The Best Sunscreen and Sunblock

Categories: Anti-aging, Skin care, Sunscreen, Tanning
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sunscreen and sunblockSince I don’t want to pre-maturely age my skin or get skin cancer, I’m obsessed with sunscreen! I use the term sunscreen and sunblock interchangeably, since the distinction between the two words seems to be gone. I have tried countless sunscreens, and have found that most of them work well as far as keeping me from burning, but few actually work well enough to prevent me from getting some color, and freckles. Most of the experts say the best way to stay protected from the sun is to stay out of the sun during its hottest hours (generally 11am-3pm, or when it’s directly overhead), and to re-apply sunscreen every two hours. They will tell you to look for sunscreens with the ingredients of either Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Avobenzene (parsol 1789), or Mexoryl. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are physical blockers, while Avobenzene and Mexoryl and chemical blockers.

I remember going to the pool for a few hours once (the sun was overhead, which is bad), and sitting in the shade, with a hat and sunglasses on. I liberally re-applied my waterproof sunscreen with Avobenzene in it once an hour, and when I got back home, I was really dark and freckly! My skin also felt like it was burning as the sun hit it, but I wasn’t actually burned at all. I quickly gave up on Avobenzene. Avobenzene also is not photo-stable, meaning it breaks down when sunlight hits it, and there is evidence that it can actually cause free radicals, which will actually cause your skin to age faster! Yikes! Newer sunscreens on the market may contain Helioplex, which is a photo stabilizer for Avobenzene. Well, I’m still not going to use Avobenzene, even if it’s now supposed to last a few hours longer before it breaks down. Also, Mexoryl is a chemical sunscreen ingredient that was recently approved for use in the US. Unfortunately, the one sunscreen I used with it (La Roche-Posay Anthelios W Gel) gave me horrible breakouts, so I had to stop using it after a week. I wasn’t really able to tell how well it really worked. Mexoryl is supposed to be photo-stable, and it is supposed to neutralize free radicals (rather than cause them), so I may try another product with Mexoryl to find out once and for all if it’s the Mexoryl that clogs my pores, or something else in the Anthelios.

Here’s the good news! I have found sunscreens that actually work to not only keep me from burning, but to keep me from getting any tan or freckles. The secret I found is to go with sunscreens with high levels of Zinc Oxide in them! Zinc Oxide covers the full UVA and UVB spectrum, so it will protect you from burning, and from the sun’s rays that cause wrinkles and skin cancer. In the past two years, the only time I’ve gotten any color on my face is when I went snorkeling for two hours in Hawaii earlier this year. No sunscreens are really waterproof, so they will wash off, at least partially, when you swim. And the water really magnifies the sun on your skin! When I look for a sunscreen for my face, I look for the highest Zinc Oxide percentage I can find, then I look at price, SPF, whether or not the sunscreen is waterproof, if the sunscreen has pore clogging ingredients, and how good the sunscreen actually looks on my face. From my testing, my current favorite is Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55. It has 13.9% Zinc Oxide, it’s very water-resistant, it doesn’t clog my pores, it looks good on my skin, and it’s a bit expensive, but worth it. I wear this every day, unless I don’t leave the house until after 5pm. Then I use Clinique Super City Block Ultra Protection SPF 40 because it’s cheaper, and it has a nice tint to it, so I don’t need to wear any foundation with it. It has 8.8% Zinc Oxide. On my neck, chest and hands I apply Blue Lizard Sport Suncream SPF 30+, which has 6% Zinc Oxide, and it’s a lot cheaper than the Shiseido and Clinique. I wouldn’t apply this to my face because it has pore-clogging ingredients. This is also the sunscreen I use at the beach for my body. If I know I’m going to be outside for at least a half hour, I’ll apply it all over. Otherwise, I’m bad and don’t put sunscreen on my arms and legs like I should.

I have tried just about every sunscreen I’ve found that has at least 5% Zinc Oxide in it – SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30, Total Block Clear SPF 65, Glycolix Elite Sunscreen SPF 30 (this one leaves a white cast on my face, but it has 17% Zinc Oxide in it. I put this on if I’m just running out to get the mail and don’t care how I look. I won’t repurchase it), and several others. I just bought Dermaquest Zinclear SPF30 from my work because it has a whopping 18% Zinc Oxide. It goes on clear, but the verdict is still out on whether it clogs my pores. It’s also not cheap, so I will probably just stick with the Shiseido.

Finally, to stay protected from the sun I try not to stay outside for more than a half hour a day, unless I’m going to the beach or pool, and then I try to avoid the peak sun hours, and sit in the shade. I always wear sunglasses, and have recently started wearing a hat to the beach. I am obsessed and don’t keep a lot of windows open in the daytime, since UVA rays can penetrate house windows, as well as car windows. I’m even more crazy because I want to switch to compact fluorescent bulbs in my house lights, but I haven’t been able to find out if they emit UV rays or not! Some fluorescent or Tungsten lights do emit UV rays. Also, certain medications can make you more photo-sensitive, so while you may not normally burn easily, if you’re on Accutane, The Pill, retinoids, or even Benadryl and several other medications, take extra precautions.

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104 Responses to “The Best Sunscreen and Sunblock”

  1. Stacy K Says:

    Hey there-
    Have you done any research on the best sunscreens for babies? I’m very curious to know what you think about what’s best for them to protect their fragile skin. Thanks!

  2. Jeni Says:

    Hi Stacy!
    I haven’t really researched sunscreens best for babies, but I would use a sunscreen that has zinc oxide as its main sunscreen ingredient. I don’t know is “baby” sunscreens are really good for babies, but I would suggest this one: Blue Lizard Baby – because it’s for sensitive baby skin, it doesn’t have any chemical sunscreen ingredients, and it has a high level of zinc oxide! It’s not waterproof, though.

  3. Stacy K Says:

    Thanks-I definitely need a waterproof one though!

  4. Stacy K Says:

    Actually the Blue LiIzard one is waterproof for 4 hours it seems.

  5. anna Says:

    Hey! I was wondering if you’ve ever tried using Shisheido after using Retin-A on your skin. I’ve found that when using any sunscreen other than Aveeno SPF 15 after using Retin-A the night before, my skin starts to burn almost as soon as I apply sunscreen. Does this happen with the Shisheido for you at all?

    Thanks so much!

  6. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I know what you mean about that burning feeling because a lot of sunscreens do that to me too. I don’t usually have any burning sensation with the Shieseido, or if I do, it’s hardly noticeable. Aside from the 13.9% zinc oxide, it does have 7.4% octinoxate, and that is a chemical sunscreen ingredient, so there is a chance it could make your face burn.

    I sometimes have burning with my self-tanner L’Oreal Sublime Glow for face, and that is only SPF 15, however it has 4 different chemical sunscreen ingredients.

    I would suggest trying the Shiseido, and if it burns, then just return it back to the department store. Or you could test it at the store.

  7. anna Says:

    Awesome, thank you! :) I ended up buying some sample sizes on ebay, so hopefully that will give me an idea (if they’re real!) if I’ll sting or not.

    Thank you again for all the info! I love your site. :)

  8. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Oh, well let me know what you think once you get the samples! I’ve never seen samples for the Shiseido sunscreen, but just looked on ebay, and they look real. I had a problem once where I bought a moisturizer (Clinique Moisture On-Line) that comes in a jar on ebay, and it was filled with a fake moisturizer, but if something comes in a tube it should be fine.

  9. anna Says:

    Hey! I got the samples and am in love–it feels so great on my skin and didn’t burn at all, even though I’ve used Retin-A for the past few nights. Yay! I found a free shipping code from Sephora and ordered a bottle, plus got 3 fun free samples. Thanks so much for the info! :)

  10. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Oh that’s great! I was going to feel bad if you didn’t like the sunblock, or if it burned!

  11. anna Says:

    Hey Jeni!

    Nope, absolutely loved it! You are the best :) Thanks so much for your blog!


  12. detta Says:

    hey Jeni…, greetings for you from me…. i live in asia, and my question is a bit similar like Anna, i was just wondering, what about shiseido sunblock spf 30, is it also good to use if i applied retin a the night before? what about clinique city block spf 25, is it also can? And by the way, i dont know why, but i feel retin a make my pores actually bigger and not smaller…, is that possible? i dont use any moisturizer yet my skin still little bit oily….

  13. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I have not used either of those sunscreens, but if the Shiseido spf 30 has Zinc Oxide in it, it should be good. I use Clinique City Block spf 40, and really like it, but it’s probably not good for oily skin because it is a little bit shiny. The Shiseido I use has a nice matte finish to it. Again, if the City Block 25 has zinc oxide in it, it should be good, but you might want to try it at the store first, to make sure it’s not shiny.

    If you have oily skin, you probably don’t need to use a moisturizer. I haven’t heard of Retin-a making pores appear bigger. Products can’t really shrink pores, but they can make them appear smaller, but reducing oil and buildup in the pores. Pores can appear bigger if they get clogged. How long have you been using the Retin-a? Is it Retin-a, or Retin-a Micro? Retin-a shouldn’t clog your pores since it doesn’t contain pore-clogging ingredients, but I am sure there is a small chance that you could have an unusual reaction to it.

  14. detta Says:

    dear Jenny, i tried to look for the ingredients both in shiseido and clinique on web, but couldnt find it. If i look for the ingredients at the store, i never feel convenient cause the shop girl usually only display the product to be tested on skin but dont display the whole package where i can see the ingredients. And the if i ask to see the ingredients, their face will so much different as if they dont like me… and the truth i dont like being treated like that, hehe… is there anyway i can search the ingredient at web? oh and ive been using retin a 0,025 for 3 months and still see the pores on cheek. what do you think if i move to tretinoin 0,05 mix together with AHA in one cream?

  15. detta Says:

    hei sorry for wrong tiping your name Jeni,,, so sorry

  16. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I briefly tried looking for the ingredients online but couldn’t find them. My big pet peeve is when companies don’t publish their ingredients on their sites!!! I think the Shiseido should have zinc oxide in it, because I think all their sunscreens do. At the Clinique counter, you could ask for a sunscreen with zinc oxide in it, and then the counter girls can look for you. I hate asking them to see the packaging too, but I do it, because I won’t buy anything without reading the ingredients.

    I briefly checked the Product Reviews on, which is a good place to search for reviews and ingredients.

    You could ask your doctor if you could switch to a higher strength retin-a. It sounds like your skin should be able to handle it. When you use retin-a, you are not supposed to use other active ingredients (like AHA) with it, since it might be too harsh.

  17. detta Says:

    thanks a lot Jeni,……

  18. anna Says:

    Is it possible that Shiseido sunscreen is making my pores appear smaller?!? Too good to be true!

  19. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I guess it’s possible! The Shiseido sunscreen has sort of a matte-finish, so maybe it’s good at oil control (which I wouldn’t know about since I have dry skin). And some sunscreens are sort of shiny, so they might accentuate pores more, while the Shiseido doesn’t do that at all. I know Zinc Oxide is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, so it could be somehow calming your skin as well. Glad you like it!!

  20. Artemis Says:

    Hi. I just read your article on sunscreens and I would just like to say that although too much sun is very damaging to the skin, not enough sun can be equally as damaging to the whole body. With so much talk going on about protecting the skin from the sun, many people are now becoming vitamin D deficient due to lack of sun on their skin. As a rule, the skin needs around 15 minutes a day of sunlight and this should be on as much area of skin as possible and without sunscreen. Of course you wouldn’t go out in the middle of the hottest part of the day to do this but it really is essential for good health. I live in Australia which has the most damaging sun in the world and I still manage to expose my skin to some sun each day without sunscreen. You just need to be sensible about when and how you do it. BTW, when I am going to be in the sun for longer periods I use Miessence reflect outdoor balm. It is made from certified organic ingredients and has zinc oxide as a protectant. I love it….It’s also great for nappy rash…

  21. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I recently wrote a post about Vitamin D and sun exposure: . Yeah I had recently read that Australia has the most skin cancer of all countries!

  22. Prêt-à-Porter Prostitute Says:

    thanks for the review i’ve been reading good things about the shisedio. i didnt like the clinque one myself because i didnt like the tint (being its lighter than my skin color)

  23. Kim Says:

    Hi Jeni,
    I am wondering what you think the best waterproof and/or helioplex sunscreen is. I have a toddler going to a rooftop playground with sprinklers during the peak hours for camp. She is fair and I have had skin cancer. I almost don’t want to send her, but I don’t want her to be the only child in the neighborhood who has to sit at home this summer. Thank you so much for your research!

  24. Kim Says:

    Can you tell me how long to keep sunblock? What is the rule of thumb? Some don’t have any expiration date.

  25. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Usually sunscreen is good for about a year after you purchase it. And the rules say to apply about a shotglass full of sunscreen to cover an adult, and then reapply after two hours of being in the sun. That’s a lot of sunscreen!

    I would look for a waterproof sunscreen with a high percentage of zinc oxide in it. The one I like for myself that isn’t too expensive is Blue Lizard Sport SPF 30+. It only has 6% zinc oxide in it, though. This is hard to find at the drugstore, but it’s the only drugstore sunscreen I know of that contains zinc oxide. You can also find it at

    At the drugstorre, as a second choice, I would go with the highest percentage of Titanium Dioxide you can find (usually this will be in the baby sunscreens, or ones marked for sensitive skin). I personally don’t like Helioplex.

    If price isn’t an issue, I did a quick search online, and found this: Elta Gold UV Sport SPF 50 Waterproof which has 9% zinc oxide. There are lots of different sunscreens if you do a search for “waterproof zinc oxide” but none of them are cheap.

    Also, just make sure to reapply the sunscreen after two hours, especially after being in the water. It’s only my opinion, but I wouldn’t keep your child home, since some sun is good for people (as long as it’s done in moderation), and everyone loves to play outside!

  26. eva Says:

    I have found my dream sunscreen – UV Natural from Austraila
    It goes on like a moisterizer and has….24.8% zinc in it and it is Vegan. I am very pleased with this and they make an Adult, Baby and Sport (if you are in the water for longer than 2 hours).

    it goes on liek a primer under makeup and is all natural ingredients. It is in the top 5 On EWG website as being non-hazardous.

    Dont slather it on like other sunscreens or sunblock, you put it on like a cream.
    its a dream come true for me,

    you can get a sample at for about $2 to try it. It comes in 1.7 oz for about $15 and 5.2 oz for about $27 – To me it is more than worth it as I am so pleased with it. And I am like Jeni always searching fo rthe perffect, non pasty white, sunblock.

    HTH :)

  27. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Wow 24% zinc oxide is great! I was just looking at the ingredients, and I would probably be afraid to try it on my face because grapeseed oil is one of the first ingredients, and it’s on my list of pore-cloggers – and I am really prone to acne. But it would be great to try for my body (especially the waterproof one), or for people that aren’t acne-prone. I have some other sunscreens that have maybe 20% zinc in them, but they go on a bit white. Thanks for the recommendation.

  28. eva Says:

    thanks Jeni for the tip on the grapeseed oil, i will be on the look out for any iritations, i have always been blessed with clear skin and never been prone to acne, so at 46 I think i will be ok with this one….i was in my local health food store last night and tried the Sport on my hand and it has a definate smell to it – like insense, and i think its the added oils like sandlewood and pouchuli (spelling?) – and i could smell it all the way home, I think if you are under water though like snorkling or diving it wouldnt bother so much….I love your site – thank you for all the great tips. Your blog on sunblock was what set me out to research some better ones with zinc in them…thanks again!

  29. eva Says:

    jeni and all
    check out
    they have a soap that has 10% zinc in it – it looks to be a nice protection daily – in addition to sunblock of course – Jeni – thoughts on it. :)

  30. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Before spring/summer gets here I will be testing some new sunscreens, so I will definitely look for that UV Natural one. If you aren’t prone to acne, that sunscreen should be great for you. I don’t like the smell of incense, so hopefully I can find it at a store and test it there first.

  31. kylie Says:

    hi jeni! love your site so much. what do you think about roc? mine is sensitive + oily skin, and pharmacist recommended me to use on that. any comment?

  32. kylie Says:

    opss.. forgotten to tell you that, is roc minesol 50+

  33. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Roc seems like a good product line because it contains retinol. The reason I don’t use Roc, though, is because they don’t state how much retinol is in their products, so there’s no way to know if it’s a lot, or just a tiny amount.

    I just looked on the Roc website (I looked under Canada), and found the product you mentioned. It doesn’t say if it contains retinol, but it does contain Tinosorb as the sunscreen ingredient, so that’s good. If you like the product, I would continue using it. If you find it causes your face to sting or burn, then I would switch to a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide (which is gentler for sensitive skin).

    This is my post about retinol products:

  34. Lexa Says:


    I am really into keeping myself protected from the sun since i use retina as well as tri luma. I also use glycolic acid to keep my skin even toned. i currently use aveeno spf 45 but i feel like i am still getting tan. is it true that with the Shieseido you dont tan at all? if so i will defiantly try this product because i am a college student and constantly walking around outside from class to class.


  35. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    When I would go to the beach before and use any ole sunscreen (even spf 45) I would still get a little darker, and get freckles all over my face after an hour or two. Since I’ve been using the Shiseido, there’s only once in the last two years that I got any freckles on my face – it was after snorkeling for two hours, and between the strong sun/water magnifying the sun and washing off the sunscreen, it wasn’t enough protection.

    Otherwise, my face never gets tan when I wear the Shiseido, and I am white as a ghost. I am pretty sure it’s because of the high level of zinc oxide, so any sunscreen with at least 10% zinc oxide would probably be good enough to not get a tan at all, in normal circumstances. Even the best sunscreen is not 100% protection from the sun, though:(

  36. eva Says:

    hi jen – i hope you are well – can you let me know if these ingredients look ok for a sunblock

    Kanana Skin Care
    Green Screen™’s Ingredients:
    Eldorado Springs Artesian Spring Water, Lanolin, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Zinc oxide, at a concentration of 20%. Golden Jojoba Oil, Mango Butter, Natural Vitamin E, Soy Lecithin. Zinc oxide, at a concentration of 20%.

    thank you very much!

  37. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Yes 20% zinc oxide would make that a really good sunscreen in my opinion. It should be really effective at preventing unwanted sun exposure.

  38. eva Says:

    thanks Jeni!

  39. Holly Says:

    Hi Jeni,

    I love your blog and have gotten so much useful information from it, thank you! I want to try the Shiseido sunscreen and I was wondering, do you have to use an oil cleanser or special makeup remover to clean you face at the end of the day?


  40. Sue Says:

    Hey Jeni,
    I was just wondering… which product should I use for daily use? I also have acne prone skin and they’re sensitive too. And, i don’t wanna clog my pores cuz i already have enlarges pores on my nose. Can u recommend me some products that i can use? Thanks a lot!

  41. lovy Says:

    jeni…, i was told that sunblock that is water resistant is not good for me to use everyday, and i’ve been reccommended to reapply a non water resistant sunblock every 2 or 3 hours if needed, (cause basically my activities are indoors not outdoors, i only need sun protection when i’m in the car every morning going to my office, then i’m quit safe in my office until night). So do you have reccomendation on shiseido sunblock that can mattifying also and not accentuate my big pores, not clogging (i’m acne prone), but actually not water resistant?

  42. lovy Says:

    what do you think about coppertone sunblock spf 45?

  43. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I’ve never seen Coppertone that has Zinc Oxide in it, or Mexoryl, so unless they’ve changed their ingredients, I wouldn’t use it.

  44. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I haven’t heard of water-resistant sunscreen being bad, but it’s just a little harder to wash off your face. Some of the non-water resistant sunscreens I’ve tried lately that don’t clog my pores include Glycolix Sunscreen SPF 30. It has a matte finish, but it has a very slight white cast. Dermaquest ZinClear Spf 30 is good, but it sort of has a dewy finish, so it’s a bit shiny looking. SkinCeuticals makes one that has a sort of matte finish, but it doesn’t have as much Zinc in it.

  45. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Sue, This page has a basic run-down of the products I use every day. This page also lists a bunch of good products to use if you are acne-prone.

  46. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I don’t use a special cleanser to get the sunscreen off at night. Shiseido does make some sort of oil-based cleanser that you can use to really cleanse your skin well, and it’s specifically designed to get off their sunscreen, but I haven’t used it. I find by the end of the day, just a regular cleanser cleans my face good enough. I do want to try an oil-based cleanser by DHC or Shu Eumura but I haven’t done so yet.

  47. Sally Says:


    I love your blog too. I use retin a and find that I am having trouble finding products for sun screen that don’t sting and burn too, even after letting my skin dry for up to 30 minutes after washing in the morning. I’m using an Aveeno foam cleanser and it doesn’t burn at all.

    I need to have a moisturizing cream and eye cream for night that doesn’t burn and can’t find one. Clinque burns, Prescriptives burns. I found one item that I think is a big clogger: Squalene shark oil and lavender (don’t ask me).

    I’m going to try the Shiseido for sunscreen but what about night?

    Thank you.


  48. sasha Says:

    Hi Jeni,

    I am looking for the perfect sunscreen and read your blog with interest. What did you not like about skinceuticals spf 30? I was thinkign of trying it until i read your bolg about sheishdo. However, i read on a dermatologist site you shouldn;t use waterproof sunblock everyday as it will really damage your skin. Finalqueation, have you tried Jan marini sunscreen – read on other sites how good it is and womndered what you thought.


  49. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I used the Skinceuticals UV Defense spf 30 when it was recommended to me by a Dermatologist. It’s been a while since I used it, but I think I thought it was fine. I can’t remember if it left any sort of white cast on my face, but if it did I think it was minimal. I prefer the Shiseido since it has a higher concentration of zinc oxide.

    I haven’t heard that using a waterproof sunscreen daily will hurt your skin, but I will look into that. The Skinceuticals contains Hexylene Glycol, which is on my pore-clogging list – but it might still be okay for acne-prone skin, since it’s just one ingredient. I used the sunscreen when I had really bad acne, so it was hard to tell if it made it worse or not. If you don’t get acne, then the Skinceuticals should be a good option to try.

    I haven’t heard anything about the Jan Marini sunscreen. Do you know what it’s called?

  50. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I know what you mean about products burning, because I’ve had that happen to me when I’ve used Retin A Micro. I now use Differin, which doesn’t have any adverse effects, but whether or not it’s as effective as Retin A Micro for wrinkles, is still something I don’t know for sure. I’m also going to try Tazorac soon as well.

    Anyway, now that I’m not using Retin A Micro, my face doesn’t usually burn, so it’s hard to say with certainty what won’t cause a burning sensation. I would look for something without any active ingredients. I like Nivea Creme (which is super cheap), and Clinique Moisture On-line. Another good moisturizer, if you have dry skin, is Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask. Even though it’s a mask, I just use it like a moisturizer when my skin is dry. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion may be okay too.

  51. Sally Says:

    Hi again Jeni,

    I took my Origins products back due to burning. I purchased MAC moisturizer and so far it’s fantastic. No burning. I am still not sure about the sunscreen on the face though. I continue to use Neutrogena with Helioplex.

    Thank you.


  52. lovy Says:

    hi jeni…, thanks for your response. i didnt buy coppertone. Other brands that you mentioned is not not available in my country, so i am still interested in shiseido. Do you think i can use their compact foundation spf 32++ as sunblock and not using anything underneath (since i have oily skin) and consider it my sunblock on days that i dont get out much often, just drive to my office?

  53. lovy Says:

    jeni, these are the ingredients of shiseido spf 32, could you please comment whether it has ingredients that potentially pore clogging, and what do you think of the ingredients alcohol in it? THe Shiseido spf 55 that you have contains alcohol also as i already checked yesterday. These are the ingredients of shiseido spf 32 : Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.4%, Zinc Oxide 9.3%. Other Ingredients: Water, Cyclomethicone, Dipropylene Glycol, Hydrogenated C6-14 Olefin Polymers, Dimethicone, Talc, Polybutylene Glycol/Ppg-9/1 Copolymer, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone Copolyol, Xylitol, Methyl Gluceth-10, Glutathione, Zinc Myristate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Thiotaurine, Scutellaria Baicalensis Extract, Ectoin, Dextrin Palmitate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Isostearic Acid, Calcium Stearate, Aluminum Distearate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Alcohol, Trisodium Edta, Bht, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Fragrance, Titanium Dioxide.

  54. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    The ingredients in that Shiseido spf 32 appear to be okay for acne. I think a compact foundation with zinc oxide in it would be a good choice for every day use. You could always put on something stronger on days you actually go outside for a while. The alcohol is so far down the list that it’s not a big deal. You could look up the product on the product reviews on also to see what people say about it.

  55. lovy Says:

    great Jen…., thanks s alot. O yes sorry forget to mention that those list of ingredients i mentioned is for the lotion type. The compact said its non comedogenic but it has petrolatum in it so havent buy it yet…, just bought their lotion today after reading your comment :)

  56. eva Says:

    Hi Jeni – here is a new block i just found – I was able to test it at my Health Food Store and love it – no white case and goes on like a moisturiser, I am loving it
    Devita Solar Block 30. or for a sample to try before purchasing.

    Have a great day!

    Ingredients: ACTIVE INGREDIENT: MICRONIZED ZINC OXIDE: 14% (TRANSPARENT) Purified water, aloe vera gel, Japanese Green Tea Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Vegetable Glycerin, (Dexapathenol) Pro-Vitamin B-5, Vitamin E Acetate, Olive Oil, Lecithin, Shea Butter, Copper Gluconate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Olive Squalene, Vitamin A Palmitate, Hyaluronic Acid, NaPCA, Essential Oils of Lavender, Chamomile, Rose Hip Oil, Centella Asiatica Extract, Seaweed Extract, Riboflavin Phosphate, Carrageenan, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Allantoin, Grapeseed Extract

  57. eva Says:

    OOPS – the one i posted earliere is fo rthe body – here is the face/mosituriser. It also has rhatany extracxt that is beging to get notice as an natural sunscreen, however probably not as highly rated as the beloved zinc xide. Thisoneis made for senstive skin prown to breakkouts. i dont have that issue, but wanted to let everyone know that.

    Devita Solar Protection Moisturizer SPF 30
    Contains: Purified Water, Aloe Vera Gel, Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides (derived from coconut oil), Stearic Acid, Vegetable Glycerin, Rhatany Extract (Natural Sun Screen), Glyceryl Stearate (from vegetable oil), Soy Lecithin, 14% Micronized Zinc Oxide [> 100nm – un-coated], Vitamin E Acetate, Allantoin, Comfrey Root Extract, Grapeseed Extract.

    You can get a sample of this at for $1.25 for 1/4 oz if you want to try before purchasing,

    Here’s a bit on Rhatany Root that i found on the net. Here is the link as well and a much longer article link for those interested. The things facinate me.

    Rhatany Root is sold on http://www.gardenof – however its all raw materials and i wouldnt know how much to use, so i;ll stick with the pre-made.

    Rhatany Root CO2-extract is a new bioactive cosmetic ingredient with inovative UV-protection for daily skin care.

    The Rhatany Root CO2-extract contains UV-absorbing neolignans and norneolignans and other skin caring ingredients with anti-oxidative, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory efficacy. The lignans and their derivatives have a specific extinction E´ of at least 20 cm²/mg in the whole erythrema active UV-B band of radiation between 280-320 nm and absorb as well in the UV-A2 range between 320 and 340 nm. They are transparent for the pigmenting less energetic part of the light above 350 nm. This extract is ideally suitable for daily personal care cosmetics and sun care products as prophylaxis against skin aging. It supports the endogenous repair system of the skin, reduces anti-oxidative stress and the formation of lipid peroxides. It is also used in tooth pastes and oral care products as well as in hair care products.

  58. Kim Says:

    My three-year-old daughter had an accident and scraped away several layers of skin on her chin and lips. I found a sunscreen called Dermaquest Zinclear SPF 30 that has 18.6% zinc oxide. I am not sure if it goes on smoothly, but I may purchase it. It’s not cheap, but it’s my poor child. Do you Jeni or anyone have any feedback on it?

  59. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your daughter. I actually have that sunscreen because we sold it at the spa I worked at, and I like how it has a high percentage of zinc oxide. It is a good sunscreen, and I would recommend it. It goes on smoothly, and it goes on clear as well. I am not sure if it’s a good idea or not to put it on over healing skin, but if your doctor says it’s okay, I think this sunscreen would be a good choice. The tube is pretty big, so it should last a while.

  60. Li Says:

    I used to put on Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock everyday because it was rated highly of. My sister said that putting on sunscreen everyday is bad for your skin, so I stopped one day. Within a few days, I notice my face looked aged and dried up (and I’m only 26!). This is when I realize I needed a sunscreen with moisturizer. I am guessing that the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer is meant to be a sunblock and not a moisturizer, correct? Now I’m in the market for a new sunscreen with moisturizer for daily use. I am currently using Aveeno’s Active Naturals Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer, SPF 30. I rather like it because it is so light it absorbs immediately upon application. Any other suggestions? I remember reading a review on about a certain active ingredient in sunscreens that is not good for picture taking because it makes your face shine, would you happen to know which ingredient that is? I know I have a problem with certain parts of my face being shiny in pictures and I don’t like that (I suspect it is the sunscreen but it could also be that my face is combination oily too – the parts that are usually shiny in pictures are my forehead and sides of my nose)! I also notice a new product on the market that is highly recommended, it’s called Fallene Cotz SPF 58 Water Resistant UVB/UVA Sunscreen and it advertises as only containing Titanium & Zinc (physical blockers). Any comment on it? Thanks!

  61. Kim Says:

    First I want to say how much your blog has helped me. I just came from the plastic surgeon for my daughter that I mentioned that was in an accident. He suggested a sunblock called Ti-silc. I don’t even think it contains zinc! What’s that about. He gives it to post-op patients who have had laser surgery etc. I was set on the Dermaquest. I am also looking for something for her lip that was cute. This is so confusing.

  62. Kim Says:

    I guess what I am asking is what is more important, the higher SPF or the amount of zinc oxide? Dermaquest Zinclear has a higher percentage of zinc oxide, but the Ti-Silk has a higher SPF. Sorry for so many questions, but I bought all of it and I am not sure which is best.

  63. lovy Says:

    is tinosorb pore clogging or not?

  64. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I looked up T-silc, and it contains 8% Titanium Dioxide. I personally prefer Zinc Oxide because it covers a wider spectrum of UV rays, however Titanium Dioxide is good too. A lot of doctors only carry one or two brands of products, so they only offer you products that they sell.

    I think it’s best to find a product that has both a high SPF and a high Zinc Oxide content. The T-silc also contains 7.5% Octinoxate, which is what gives it a higher SPF. SPF rates UVB rays (the ones that burn) only, and doesn’t list how effective a product is at preventing UVA rays. The reason I like the Shiseido sunscreen is because it has a high level of Zinc Oxide, and a high SPF. For me personally, I would use the Dermaquest Zinclear when I’m not going to be outside too much, and then I’d switch to the Shiseido when I’m in the sun longer. Or I would look around for cheaper sunscreens that have high levels of Zinc Oxide, that are SPF 50+, and that are cheaper. If you check all the comments in this post, I know some other people have found sunscreens that meet these requirements. I should round up all these sunscreens and put them together in a list!

  65. Sterling Silver Says:

    I would definitely recommend trying the Mexoryl again. I use Anthelios Lait SPF 45. My skin is acne prone and it has been the only thing that hasn’t exacerbated the breakouts. I chose Mexoryl for the reason you mentioned–that it’s photo stable. I started using it about three years ago, before Mexoryl was approved for use in the U.S. Even though you can buy it in the U.S. now, I still order mine from Canada! I just trust the Canadian food and drug administration more than I trust ours, so I feel more comfortable using a formulation that comes from up north.

  66. Kim Says:

    Coolibar sun protectant clothing advertises Total Block and Vanicream as great clear zinc oxide sunblocks. Does anyone have any experience with these brands?

  67. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I’ve used both Total Block and Vanicream and like them both. I can’t remember if the Vanicream goes on clear or not, and I can’t remember the Zinc Oxide percentage of the two products. Total Block goes on pretty clear, but it didn’t work as well under makeup as some of the other sunscreens I’ve tried. But overall, either of those is better than most of the drugstore sunscreens, I think.

  68. Bunny Says:

    I tried UV Natural 30 and really REALLY wanted to like it because of the high zinc content and the anti-oxidants. But it was much too whitening and greasy. On my face, it seemed to separate after a few hours into little white globs — ick! I tried the UV Natural 15 and it was better – no whitening. But still extremely greasy and I couldn’t imagine using it as a body sunscreen. I think it would leave a greasy residue on everything my skin came in contact with. I can’t image how some people absolutely love this stuff …? So, I’m still searching for that perfect zinc-only sunscreen with antioxidants – and my new criteria is that it must be NON-GREASY as well!

  69. rupali Says:

    thoughts on colorscience?

  70. Gwen Says:

    hi, i’ve just bought shiseido gentle sun protection lotion for sensitive skin and babies, spf30 PA+++ zinc oxide 13.9% w/w, titanium dioxide 3.3% w/w.

    After 5 days of using my skin has slight breakout. I THINK it’s because it cant be thoroughly removed using normal makeup remover, is it hard to remove because of the high cyclomethicone/dimethicone content inside? so i have to use an oil-based remover? or issit due to some pore-clogging ingredients?

    Ingredients: cyclomethicone, water, zinc oxide, butylene glycol, dimethicone, hydrogenated C6-14 olefin polymers, titanium dioxide, pentaerythrityl tetraoctanoate, glycerin, polybutylene glycol/PPG-9/1 copolymer, polymethyl methacrylate, dimethicone copolyl, dextrin palmitate, xylitol, methyl gluceth-10, trimethylsiloxysilicate, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, Scutellaria baicalensis extract, zinc myristate, thiotaurine, ectoin, disteardimonium hectorite, aluminum distearate, aluminum hydroxide, isostearic acid, silica, trisodium EDTA, tocopherol, phenoxyethanol.


  71. Susan Says:

    I used the Ti-Silc for 5 days on a river trip, and had two unpleasant results: one, it stained all of my clothing (my new expensive sunscreen clothing) with the “flesh-tone” dye in it; and two, though my skin did not get burned or freckled, it was like leather by the end of the trip. Any ideas? The company I got it from told me “everyone knows that sunscreen stains clothes.” I didn’t.

    I went on a sailing trip for 5 days a few years ago and used Oil of Olay Complete Moisturizer all over my body and got NO burn at all. This is what I use on my face on a daily basis. I should have used it on the river trip perhaps.

  72. jay Says:

    looks like not too many guys post on site, but you ladies seem to be very knowledgeable about sunblock. i recently purchased neutrogena ultra sheer sunblock spf 55 with helioplex at costco. the packaging says it’s #1 dermatologist recommended (yes, i’m a sucker for adevertising). is this truly a great all around sunblock? when i talk to people, everyone seems to recommend blue lizard by far. is one sunblock clearly better than the other, or are they both equal? help! i’m clueless with sunblock and don’t want to get burned this summer.

  73. Sunshine1027 Says:

    Hi Stacy,

    My good friend just recommended TruKid Sunny Days SPF for me. I have super sensitive skin, and she said she was using this on her baby daughter, who is extremely fair, and also suffers from mild eczema. She explained that she researched the EWG and it had a great rating, not to mention, the mineral active ingredients don’t irritate sensitive skin the way chemical sunscreen ingredients do.

    Her daughter is almost a year old, but her whole family uses this, and now, so do I.

    Best Wishes!

  74. Silmarien Says:

    I use Anthelios for almost a year now and it never caused me breakouts. If you ever come to Europe buy Anthelios Fluide Extreme. It’s a light milk that you have to shake vigorously before using, and it’s what LRP recommend for oily and acne-prone skin here in Europe. And the European health authorities are really strict too, especially with all the regulations from the EU.

  75. Zoey Says:

    Hey Jenni!
    Thanks for your article! :)
    I am currently using a sunscreen called QV Face moisturising day cream with SPF 30+. It’s great as it doesn’t cause me breakouts or give a white cast, I also like its non greasy cream texture too. HOWEVER after reading your post about zinc oxide, I’m worried that this product doesn’t provide adequate protection.

    It’s active ingredients are:
    Octyl methoxycinnamate 7%
    Zinc oxide 4%

    You mentioned that you would only consider sunscreens above 5% zinc oxide, is 4% really not good enough? I live in Australia….. so the UV rays here a pretty high >.<

    Thanks in advance! :))

  76. Kelly Says:

    Hi Jeni,
    Did you know that Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55 has alcohol in it? I read it on (when you sort on ‘most helpfull’ it’s the very first review that mentions it) There are also pore clogging ingredients in it, but not at the top of the list. And it has fragrance in it too, which can be very irritating, it’s not good for your skin. These are the reasons I don’t buy it (and because it’s too expensive for me;)…)
    Have you ever heard of COTZ (Contains Only Titanium and Zinc)? They sell it on It has al the right ingredients and no bad ones, except for balm mint, which can be irritating according to If this weren’t in it, I would definately try it. Have you ever tried it?
    Also do you know if it really matters if a product mentions it is PA+++ when it comes to skin aging? Or is it suffecient when the label says it protects against both UVA and UVB rays? The whole PA rating thing sounds like a big hype to me.
    And are the sunscreens you’re talking about the only ones you’ve tried, or are there more mineral sunscreens (preferably without fragrance and pore clogging ingredients) you could recommend?

  77. Holland Says:

    Hi Jeni,
    I have been following along on this site since last year, but I’m wondering if maybe you aren’t doing it anymore? I’m finally writing in with my own questions, as I HAVE to figure out this sunscreen thing. Main thing I’m looking for is something that is highly water resistant, but doesn’t cause this freaky cyst reaction I get on my nose from some ‘very water resistant’ sunscreens. Every sunscreen I’d ever tried on my face had caused the reactions you’ve described above (rashing, burning, etc.) and now I think I understand why, so, thanks! I have hyper sensitive skin on my face, and almost the opposite on my nose – very oily & large pores. Another surfer recommended the Shiseido UV stick, and I love it – I get no rash & no problems at all, which is great, and it stays on when I’m surfing, which is crucial. But it won’t stay put on my oily nose even indoors – just streaks right off. I like that it gives the rest of my face (sometimes my skin gets blotchy) an even appearance (meaning I like that it’s water-resistant makeup, at the same time as UV protection.) I don’t sweat a lot on my face at all – it’s just my skin’s oil on my nose that causes it to slide off…
    For a while, I used the Shiseido UV powder compact just on my nose, and it DID stay put, even when in the water! But once, I think because I wore sunglasses on top of the powdered nose (guess some sweat got trapped?) I got this horrible cyst on the bridge of my nose that eventually left a scar. I canNOT tell what it is that caused that reaction, and my dermatologist was no help at all (about any of this!) Now, I fear any other UV powder product, due to that incident. With the stick, once in a while I’ll get a very small version of the cyst, if I’ve used it on my nose, but only once in a while.
    I MUST find something to use on my nose, as I’m about to go out surfing again in a very sunny place. I guess I’ll need to forgo the tint coverage just on my nose – leaving me looking like Rudolph;-)… Any suggestions??
    Specifically – I have read a lot about Soleo, and it has high zinc, etc. It’s ingredients match UV Natural’s but supposedly are a little less whitening and less stinky. You balked at the grapeseed oil in UV Natural – do you think that could cause that cyst reaction, or is that more for acne? I’m not actually prone to acne the way some of my friends are, but I will get bumps if something irritates me, or a random pimple if something has clogged a pore…
    I hope you still are doing the column, as you always give great answers:-) Thanks!

  78. Joanne Says:

    Hi Jeni,

    I seem to have developed a sun allergy aka polymmorphus light eruption (sun rash)? I only break out at the beginning of summer or when I go south for a winter vacation. I have tried many types of sunscreens but nothing seems to help. Is there anything you could recommend? Thanks.

  79. Kim Says:

    Hey Jeni –

    Great info! I have been wondering how I could possibly get freckles/melasma through all the sunscreen I was piling on! Now I know….it did not have zinc!

    I was wondering if you had tried Burnout suncreen ( They have a “clean & clear zinc oxide sunblock” – it has 18.6% zinc in it. It is a bit cheaper than your fav at $16 for 3.4 oz.


  80. bobby Says:

    You have a great site. I am a guy looking for either a sunscreen or sunblock for my 6 yrd old that will be out all summer(in the pool and park) and I want to avoid tanning. She has wheat skin but the sun exposure makes her look worn out after only a few days out. Can you recommend something that I can apply(currently in the U.S)

  81. Jimmy Says:

    I actually did some research, and found that sunscreens shes using are not bad, but there are better ones for less money. Nano particles are a great concern too, because they promote free radicals ( destroys DNA and damages skin ). Use this website… the site rocks !

  82. Amy Says:

    I tried Jan Marini SPF 30 on a recommendation and thought I really liked it, until I used it while swimming yesterday and even thought I applied it 3 times within 2 hours I got scorched! :(

  83. hippie Says:

    I just found this site,i was wondering where do you find the shiseido ultimate sun protection cream?

  84. Alicia Says:

    my sister just bought Neutrogena sunblock of 70 SPF and i’m wondering if too much spf is ok? and also if it’s safe to apply it in the sensitive eye area?. Loving your info Jeni!.

  85. mb Says:

    you can find shiseido products at macy’s or nordstrom.

  86. cherie Says:

    Theres a product called Invisible Zinc, its a sunscreen that only contains zinc oxide and has mineral reflectors. I use the one for the face, and it works really well, also sits well under make-up. theres also different types for babies, water resistant, body,etc etc. I had always seen it in the supermarket, pharmacies etc, but never bought it. Great product. You can also order it online at

  87. Joan Bree Says:

    Hi there,
    I want to let you know about a new cool sun bathing accessory that gives 50+ UPV (ultra violet protection factor) called the Cush’n Shade.Its basically a portable head cushion and UV sunshade and can be used stand alone on the beach or it will attach to any beach /lounge chair. It will give your face and hair the highest protection and keep you comfortable while you relax in the sun. Of course you must be sure to wear good sun protection creams on the rest of your body while in the sun, but at least you know your face and hair are getting that extra protection.

  88. Justin Harwood Says:

    If you like you could try the Invisible Zinc sunscreen range that’s made for the harsh Australian sun. Remember that any Australian sunscreens have to undergo a stricter process of manufacture before they are given an SPF label.
    That is, SPF values on say American sunscreens would rate lower in Australia.

    I’m liking Invisible Zinc as it truly is invisible and 20%! It’s just that it seems hard to wash off and if not completely taken off seems to dry my skin.

  89. jen Says:

    do you have something against titanium dioxide?

  90. Laura Says:

    After reading your article I went out and bought Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55. And you are so right, this stuff is amazing! I have been looking forever for a sunscreen made just for the face. Ive tried Neutrogena Helioplex with unhappy results- white streaks. But Shiseido didn’t cause any problems. It absorbed quickly and didn’t feel greasy. I would say this is great for oily skin too. The $35 was definitely worth it! (Especially when you want to protect what’s most important part of your body. I use the cheaper stuff for my arms and legs.)

  91. Aina Says:

    Jeni an guys,
    and what about reapplying this your favourite Shiseido cream? i heard that the suncream should be reapplyied in every at least 1.5 hours. so if its so waterproof, so it will be difficult to wash it out and prepare to apply a new layer of cream;/ im planning to work in Las Vegas outside and its important for me to plan how i will protect my skins.. maybe clinique then its a better chose ?

  92. Gina Says:

    Hey Jeni,

    First of all I want to say I love this website. Very infomative.

    I’ve been using Shiseido Sun Protection Cream SPF 55 PA+++ for close to a year now. I simply love this product. I’ve recently bought some more and I noticed the difference in the active ingredients. It looks like they added more zinc oxide and titantium dioxide. The old one had octinoxate 7.4%, zinc oxide 13.6%, the new version has octinoxate 7.4%, zinc oxide 16.3%, and titantium dioxide 2.2%. The SPF and PA rating is the same. I would think the SPF value would increase. This surprises me. It’s great that there is more zinc oxide, but you figure it would correlate to the protection value.

  93. TripleL Says:

    How do you know the percentage of zinc oxide in Shiseido? I emailed them, they said they will not disclose their ingredient…

  94. Rose Says:

    Hey Jenni,

    Question: Is it okay to use either sunblock and still be able to use a makeup primmer? will using my regular moisturizer, the sunscreen and my makeup products even be okay for my skin? it seems like a lot. I got both the clinique and the Shiseido to see which I like best since i tend to have skin more on the oily side by the end the day. Any insight?

  95. Jo Says:

    Image Skincare has a great sunscreen/daily facial moisturizer with a fab 31% Zinc Oxide. It is also organic and paraben free and only about $30 for a large size tube. I have been using it for the past six months and it is great and I would highly recommend it.

  96. Folu Sopade Says:

    Hi Jenni,
    Thanks for your blog it is really informative.
    I have hyperpigmentation on my neck, can i use differin on it as i have prescription for my face. I read on your blog that it is a form of retinoid which helps with fading discolouration.
    i am currently using green cream and meladerm cream.
    Your views will be highly appreciated.

  97. Scarlett Says:

    You mention that you use Miessence Outdoor Reflect Balm when you’re outside for long periods of time. I was thinking of trying this product out. How is it in terms of “cosmetic elegance”? Does it have a greasy or matte finish? Does it give you a white appearance like most zinc sunscreens? I read one review that said the paste was almost gray colored, and that makes me worried that it could make me end up looking like a corpse…

  98. Laura Says:

    Another great sunscreen brand for your face is Lucrece. It’s a medical grade product line and they use only Zinc Oxide in their sunblocks. They have about 4 to choose from. I think they are all SPF 30 and won’t clog pores. They have two tinted, one regular clear and one silicone clear. They are a little pricey but they are great quality.

  99. Forget-Me-Not Says:

    The sunscreens from Clinique sounds great:)

  100. Lisa Says:

    Hi, I have really enjoyed reading your website, as i am looking for a zinc sunscreen that will not clog my pores. I have found one called invisible zinc esp, but am unsure if it has any pore clogging ingredients or irritants. It contains citrus medica limonium whch i have read is good for the skin, but on the other hand can irritate it!! Really confusing.

  101. Lisa Says:

    Hi, Following my last message, are there any other zinc sunscreens you can recommend. I was interested in the shiseido one but I can’t use anything with fragrance/perfume

  102. Larry Says:

    Jeni –

    I haven’t read all the comments but PLEASE BE CAREFUL in recommending metal related ingredients. Consumer Reports and others, caution that almost all mfgs have gone to nano technology which makes them go on smoother and invisible. However, preliminary research has shown nano sized particles can enter cells and cause cell damage/mutation. None of them tell you on the ingredients list about this tech.

    Not enough research has been done or enough time elapsed to determine real impact. Like so many modern technological advances what is thought to be benign can give results like the superfund cleanup sites. So getting away from hormone altering/affecting ingredients is not straight forward.

  103. Zinnia Says:

    Is Neutrogena Sunblock Lotion for Sensitive Skin any good? Thanks.

  104. euni Says:

    oh my god. You are almost as obsessed as me. The only thing I don’t do is close all my windows during the day.

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