I’ve stocked up on a fair amount of suncreen screen from recent Asian trips and holiday sales. I’m pleased to say that I have found my favorites in this category. Here are the mini reviews.

1. Elta MD Clear UV SPF 46 (Best Sunscreen from a North American brand)
This is worth the hype. This combo sunscreen of both physical and chemical filters provides great protection thanks to its inclusion of zinc. Despite having zinc, which notoriously difficult to formulate without a heavy white cast, this glides on smoothly and has no white cast. It also has vitamin b3. Even better, it is safe for people with malassezia. After years of avoiding this sunscreen due to the price, I can confidently declare it is worth the price (especially if bought during one of Dermstore’s EltaMD sales). It is not only my choice for best North American sunscreen, but also the only North American sunscreen worth having.

2. Skin Aqua Tone Up UV Essence PA++++
(Best Sunscreen from a Japanese brand)
This lavender-colored sunscreen is my best pick for Japanese sunscreens because it does everything and it does it well. The UV filters in cover a broad range of protection, including UVA1, UVA2, and UVB. The texture is exactly like my previous favorite, Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence, which makes it easy to apply and pat in before makeup. It color corrects and brightens the skin slightly. The tone up effect is subtle but effective. I’ve tried another tone up sunscreen (reviewed below) and Skin Aqua’s version was much more flattering. The tone up effect is not one that leaves a white cast or any significant difference in color between face and neck.

3. Make Prem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Cream PA++++(Best Sunscreen from a Korean brand… for now)
This mineral sunscreen has the least amount of white cast and the smoothest application of any mineral sunscreen I’ve worn. It melts into the skin like magic and sets invisibly. Unfortunately it is not malassezia safe, but it is still remarkable amongest its other Korean peers. This sunscreen’s downfall comes only from the bad timing of being used at the same time I discovered the two amazing sunscreens above, and at the same time Krave released their much anticipated Beet the Sun sunscreen. If I had discovered this years ago, it would have been my #1 until now.

4. Dr G Brightening Up Sun SPF 50 PA+++
This is a peach-colored tone up sun cream. It’s moisturizing. It absorbs ok, but needs slightly more push than other essence types sunscreens to work in and blend. The tone up effect is warm and is not as good for my skin tone as Skin Aqua’s tone up sunscreen. It is most comparable to Benton’s papaya sunscream and Nivea’s sun creme.

5. Neutrogena Hydro Boost 50 SPF
I heard this sunscreen is Neutrogena’s new attempt to emulate the smooth texture that watery essence-type sunscreens in asia have utilized for decades now. It worked in that it does feel cool and light, with no white cast, but it lacks in terms of sun protection. I got the worst sunburn of my life while using this sunscreen on vacation. It’s better for daily body use during a regular work week.