I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Sunscreen

We’re all spending a lot of time outdoors these days – whether protesting, finding safe ways to escape the confines of pandemic quarantine or simply taking advantage of the summer sun – and  coronavirus exposure isn’t the only thing we need to protect ourselves from. Sure, you’ve got a mask over your nose and mouth to help limit Covid contagion, but that mask isn’t going to do anything to block damaging UV rays from the rest of your face.

I should know. I grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s and spent a lot of time “down the shore” in the sun. Unfortunately I didn’t take facial sunscreen seriously until well into my adulthood, and am now seeing the effects of skin damage, especially melasma and hyperpigmentation. A recent tele-health visit with a dermatologist prompted me to invest in a better facial skincare routine. But there are a million products on the market, and it can be daunting and expensive to go through a process of elimination before finding the ones that are right for you.

Fortunately, many sunscreens are now formulated according to “clean beauty” standards, made by companies that source environmentally-friendly ingredients and packaging, are against animal testing and believe in corporate-social responsibility. These things are as important to me as keeping my skin safe, so I’ve tested out a handful of them (all zinc-based and at the doc-recommended SPF 30 or above) over the past month and offer some hot takes below. #WearSunscreen.

Stem Cellular CC Cream

Company: Juice Beauty

Sun Protection: SPF 30

Cost: $39

There are a lot of things I love about this product. First of all, its makers, Juice Beauty, run a sustainable farm. The CC cream sunscreen is 20% zinc, cruelty-free and made from USDA-certified organic, plant-based ingredients. It’s also light enough to wear all day and layer a powder finish or other cosmetics over, without your face feeling like it’s going to melt off. For a CC cream, I hoped it would have a little more blemish coverage, but I might have selected the wrong tint. I’m pretty pale and opted for Rosy Glow, so if you’re looking for something to act as more of a 2-in-1 concealer I might go for a darker shade than you would normally. It does provide a really nice, even glow.

Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen

Company: Kinship

Sun Protection: SPF 32

Cost: $25

The makers of this sunscreen, Kinship, really go the extra mile with their company and products. In addition to promoting clean beauty, Kinship sponsors a Direct To Community Program, wherein they commit to divert a month’s worth of social media advertising budget to support and partner with Black-owned beauty and wellness businesses. The Self Reflect is 22% mineral zinc, reef-safe (meaning no chemicals in it that damage coral reefs), cruelty-free and vegan. The tube and the cap are made from post-consumer recycled materials. It smells like cocoa and leaves a lovely shimmer.

CyberDERM Every Morning Sun Whip

Company: The Sunscreen Company

Sun Protection: SPF 30

Cost: $32

My mom suffers from severe eczema and finding products that don’t irritate her skin, especially her face, is nearly impossible. But because of her condition, it’s crucial that she wears sunscreen, and so I made her try a couple of these, too. CyberDERM’s new Every Morning Sun Whip (25% zinc) was hands-down the best one for her. First of all, it’s hydrating, which you don’t usually expect from sunscreen. I also love the whipped texture (it feels like a cloud), but more importantly, I noticed a definite change in the clarity and smoothness of the skin on my mom’s face, almost immediately. It maybe shouldn’t be surprising – even though this one isn’t fully organic, its original designers are a high-risk OB/GYN endocrinologist and dermatologist.

Ava Isa Sun-è-Serum Drops

Company: The Sunscreen Company

Sun Protection: SPF 35

Cost: $45

I had never experienced sunscreen in a serum form, which this non-cream, non-matte 25% mineral zinc formula is. I have to admit it felt a little weird to apply, but once on, I didn’t feel it at all. Ava Isa is reef-safe, vegan and cruelty-free, so +100 to all of that. It also contains mica, an antioxidant. It does have a bit higher of a price point, but if you can afford it, I think it’s a great option especially for those who wear daily makeup, because it is so lightweight and transparent.

Daily Correct CC Cream

Company: SuperGoop!

Sun Protection: SPF 35

Cost: $36

Admittedly, I haven’t personally tried this one, but my California babe bestie said it was worth a mention, even if a little overpriced. For those looking for some tinted color correction in addition to a sunscreen, this one is 20% mineral zinc, reef-safe and cruelty-free.

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