This Sunscreen Will Change Your Life

Certain beauty products — think NARS blush in Orgasm, Clinique's Black Honey lipstick — are so good, they're practically famous and have devoted, loyal followings. While we love many of these, we've been wondering why others have been quietly flying under the radar. With that in mind, meet our series, Cult Classics, in which we'll introduce you to the products you should really, truly know about (and try, like, right now). They're not brand-new, but trust us: They've got staying power.

This will go down as the summer when I found the perfect sunscreen — the end a lifelong search. Let me back up: I was dealt a strange deck of cards when it comes to my skin. a) I am pale — if I am outside even for a short amount of time without sunscreen, it’s burn city. b) I'm a stickyphobic (you know, one who is scared of being covered in sticky things). As a kid, I had to ride a school bus home from a fair covered in cotton candy with no way to wipe it off — I've been traumatized ever since. c) I live for the beach, or a pool, or a river… There is nothing I like more than a day in the sun, by the water. (I’m never the girl with the floppy hat under the umbrella.)

This mishmash of traits makes for a tricky sunblock situation every summer. But no matter how much I hate the stuff, I am adamant about always wearing SPF. So I am constantly trying different formulas and on the lookout for something that doesn’t make me feel icky (or sticky). Usually, I end up feeling like the six-year-old two beach blankets down trying to wriggle away from his mom as she goos him up. Hey buddy, I can relate — that white stuff never rubs in.

Then, there's spray sunscreen. When it first came on the market, I thought it was a gift sent from the heavens. But it often doesn't provide the proper coverage, and I would end up with a red splotch here and there. Plus, it seems super-wasteful. How much of that spritz actually makes it onto your back if there is any sort of breeze? And then, there’s the aerosol issue.

So I continued my life as a sunscreen tester, until last month a bottle of L'Oréal Advanced Suncare Clear Cool Lotion SPF 30 ended up in my weekender. The product I squeezed onto my hand that day in Maine was not white, cream sunscreen. It was clear like most of the spray ones, but in gel form. It glided on my skin smoothly (and super-quickly), and before my limbs were covered it dissolved like an elevated version of hand sanitizer — with a summery smell. It left no residue and even had a bit of a cooling effect. I usually use a different sunscreen for my face (I am even more sensitive about stickiness on my mug), but this felt just as smooth no matter where I applied it. And no, I didn't break out.

Since the application process went so well, I was convinced this product wasn't going to do its job. But I ended my day just as pale as I started — even after a few reapplications — with not a red splotch in sight.

I know I'm being dramatic about this discovery. But seriously, sunscreen is one of the most important parts of a beauty routine. Finding one that actually makes me feel good is monumental — I'll be using this one for the rest of the summer, into fall, and for the long haul.

L'Oréal Advanced Suncare Clear Cool Lotion SPF 30, $9.99, available at Target.
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