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SPF is tricky. While it's been drilled into our heads that wearing at least an SPF of 15 every day is a crucial first-line of defense against premature aging—not to mention skin cancer—doing it consistently is another story.
How many times has an SPF gunked up your makeup, turned your face into an oil slick, made your eyes water, smelled awful, or—can any scientists out there please explain this phenomenon to us—made your face sweat?
We bunked down with more than a dozen SPF face lotions, slathered them on, and waited for the side effects (taking for granted that the product provides the sun protection stated on the label—sorry, we didn't spend hours in the sun, we had to stay in and blog).
Here are our 9 favorite—there's something for everyone here, even the boys.
Caudalie Vinexpert Riche Radiance Day Cream SPF 10, $68: "For years, I've been a major fan of Caudalie's Vinoperfect day perfecting cream with SPF 15—it works wonders for evening out skintone and fade dark spots, especially in the late-summer to autumn transition. For the beginning of summer, I really wanted an SPF that had all the same great properties—lightly-fragranced, skin-mattifying, great under makeup—that would help ease my dull-ish winter-ified complexion into the sunnier season. This new Vinexpert cream actually seems to prevent my T-zone from getting out of hand and wears extremely well with makeup (it doesn't make my mascara smudge or my powder gloop). No sweating or eye irritation (I have sensitive eyes), and it keeps the dry parts of my face moisturized all day. This is some good stuff, and I'm already addicted."
Chanel Ultra Correction Line Repair Anti-Wrinkle Day Fluid SPF 15, $125: "The biggest question with Chanel's Ultra Correction Line Repair Anti-Wrinkle Day Fluid is: Do you want to put scented lotion on your face? If the answer is yes, then this is a great product. It's light, not at all greasy but still packs a moisture punch. It's perfect to wear under makeup and works well for both night and day for normal skin types. Also the bottle looks pretty damn great on my dresser. If the answer is no, and you do not want to put scented lotion on your face, this product is not for you. You will smell like a rich 50-year old lady."
Amore Pacific Natural Protector SPF 30, $65: "This is a dream product, come summer—a lightweight sunscreen that goes on so smoothly that you forget that it's main goal is to protect you from harmfull UV rays. What separates Amore Pacific from other sunscreens is that it doesn't remind you of a typical sunscreen—it doesn't go on thickly, it blends easily into the skin. The Natural Protector SPF 30 also has a refreshing lotion scent rather than the heavy smell of regular sunscreen. While it leaves skin feeling silky but with a slight undertone of grease. If using it alone, it leaves your face looking shiny—but it looks great under or over makeup."
Philosophy Hope Oil-Free Moisturizer SPF 30, $45: "Philosophy is one of my trusted go-to brands—one I've personally used over the years. When first applying Hope with SPF 30, you can instantly tell that it's a sunscreen—it has a heavy and thick texture. For the most part, it's scentless, but there is a of that familiar Banana Boat sunscreen-for-children smell. Despite this, Hope is oil-free and doesn't leave skin shiny at all. It goes wonderfully under makeup and leaves the skin with a matte finish."
CellCeuticals PhotoDefense Anti-Aging Daily Skin Protector SPF 55, $45: At first touch, our CellCeuticals reviewer exclaimed that the lotion felt oily, but the texture quickly changed upon application. "It felt light, smoothing and had a delightfully neutral smell," she says. More suitable for dryer skin and complexions with anti-aging concerns.
Burt's Bees Radiance SPF 15 Day Lotion, $18: Our reviewer loves Burt's Bees products, so this was a great addition to her skincare regiment. "It smelled great," she said, "felt light, absorbed well, and putting makeup on top was a breeze, with no greasiness."
Skyn Iceland The Antidote Mineral Sunscreen SPF 18, $55, and Elemental Herbology Soothing Oil-Free Facial Hydrator SPF 12, $68: "I tried the Skyn Iceland SPF 18 and the Elemental Herbology SPF 12. Both had all the superficial things I like in a sunscreen: Handsome minimalist packaging, a vaguely "natural" vibe, and a dearth of pore-clogging ingredients. Skyn Iceland comes in an expensive-feeling glass pump bottle. It goes on thick—you definitely have to rub it in to avoid the lifeguard look—and smells like minty melon. Elemental Herbology is packed in an equally classy little jar. It's got better schmear-ability, and I really like the chamomile scent, but I'm a little perturbed that it comes with a note warning you to avoid putting it directly on "areas of congestion." So it won't make you break out—as long as you don't put it on any part of your face that's prone to break-outs? Isn't that cheating? For that reason alone, Skyn Iceland wins."
And, for the guys: Lab Series Daily Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 15, $37.50: "The first thing I noticed about this product is it’s minimal design and packaging. As a man, I don’t need any bells and whistles and appreciated it’s non-nonsense approach to male cosmetics. While the packaging labels this product as “fragrance free”, it has a distinct odor familiar to anyone who has ever been to a Russian Bath House, hinting of eucalyotus and chlorine. Eventually, the fragrance gives way to a familiar “sunscreen smell” before dissipating entirely. The lotion itself was not overly greasy, lightweight, and quick to dry. I would recommend this lotion to anyone looking for an all-purpose moisturizer with the added benefit of SPF."
(Note: All products were provided by companies for editorial consideration.)
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