In Search of the Perfect Sunscreen, Part 1

According to the Experts, the best thing one can do to reduce signs of aging is to wear sunscreen every minute your skin sees daylight. Summer and winter, inside and outside, cloudy or clear. [See this article at Paula’s Choice for more info. They also supplied the infographic below.]

Sunscreen Infographic from Paula's ChoiceOK, Hilda Needs Sunscreen. Which One?

I know I need sunscreen, but there are so many to choose from!  My first task is to figure out what I do and don’t want in a sunscreen.

I don’t spend hours and hours outside. I also don’t sweat a lot or go in and out of the water every day. I don’t want to smell like the beach. In fact, after I apply it, I don’t want to know I’m wearing sunscreen at all.

Many sunscreens feel sticky or leave a film on the skin, even after they dry. I don’t want to feel anything, so I ruled out “water resistant” types and anything heavy in texture.

I do want a high SPF, so if I don’t apply enough, I’ll still get some coverage. It needed to protect against both UV A and UV B light. I also want something that won’t get weird under makeup. And I want it to cost as little as possible.

So about 9 months ago, I began my research. One beauty vlogger I follow, Hot and Flashy, did a review of sunscreens. I re-watched that show, taking notes. I also went to the Beautypedia page for sunscreens and took more notes. I compiled my notes into a table of about 20 candidate sunscreens, put the table into Evernote, and went shopping.

My first stop was a large drugstore, one where I knew I wouldn’t be disturbed. I found some of my candidate sunscreens, and discreetly tested them on my arm. If they had a strong fragrance — next! If they didn’t dry down — next! I think I tested 10 in that store; none worked. I did try one not on my list, no odor, perfect texture … but poor UV protection. Sigh.

There were still several top contenders I hadn’t tried. One, Neutrogena Healthy Defense Liquid Moisturizer With Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, was on sale at the local Nordstrom Rack. I took a chance and purchased it. [Note: this product was discontinued in January 2015.]


This sunscreen works pretty well. It’s not much of a moisturizer, but that’s not why I bought it. It leaves very little residue on my face, I only notice it if I touch my face. It has no odor. It works well under makeup and also on its own.

However, the sunscreen active ingredients are 100% synthetic. I have nothing against synthetic ingredients, except if these actives got near my eyes, I would tear up! And the product shifts around a little on my face, so I can’t apply it anywhere near my eyes. Having an anti-aging product that can’t be applied near my eyes is a deal breaker.

I have been using the sunscreen though, on the rest of my face and my neck, in order to use it up. As I said, it’s good otherwise! I won’t buy it again, and now that it’s discontinued, I can’t anyway.

Stay tuned for Part 2.





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