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F is for Find Your SPF: Sunscreen for Oily Skin, for Dry Skin, for Natural UV Filter Fans, and People Who Prefer Makeup

Today's sunscreen formulas include textures for oily skin, dry skin, and sensitive skin -- and for people who love makeup and people who love spa products. Which one is for you? Plus: the difference between mineral sunscreens and chemical, and why you can't assume an "organic" sunscreen uses natural UV filters.
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Aveeno Mineral Block SPF 30_Aveeno Hydrosport Sunblock Spray_Maybelline NY Baby Lips SPF 20

Sunscreen manufacturers know that most of us have issues with sunscreen, whether we can't stand the texture, can't be bothered with the extra step, or just forget to reapply. So they're trying really hard to make products we want to use. As a result, now there's a plethora of we-hope-you-like-it suncare from which to choose. Oily skin? There's a sunscreen you'll like. Dry skin? There's a sunscreen you like. Love spa products? There's a sunscreen you'll like. Hate sunscreen but love makeup? There's a sunscreen for you, too.

SPF for oily skin_Ombrelle Complete_La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid_Dermalogica Oil Free Matte

FOR OILY SKINOmbrelle Complete Waterproof SPF 60 Lotion for Face and Body ($19.99 at dries to a velvety finish; La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 60 Ultra-Fluid Lotion feels like you're wearing nothing on your face ($25 at; Dermalogica Oil Free Matte SPF 30 won't add shine or scent to problem or oily skin ($54 via

SPF for dry skin_Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration_RoC Soleil Protexion Velvet Moisture

FOR DRY SKINHawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration SPF 50 cuts out that extra moisturizing step in the morning ($13.29 at; RoC Soleil Protexion Velvet Moisture SPF 30 Face hydrates with nourishing omegas 3 and 6, but leaves skin feeling like velvet rather than moist ($22 at drugstores).

SPF tinted mineral sunscreen_Maybelline Dream Fresh BB_Kibio Solaire_Skinceuticals Physical Fusion

FOR NATURAL UV FILTER FANS Natural UV filters are also called mineral filters. They are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, often used together. Mineral filters tend to be nice for sensitive skin because they blanket the surface -- the skin does not absorb them the way it does chemical filters. Mineral filters provide UVA/UVB protection on application; chemical filters need 15-30 min to be absorbed before they can do their best work.

Maybelline Dream Fresh Beauty Balm is makeup, but doubles as tinted sunscreen, with skin conditioning benefits plus titanium dioxide ($10.99 at drugstores); Kibio Solaire SPF 50 Suncare Face Lotion is an all-natural moisturizing formula with titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and a peachy tint that gives skin a pretty glow ($22 at; Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 feels light on the face and protects with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, but won't look white on skin; it has a hint of colour that works with most complexions ($39 via

SPF for spa types_Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect_Vichy Capital Soleil_Biotherm Lait Solaire

FOR SPA-PAMPERING FANSHawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect SPF 30 contains sparkling mica particles to give skin an beach-barbeque sheen ($11.99 at; Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 30 Suncare Oil appeals to body-oil fans with its subtle warm fragrance and sexy, gleaming finish perfect for afternoon rooftop cocktails and beyond ($25 at drugstores); Biotherm Lait Solaire SPF 50 Melting Milk for Face and Body has a luxurious texture and soft lemony scent that makes re-application something to look forward to ($35 via

SPF for those who don't put on enough_Neutrogena Age Shield 110_Neutrogena Wet Guard for wet skin

LET'S CALL THESE "SPECIAL NEEDS" Some folks are freaked at the idea of hugely high SPF; I used to be one of them and with good reason, as I wrote about here. But if you always skimp and thus get less protection than the SPF on the label, at least if you skimp on an SPF 110, you might achieve at least SPF 30.

Some people worry that super-high SPF means a big extra dose of the chemical ingredients, but Dr. Curtis Cole, senior R&D director at Johnson & Johnson, which owns Neutrogena, says, "There are more of the ingredients, but not significantly more. The higher levels have to do with the emollients [we use] to get [the formula] to give a more uniform coating. It's not double or triple the dose, however. It's two or three percent here and there."

Neutrogena Age Shield Face SPF 110 is another non-oily, weightless formula appropriate for oily skin, plus extra UV protection ($15.79 at Neutrogena Wet Guard SPF 45 slams through moisture on skin to stick directly to the skin's surface where it also repels water -- plus it's available in a spray format so you can dose your kids as soon as they scamper out of the water ($15.79 at

SPF for makeup lovers_Physicians Formula Mineral Wear SPF 30_Colorescience SPF 50_Eminence Sunpowder SPF 30

FOR MAKEUP LOVERS (and NATURAL UV FILTER FANS) I'm a huge fan of these myself, which you know if you saw this post about SPF powders. They're excellent for sunscreen touch-ups because you can dust them right over your makeup; a deeper shade can double as bronzer.

Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Pressed Powder actually has a titanium dioxide + zinc oxide-based SPF 30, although the Canadian packaging doesn't say so -- the company needs a DIN to print it on the box ($19.99 at drugstores and mass retailers); Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable SPF 50 is a handy click-brush of sheer, tinted mineral loose powder available in fair, medium and tan shades ($60 via; Éminence Organic Sun Defense SPF 30 is also a tinted mineral powder with a built-in brush and six shades, including translucent, warm and neutral tones ($58 via


Note: Although the Éminence packaging says "organic" (the company makes skincare using natural and organic ingredients), the word "organic" cannot apply to mineral ingredients. "Organic" refers to specific growing conditions; minerals don't grow.


Also note: If a sunscreen calls itself "organic," do not assume its UV filters are natural! Conversely, don't assume that a sunscreen calling out its natural mineral filters is a natural formula. The Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection Mineral Block SPF 30 sunscreen -- called Aveeno Active Naturals Sensitive Skin in Canada ($17.99 at drugstores), above, is not an all-natural formula, although its filters are mineral. Same goes for Skinceuticals Physical Fusion and the Maybelline New York Dream Fresh BB cream. (Unrelated aside: The above Aveeno Active Naturals Hydrosport SPF 50 spray -- $17.99 at drugstores -- contains the same technology as Neutrogena Wet Guard.)

For more information on how to avoid ingredient confusion, read this post and its comments.

Aaand don't forget to protect your lips. Try my favourites, Maybelline New York Baby Lips SPF 20 tinted lip balm ($4.99 at or MAC Hey Sailor! Suntints SPF 20 Liquid Lip Balm ($19 at

Are you still looking for the right sunscreen for your skin? If you've found it, what's your favourite?