Finding the perfect SPF and knowing exactly when you need to reapply, and how often, has made us feel like we've become true, responsible grown-ups. Now, with lockdown eased, we can spend a weekend in the park with our friends and not have to deal with the embarrassment of sunburnt skin. But along with that newfound diligence and lack of sunburn often comes something irritating — spots.
According to dermatologist Jennifer M Segal, MD, two things can cause sunscreen-related breakouts: occlusion of the pores by comedogenic materials, or a sensitivity reaction to chemical UV-blocking agents. Basically, some mineral sunscreens can sit on top of the skin and gunk up your pores, while the chemical ones can often irritate the skin.
Yep, hell hath no fury like acne-prone skin after a thick coating of zinc oxide. Your pores look at SPF like you might look at a big vat of lard: You can't seriously be considering putting that on, right? It's a cruel cosmic joke of damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Apply sunscreen and wait for the spots to start cropping up, or ditch it and risk melanoma and wrinkles. The choice on that one is pretty clear for us — so we had resigned ourselves to a summer full of blemishes.
Until now. Thanks to some forward-thinking developments in formulations, all of this is starting to change. "Traditionally, mineral 'blocks have been very thick, but newer micronised formulations of zinc and titanium dioxide are smooth, cosmetically elegant, and very light," says Dr Segal. Hallelujah.
Ahead, we've rounded up tried-and-tested mineral and chemical (for those of you allergic or unable to get on the mineral-SPF train) sunscreens that we've spent the last month slathering on our faces and bodies. Not one of these caused our skin to go ballistic, so we feel confident giving them our seal of approval. Click through to see which sun-protection products made the cut.
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