Broad-spectrum, water resistant, and SPF 30.
July 4, 2015 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Sunscreen only works when reapplied every two hours, and after venturing into water, and in large quantities—“about a shot-glass worth,” Kundu recommends.

Oh dear. I don't think I've ever used that much sunscreen in my whole life. I do admit to the siren call of the higher SPF ratings, though, since I'm fishbelly white and burn if I see the sun on the television.
posted by winna at 10:26 AM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thanks to AskMe, I have been introduced to the world of Asian sunscreen, and have found several products that do not feel unusably gross on my face, don't give me the face sweats, and don't burn my eyes as badly as all the US products I've tried do. I'm actually sitting on my patio right now, with a different formulation of Biore 50+ PA++++ on each half of my face to decide which one I like better.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:37 AM on July 4, 2015 [14 favorites]

People who are just looking for the EDC of sunscreen, like what to put on your face if you're just going to be sitting outside eating and not swimming or recreating in any kind of strenuous way, I HIGHLY recommend Biore Watery Essence. I have no idea what's in it because the entire back of the packaging is in Japanese, but it's wonderfully light, totally ungoopy, smells nice, and doesn't make me break out wearing it every day.

Water resistant is nice and all but I am lazy as shit and don't need defcon 1 level repeller protection to just be outdoors and sedentary.
posted by phunniemee at 10:38 AM on July 4, 2015 [13 favorites]

Jinx, Lyn Never!!
posted by phunniemee at 10:39 AM on July 4, 2015

A wide-brimmed hat and loose white 100% cotton clothes work for me, out of the water. Sunscreens irritate my eyes.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:40 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

From "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross, 2009, Dermatologist Offers Tips For Skin, Sun Safety:
GROSS: Would you use a higher SPF? Do you think it matters?

Dr. RIGEL: Well, I personally do. I actually use either the 70 or the 85, and I'll give you my reasons why. When sunscreen is tested, it's tested in a way that's really not used in the real world, and it goes back to the 1970s, when sunscreens first began to be tested, where they used two milligrams per square centimeter of body surface.

That doesn't sound like a lot, but if - no matter what you look like, if you were to put that on, everybody would look like Casper the Friendly Ghost or the Michelin Man or something. You'd be white as a sheet. So realistically, nobody uses sunscreen the way it's rated, and that's actually unfortunate. The FDA is looking at different ways to re-label sunscreen. One of the things they should look at is how they measure SPFs.

But all that aside, if you under-apply sunscreen, and most studies show that people only apply about 20 to 50 percent of the rated amount, you're getting a lot less coverage, a lot less protection, rather, than you would see with the actual SPF on the label. So the higher SPFs are much more forgiving, and that's really the argument for them.
The whole interview is good.

Also: Environmental Working Group's 2015 Guide to Sunscreen.

And remember, everybody's free to wear sunscreen.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:41 AM on July 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yep, Aqua Rich Watery Essence on one side (it's a little slicker), Perfect Milk (matte almost powdery finish) on the other.

They're also about $10 for ~40oz, where the LaRoche-Posay Antihelios, which is greasy and burns my eyes instantly, is $40 for the same size.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:43 AM on July 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

i just grease myself up with bacon fat, we're all gonna die anyway, so why not do it deliciously.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:47 AM on July 4, 2015 [8 favorites]

REALLY THOUGH I have never been able to find a single sunscreen that didn't make my face break out with those huge hard painful deep-skin zits that you can't pop without giving yourself meningitis. Are the Japanese ones really truly honestly non-disgusting in a face skin decent way?

maybe this should be an askme
posted by poffin boffin at 10:49 AM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Next week on ATK: sun-roasted poffin boffin with bacon
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:50 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are the Japanese ones really truly honestly non-disgusting in a face skin decent way?

ime, yes. I am a total convert.
posted by phunniemee at 10:55 AM on July 4, 2015

Fuckin' Thomas Midgley, man. >:(
posted by sexyrobot at 10:57 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

ok but if i get zitty i'm gonna fight you, we will be using giant foam fingers for deathpoking.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:58 AM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

A public health nurse told me that Utah and Idaho, even at higher altitude, don't get the UV that makes pro vitamin D. I guess the Ozone levels are so high, I guess. I never wear sunscreen, go out and swim in a reservoir in the mountains three times a week, for an hour and a half, no sunburn, and my vitamin D is so low, I am taking a prescribed high dose.

So, I guess different areas have different UV penetration. Thanks to whatever, and sunscreen, Americans are suffering from low vitamin D, and require massive supplementation. What?
posted by Oyéah at 11:00 AM on July 4, 2015

But my arms look so good when they tan!
posted by oceanjesse at 11:01 AM on July 4, 2015

The Australians know a thing or two about sunscreen as well and I highly recommend Sunsense Daily Face, which is not oily, greasy or white, unperfumed, and can be bought on Amazon.

But you are best off with a hat and long sleeves, and just stay out of the sun between 12-3. I've had bad stuff cut out of my nose in my 30s due to excessive sun and it's not a good vibe. I also take a vitamin D supplement, which are now fairly cheap.
posted by colie at 11:18 AM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

+1 Biore. Wife and I have been using it for 4 years now after discovering it while living in Hong Kong. Best we've ever used by far.
posted by chris24 at 11:19 AM on July 4, 2015

Here is a great overview of sunscreen (more informational than the Atlantic link).

A wide-brimmed hat and loose white 100% cotton clothes work for me, out of the water. Sunscreens irritate my eyes.

That's likely the avobenzene present in most US sunscreens. It is the only decent UV-A filter available to US cosmetics companies (there is some disagreement over the actual efficacy of zinc), and it is very un-photostable and tends to sting the eyes.

Like others, I strongly recommend importing one's sunscreens. European and Asian cosmetics companies have access to superior UV filters (especialy UV-A) and take development of highly protective, cosmetically elegant sunscreens very seriously. You can also find chemical sunscreens that won't sting your eyes.

I'm currently using Bioderma Photoderm MAX SPF 50+. It is too greasy for most people, but it has one of the highest PPD ratings of any sunscreen in existence, especially for its price. I use it mainly because I am an extremely sweaty person and more popular, easily absorbing offerings like Biore Watery Essence PA++++ or Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel PA++++ are not resistant to sweat or water. I supplement with Menturm Sun Bears Super Strong Plus SPF 50+, but prefer the Bioderma since it has superior UVA filters.

Also when you start really going down the skincare and sunscreen rabbit hole you'll find yourself discussing products with names 5+ words long in no time.
posted by Anonymous at 11:23 AM on July 4, 2015

Jumping straight down that rabbit hole, Skinceuticals has some good physical sunscreens as well.
posted by colie at 11:27 AM on July 4, 2015

I like the Jack Black stuff a lot. It's way nicer than Neutrogena, which is in turn way nicer than the other drugstore brands. It suddenly occurs to me that I might be able to do much, much better.
posted by box at 12:20 PM on July 4, 2015

I got some "Stay-put" sunscreen from REI that does seem to stay out of my eyes.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 12:52 PM on July 4, 2015

1980 - SPF 30
1990 - SPF 40
1999 - SPF 70
2005 - SPF 85+
2015 - SPF 100
posted by Fizz at 1:11 PM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ratzilla Cosme is a good resource for information on Japanese sunscreens, while running a product through cosdna is a good way to suss out irritating or comodegenic ingredients. I'd also recommend knowing the difference between a physical and chemical sunscreen.

I actually layer the Biore Perfect Face Milk (physical) over the Aqua Rich Watery Essence (chemical) because they both play well with my skincare routine and US/EU formulas do not. There's no way I'm going to remove a full face of cosmetics to reapply sunscreen during the day.
posted by peripathetic at 1:32 PM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

Are the Japanese ones really truly honestly non-disgusting in a face skin decent way?
I know Biore is really popular but Biore was horrible on my skin. I developed rashes and zits (previously my skin had been clear for years) after using it, and my skin cleared up after I stopped using Biore.
I tried about 3 different Biore sunscreen products (Face Milk, Essence, and something else I can't remember).
I think my skin is sensitive to a product specific to chemical sunscreens, and most Japanese sunscreens have both chemical and physical sunscreen components.
(uh. Following the Biore experience, I tried Hada Labo face products which aggravated my skin as well (just redness and increased sensitivity though; not as bad as Biore), and a Kose mask which was icky on my pores. maybe Japanese facial products and I just don't really get along. ...I have Asian skin (but not JP skin) fwiw...)

The sunscreen I found that doesn't break me out is a Korean drugstore brand - Dr G; about the price of Biore. I use the orange tube but maybe the white tube is more easily available.
Actually Shiseido was ok on my skin as well, but it's a lot more expensive.
posted by aielen at 2:03 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you want to know how well your SPF 30 sunscreen actually protects you in real-world situations, I recommend the Terry Gross interview mentioned above. One useful bit of advice he offers about the amount of sunscreen needed:
"Typically for the face, that should be a heaping teaspoon or a flat tablespoon will cover your face. That's typically what you're looking for, face and neck, to do that."
(Disclaimer: One aspect of my job is translating scientific study results into layman-friendly language, and I've probably translated a dozen of Dr. Rigel's studies over the past 10 years.)
posted by memewit at 3:17 PM on July 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

Some sunshine is good for you, giving you vitamin D which can prevent cancer. It has been suggested that the historical light colored skin of Northern Europeans and others is nature's desperate attempt at getting more vitamin D for people eating food from agriculture rather than fish.

But it is like making bread--if you try to speed it up by turning the oven up, all it does is burn. So, as colie says, cover up, especially from 12-2 and especially in summer (and at high altitudes). If you are out for long, wear sunscreen--you'll get get enough of the sunshine vitamin even with the sunscreen.

I have to use the physical sunscreens because when the chemical ones get in my eyes (which they inevitably do), it irritates them so much I end up looking like I'm bawling my eyes out and it hurts like heck.
posted by eye of newt at 3:24 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Typically for the face, that should be a heaping teaspoon or a flat tablespoon will cover your face. That's typically what you're looking for, face and neck, to do that."
(Disclaimer: One aspect of my job is translating scientific study results into layman-friendly language, and I've probably translated a dozen of Dr. Rigel's studies over the past 10 years.)

Is this true? I've read 1/4 tsp for face, 1/4 tsp for neck and decotallage. There is no sunscreen I know of where a person could apply a full teaspoon on just their face and neck and have it absorb.
posted by Anonymous at 4:48 PM on July 4, 2015

As an Australian I find this article kinda bemusing. I don't believe you can buy less than 30+ waterproof sunscreen in the shops, and the concept of free sunscreen at public events is commonplace.

But yeah, quality still varies, I find it hard to get one that doesn't sting my eyes when I sweat.
posted by wilful at 5:06 PM on July 4, 2015

Last year, I finally found sunscreen for my face that I really love (well, except for the price): EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46. Paula Begoun's Paula's Choice "Beautypedia" review of it.
posted by Auden at 6:00 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

poffin boffin, have you tried sunscreens without Avobenzone? That's what seems to cause the big pimples on my face. (It's fine on my body.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:10 PM on July 4, 2015

After having melanoma stage 0 on my arm (now with a big ass scar!), I am vigilant about using sunscreen. On my face I use Elta MD UV Shield SPF45. It doesn't burn my eyes or break me out, it's non comodegenic and it's what my dermatologist recommended. On my body I use various Neutrogena sunscreens with a minimum SPF of 50. But sunscreen isn't enough for me, so I also have many hats and light long sleeve shirts. I look like the weird lady that's allergic to the sun but skin cancer is scary.
posted by shmurley at 7:36 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are there any Biore sunscreens that are unscented?
posted by medusa at 11:28 AM on July 5, 2015

Answering my own question, it looks like the Perfect Milk one (LOL at that name) is fragrance free.

Anyone with better Japanese knowledge than me able to say what the active ingredients of Biore sunscreens are?
posted by medusa at 11:34 AM on July 5, 2015

Biore sunscreens look awesome, but the alcohol content makes me (sensitive, reactive skin plus rosacea) step back a bit. I'll check out Elta MD.
posted by maudlin at 12:43 PM on July 5, 2015

I have rosacea, and I'm generally fine with the Biores (so far) as long as I remember to wash my face before I go to bed.

I did not do that last night, after a day outside and multiple reapplications. The piper is getting paid this morning.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:02 PM on July 5, 2015

Eep! Redness? Breakouts? (I guess it feels so lightweight that it's easy to forget and not wash off. My current sunscreen is like a truckload of titanium dioxide sitting on my face, so washing is not easily skipped.)
posted by maudlin at 1:12 PM on July 5, 2015

I use a Murad SPF 15 every day on my face. It's expensive ($25 on Amazon for 1.7 ounces) but it works, it's light, doesn't make me break out, and the current container has been in use for 5+ months.
posted by kat518 at 2:14 PM on July 5, 2015

Pasty White Boy Problems.
That's me. For better or worse, when I was in my late teens, I correctly gave up hope for being tan. My Irish ancestry has guaranteed this. My spouse is much more Mediterranean in her heritage and tans. I burn, then later I freckle. It's rather entertaining really, if I weren't terrified that a freckle would turn to melanoma. In addition, my body gave me the finger by deciding that it is also allergic to to sunshine, by breaking out in a solid rash if I get too much (which is defined as about 15 minutes). So, SPF 30 for me with stuff that blocks UVB and UVA.

My dad, now well in his 70's has moved to Florida and doesn't give a damn about sunscreen unless he gets badgered about it because he figures that he's got one foot in the grave anyway. His arms are effectively one big freckle.

My daughter has my skin, but we've kept her covered with sunscreen forever, so her skin is alabaster with just a few freckles on her face due to the few days we missed. My son clearly has Mrs. Plinth's skin, but we still slather him too.
posted by plinth at 6:18 PM on July 5, 2015

mm. You can find lists of ingredients for Biore sunscreens in English on the web.
As a datapoint... my skin is on the dry side; I clean off my sunscreen every night with makeup remover. My friend with much oilier skin loves Biore though (she enthusiastically recommended it, which was why I went out and got like 3 different Biore sunscreens >.< )

If I had to recommend a Japanese sunscreen I'd recommend Shiseido, it was my go-to sunscreen before I switched over to Dr G.

Sunplay is another Japanese sunscreen that is quite popular. I have an unopened Sunplay bottle that has been sitting around for years because it was recommended by the same friend that likes Biore :p

Some BB creams also double as sunscreen (you aren't meant to put anything on top of the BB cream after application though - if you intend to use the BB cream as sunscreen).
posted by aielen at 6:31 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

L'oreal has been advertising this City Mist thing which is a spray on sunscreen. At first glance it looks really useful for re-application throughout the day, even with makeup on. (No idea what is inside though, so it could be chokeful of carcinogens and other mad poisons)
posted by Alnedra at 12:52 AM on July 6, 2015

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