't break me out, it looks bad; if it looks good, it irritates my skin. I've spent countless dollars and time experimenting with different sunscreens and sunblocks, and I'm ready to share my reviews.

My skin is different from yours, so my reactions or comments about a sunscreen or sunblock may not reflect your preference or reaction to a sunscreen or sunblock, so I always suggest that people try different products until they find the one that works (or at least works better than others).

Although I've found a sunblock that works well for me, it's not perfect. I've had to sacrifice to find a balance. I've been using Keys Solar Rx Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunblock Lotionfor over a year now, but I've been trying others (with intermittent success) to see if I can find a product that meets all my criteria: safe, nonirritating, noncomedogenic, aesthetically appealing, affordable, high spf, easy/simple to use, etc.

Over the next several weeks, I will share my reviews of other sunscreens and sunblocks I've tried during the last 2-3 years. Although many have met some of my criteria, none have met as many as Keys Solar Rx Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunblock Lotion

  • Simple Ingredient list: nano zinc-oxide (20%), shea butter (10%), avocado oil, carrot seed oil, black cumin oil, essential oil blend, purified water, vegetable glycerin, vegetable wax, and rosemary extract.
  • 100% vegan
  • UVA 4 star rating and 30+ SPF (UVA and UVB protection)
  • Moisturizing (I can go without moisturizer, which keeps my routine simple and fast)
  • Therapeutic (think zinc for diaper rash: calms any irritation that I may have from chemical peels or retin-a)
  • Causes NO breakouts, spots, bumps, or pimples for me
  • 100% chemical free - this is not a chemical-based sunblock or sunscreen: with my chemical peels and retin-a use, I cannot tolerate chemical-based sunscreens: they sting and irritate my skin
  • Does NOT accentuate flaws or fine lines
  • NO shimmery or reflective look that some mineral-based makeups have
  • Some ability to balance the look of my skin tone (the zinc hides some discoloration)
  • EWG rating of 1, which means it's safe
I had mixed feelings about the use of nano-sized particles, but I have read several clinical studies that show safety:
Human skin penetration of sunscreen nanoparticles: in-vitro assessment of a novel micronized zinc oxide formulation.

Imaging of zinc oxide nanoparticle penetration in human skin in vitro and in vivo

  • Feels greasy when I first apply it (but I make myself remember that these oils are good)
  • Looks shiny (I have to apply powder)
  • Has a bit of a white cast if I apply too much (but I am able to use a darker powder on top if needed)
  • Cost is a bit high, but one container lasts six months
  • SPF isn't as high as I'd like
Have you used sunscreen or sunblock that you love? Please share! I'll share one review a day until I work my way through all the sunscreens and sunblocks I've tried.

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