While Sunil was testing the UVSunSense monitoring wristband, I became interested in another form of sun protection – sunscreen wipes. The temperature has still been in the 80s here in New York for the past couple of weeks, and I’ve been taking advantage of this prolonged summer season by lounging around Central Park and sun bathing at the beach. I took my boyfriend and my Supergoop! SPF 30 Sunscreen Swipes with Zinc to both venues, where I aimed to learn exactly how effective these wipes are at protecting my darker skin and my boyfriend’s lighter skin.

I got a pack of eight wipes for $10 at Sephora. I tried not to be annoyed by the cost, but come on! That’s $1.25 a wipe. And later at Central Park, I found out that I require at least 2 wipes to be thoroughly covered, while my much larger boyfriend needs 4. I only let him have 3, though, since I was being stingy and we needed to save a few for the beach. Needless to say, these wipes are far from economical.

As I applied the wipes, I noticed that there was no scent, which I appreciated. My skin had no adverse reaction, and neither did my boyfriend’s. He did note that it was difficult to keep track of where he had already wiped his skin with the sunscreen towelette, and was pretty sure that he over-wiped in some places and didn’t wipe other spots at all. Still, it was nice not feeling laden down with a thick, heavy sunscreen. We picnicked in a part of the park with minimal shade, and a little over an hour later, my boyfriend’s shoulders were burned. Not terribly, but he was ready to get out of the sun. My darker skin fared well; no burns at all.

The next weekend, after my boyfriend’s burn had turned into a tan, we headed to the beach.  With only 3 wipes left, we decided that I would finish off Supergoop, while my boyfriend would wear Suntegrity ($45 in the TIA shop). The only places on my body that are really susceptible to burning are my nose, cheeks and shoulders. I made sure to really wipe those parts down thoroughly. Ninety minutes later, my nose and cheeks were fine. Unfortunately, my shoulders weren’t so lucky, which makes me think that the only reason my face stayed burn-free was thanks to my sunglasses – and not to Supergoop. Suntegrity proved to be much more reliable; my boyfriend could actually see where he was applying it, and he ended up not burning at all.

While the Supergoop wipes are convenient for travel (TSA won’t haul you off for failing to comply with their liquids rules) and seem to work for some skin tones under certain conditions, they are expensive and failed to protect even my dark skin under harsher, more sun-drenched conditions. Also, call me anal, but if I’m going to use sunscreen, I want to use it right. I want to make sure I’m applying it correctly and evenly, which is hard to do when it is invisible on your skin.

As for the product’s ingredients, I’m less than thrilled. Homosalate is the first of four active ingredients; it is a synthetic sunscreen ingredient and UV ray absorber, as well as a weak hormone disruptor. While it’s not nearly as bad as some sunscreen agents, I’d much rather not be exposed to it when there are safer alternatives like zinc oxide. And speaking of zinc, it is another active ingredient in Supergoop. Unfortunately, so is Octocrylene, which can penetrate skin and act as a photosensitizer. Ensulizole, on the other hand, is a chemical agent that doesn’t have as bad a rap sheet as some of its relations. It protects skin from UVA rays well, but not from UVB rays unless it is paired with other UVB-protecting ingredients (like zinc).

There are some nice inactive ingredients in Supergoop like sunflower seed extract and green tea leaf extract, but they are overshadowed by very unimpressive actives.


Homosalate (Sunscreen)-10%
Octocrylene (Sunscreen)-2.8%
Zinc Oxide (Sunscreen)-2%
Ensulizole (Sunscreen)-2%

Water (Aqua), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Diethylhexyl 2,6-Naphthalate (Sunscreen Stabilizer), Acrylates/C12-22 Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer (Waterproofing), C14-22 Alcohols, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Palmitate), Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (Plant Derived Preservative), Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Helianthus Annuus (Hybrid Sunflower) Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Plant Derived), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Paeonia Albifora Flower (White Tea) Extract, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid (Naturally Derived)