4 different suns

Last summer, I went on a voyage of discovery for new sunscreens, only to get hot and bothered by some horrible chemical concoctions and burnt by the high-priced and mediocre. I did manage to find some worthy of testing and we have since added two from Soleil Toujours to our store and soon to join us will be Heliotop. Good discoveries, but it is clearly time for another scan for sunscreens with anti-aging benefits. I’ve looked at same mainstream department store brands as well as some independents and here are those that I have ultimately rejected and those that I have selected for testing.


Ole Henriksen Protect The Truth Vitamin C SPF50 ($35)

Good name, but disappointing formula. I want to like this brand, but always find the products don’t quite add up. This sunscreen is really lacking though. It is surprising, in this day and age, that a caring brand would rely solely on chemical sunscreens — and Ole Henriksen has no less than five. There are some anti-aging additions to the formula, such as a good form of vitamin C, grape cell extract and thermus thermophillus (a marine bacteria) and algae. Most of the rest is a mix of silicones and copolymers, but the really off-putting part is all those controversial chemical sunscreen actives that can cause free radical damage.  

Olay Regenerist Regenerating Lotion SPF15 ($22.99)

Olay punches above most drugstore brands with two good quality anti-aging actives, niacinamide and Matrixyl. I am basing this on the listing on Drugstore.com as Olay’s website seems to be incomplete. Unfortunately, there are paraben preservatives (which a new study has linked to reproductive toxicity) and four chemical sunscreen actives.

Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF47 ($14)

I reviewed the old version of Josie Maran’s sunscreen a few years ago and mostly liked it. Strangely, I can’t see what is improved about this new version. If anything it seems to have taken a step back. The new version boasts Skin Boost STB, “a revolutionary blend of antioxidants, skin-soothers, and hydrators.” It is hard to see what this is apart from argan oil and green tea. The pomegranate (a good antioxidant) that was in the old version has gone. So too has apricot oil, which was the formula’s natural fragrance, only to be replaced by “perfume,” an unnamed chemical fragrance. The amount of silicone has been increased. I don’t think I’ll revisit it.

Shiseido Wetforce ($40)

The thinking behind this sunscreen is rather clever. Rather than trying to make the sunscreen waterproof, Shiseido’s scientists came up with a way to make water contact improve the performance of the sunscreen film. Of course, they don’t really explain why, but has something to do with ions and minerals in water. The formula has four botanical extracts, but the chemical sunscreen actives, silicones, chemical fragrance and talk, send it over to the reject pile.

Selected for testing

Andalou Naturals Skin Perfecting BB Beauty Balm SPF 30 ($19.99)

One of our community members suggested this one. I’m a bit concerned about whether 20% would leave a white cast. The plethora of botanical extracts including fruit stem cells, a berry complex, melon and red team make it well worth checking out.

tarte Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen ($32)

This launched relatively recently and, while definitely not for purists, there are some worthy and intriguing things about it. First it is a mineral sunscreen that, since it is made by a makeup brand, I bet will be cosmetically acceptable. Unusually, it has a sunscreen stabilizer that is usually used with unstable chemical actives. Interestingly, it is a very good “singlet-oxygen quencher” (eg powerful antioxidant), according to research. Also on the plus side are apple stem cells, two forms of moisture retainers, algae, passion flower and honeysuckle. Less appealing are the harsh preservatives, irritants such as propanediol and silicones.

ASDM Beverly Hills Tinted Physical Facial Sunscreen SPF35+ ($25)

ASDM Beverly Hills is a brand that we recently introduced to the Truth In Aging store after being impressed by the potent formulas and budget-friendly prices. The ASDM sunscreen majors on watermelon extract, which is so rich in lycopene that it protects against sunburn. What’s more there is silk peptides, rosehip, rice bran and nothing to dislike.

Elena Rubin Carpe Diem SPF28 ($59)

This is another brand that is new to the Truth In Aging store and we are eager to try the sunscreen. Mostly zinc oxide with moisturizing squalane and an interesting form of sugar complex from beets that promotes healthy bacteria on the skin. Although not formulated for purists, the ingredients are mostly benign including a natural anti-fungal called tropolone.

Releve Sun-Lite™ Moisturizing Organic Sunscreen ($29.99)

This sunscreen is good for what it doesn’t have as well as what it does. No titanium dioxide (which although widely used in mineral sunscreens is controversial) and no silicone. Apart from zinc oxide, the key ingredient is aloe, known for its sun protecting properties as well as moisturizing abilities. Moisture retaining phospholipids come from sunflower seeds, plus there’s a special kind of antioxidant pine extract.

Pratima Neem Rose Face Sunscreen SPF30 ($36)

Our community members gave a call out to this one and, in fact, we reviewed it some years ago. Time to revisit I think. The formula bolsters its zinc oxide with ingredients used in Ayurvedic medicine and essential oil of rose is an antioxidant as well as masking the sunscreen active’s chalky smell.

Consonant Skincare The Perfect Sunscreen SPF30 ($45)

So audaciously named that one just has to see if it lives up to it. On the face of it, it looks promising with plenty of natural extracts including antioxidant seabuckthorn and turmeric. It even promises no chalky residue.

MD Solar Sciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF50 ($39)

MD Solar Sciences is well-known to the Truth In Aging community. This is their first all mineral body sunscreen after two years in the making. It is mostly zinc oxide with a dab of titanium dioxide. It promises to be water-resistant and non-comedogenic. Best of all it has ceramides and antioxidant pomegranate, vitamin C, green tea and cranberry.

Luzern La Defense SPF30 ($50)

This was suggested by a community member Lori and this zinc oxide sunscreen has plenty of things going for it. Even some of the things that might look off-putting, such as caprylhydroxamic acid, are in fact naturally derived (in this case from coconut). Plus there are plenty of botanical antioxidants from licorice, green tea, algae and extract of butterfly bush.

We’ll be testing as many of these as we can get hold of in the coming weeks and in the meantime, do feel free to make other suggestions or recommendations.