Sunscreen Reviews: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

I live in Cyprus which has sunshine all year round and in the summertime we have long periods of humidity so basically we have a tropical climate. As you do when you are young, you don’t realise the importance of protecting your skin from the UVB and UVA rays so I never used a sunscreen and didn’t even think about how not using one could affect my skin, both the aging and the threat of skin cancer.

After the birth of my second child I developed melasma which means brown spots started forming on my skin though for some years after there were not many and again I didn’t consider sun protection for my face.

Then around 2 years ago I looked at my face in the mirror and my face seemed to be full of melasma spots and so I started my search for skin lightening products and this is when I began to educate myself about sun protection and started to get my butt into gear and started applying sunscreen!

The battle of the sunscreens began and they had to meet my requirements.

1, They had to offer full protection against UVA & UVB rays
2, They had to look good under makeup if they weren’t tinted
3, They had to feel comfortable

Below you will read my journey with the sunscreens ive tried so far and I don’t hold back! I tell the good, the bad and the ugly!

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Carroten HYDRA PLUS SPF 30 50ml

I have tried looking for the ingredients of this product everywhere online and I cannot seem to find them. I also visited the Carroten website looking for them and even there the ingredients are nowhere to be found. All that I know is that this is a product from Greece and that it is paraben free and here is a description I found which I will put below:

New , more rich cream-gel formula Hydra PLUS. Vitamins A + E and D- panthenol, which help protect against premature ageing while improving the natural glow of the skin. Moisturising agents , maintaining natural moisture levels and rejuvenate the skin. Lightweight, non-greasy formula that absorbs quickly , leaving skin smooth and soft. Dermatologist tested / waterproof . Ideal for everyday use.

I really love the texture of this sunscreen and I don’t at all mind the scent which doesn’t smell like your typical sun protection products. It is slightly greasy but it is not uncomfortable to wear though I wouldn’t use this product under makeup because of this. The problem that I faced with this product is that you are told to avoid using it around the eye area. In my humble opinion, a sunscreen is meant to protect all of the face and should be formulated so that you can use it under the eyes where many people such as myself suffer from dark circles. I really don’t want to have to buy and use a separate eye sun screen; I want an all in one, no fuss, no nonsense.

Apart from this issue, it is a good sunscreen though the lack of ingredients does not allow me to trust that this product is giving the correct protection against both the UVA and UVB rays and for these reasons here is

My Rating:
★★★☆☆

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Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Face Lotion SPF 30 50ml

I had been eyeing this sunscreen for a while but I was in two minds whether to buy it or not. Eventually I took the plunge and bought one. I ordered it from the UK and I believe it cost £5.99 which is cheaper than buying it here in Cyprus.

The first thing I noticed when I applied it was the cheap, synthetic scent of coconut and it was pretty strong. For a face product the scent is too strong. As I’ve said before, I love coconut scents and I love the smell of coconut sunscreens usually but this just smelled so artificial and it really put me off.

The consistency is wonderful; it is like a gel and a cream in one and it rubs into the skin beautifully. It does not leave any white mask and isn’t greasy at all but less than a minute after applying it my face started stinging!

I was in a dilemma; should I leave it on and see if the stinging goes away or should I just not risk it and get it off now. I decided to wait a little longer and the stinging persisted so I washed it off and decided to try it a few days later.

When I tried it again the same thing happened so I washed it off and put the cream in the fail pile. I am really upset that it didn’t work out because it would have been a great sunscreen to wear while I’m out and about though it is not moisturizing enough for me to consider wearing it under makeup.

I wanted to know why this sunscreen has such a stinging effect on my skin and I came across an interesting text from Beautypedia:

Those with sensitive skin take note: Hawaiian Tropic products are extensively fragranced—every sunscreen, body oil, and lip balm we tested contained a potent array of perfumes (including papaya extract, which can be problematic for those with latex allergies). Also worth mentioning is that there are no mineral sunscreen options available from Hawaiian Tropic, so those who are sensitive to synthetic sunscreen actives are out of luck shopping this line.

Ahhhh…so that is why.

Either way here are the ingredients for this sunscreen:

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone – 2.0 % (Sunscreen), Octocrylene – 5.0 % (Sunscreen), Oxybenzone – 3.0 % (Sunscreen)

Inactive Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Glycerin, VP, Eicosene Copolymer, Diisopropyl Adipate, Ethylhexyl Benzoate, Phenethyl Benzoate, Polyethylene, Sodium Polyacrylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Dimethicone, Coco-Glucoside, Ceteth-10 Phosphate, Dicetyl Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Paraffin, Mica, Silk Amino Acids, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Carica Papaya Fruit Extract (Papaya), Colocasia Antiquorum Root Extract, Mangifera Indica Fruit Extract (Mango), Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, Plumeria Acutifolia Flower Extract, Psidium Guajava Fruit Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance, Bismuth Oxychloride, Iron Oxides

I can’t wear it so I’ve wasted my money so this is my rating for this product:

My Rating:
★☆☆☆☆

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Apivita Antispot Tinted Face Cream Spf50 50ml

Most pharmacies in Cyprus stock Apivita and it is a nice brand. I was looking for a sunscreen in my local pharmacy because I was running low on my usual one and the assistant advised me to use this one and try it out. Because most face sunscreens leave a white cast on your face I decided to try it out and hoped for the best. Theyre always having special deals on Apivita over here and I believe at the time this sunscreen cost me around €10 which is a great price.

When I got home I was curious to see what it was like and after I shook the bottle and applied it to my hands I saw that the tint in the cream was really orange. Oops! Still, I applied it to my face. I looked and felt like I was wearing an orange mask. This was more like a full covering, organge coloured foundation rather than a tinted face sunscreen. I knew I couldn’t go out with this on. It accenuated every line and every pore that I have and that, my friends, is a no-no.

I actually threw it straight into the bin. It was so orange that I couldn’t even wear it on my neck and chest to get some use out of it. It just was not for me. The strange thing is, this is the only colour they offer; no light, medium or dark. So what if a blonde with light skin were to buy this or a African lady? I dont think Apivita thought this through well at all.

Here are the ingredients:

Aqua**, Octocrylene, Titanium Dioxide, Aqua, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, CI 77891, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Sucrose Polystearate, Cocoglycerides, Sesamum Indicum Oil, Triheptanoin, Ethylhexyl Cocoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Mica, Silica, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Limonium Gerberi Extract, Crithmum Maritimum Callus Culture Filtrate, Candelilla Cera, Cera Alba, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cocos Nucifera Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Extract, Solanum Lycopersicum Extract, Propolis Extract, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Achillea Millefolium* Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf*, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer, Alumina, Tricontanyl PVP, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Phenoxyethanol, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Stearic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Sodium Polyacrylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Glycerin, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Methyl Rosinate, Triethyl Citrate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Parfum, CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 75300, CI 77491

It says that it is free of:

Parabens
Alcohol
Silicones
Mineral oil
Propylene glycol
Ethanolamines
Phthalates

I am sorry Apivita, but I have to give you this rating being as it ended up in the garbage:

My Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

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Super City Block™ Oil-Free Daily Face Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 40

*Sigh* I am a big fan of Clinique and this product is highly rated by Beautypedia aka Paula’s Choice. After the huge fail with the Apivita Tinted Sunscreen I was on the hunt for another tinted sunscreen and I really didn’t want to be let down again so chose a company I have trust in and felt would deliver the goods.

In the photo below of the sunscreen on my skin which shows my arm hairs and pores, you can see just how light this tint is. Again, what about women of colour who are darker than me? It boggles my mind that companies are selling tinted anything without offering different shades for women who are not just white skinned and light haired.

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The sunscreen has a creamy consistency and a slight cosmetic smell which I find pleasing. I applied it to my face and it felt very hard going to rub it into my skin. I looked in the mirror and saw that the colour was very light; it wasn’t white as it is tinted but it left a peachy cast on my face. What’s worse, I saw that around my nose it had caked up and was flaking. I wore it anyway but as the day progressed I noticed how dry my skin felt and I have a very oil T-Zone and it was drying this out like there were not tomorrow!

I decided to give it a second chance the next day but I exfoliated well around my nose just before I applied it. Of course, the same thing happened.

So what to do with a sunscreen that cost £18.00 that looks ridiculous using it on my neck and that is ultra drying on my skin? Well, I kept it. At this price, I didn’t have the heart to throw it in the garbage so it just sits there until I find the courage to just throw it out. I am so disappointed in Clinique. I understand that it’s oil-free but wow! It’s like putting a clay face mask on your face.

Here are the ingredients:

Octinoxate 7.50%, Octisalate 2.00%, Titanium Dioxide 5.20%, Zinc Oxide 6.00%. Inactive Ingredients: Water\Aqua\Eau, Butylene Glycol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetyl Alcohol, Laureth-4, PEG-100 Stearate, Rosa Roxburghii Fruit Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Porphyra Yezoensis (Algae) Extract, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract\Extrait D’orge, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) Root Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Plankton Extract, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Yeast Extract\Faex\Extrait De Levure, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Pantethine , PVP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Acetyl Glucosamine, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Caprylyl Glycol, Polyethylene, Caffeine, Isohexadecane, Methicone, Nylon-12, Zeolite, Lecithin, Polysorbate 80, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Isostearic Acid, Calcium Chloride, Alumina, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

With a heavy heart, here is my rating:

My Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

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La Roche-Posay Anthelios AC SPF 30 Matte Fluid

I had seen a lot of people speaking about this on Youtube so I decided to try it. If so many people are raving about it, surely it must be good! 😉

I ordered mine from Lookfantastic.com and ordered it in 50ml for €13.58. I applied it as soon as it was delivered as it was luckily delivered in the morning.

I noted how runny the consistency was (pic below on my pore-y and hair arm) and this left me confused about how much to use. I understand that it is a fluid but usually you can gage with the other creams because they’re thicker and you can eyeball the half a teaspoon amount you are supposed to use for full protection, so I don’t think a fluid is the right way to go with a sunscreen.

La Roched Pose Anthelios.jpg

Anyway, I applied how much I thought half a teaspoon would be all over my face while looking in the mirror. The scent reminded me of paint (lol) but this soon went away. I saw how it left a white cast over my face but a very uneven one in patches. As my heart began to sink my eyes began to burn as it had crept into my tear ducts which happens a lot with very greasy sunscreens like this. It is not as if I attacked my eyes with it; I lightly applied it in sweeping motions under my eyes.

While I was praying that the burning stopped it eased up but I still felt irritation. With how greasy this sunscreen is I knew it would be impossible to wear it under makeup and a few hours on, my forehead was oilslick.com and it is advertised as being a matte fluid 😝

The patchiness also got less during the day and I feel that it is wearable if I am just going grocery shopping but again, disappointment rues the day with this one.

Here are the ingredients:

Aqua/Water, Isododecane, Isononyl Isononanoate, Alcohol Dentat., Cyclohexasiloxane, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Octocrylene, Titanium Dioxide, Isocetyl Stearate, Glycerin, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Propylene Glycol, Silica, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine (Tinosorb S), Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, Disodium EDTA, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dodecene, Drometrizole Trisiloxane (Mexoryl XL), Ethylhexyl Triazone, Isopropyl Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone, Maltodextrin, Phenoxyethanol, Poloxamer 407, Poly C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate, Propylene Carbonate, Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid, Tocopherol, Triethanolamine.

My Rating:
★★☆☆☆

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NUXE Sun Delicious Cream for Face SPF 30

This is priced at around £17.00 and it is one of the first sunscreens I bought when I seriously decided to start protecting my skin from the sun. I’d never heard of NUXE before so for me this was a new brand and I was curious to see what this brand was like.

The consistency of this sunscreen is slightly runny but I would still call it a cream. The scent is really nice and didn’t bother me at all. It is greasy on application and of course, it began running into my eyes and stinging the living daylights out of them. I couldn’t bare it anymore so washed it off and used a body sunscreen on my face for the next few days until I could move my lazy body to go and buy a different face sunscreen.

So it was Sunday and I was taking my youngest son to Paphos Zoo here in Cyprus. It was a really hot, summers day so after I had applied sunscreen to my sons body, I applied the Nuxe sunscreen to his face.

As we were driving to Paphos my son started complaining that his eyes were stinging so I thought, ah; it is not only me who has these issues as usual! I passed him a baby wipe and told him to wipe it gently off his eyes and he was ok after that.

So clearly I cannot use this sunscreen near my eyes so I continued using it on my neck and chest because from previous experience, even if you don’t put sunscreen near your eyes and only on your face, it has a way of finding its way into your eyes.

I can deal with a greasy sunscreen; I can forgive a sunscreen if it can’t be used under makeup; but if it can’t even be worn on the face, what is the deal? I wonder if they do any human testing on these products and if they do, how many people are they testing them on? 2?

Here are the ingredients:

AQUA/WATER, C12-15 ALKYL BENZOATE, DIETHYLAMINO HYDROXYBENZOYL HEXYL BENZOATE, ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE, DIBUTYL ADIPATE, GLYCERIN, BIS-ETHYLHEXYLOXYPHENOL METHOXYPHENYL TRIAZINE, ETHYLHEXYL TRIAZONE, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, GLYCOL PALMITATE, ORYZA SATIVA (RICE) HULL POWDER, PARFUM/FRAGRANCE, DIMETHICONE, C20-22 ALKYL PHOSPHATE, POLYACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER-6, BENZYL ALCOHOL, COCO-GLUCOSIDE, C20-22 ALCOHOLS, CAPRYLOYL GLYCINE, TOCOPHEROL, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM HYDROXIDE, TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, EICHHORNIA CRASSIPES EXTRACT, DIMETHICONOL, TETRASODIUM EDTA, HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL, DEHYDROACETIC ACID, INOSITOL, ETHYL FERULATE, POLYGLYCERYL-5 TRIOLEATE, SOLANUM LYCOPERSICUM (TOMATO) FRUIT EXTRACT, FAGRAEA BERTEROANA FLOWER EXTRACT, ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS (ROSEMARY) LEAF EXTRACT, DISODIUM URIDINE PHOSPHATE, BENZYL SALICYLATE, LIMONENE, LINALOOL, GERANIOL, CITRONELLOL [N2603/D].

And here is my rating:

My Rating:
★★☆☆☆

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Apivita Suncare Light Texture Face Cream for Oily/Combination Skin SPF30 50ml

So now we have come to the grand finale and the end of my treacherous adventure in my hunt to find a great all-round sunscreen which I can wear under makeup, doesn’t sting or burn my eyes and face into an oblivion and which feels good and doesn’t leave me looking like I smeared cooking oil all over my face.

After my Nuxe escapade I had gone and bought the Apivita face sunscreen for oily to combination skin and of course, the untinted formula. I had previously researched this company and liked that most of their products contain organic and natural ingredients and promise that they are free of

Parabens
Alcohol
Silicones
Mineral oil
Propylene glycol
Ethanolamines
Phthalates

As well as offering this sunscreen for oily to combination skin they also offer a the same product for dry skin types.

This product contains sea lavender and propolis and you can really smell the lavender though it is not overpowering and fades slightly after application. The cream is a great consistency and is absorbed into the skin easily. However, it does leave a slight white cast but it is not as bad as some sunscreens I have tried and I can live with it.

The cream feels moisturizing but not oily and rubs into the skin easily and what is also great about it is that it can be worn underneath makeup and actually makes a great primer for foundation!

As there are always special offers for Apivita products in the pharmacies here as I mentioned above, I buy it for around €10 which isn’t a bad price but considering I am applying it every single day and throughout the day, 50ml doesn’t last long.

So if I had found a great, all rounder sunscreen, why do I continue to buy and try others? The answer is because I am still looking for one that doesn’t leave a white cast at all on my skin and one that comes in a larger size but also because I’m an adventurer and I love trying new things!

Here are the ingredients:

patented propolis extract (Patent Number: 100 75 20) Aqua**, Aqua, Octocrylene, Cocoglycerides, Titanium Dioxide, Triheptanoin, Heptyl Undecylenate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sesamum Indicum Oil, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Silica, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Limonium Gerberi Extract, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Panthenol, Zinc Gluconate, Sodium Citrate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf*, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Olea Europaea Oil Unsaponifiables, Faex Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum Seed Extract, Solanum Lycopersicum Extract, Propolis Extract, Biotin, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Glycerin, Rosmarinus Officinalis Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer, Tricontanyl PVP, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan Gum, Tocopheryl Acetate, Alumina, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Stearic Acid, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Niacinamide, Methyl Rosinate, Triethyl Citrate, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Sodium Hydroxide, Caffeine, Parfum.

Sadly the website has been down for some time so it would be hard for you to order it online. Hopefully it will be back soon.

My Rating:
★★★★★

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