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by Mary Jane
I am 64 years old, with sensitive, fair skin that’s prone to redness when I use products with harsh ingredients and fragrances. I prefer to use mineral-based sunscreens, and I tested the California Naturel Sunscreen SPF 30 ($35) to see if it would be a good addition to my sensitive skin sun protection arsenal.
I ceased sunbathing in my twenties. However, youthful sun naïveté resulted in the removal of two squamous cells (nose and upper lip), so I’ve been diligent for years about sun protection for my face and body and am always interested in hearing about the latest good-for-you sunscreen ingredients and research findings.
I expected the product to deliver proven, effective ingredients and protection, include antioxidants, moisturize without feeling oily, leave no white cast on my face, protect in full sun all day and, in general, be an elegant, all-purpose high SPF sunscreen that’s good for skin.
I used California Naturel on my face every morning. I found it worked equally well with and without a serum. The first thing I noticed was its slight medicinal smell; it does go away, but it’s definitely noticeable with every reapplication and may be annoying to some who prefer no fragrance. That said, my sensitive skin tolerated the ingredients well, and I had no redness or irritation. The product also leaves a slight whitish cast (zinc oxide is 20% of the active ingredients) when first applying, so you need to let it “sink” in and then spread on your face. Since I’m fair skinned, I prefer a tinted facial moisturizer/sunscreen on my face to give some color; I added my tried and true products — Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen ($45 in the shop) and Juice Beauty SPF30 Tinted Mineral Moisturizer ($29) — to see if that made a difference (any tinted facial moisturizer or makeup would probably work, as well). That combination gave my skin more of a glow than using California Naturel by itself, so that became my routine. The best test was a day at the beach with full sun exposure; I used California Naturel on my face (no tinted moisturizer added), hands and feet, reapplying often. I didn’t get sunburned, it felt light on my skin in the heat and it wasn’t too runny in the tube under those conditions.
The product’s ingredients are the usual ones present in other mineral sunscreen products (shea butter, pomegranate extract, sunflower, etc.) and the high zinc oxide content is proven and recommended by dermatologists for superior coverage — including helping to calm redness and irritated skin. To sum up, it’s a very good plant and mineral-based sunscreen with beneficial ingredients that does what it says and protects very well due to the zinc oxide. It won’t replace my two favorite tinted moisturizers sunscreens on my face, as I prefer some color with my sunscreen, but for times when you don’t need a color boost, it’s an excellent sunscreen and will be a beneficial addition to my sun protection arsenal. My two observations of note are the medicinal smell may be off-putting for some and fair-skinned ladies will need to add a bit of color for that summer glow.