Part II: Battle of the Sunscreens

Have you read Part I: Sunscreen 101 - filters, amt to use, application and more found here?

I am a collector of sunscreens and have slowly but surely amassed an army of them. However, not all are great for the skin and I have tried my best to break each one down into its main sunscreen ingredients, the good stuff in it and the slightly dubious ones. Ingredients that are generally not the best might not be extremely bad just because we don't apply enough of it to suffer from toxicity or the side effects. However, there are some that might trigger allergic reactions so I decided to just include them in. Pls take everything with a pinch of salt and remember that different skin react differently to products! What I hate might just be your Holy Grail!

*All opinions are my own* 

LA ROCHE POSAY ANTHELIOS XL ULTRA LIGHT SPF 50+

Main ingredients:

  • Avobenzone (UVA1)
  • Octocrylene (UVB, UVA2)
  • Mexoryl XL + Mexoryl SX (UVA1/2)
  • Tinosorb S (UVB, UVA1/2)

The good:

  • Tocopherol: Vit E; for anti-aging purposes

The dubious:

  • Alcohol denat
  • Dimethicone
  • Triethanolamine: much be washed off daily as it is not meant to have prolonged contact with skin. Can cause allergic reaction!! Still considered moderately dangerous on long-term basis
  • PEG-8 Laureate - should not be used on broken or irritated skin as this increases absorption into skin 

My thoughts:

Personally, I am not a fan of this. There are several reasons to this and the first one being the price. As the patent for Mexoryl is held by Loreal, you probably won't be finding this quite-awesome ingredient in other sunscreens. This patent probably contributes to the price - monopoly always wins lol. 

Secondly, after the past week of research into sunscreen ingredients, this really doesn't contain a lot of other good stuff compared to many Asian-formulated ones. Tocopherol is a form of Vit E that will help with anti-aging but that's pretty much it. You will see more of the good stuff i am talking about in other sunscreens below. 

Lastly, this contains a lot of shitty stuff for the price. It is catered to sensitive skin because it has minimal chemical ingredients mixed together. Chemical sunscreens require a whole bunch of diff ingredients to provide broad spectrum protection but because of the patented Mexoryl, it requires less of those. Mexoryl is a superior ingredient but the other harsh stuff included are a no from me. I get that they are still considered safe for use in general lah and I am sure if I look at ALL the stuff i use, I am bound to find it in at least a few of them. But just saying, if other sunscreens can skip the use of them, then why must they be present here? Am I v critical. I just don't like the price LOL. 

This is definitely a light sunscreen and feels watery. It has a dewy sheen upon application but dries down matte-ish. However, I really don't like how the texture feels after drying down. There's almost this film that forms across my skin and the smell of alcohol when you first apply is really overwhelming. I really don't like this lah. 

HADA LABO AIR AQUA UV FRESH SPF50 PA+++

Main Ingredients:

  • Octinoxate (UVB)
  • Ensulizole (UVB)
  • Tinosorb S (UVB, UVA1/2)

The good:

  • Tremella Fuciformis Extract: (Mushroom extract) which has superior water-retention capabilities and is considered superior/alternative to Hyaluronic Acid
  • Spiraea Ulmaria Extract: (Meadow Sweet Extract) reduces activity of sebaceous glands
  • Nephelium Longana Extract: skin conditioning

The dubious:

  • Dimethicone
  • Propylparaben: used as a preservative and still considered safe to use
  • Phenoxyethanol: gentle preservative but can be irritating to eyes and skin (depending on amt)

My thoughts: 

Many of u know that this is my HG and its one of those sunscreens that don't give me any issues - no oiliness, stickiness or whatsoever. However, ever since researching into this, I have been on a hunt for one that has better spectrum protection. 

I also heard that some girls experienced piling with this and I am not too sure if they switched up the formula. I am still finishing up on a old bottle so I haven't experienced any of that. 

Products piling/balling up is often due to:

  1.  Products with mismatched ingredients: A silicon-based product when used in conjunction with a water-based one will cause piling 
  2. Products are not absorbed between layering

Another reason I am on another HG-hunt is cause I usually finish this too quickly. I want to find smth that can last for more than a month for me at the rate I am using sunscreen just so it isn't so painful on my wallet. This is a super small bottle and not say my face very big leh? 

Watery and light in texture without a white tint when applied. I also major love that it doesn't contain alcohol. The Fresh version is great for oily skin, imo, cause of how lightweight it is. Never tried the Moist one before, which is targeted for dry/normal skin. 

ANESSA PERFECT UV SUNSCREEN AQUA BOOSTER SPF 50+ PA++++

Main Ingredients:

  • Zinc Oxide (UVB, UVA1/2)
  • Titanium Dioxide (UVB, UVA2)
  • Octinoxate (UVB)
  • Octocrylene (UVB, UVA2)
  • Uvinul A Plus (UVA1) 
  • Tinosorb S (UVB, UVA1/2)

The good:

  • Circuma Longa Root Extract: (Tumeric Root Powder) good for oily skin + clogged pores
  • Rosa Canina Fruit Extract: (Rosehip extract) skin conditioning
  • Thymus Serpyllum Extract: (Wild Thyme extract) help wth oily skin + antioxidant
  • Angelica Acutiloba Root Extract: skin conditioning 

The dubious:

  • Dimethicone
  • Alcohol 
  • Talc
  • Isopropyl Myristate: able to reduce greasy feeling caused by high oil content of other products which gives off a slicker feel, compared to an oily one. However, repeated use might lead to clogged pores as this is highly comedogenic 

My thoughts: 

I am so torn about this product. When I tried it the first few times, I had really good first impressions about it. It has the right sunscreen filters which provides an awesome range of protection and the good ingredients have proven to be helpful.

There wasn't any white cast with this - even with layering, my makeup lasted well and my skin had no weird reaction to it and it is as light as my Hada Labo one. However, the dubious stuff in it leaves me sitting on the fence. Especially since they are all rather high on the list; with alcohol, talc and Isopropyl Myristate being in the top 10 ingredients. So far, I haven't had any experience of breakouts or anything using this but acne-prone type skin should take more caution when using it. 

Sigh, I really like this for everything but worried that long-term use (i use sunscreen daily - is that considered LOL I couldn't get a definitive answer on this but I guess it is dependable on skin type) might cause me to break out. HOW NOW?

I also don't really like the presence of Octocrylene in it since it is considered one of the filters that are more...dangerous? (But it is necessary as a stabilizer!) It is absorbed into the skin quite easily, thereby increasing danger of forming free radicals when used in excess quantity. Now, how do I know what exactly is 'excess quantity'??? Does using it daily count? LOL I wish there was an exact number but for now, I guess avoiding that might be the best. 

This has a watery texture and a very interesting finish. It dries down to a matte-but-not-flat finish and my skin instantly feels softer whenever I use it - probably due to high amount of silicone. However, after the 4-6 hours, for some reason, I can feel my skin drying out rapidly and I always just wanna wash it off. This is targeted towards oily skin and the silver one for dry skin so it could be that reason. Haven't had a chance to try out the silver one yet tho! Not sure if i want to. 

VELY VELY WATERFALL SUNESSENCE SPF50+ PA++++

Main ingredients: 

  • Octinoxate (UVB)
  • Homosalate (UVB)
  • Octisalate (UVB)
  • Uvinul A Plus (UVA1) 

The good: 

  • Salvia Hispanica Seed Extract: (Chia Seed Extract) Anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects
  • Centella Asiatica Extract: (Gotu Kola) Anti-aging
  • Cordata Extract: Moisturizing + anti-inflammatory properties
  • Adansonia Digitata Fruit Extract: (Baobab) Anti-aging
  • Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil: rich in fatty acids - good moisturizer + hydration + repair roughness
  • Opuntia Coccinellifera Fruit Extract: (Barbarry Fig) Antioxidant
  • Witch Hazel Leaf Extract: Astringent properties
  • Cardiospermum Halicacabum Flower/Leaf/Vine Extract: Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Aspalathus Linearis Leaf Extract: (Rooibos extract) Antioxidant
  • Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract
  • Willow Bark Extract
  • Soybean Ferment Extract
  • Portulaca Oleracea Extract
  • Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract
  • Sutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract

My thoughts:

If this isn't a sunscreen, it might be a really kickass skincare product. LOOK AT DAT LIST OF GOOD STUFF HAHAHA Omg I was so surprised when I started keying in the ingredients. As a sunscreen, I am pretty on the fence due to the filters used. 

Both Homosalate and Octinoxate both impacts the body's hormone system and breasts milk contamination may be quite common. Homosalate is absorbed by the outer layer of the skin and in sunscreens containing homosalate, it has also been shown to enhance the amount of pesticides we absorb through our skin. Like wtf. 

Aside from Uvinul A Plus as a filter, it also doesn't contain any other filter that can filter out UVA rays and that's the rays that age our skin. Therefore, if you're going to be under the sun, I would advise using one that has better UVA and UVB filters. For pregnant women, maybe give this a skip? Better to be safe, imo. 

As for how it wears, this is actually pretty lightweight. However, there was a slight shine upon application and definitely way more hydrating than the first few sunscreens; making it a better option if u have dry skin that requires more hydration. If u have really oily skin, this might not be the best for u. 

BIORE UV AQUA RICH WHITENING SPF50+ PA++++

Main Ingredients: 

  • Zinc Oxide (UVB, UVA1/2)
  • Octinoxate (UVB rays)
  • Uvinul A Plus (UVA1 rays) 
  • Titanium Dioxide (UVB, UVA2)

The good:

  • Chamomile Extract: anti-oxidant properties
  • Tocopherol: Vit E for anti-aging
  • Citrus Grandis Extract: (Grapefruit extract) anti-oxidant properties
  • Royal Jelly Extract: anti-aging properties
  • Sodium Hyaluronate: moisturizing 

The dubious:

  • Alcohol (I am assuming its alcohol denat)
  • Dimethicone
  • Propylene Glycol: as it acts as a solvent here, it is at a higher concentration than when used as a viscosity control. Absorption and penetration is minimal which means toxicity is low but should not be applied over open wound. 
  • Methyl/Butyl/Ethyl/Propyl Paraben: these preservatives are found really behind on the ingredient list but parabens have the ability to impact the hormone system. Best if avoided!

My thoughts:

If I am not wrong, I bought this on a whim when I was running out of sunscreen and just happened to came across it. But it balls under my makeup. ALL. THE TIME. No matter what I do, or not do, it still freaking balls/piles. 

I do like that zinc oxide is high on the ingredient list but other than that, the amount of parabens is off-putting. It doesn't break me out or irritate my skin really, but just that the formulation don't work well with my makeup/skincare. However, on days I am not wearing makeup, this works great as long as I don't try to put anything on top of it. 

This doesn't have a watery texture; more of a light gel form which dries down nicely and don't leave any shine. It also don't contribute to any extra oiliness. 

DR. JART+ EVERY SUN DAY UV SUN FLUID SPF30

Main Ingredients:

  • Octinoxate (UVB)
  • Octocrylene (UVB, UVA2)
  • Avobenzone (UVA1)
  • Tinosorb S (UVB, UVA1/2)

The good:

  • Tocopheryl Acetate: Vit E for anti-aging 
  • Geldium Cartilaginous Extract: (Red algae extract) anti-oxidant properties
  • Ecklonia Cava Extract: (Brown seaweed extract): anti-oxidant properties
  • Sodium Tomentosum Extract: Skin protection
  • Hizikia Fusiforme Extract: moisturizing, brightening, anti-aging properties 

The dubious:

  • Dimethicone
  • Potassium Hydroxide: pH-adjuster or buffer. This is FDA approved and rated safe for use in general, studies have shown that mammalian cells show positive mutation results and animal studies show skin irritation even at very low doses. However, it is probably too low in doses to be much of a concern unless it is really high up on the ingredient list
  • Phenoxyethanol: alternative to parabens and seemed to cause skin allergies for some. 

My thoughts:

I got this as a sample to try out and because of the friendly size it came in, I have been keeping this as a sunscreen to use on plane rides. The filters are of a pretty decent combination but I probably won't continue with it due to the fact that it is only SPF30. I normally use SPF50 and stick to 30 when I am indoors with the blinds drawn shut lol. 

The bad ingredients in these are not much of a huge concern as they are also pretty low on the ingredient list - indicates that the doses are probably in the low percentage. It does have many good ingredients with anti-oxidant properties to fight off free radicals. 

Octinoxate and Avobenzone shouldn't be together as the former destabilizes the latter. However, Octocrylene is present to stabilize Avobenzone and this aids in stabilizing everything. However....imo, I still wouldn't use this if I am gonna be under strong sunlight just cause degradation still happens, albeit at a slower rate. 

It has a light gel texture and dries down nicely. Doesn't feel like I have much on my skin and is really lightweight. Doesn't break me out but does feel slightly dry. Definitely not enough SPF for me and not the best filter combinations. 

LANEIGE ALL DAY ANTI-POLLUTION DEFENSOR SPF30 PA++

Main Ingredients:

  • Octinoxate (UVA)
  • Tinosorb S (UVB, UVA1/2)
  • Octisalate (UVB)

The good:

  • Saugurus Chinensis Flower Extract: antioxidant and astringent properties
  • Ginger: antioxidant properties
  • Green Tea: antioxidant properties

The dubious:

  • Ceteareth-12: able to penetrate skin and alter skin structure and it is not particularly safe for use on open wounds. 

My thoughts:

This was great when I was in the US. It wasn't drying and I was indoors mostly/there wasn't enough sun there for me to wear more than SPF30. It's also one of the ones that actually don't contain dimethicone. 

However, this definitely isn't enough in SG plus it is really tacky. Why is it so sticky tho. Even after it sets and dries down, its still sticky. I can't get over that sticky feeling. Ingredients-wise, it is pretty average and I do wish there's more UVA-protection. I find it quite funny that this is labelled anti-pollution cause I really dk of any ingredients that can fight pollution leh. LOL. 

I must add that this smells amazing. It doesn't have that typical sunscreen smell; instead it comes with a light fragrance as per most Laneige products.

It is a gel-cream texture that blends easily but leaves a sticky residue. Might not be the best for oily skin types! Also wish there's better filters used. 

LANEIGE LIGHT SUN FLUID SPF50+ PA+++

Main Ingredients:

  • Zinc Oxide (UVB, UVA1/2)
  • Octinoxate (UVB)
  • Tinosorb S (UVB, UVA1/2)
  • Octisalate (UVB)
  • Titanium Dioxide (UVB, UVA2)

The good:

  • Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract: anti-aging properties
  • Menthe Piperita Extract: (peppermint leaf extract) anti-inflammation properties
  • Litchi Chinensis Pericarp Extract: (lychee extract) skin protecting 
  • Manganese Sulfate: anti-inflammatory 
  • Ascorbic Glucoside: anti-oxidant and brightening properties 

The dubious:

  • Dimethicone
  • PEG-100 Stearate: should not be used on open/irritated skin

My thoughts:

When I first started my research on this, I really liked it cause of the ingredients - the filters are great, the good stuff are really decent and there isn't much irritable ingredients in there. 

But the PA+++ threw me off here. As mentioned in the sunscreen guide post found here, PA refers to Protection Grade of UVA rays with more '+' signs indicating more protection of UVA rays. With the inclusion of Zinc Oxide here, I would think this has a full 4'+' signs but instead, it only has 3 (The counterpart to this sunscreen has 4 and its the next one we are looking at). Upon more research, I found that theres only ~10% of Zinc Oxide in here and for full spectrum protection, ~20% of Zinc Oxide is needed. Overall, I like the spectrum of protection it provides.

This is extremely lightweight plus no alcohol! After application, it leaves a slight white cast that only gets worse if u apply more than one layer. It also leaves a slight film on the skin but nothing too heavy. The film doesn't go away but my skin really didn't get any oilier throughout the day. Even tho this is targeted towards girls with oily skin, I don't think girls with really oily skin will actually like this leh? I don't have very oily skin now but I imagine oil mixing with the film formed and I shudder. 

LANEIGE WATERY SUN CREAM SPF 50+ PA++++

Main Ingredients:

  • Octinoxate (UVB)
  • Uvinul A Plus (UVA1) 
  • Tinosorb S (UVB, UVA1/2)
  • Titanium Dioxide (UVB, UVA2)

The good:

  • Litchi Chinensis Pericarp Extract: (lychee extract) skin protecting
  • Betel Platyphylla Japonica Juice: (birch sap) naturally-occurring niacin amides, fruit acids and vitamin C
  • Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract: anti-aging properties
  • Ascorbyl Glucoside: anti-oxidant and brightening properties
  • Glutamic Acid: maintains acidic pH of skin 

The dubious:

  • Polysorbate 20: might cause skin irritation for some

My thoughts:

This is targeted towards normal to dry skin which is why it is the 'cream' version. The ingredient list is also decent and there isn't many worrying ingredients. In fact, I really like the list of good ones too. The full PA++++ here is probably due to inclusion of Uvinul A Plus and Tinosorb S, making this the one with better UVA protection. 

The texture of this is more gel-cream than watery and it is more hydrating than the former. It does leave more of a slight sheen behind but nothing over-powering or hard to deal with. It has a very mild tacky sensation even after a while, and leaves a very slight white case but it isn't really scary and in fact, looks more brightening than scary. This also feels more hydrating and I feel like it dries down to a more comfortable feeling compared to the latter - not so heavy or oily. 

BIORE UV AQUA RICH WATERY GEL SPF50+ PA++++

Main Ingredients:

  • Octinoxate (UVB)
  • Tinosorb S (UVB, UVA1/2)
  • Titanium Dioxide (UVB, UVA2)
  • Uvinul A Plus (UVA1) 

The good:

  • Sodium Hyaluronate: moisturizing 
  • Royal Jelly Extract: anti-aging properties
  • Orange/Grapefruit/Lemon Extract: anti-oxidants

The dubious:

  • Alcohol (assumed to be alcohol denat)
  • Dimethicone
  • Cetyl Alcohol: could cause skin allergies for some
  • Aminomethyl Propanol: could cause mild skin irritation
  • Phenoxyethanol: gentle preservative but can be irritating to eyes and skin (depending on amt)

My thoughts:

I only use this as a body sunscreen just for the fact that it comes in such a huge bottle lol. Have u ever tried using typical facial sunscreen on ur body? It finishes in like, 2 days. Spray versions also finishes quickly so this is my best bet. 

I love that it comes in a big bottle, has SPF 50 with 4'+' and decent filters. The fact that it has alcohol here high up on the list doesn't affect me cause I use it on my body. The skin on our body is less sensitive/thinner than our face so it doesn't feel drying for me at all. 

It is in a lightweight gel-watery texture and I assume because of all the citrus extracts, it does smell like Mama Lemon but that dissipates really quickly. Doesn't leave any tackiness or weird residue behind. I really hate feeling sticky on my body.

(I think this has been repackaged and I am not too sure if its reformulated. If I rmbr to buy it when I am in Watsons, I will review that!)

SUNPLAY SKIN AQUA UV MILD GEL SPF30 PA+++

Main ingredients:

  • Octinoxate (UVB)
  • Uvinul A Plus (UVA1) 

The good:

  • Sodium Hyaluronate: moisturizing
  • Argnine: antioxidant and moisturizing properties
  • Hydrolyzed Collagen: moisturizing properties

The dubious:

  • Dimethicone
  • Triethanolamine: much be washed off daily as it is not meant to have prolonged contact with skin. Can cause allergic reaction!! Still considered moderately dangerous on long-term basis
  • Phenoxyethanol: gentle preservative but can be irritating to eyes and skin (depending on amt)

My thoughts:

I got this also cause its in such a huge bottle and I was running out of the former. However, upon closer look at the ingredients, the Biore one has better filters and less shady ingredients. This is however, extremely light and non-sticky and in fact, its quite cooling! I would probably just use this when I am mainly indoors without being exposed to any harsh UV rays just cause of the filters used.

I don't really like the harsh ingredients in it so tbh, this probably won't be a repurchase after I am done with it. There's just too many sunscreens to try these days!


OMG I officially finish this post! Whewwwww. 11 sunscreens were no joke but I feel like I learn a lot while doing this so I hope it has benefited you in some way. Sunscreen is not a one-size-fit-all and some people react very badly to certain ingredients; esp the chemical ones. I am still on a hunt for a HG and if u have one that u like, pls do recommend! I will always be happy to try out new sunscreens!