There are many things one can leave behind on vacation in paradise, but sunscreen is not one of them – even if baking under the sun is not on the itinerary. I’m typing this post while overlooking Mexico’s famed Baja California peninsula where the crystal blue sparkling water extends into the azure blue skies, yet I can’t help but get distracted at seeing fellow vacationers laying out without any form of sun protection. Oh the catastrophe that awaits! Skin aging, sun spots, melanoma, the list goes on. Skin cancer is the leading cause of death in the cancer category and most of it comes from sun related damage. Sobering note aside, it doesn’t mean our relationship with sun protection can’t be as enjoyable as the rest of our skincare routine.
The skin care aficionado in me relishes the chance to try out different types of sun protection and on this trip to Cabo I packed 3 gorgeous options: a purely chemical sunscreen from La Roche-Posay, a more physical sunblock from SuperGoop!, and a chemical-physical mix from Dior. There are different camps out there who will say chemical is bad or physical is ineffective and they all have their points. Chemical sunscreens can be less stable (EWG also says that some active ingredients mimic hormone activity) and there are some tests that seem to indicate free radicals may actually be getting generated due to the chemical instability. Physical sunblocks are good when they’re on skin but they have less staying power and consistency as the physical blockers can move around or come off easily especially if you’re active.
Regardless of preference, I went for light products that would do well whether I’m on the beach or trekking down the beaten path.
I chose to bring along La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Daily Antioxidant Serum SPF50 as my chemical sunscreen which I feel comfortable with since that brand has undergone the most rigorous testing and has received the highest approval ratings from dermatology boards and skin cancer prevention organizations. There are many sunscreen’s from the La Roche-Posay line but I chose the antioxidant serum because the serum texture is much lighter on my skin and the formula includes a much higher quality level of antioxidant rich ingredients that support skin protection.
I prefer using this when I plan to be more active so that I can go about the day without worrying about the sunscreen moving around or accidentally being wiped off. As far as chemical sunscreens go, this might be my favorite: super good ingredients, great lightweight feel that disappears and the fact that it is technically a serum makes me feel super fancy. Now.. I’m also somewhat of a delicate snowflake and unfortunately chemical sunscreens sting my eyes endlessly after a few hours. My dermatologist says that the active sunscreen ingredient avobenzone is known to cause this – for what it’s worth, the majority of Asian sunscreens do not use avobenzone so if/when La Roche-Posay decides to ditch this ingredient in their sunscreens, I would absolutely stockpile.
I chose SuperGoop!’s Skin Soothing Minerals Sunscreen (w/ Olive Polyphenols) SPF 40 as my physical sunblock. Full disclosure, this isn’t a 100% physical sunblock as the chemical octinoxate is the secondary active ingredient after Zinc Oxide. But I just didn’t want to risk a 100% physical sunblock running off my face and leaving me burned (see The Honest Company Sunblock debacle). This sunscreen did not irritate my eyes at all and due to the mix of actives, was actually very light. Instead of a chalky texture (commonly found in physical sunblocks), this lotion is pretty runny which may make a slight mess if you’re not being careful but it also makes application easy and there are no residual white streaks. My skin was noticeably oiler looking after applying this which is okay with me since it is probably the beneficial essentially fatty acids that condition skin. Of all the options, my skin seemed to feel best with this one. However if I go out to an event or knew I was going to be in pictures..
I relied on my trusty Dior Hydra Life BB Creme SPF 30 which is pretty much the best thing out there. It uses Titanium Dioxide as the physical block and Octinoxate and Oxybenzone as the chemical sunscreen for broad spectrum coverage. There is no white cast because the rich pigments in the BB Creme basically color match your skin (3 shades available). The coverage is seriously on another level and I would not hesitate to compare it’s performance to that of a foundation rather than BB/tinted moisturizer. I force myself to use 2 pumps to get adequate sun protection but if I’m only using it for coverage in the evening, 1 pump is plenty. Dior’s formula is inspired by “Asian beauty rituals” and they collaborated with make-up artists to create a formula that manages to do all things well: great sun protection, superior BB performance, and there is even some moisture benefit as well.
Truth be told, all three options are top of the class. After a few days of exploring and lounging around Cabo, I’m happy to report that I did not get any burns and my skin was totally pampered by the skincare level ingredients in each sunscreen. As an every day product, I’d opt for SuperGoop! due to it’s superior skin benefits and non-irritating formula. For very active days in the sun, I’d definitely grab the La Roche-Posay which stays put all day long and has that extra boost thanks to its serum level ingredients. If I was going anywhere that I needed to look “put together” for, there is no doubt that Dior Hydra Life BB Creme would be chosen.
I think it’s healthiest to have a Taylor Swift approach when it comes to sun protection, you want a diverse, well rounded squad so that you have options for all occasions.
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