Wear sunscreen. That what we all know we should do, but many people, especially in the US, do not do because of how uncomfortable it is to wear US sunscreen.

I wish I had discovered Asian and European sunscreens earlier on in life. Their formulas are so lightweight, it makes it easy for anyone to wear sun protection on a daily basis.

This is a ranking of all the sunscreens I’ve tried throughout the past couple years, from least favorite to favorite. Two great resources for analyzing these sunscreen formulas is this UV filter list and Ratzilla’s Japanese sunscreen comparison charts.

My criteria is:

  1. Covers UVA1, UVA2, and UVB;
  2. Avoids UV filters I dislike, such as Oxybenzone and Octocrylene; and
  3. Cosmetically elegant, meaning that the formula is smooth, absorbent, and tactically pleasant to handle. 

The Rankings

13. Coola Bare Republic Clear Sunscreen Gel – It’s no surprise North American sunscreens rank at the bottom of my list. They are so behind in innovation. I only use them for body oit of convenience, but they’re still disappointing. This gel sunscreen avoids “bad” chemicals, but lacks UVA2 protection, and has a sticky finish.

12. Lavanila The Healthy Sunscreen Luxe Sport – As I stated in my mini review here, this is a great company but the formula is difficult to apply. I’d love to support them later with a more cosmetically elegant product. 

11. Coola Bare Republic Mineral Body Lotion – This is broad spectrum, as most mineral sunscreens are, and leaves a light white cast, as most mineral sunscreens in NA struggle with, unless you vigorously rub it in. It is easier to apply smoothly than its mango-scented gel sibling. 

10. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch – This  chemical sunscreen is broad spectrum and has a smooth finish. It sadly contains two uv fters I’d like to avoid: octocrylene and oxybenzone. I’d like to try their new SheerZinc offering,

9. Huxley Sun Cream; Stay Sun Safe – Now to the good stuff: the Asian face sunscreens. Unless I’ve missed something in the ingredient list, this does not cover uva1. It also leaves on a visible white cast is confusingly marketed as a chemical sunscreen when it is a combination formula, containing the physical filter of titanium dioxide. 

8. Heimish Artless Glow Base – Like Huxley, this primer with uv protection does not cover uva1, which is a shame considering it’s a multitasker with anti-aging ingredients.

7. Shiseido Senka Mineral UV Essence – it is broad spectrum and applies smoothly with no white cast, but does so by using Octocrylene.

6. Country & Stream Honey UV Water Gel – This combo sunscreen gel has a very cool ingredient list checking all my requirements and adding good stuff like royal jelly, collagen, and hylauronic acid.

4 & 5. *TIE* Benton Papaya-D Sun Cream &
Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream – I can’t decide between these two at all. Both check all three requirements and have equally good extra ingredients; Cosrx has all-around bekoved aloe and Benton has anti-aging vitamin b3 + adenosine. With more regular use, one of them could eclipse the other on this list, I just need more time to pick a favorite. 

3. Hada Labo UV Gel Sunscreen – This physical and chemical combo gel is creamy yet light, just like two sunscreens ranking above it. It protects against all UV ray types, doesn’t contain a chemical I dislike, and has an added  benefit of  hyluaronic acid. Like all its products, Hada Labo can do no wrong for me, it’s just a little boring. 

2. Biore Aqua Rich UV Watery Essence -The  gateway Japanese sunscreen. This feels like nothing going on your skin, is broad spectrum, and avoids any uv filters I personally disagree with. It does have alcohol, and while I have no problem with that, it is the one factor that ranks it slightly lower than #1. The rose version is nice and I wish Biore made that version more widely available. 

1. Canmake Mermaid Gel UV – This combo sunscreen checks all the boxes. It’s surprising this  ended up #1 since the brand itself and its overly whimsical aesthetic does not suit my personal preference, but the positive points are undeniable. Smooth, pearlescent finish that doubles as a primer, lightweight, broad spectrum and alcohol-free.