Mountain Chic

Reflections and observations on culture, food, style and travel

Last week, I wrote about my favorite self-tanning combo, and extolled the virtues of being sun safe.  However, picking a sunscreen that is safe and effective – let alone good for your skin – can be fraught with complications!

In Sayulita, Mexico

On the beach in Sayulita, Mexico

Did you know some sunscreens are so toxic they may actually do you more harm than good?  While I’ve read more about this idea recently, I’ve always had my suspicions about sunscreen.  I mean, our ancestors lived for how many millions of years sans sunscreen?  And some vitamin D is good for you, right?  But I can’t deny the evidence that shows wearing sunscreen is better than not – I have my own experiences to testify to that.

In addition to these concerns, I hate the price of sunscreen (aka, expensive!).  Unless I’m buying specifically for my face, when I purchase sunscreen I’ve always looked for the least expensive brands or the biggest sales.  When you’re using sunscreen appropriately, and you’re outside frequently, you can go through bottles of the stuff at an alarming pace!

Finn consulting his trail map while on a hike.

Finn consulting his trail map while on a hike.

However, it dawned on me that I pay all kinds of extra money for organic food, but then slap a bunch of unknown chemicals directly on my skin and bake them in on hot summer days.  I really didn’t want to accept this since I knew it meant spending more money on sun protection and experimenting with new products.

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On a dinosaur fossil dig near home.

Happily, I can report I’ve found a selection of highly effective, well-performing sunscreens for different purposes, for both adults and kids.  These screens are my favorites because they are produced (mostly) without harmful chemicals, they protect you from the sun, and they apply and absorb easily.  The adult face products I mention here actually help you look better (benefits mentioned below), and who doesn’t want that?  Read on to see my top picks for adults and kids.


1: Coola Suncare Sport Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($24-$32) sprays on without greasy residue and provides anti-aging benefits for your skin.  Only obvious downside is the price, since you tend to go through spray sunscreens quite quickly.

2: Kiss My Face Bare Naked Body Mist SPF 30 ($11.51) is also a convenient, sheer spray body screen.  We frequently buy this product, but I admit it does not absorb as quickly or luxuriously as the Coola spray.  You glisten for a bit post-application.  It is, however, a lot cheaper than Coola!

3: I actually fear running out of SkinCeuticals Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ($34), so I buy two bottles of it at a time.  I know, I’m insane.  There was a time last summer when the SkinCeuticals was sold out everywhere, so there is some rationale to my paranoia.  The genius part is this ultra-light fluid contains a matte universal tint, so you do not get the whitish cast that can accompany zinc oxide sunscreens (who wants to look more pale in the summer?); your skin is evened out and more polished, almost as if you were wearing a tinted moisturizer.

4: If you like wearing moisturizer with SPF, eltaMD UV-Facial Broad Spectrum SPF30+ ($21.29) is an excellent choice and has been recommended to me by multiple estheticians.  I love the amount of moisture in this cream – I feel like with combo creams you sometimes get mediocre performance.  The only thing I’m not crazy about with the eltaMD is that I think it leaves your face a bit shiny – and not in a romantic, dewy way.  It’s not a moisturizer that sinks in to give you a matte finish, which I think makes makeup application difficult and uneven, even if you just wear a light powder.

5: For an all-day event or if you like wearing protection under your regular makeup, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Daily Anti-Aging Primer with Sunscreen ($39.99) is the bomb.  It is a clear, balm-like product, and smoothes out fine lines and wrinkles so your skin looks better with or without makeup.  For me, the Anthelios is kind of challenging to remove, so although it’s designed to be used daily, that is too heavy for me.  I like the way it makes my skin look so much, though, that I’ll use it periodically.  If you have very dry skin, this product would be perfect for you.


1: My 3-year-old son is constantly on the move, so getting him to sit still for a sunscreen application is no small feat.  Said sunscreen needs to be easy to apply, absorb quickly, and stay put.  thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF50+ ($11.99) goes on my son’s face with a nice, thick consistency, stays on in the water, doesn’t run into his eyes and prevents a sunburn every time.  It’s the best sunscreen I’ve found.

2: I try to cover up my son as much as possible, but for the parts that are still exposed alba botanica active kids clear spray spf 50 ($15.99) is a sure thing.  I can spray this stuff in Finn’s general direction as he races by and he is protected for a couple of hours.

3: Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream SPF 30 ($13.59) is worth mentioning because it is so powerful and so good.  It does have an oddly thick yet greasy consistency and leaves my already-extremely-pale child looking even whiter.  But it gets the job done and the active zinc oxide is captured in a slew of all-organic ingredients.

Note: Some subscribers may have received an earlier, unedited version of this post.  Sorry about that!

2 thoughts on “Better SPF

  1. Love the Badger brand!


  2. Cute pictures!!
    Mademoiselle Coconath


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