My reputation as a sunscreen slatherer precedes me. I’ve been known to wear SPF 100+ (such as Neutrogena’s Age Shield Face, Sunblock Lotion, SPF 110) even on cloudy days spent indoors. I apply it liberally before I board an airplane and have even been known to reapply mid-flight. In college, well before parasols were ever a cool one-off Instagram prop, I’d carry one on scorching hot days — much to the chagrin of anyone walking with me.
Maybe I’ve just inherited my Asian mom’s neurotic sun-protection discipline — she goes as far as sun visors and driving gloves from Japan — but I do know that something is working: People find my driver’s license suspect though I’ve technically passed the 30 benchmark. I’ve since learned that there’s a negligible increase in sun protection past SPF 30. As Joyce de Lemos, a working scientist with a master’s in cosmetic science explains to me, “SPF 30 provides 97 percent protection against UVB (sunburn causing) rays. SPF 50 provides 98 percent protection and SPF 100 offers up 99 percent.”
To that end, the Cut’s beauty editor, Kathleen Hou, convinced me to release my iron-clad grip on the SPF 100 and test out the newest batch of sunscreens with SPF 45-plus. Here’s my verdict on the best ones for sensitive/combination skin, testing for the best natural-ish ingredients, ease of application, longevity under makeup, and of course, effectiveness in the sun. Bring one of these with you this weekend to the beach for your own Ginger Rogers moment.