Most Effective Sunscreens for 2012

With this year's crop of new wonder-sunscreens, you can have your day in the sun without a care in the world

Credit: Image by Flickr/ masochismtango

These amazing new sunscreens offer broad spectrum protection, and are photostable and cosmetically elegant

Ditch last year’s sunscreen and opt for one of this year’s newer formulas of impressive sun lotions that won’t leave you feeling like an oil slick

There’s a new generation of facial sunscreens out just in time to keep you from getting burned or worse (melanoma) this summer. I firmly believe that everybody needs to wear sunscreen all year round, especially during the summer months.

The trick is finding one that is both effective and won’t leave you feeling like your makeup is slowly sliding off throughout the day. Sunscreen makers know this and have responded with an impressive range of cosmetically superior sunscreens that work a treat.

My recommendations are all based on the following must-haves:

  • They have to be photostable (stable upon exposure to light)
  • They have to be truly broad spectrum and protect against both UVB and UVA rays
  • They have to spread well and not cake up
  • They have to be able to layer well with makeup
  • They have to feel good on the skin
  • They have to be good for all skin types including sensitive skin.

Best Sunscreens for 2012

I always have several bottles of sunscreen in my bathroom cabinet that I rotate, depending on what time of year it is, how my skin is behaving, what kind of finish I want, etc. These are the ones in current rotation because they perform so well.

SkinCeuticals, Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 (50ml, $39; PPD 21)
This is one of my favourite new sunscreen discoveries this year. I absolutely love this product. It’s a physical sunscreen (as opposed to a chemical one) with coated zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (brilliant at protecting against UVB rays) but due to a variance in its particle size, is able to protect against a broad spectrum of rays in the UVA range as well. It also means you don’t need to keep reapplying it unless you physcially wipe off what’s there. 

It’s a groundbreaking technology that brings physical sunscreens closer to what chemical sunscreens can protect against.

Much like the new generation of weightless foundations on the market this year, Physical Fusion is very liquidy and needs to be given a proper shake before dispensing. It’s incredibly light, applies easily, dries quickly and is even lightly tinted to prevent the typical white cast that physical sunscreens can produce. It’s also water-resistant.

Great for all skin types, although with my very dry skin, I like to layer the Hydrating B5 Gel underneath. Leaves a nice matte finish.
Available in the offices of dermatologists, spas and skincare specialists. Find a location near you.

La Roche-Posay, Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60 (50ml, $26.00)
This is another favourite of mine. La Roche-Posay produces fantastic suncare products and this is one of its best. It’s fast absorbing and leaves a nice matte finish.

In fact, it’s a bit on the dry side so with very dry skin I recommend wearing an antioxidant-rich serum under it, but most people will love its non-oily texture. It also has a lightweight texture that requires a good shake before using and leaves a lovely natural finish.

It contains patented Mexoryl® technology and other sunscreen filters. It’s also water-resistant, paraben-free, fragrance-free and texted under dermatological controls.

Available at London Drugs and other drugstores across Canada.

Vichy, Capital Soleil Sun Protection Cream SPF 30 Face and Body (150ml, $27)

I’ve had a tube of this sunscreen in my bathroom cabinet for longer than I can remember. Ever since I started my mildly obsessive research into sunscreens, I’ve relied on this to get me through UV-intensive days and activities.

It was one of the first photostable sunscreens that was also cosmetically elegant that I could find easily in my local drugstore. It’s thicker and a bit heavier that the others on this list, but my dry skin loves it, especially during the winter months. Plus, it has the unexpected benefit (for me) of acting as a primer, helping my makeup look better and last much longer.

It contains Mexoryl SX®, XL® and other powerful filters. It is hypoallergenic, paraben-free, fragrance-free, preservative-free, water-resistant and tested under dermatological control. I love that it leaves a dewy finish—perfect for a summer glow, but if you’d like a more matte look, a light dusting of blotting powder will take you there.

Available at London Drugs and other drugstores across Canada.

Vivierskin, Sun Protection SPF 45 (60ml, $39.50)
This is another lovely discovery for me this year. The texture is the perfect balance between a light cream and a heavier lotion. This will be of particular interest to those with sensitive skin, since it was developed for use after skin procedures such as laser treatments, IPL, microdermabrasion and chemical peels.

This medical-grade sunscreen features a combination of three excellent physical and chemical sunscreens: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and octinoxate. It’s alcohol-free, oil-free, PABA-free and fragrance-free. And it leaves you with a fresh, natural glow.

Available in-store and online at Spa Boutique.