How to Fall in Love With Wearing Sunscreen

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It’s sticky. It’s greasy. It’s smelly. That used to be your average sunscreen. A necessary evil that prevents aging and skin cancer, but that can leave an inconvenient white cast, makes makeup a hassle and has your hands too greasy to turn a doorknob. But ask any expert and they’ll tell you, that’s not what wearing sunscreen is like these days. Read on for the best advice on falling in love with sun protection.

Featured Experts

  • Daniel Schlessinger, MD and Joel Schlessinger, MD are board-certified dermatologists based in Omaha, NE
  • Elizabeth K. Hale, MD is a board certified dermatologist based in New York
  • Arielle Moody is the co-founder of Mama Sol

Wearing Sunscreen of the Past

Sunscreen has a reputation for being strong-smelling, greasy mess with a chalky white cast. And that’s a pretty good picture of sunscreens of the past. Sunscreen has been commercially available since the 1930s. But that doesn’t mean it was good or that people were even really wearing it. Back in the 1960s, the first uses of Sun Protection Factor were as low as 2-4 SPF and added in to sun tan lotions (a bit counterintuitive). Then came the ’80s era of broad spectrum, where sunscreen gets thicker, oilier and smellier.

If you didn’t really enjoy wearing those sunscreens, you’re not alone. “For so long, I never looked forward to wearing sunscreen, they typically leave you feeling sticky or greasy, and smell like chemicals,” says Mama Sol cofounder Arielle Moody, who developed the line in order to expand safe sunscreen options for pregnant women. “Mama Sol breaks all the barriers and checks all the boxes—the formulas smell like the spa with a subtle hint of lavender essential oil and deliver intense bursts of hydration and do not leave a white cast.”

Over the last decade or so, concerns over chemicals prompted a reexamining of mineral sunscreens. As a result, we’re getting better and better at making sun protection. “I would challenge the perception that sunscreens are still like those options of the past,” says Omaha, NE dermatologist Daniel Schlessinger, MD. “Sunscreens even of the past year are not the sunscreens of the year before—that’s how fast we’re moving.”

Wearing Sunscreen Now

With things moving so fast, you have a lot of options. “Sunscreen these days comes in beautiful formulations,” explains Dr. Schlessinger. “These are integrated into makeup, used as primers, there are tinted versions, options with different thicknesses and that are very lightweight. There are endless options.”

So how do you choose?

According to New York dermatologist and medical advisor to the Vacation brand, Elizabeth K Hale, MD, the best sunscreen for you is one you’ll actually want to wear. “I tell my patients that the best sunscreen formula is the one they’ll enjoy wearing,” Dr. Hale says. “There are so many incredible formula innovations on the market now, in every format imaginable. Whether you prefer spray, lotion, gel, mist, powder, oil, chemical or mineral filters, I guarantee there is a product that will not only provide your skin with essential UV protection, but will also leave you with healthy, glowing skin.”

Chemical Classics

Chemical sunscreens work by converting dangerous UV rays into heat, and then releasing that heat from the body. They take about a half hour to become active. That means you need to apply them before you actually go into the sun. Chemical sunscreens use common active ingredients like homosalate, oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone and octocrylene among others on the ingredients list.

“These are chemicals that operate like a sponge—they permeate the skin upon application and absorb UV rays where they then convert the rays to heat and release them from the body,” Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD says. “This entire process helps prevent the UV rays from causing sun damage or sunburns in the skin. Sunscreen manufacturers may recommend that chemical sunscreens need time to fully take effect, but that isn’t how most people use them. I would prefer a sunscreen at any time, even if it isn’t given the full 30 minutes before sun exposure.”

Mineral Magic

Mineral sunscreens are a physical blocker over your skin, shielding it from UV rays. That means it doesn’t need time to start working. And since there’s no harsh chemicals, they’re safe for infants and pregnant women. The downside to mineral sunscreen had previously been the thick quality of the sunscreen and that white cast. “However, many of the newer mineral formulas are more elegant now than they previously were and blend into skin with less of a white cast or none at all,” Dr. Daniel Schlessinger says.

Recommended Sunscreens

1 / 3

Vacation Shake Shake SPF 50 Mineral Milk Face Sunscreen ($29)

Designed with expert dermatologists, this mineral sunscreen is zinc-powered and plays well with makeup. The bottle has a miniature ball inside that helps create the perfect texture every time, and barrier supporting ingredients like squalane and ceramides feed and nourish your skin while keeping it protected.



2 / 3

Mama Sol BODYBRELLA 100% Mineral Hydrating Milk SPF 40 ($44)

This silky, reef-safe sunscreen milk is broad spectrum defense with all the skin-care benefits you could want. Moisturize, tone and firm while keeping your skin sun safe with this mineral sunscreen. Non-nano zinc oxide provides the UVA and UVB protection you need while keeping the environment safer.

BUY NOW – $44

3 / 3

Colorescience SPF 50 Total Protection No-Show Mineral Sunscreen ($45)

A NewBeauty favorite recommended by Dr. Daniel Schlessinger for its transparent protection, this mineral sunscreen comes with deeply nourishing hydration. Alongside UVA and UVB protection, proprietary EnviroScreen Technology provides total protection from environmental aggressors, including blue light and pollution.



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