Every day, without fail, you'll find me slathering sunscreen on my face. After not wearing SPF regularly for the first 22 years of my life, it's basically become my way of sending a love letter to my skin. (Post-college "adult" life changed me for the better, in this specific case.) However, I'd be absolutely lying if I said that I wasn't picky about my sunscreens. For me, it's as much about the smooth application process as it is about the actual benefits of wearing sunscreen.
Look, some people will stand by mineral sunscreens, and if they were the only option available — sure, I would, too. But if I'm choosing from a range of broad-spectrum (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreens that are at or above the American Academy of Dermatology-recommended SPF 30 level — barring any irritation or side effects — I'll choose a sunscreen that I'll actually enjoy putting on every day.
My current favorite is Flesh Beauty's Sheer Flesh Hydrating Serum, which is a chemical sunscreen that delivers broad-spectrum SPF 35 protection. "Chemical sunscreens penetrate the top layers of the skin and absorb UV rays to prevent them from causing damage," Y. Claire Chang, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, explains.
Sheer Flesh contains common chemical sunscreen ingredients, like homosalate, octisalate, and avobenzone (but does not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate), but there are actually over 30 chemical sunscreen ingredients. "A combination of ingredients is often used together to ensure broad-spectrum coverage," Chang says.
Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, are made with ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. "They are small mineral particles that sit on the surface of the skin and act as a [physical] barrier to reflect UVA and UVB rays away from the skin," Chang says.
Science aside, let's get into why Sheer Flesh, in my opinion, is one of the best sunscreens out there. As most people of color would agree (even though I'm relatively light-skinned), I don't like dealing with white cast or taking a long time to fully rub in sunscreen. "Chemical sunscreens tend to be more lightweight and non-sticky, so they are generally easier to apply and do not leave a whitening effect," Chang says, speaking to their appeal.
So not only does Sheer Flesh absorb immediately without any hint of residue, but it's also really hydrating — which I'm about all day, every day. It feels like a cool burst of moisture, and my skin can't get enough of it. To be more specific, it's infused with glycerin, pomegranate, and honey extract — all ingredients that hydrate and nourish skin. I swear it also gives my skin a slightly dewy finish, which I can usually only achieve with makeup products.
It also has a lovely, but not overwhelming, scent, thanks to a blend of chamomile, orange, and lemon notes. I can live with sunscreens that smell, well, like sunscreens — because it's serving a greater purpose — but if a sunscreen smells like citrus fruits, I'm not complaining. It's also the perfect follow- up to my morning moisturizer, Then I Met You's Calming Tide Gel Cream, and this combo leaves my face feeling happy, calmed, and protected. And get this, I actually look forward to reapplying this SPF every two hours — with a little give or take (I'm working on it).
Consider me infatuated. If you're interested in a weightless sunscreen that feels as hydrating and nourishing as your favorite serum, you can shop Flesh Beauty's Sheer Flesh Hydrating SPF Serum on fleshbeauty.com for $32.
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