Your Guide to Sunscreen: Dry Skin Edition
When I was in high school I loved the sun—I was outdoors every day doing all sorts of stuff like mountain climbing, kayaking, sailing, and track—just so I could get a golden tan while I hung out with friends. Naturally, when I got a nasty rash after an extremely sunny week at Outward Bound—think big, blooming crimson patches all over my arms—I shrugged it off as insect bites from camping in the wilderness. Little did I know this was the beginning of my skin woes; a quick trip to the dermatologist confirmed that I have a mild sun allergy. Sun allergy?! My 15-year-old self gasped. That sounds completely made-up. Surely it’s not something that people living one-and-a-half degrees north of the equator should have, right? Apparently not. I was prescribed a broad-spectrum SPF 120 sunscreen (yes, they made those back in the day) that I had to wear daily and reapply every 2 hours if I kept up with my activities.
I remember thinking that it was sticky, smelled funny, and made my skin look weird, defiantly deciding that I couldn’t be bothered to wear it. But over the years, as my relationship with the sun cooled (pun intended) and new skin issues surfaced, I began wearing sunscreen regularly. My dry, eczema-prone skin just seemed a tad more finicky and problematic if I skip the SPF. Since it’s summer now, I’ll like to share some of my favorite sunscreens that will do the job brilliantly while making the sunscreen-wearing process something we can actually enjoy.
Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector (Broad Spectrum SPF 42)
Even though this sunscreen was made for oily skin, I find that it feels perfectly lightweight and non-drying on my skin. Not only does it rub in rather easily, it leaves my skin matte without any strange white cast. It has 3 active ingredients: octinoxate (4.9%), octocrylene (3.0%), and zinc oxide (12.5%), combining the properties of both chemical and physical sunscreens to give the wearer a flawless finish. Shiseido’s sun protection line has won many beauty awards in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan, where the population is obsessed about sun care. This is my go-to sunscreen whenever I’m in a rush and need something that I know will work with my skincare regimen and makeup. At 30 ml (1 fl. oz.), this little baby fits into my tiniest purse, and the screw-on cap makes it an easy and safe carry-on for travels.
Kicho Ultra Moisturizing Sun Cream (Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ PA+++)
This sunscreen comes in a cute white and gold packaging (one of my favorite color combinations). It’s shaped like a tube of toothpaste, but instead of a screw-on cap, there’s a nifty pump enclosed by a cap. That pump really helps you dispense the product easily while keeping everything sanitary. The thing I love most about this sunscreen is how it emanates a delicate floral, herbal scent—none of that metallic sunscreen smell—which makes wearing it as the last step of my skincare routine the proverbial cherry on the cake. Kicho’s sun cream feels more like a hydrating occlusive without the grease, and it does pack quite a punch, with ingredients such as green tea (antioxidant), willow bark extract (anti-inflammatory), and soybean plant placenta which is known for its high regenerative power and lasting moisturization. I don’t wear any makeup—not even tinted moisturizer—when I go to the gym for the fear of clogged pores, and I appreciate how this sunscreen keeps my face looking petal-fresh after a grueling workout.
Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen (Broad Spectrum SPF 35)
If we talk packaging, this product comes in a beautiful dark brown paper box made to look like polished wood, with a little pull-out casing where the tube of sunscreen is actually housed, making the other products’ packaging pale in comparison. This sunscreen also feels like the creamiest of the lot, so I use it on those Bay Area days that mirror the saying, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Nevertheless, it is neither greasy nor cloying—although I wouldn’t quite call it “weightless”, as is claimed on the tube. The beauty of this sunscreen is its pore-minimizing effects, and I think using it as the last step of your skincare regimen as a makeup primer is where it really shines (not literally, thank goodness). On top of beneficial ingredients such as Japanese wild rose (which, according to founder Vicky Tsai, is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and promotes collagen synthesis to strengthen pore walls), loquat leaf, and silk extracts, it is formulated without mineral oil, synthetic colors, synthetic fragrances, sulfate detergents, parabens, PEGs, PPGs, urea, DEA, TEA or phthalates. I’m still testing it out to see how much my skin really likes it—but the prognosis looks positive!
Hada Labo Air Aqua UV Day Emulsion, Moist (Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA+++)
This sunscreen was a pretty straightforward purchase when I was visiting the motherland (aka Singapore) in June. My Shiseido had run out, and I already use other Hada Labo products that work well in my 10-step skincare routine, so naturally I was looking forward to a heavy-hitter that’ll also keep my skin dewy-fresh and breathable. This sunscreen definitely met my expectations, providing high-levels of moisturization (thanks to ingredients like hydrolyzed lupine protein and hyaluronic acid) without making my skin feel greasy and heavy. It also has a pleasant citrusy scent in lieu of your typical sunscreen smell. I do have one small complaint: after more than 3 hours post-application, I’ll have to blot my nose a bit as it does start to get shiny—although it isn’t actually greasy to the touch. If you have really dry skin, I suppose this would be perfect.