sunscreens update

I’ve been very happily using two sunscreens all summer, and indeed earlier in the year too. Both have changed their formulae. Both are still, in my humble opinion, absolutely fine. Maybe even better than they were before.


See previously:

The change:

  • Now using a different, more waterproof form of zinc oxide. The resulting texture and feel are different. On first application, it’s thick. You may think: “shit, they’ve gone all Badger on us.” There’s also more in the tube, I think???
  • Do not, I repeat DO NOT be deceived by first appearances. I tested out some of the last of the older formula (expiry date on top of tube “012014”) vs. the new one (larger numerals “07/14”). One on each hand and arm.
    • initial application: dense vs. more fluid and runny
    • smoothe it around and rub it in: works fine; being moist, it doesn’t commit the cardinal sin of drying streaky
    • after a few minutes, a rapid feel-test reveals the dramatic result that both arms feel the same in terms of not being tacky or sticky: both versions of the sunscreen have sunk in properly and nicely
    • the left hand and arm (new formula) feels more plump and moisturised
  • Conclusion: the new version is more moisture-retaining / moisturising.
  • Application to face: tested new vs. old split-face. Same initial panic as above on feel; again, newer version leaves skin moister by end of day.
  • Waterproofness: new version is more waterproof. I’m now washing my face & many body areas properly at night more often than before (which, admittedly, was almost never). Mind you, when the weather’s hot I’ll usually appreciate a bit of a hose-down before returing for the night anyway.
  • Warning: as with all waterproof sunscreens, do not apply to damp (inc. sweaty) skin. That waterproof, hydrophobic thang. Apply to dry skin.
  • current best price (when you include shipping to Canada): $17.99 / 3.4 oz (100 ml) + $9.99 for shipping
    • Yes, that shipping is high. On the other hand, stock is fresh; on yet another hand, the site and its ordering software have been known to be glitchy; and then again, TTBOMK it’s secure.
    • To alleviate the pain of that shipping cost, I usually order three or four tubes at a time, every few months, reordering when I’m down to two tubes; and then similar quantities of the lip sunscreen about once a year.
    • (Canadians: as with other online orders from the USA, when possible use USPS rather than UPS, FedEx, or other couriers. Cheaper, at least as reliable, and saves you brokerage charges. YMMV on the gamble and lottery that is customs duties: and if your package does get selected for Special Treatment, it shouldn’t be too bad as this stuff—Elemental Herbs too—is made in the USA so doesn’t suffer the same indignities as imports from outside the NAFTA zone.)


See previously:

  • 2012-06-20
  • 2010-12-13: an item about Elemental Herbs products (albeit an even older version of the sunscreen) and the company’s ethics at TreeHugger
  • current best price (when you include shipping to Canada): CAD$11.69 / 3 oz (89 ml) + $4.00 for shipping
    I order various things from iHerb fairly regularly (mascara, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, baby diaper cream), so the shipping cost is barely perceptible.

The change:

  • the Sport and Kids are now both the new formula, lighter-weight and -feel, with buriti
  • been using this in alternation with the BurnOut as general-purpose body sunscreen, and as the backup sunscreen that lives in my bag
  • I’ve now also tested it out on face: OK. Slightly sticky finish compared to the BurnOut; moister; but more spreadable, being lighter and more fluid in texture. Doesn’t dry me out, but I’m still wearing moisturiser underneath it. Unsure how good this would be on oilier, more breakout- or acne-prone skins than my own; or on drier ones.
  • UPDATE: adding: be wary on face. I’ve used it on face as a top-up, during the day (so on top of BurnOut). That’s been fine, but I’ve been washing it all off only a few hours later. If I use this as my sole facial sunscreen, applying it in the morning: I get the start of breakouts by early afternoon.


  1. Jessica

    I am finding the Ocean Tested to stay a little sticky, personally, although that isn’t a deal-breaker on my face. I’m coming to think that stickiness is just part of the deal in Houston, AKA humidity capitol of the US. La Roche Posay’s Dermo Pediatrics is even worse–if I put it on my arms, hours later I will have sunscreen pooled up in my elbow creases. If I desperately need to be non-sticky, for special-clothes-wearing events and such, I’m driven to American drugstore sunscreen.

    • gingerama

      Ah, yes, the joys of things pooling in elbow creases 🙂

      Nicely eloquently put! Brought back fond memories. I remember that phenomenon well, from quality time in summer time New Jersey and occasionally in the Midwest. You have my sympathies! Trying to remember what sunscreen I wore back then… yes, here you go:

      • Blue Lizard sensitive/baby mostly
      • Vanicream 30 or 60
      • NO-AD: one of their higher SPF ones, something like 45 or 50 or 60.
        USA drugstore, cheap as chips, but not used in years (irritation from some of the actives)

      (All are cruelty-free; La Roche-Posay are currently not. Just saying.)

      With powder on top, on face; and dusting powder of some sort on body. And I’d still get those awesome awful sweat & grot pools, whatever I wore.

      Then the joys of stuff running down your legs, into backs of knees, eventually down to shoes. Lovely. Add in the feminine gut reaction of “oh no, something kinda liquid is running down my legs, it’s not that time of the month again is it? how could I forget the date? *think hard* or was last night that lubricious? am I hallucinating?” and so on. Given the climate where you are, and in the South, I can totally see how the culture of southern ladylikeness evolved. Way back when, it must have been unimaginably horrible and traumatising for ladies fresh off the boat from England…

      Also, in hot sweaty weather like that, I always wore black. Not even the near-black and other muted neutrals I’ll wear the rest of the year. Black. Doesn’t show sweat patches, which will be in evidence if your job involves (as mine does) a certain amount of gesticulation and arm-waving and said job necessitates looking vaguely serious, soigné/pulled-together, and professional.

      So *polite cough* happy sunning and sweating! If you need a break from your summer weather, I can recommend the Pacific North-West. Right now it’s 75-78 F, sunny, dry, slight breeze. We’ll probably return soon enough to our usual: 60s, grey, some rain. But both kinds of weather are very pleasant.

      • gingerama

        Sorry, got distracted by fond memories. Back to Elemental Herbs sunscreen: yes, I agree, sticky.Especially on face. I think it might have been a bit cloggy on me, not sure: my face is certainly happier and calm with BurnOut Ocean Tested (see update to original post, above).

        BurnOut’s Eco-Senstive Clean & Clear (also 18.6% ZnO and SPF 30+) is lighter, drier, more matte. I used it for a while till it got too dry on me (even with moisturiser underneath). First met it c/o MakeupAlley discussion, as a cheaper dupe for the very lovely elegant minimalist DermaQuest Skin Therapy ZinClear SPF 30. Might either of these maybe be an option in your weather?

        The Elemental Herbs is a winner for me for body purposes, though; I get through a lot of sunscreen (even if covering up), so its combination of low price and spreadability are a definite plus.

        • Jessica

          It’s possible that I could wear the “drier” sunscreens you mention, although some things dehumidify my face. I’ll put them on the list for when I use up a thing or two in the current arsenal. Mostly, it is what it is. I worry more about getting sunburned through SPF30 *and* clothes, which happens here if you aren’t careful in your SS choice and application, than about cosmetic elegance. The beauty/ecological disaster of Houston is that everything is air-conditioned to the max. If you can survive walking from your car to your destination, you dry fast, then freeze to death while you shop/work/whatever. (In all seriousness, this city is so horrifically unsustainable in every way that I don’t think we’ll make it here for very long.)

          • gingerama

            eeeps: sounds like living in an Ice Age cave would be ideal for both of us! maybe one day work-places will permit sane flexitime to fit with climate: say, 4-9 a.m. and 8-11 p.m.? with a compulsory 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. curfew. we can dream…

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