I used to think that as long as I was not going to be in the sun all day, I didn’t need to wear sunscreen. A few years ago, I was talking to a fellow teacher about this, and she said ‘What? I wear sunscreen even if I’m just teaching in class all day. Sun comes in through the windows!”
Since then, my rule of thumb for myself is even if I’m mostly going to be indoors, I still use something with at least SPF 15 all over my face.
However, recently, I started to feel like the sun + age is getting to my skin and I’m developing freckles/age spots/pigmentation faster than I used to. This is also the reason why I recently got freckle/spots laser removal (which I still have to blog about!).
Nowadays, if I’m going to be out in the sun for more than 15 minutes, I wear at least 30+ SPF.
These are my own preferences. You can find out the recommended times and more information about sun protection here.
SPF Moisturizer vs Sunscreen
1. Neutrogena Intensified Day Moisture SPF 15 FPS
2. Clarins UV Plus HP Multi-Protection SPF 40 UVA-UVB/PA+++/Oil-free/Anti-pollution Day Screen High Proection (regular & tinted; I am reviewing the tinted one).
Please remember that one is a moisturizer with SPF and the other an actual sunscreen. While I will be reviewing them side-by-side, that does not mean they are the same kind of product.
- moisturizing function
- additional SPF function to avoid an extra step (sunscreen) in your skincare
- requires more product usage to moisturize entire face (compared to how much sunscreen you have to use for full protection)
- SPF function is often weak or not up to par with actual sunscreen protection
- full sunscreen protection (often with extra functions: waterproof, UVA, etc)
- requires very little product for full protection
- can sometimes be used as a makeup base (as is the Clarins tinted sunscreen I am reviewing)
- no moisturizing function
- often oily, sticky, and/or leaves a white tint
- adds an extra step in your skincare (may be a problem for those with sensitive or acne prone skin, or just plain troublesome for the lazy)
For more detailed test results on how regular paper and oil blotting paper absorbs water and oil, see my Foundation + BB Cream Collection & Review post.
Let’s see how much oil the two products contain.
Most Oil: Clarins Day Screen
No Oil: Neutrogena SPF Day Moisturizer
I was really surprised the SPF moisturizer had absolutely no oil in it at all. It’s really difficult to find a skin product that is truly oil-free, and this makes Neutrogena a keeper for me.
Clarins Day Screen claims to be oil-free, but the obvious amount of oil on both the oil blotting paper and regular paper shows that it is not.
I cut out 30 pieces of small thin square kleenex paper, press them firmly onto the back of my hand with the same amount of product I would put on my face, then gently turn my hand over. The more that sticks to my hand, the stickier the product. I do this at least 2-3 times and record the results most reflective of the overall average (ex: if out of three tries, there are 2, 7, and 4 pieces left, I will record the result with 4 pieces).
Most Sticky: Neutrogena SPF Moisturizer
Least Sticky: Clarins Day Screen
At first, I was disappointed at how sticky the moisturizer was, especially after it fared so well in the oil test. However, I realized afterwards that because this is an actual moisturizer, I shouldn’t be too surprised that it is more sticky than the sunscreen. Personally, I would rather use something that is more sticky with less oil.
However, for those who are more concerned that their face remain unsticky, Clarins may be a good option for you. Of the few facial sunscreens I’ve tried, Clarins is still the least sticky and heavy.
I have combination skin (dry cheeks and oily T-zone) and reside in Korea, with hot and humid summers and cold snowy winters. Please remember that products may not necessarily work in the same way for me as they do you.
1. Neutrogena Intensified Day Moisture SPF 15 FPS, $11-12 USD, 60mL, Made in U.S.A, purchased at a local drugstore
Stickiness Test: high
Oil Test: no oil
Fragrance: very faint (0.5/5)
- low price
- absolutely no oil
- 4+ hr lasting moisture
- fragrance free
- SPF 15 protection
- a bit heavy for hot and humid summer weathers
- SPF too low for extended outdoor protection
Package Label & Instructions:
Neutrogena Intensified Day Moisture SPF 15 is clinically proven to combine long-lasting moisturization for dry skin with effective sun protection for softer, smoother, younger-looking skin. Directions: Apply all over face and neck before exposure to sun. Use daily, alone, or under makeup.
Neutrogena generally claims that their products are dermatologist-tested. Their packaging, products, and my personal experiences makes me feel they are more of a practical and down-to-earth rather than a prestigious and trendy kind of brand, which gives me confidence in the effectiveness and quality of their products.
I rated this product’s fragrance as ‘very faint’ because there is a slight smell to it, but it’s not fragrance. I recognize the smell as more like what prescription creams smell like — so it’s probably the chemicals/drugs in the product, and not added fragrance. This is a definite plus because I personally dislike fragranced products because I think the less funky stuff on my face, the better.
It is moisturizing enough for my dry cheeks, but not too heavy or sticky on my oily T-zone. For those with combination skin like me, you can apply it first on your cheeks and spread it out to your T-zone. It feels a bit heavy sometimes in the summer for my combination skin in the hot Korean weather, but works for me as a great fall/winter moisturizer.
After applying this moisturizer, even after one hour, when I press the palm of my hands to my cheeks, it still feels plump and hydrated. However, this doesn’t last for more than 4+ hours. It claims to be for dry skin, but sometimes in the winter or when my skin is particularly dry, I sometimes feel like it’s not enough. Those with extremely dry skin may not find they need something more hydrating.
This product has not broken me out for the 3-4 years I’ve been using it. It does not promote extra oil, but you can see the area with the product on the back of my hand is shinier than where there is no product. However, this is very minimal and barely noticeable on my face. It is not a mattifying product and does not provide oil control.
Overall, I like this product and will likely continue using it (or bumming off my mom’s stock). It is also very reasonably priced, for just $12 USD a jar.
left: old formula; right: new formula (regular & tinted)
2. Clarins UV Plus HP Multi-Protection SPF 40 UVA-UVB/PA+++/Oil-free/Anti-pollution Day Screen High Proection (regular & tinted); $38 USD 50mL/1.7 oz; Made in France
Note: I am reviewing a sample size of the newest and tinted formula. The old formula comes in a different packaging and does not have the boasted cantaloupe melon extract. The new formula comes in a regular white, and a pink tinted color (which seems to be harder to find). It also comes in two sizes, 30mL/1oz and 50mL/1.7 oz.
Stickiness Test: low
Oil Test: oily
Fragrance: light (2/5)
- high SPF facial coverage
- does not feel heavy or sticky on face
- does not promote too much extra oil or shine
- long lasting waterproof sun protection
- blends easily in liquid form
- pink tinted version can serve as a makeup base instead of a primer
- contains oil (though it claims to be oil free)
Triple protection against sun, pollution and daily stresses, so you can face the day without a care.
- Triple Protection against UVA/UVB Rays, Pollution & Free Radicals
- SPF 40, Non-Chemical, 100% mineral filters day screen
- Ultra lightweight, oil-free formula that easily blends into the skin
- Key Ingredients: Cantaloupe Melon Extract – contains an exceptional concentration of super oxide dismutase, an antioxidative enzyme that neutralizes the harmful effects of free radicals on skin.
- 100% Mineral UVA/UVB Filters – Guarantees high protection while respecting the skin
Plant Polymers – create an invisible “veil” on the skin, letting it breathe without leaving white traces
I was actually ready to purchase the full size of this product. I was looking for a summer facial sunscreen that 1) did not feel heavy on my face, 2) did not promote excess oil or shine, 3) did not leave a white cast, 4) offered a high enough SPF for outdoor summer protection.
This sunscreen did all of the above and more — it had a pink tint and blended out very smoothly to function as a makeup base. It also claimed to be oil-free and anti-pollution with UVA protection on the product label.
The new formula of this product contains a cantaloupe extract with anti-aging effects and a 100% mineral screen for UVA/UVB. It does not leave the skin feeling sticky.
I also found out after coming out of the shower, the shine of this product remained on my left hand (I obviously don’t wash the back of my hand with soap in the shower T_T) whereas the shine from the Neutrogena SPF moisturizer was totally gone from my right hand. This indicates that it may actually be waterproof (although it doesn’t claim it). Great!
However, after finding out that it does in fact contain oil, and the high price, I am unlikely to purchase the full sized product.
In conclusion, I’m probably going to keep using my Neutrogena SPF Moisturizer for indoor days, finish my Clarins Sunscreen sample, then look for something else (or live off of another sunscreen sample that’s likely to come my way next summer =p).
Actually, a friend of mine recommended Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50. She always has really good product recommendations and said her mom is a sunscreen mania and has tried practically all sunscreens from high to low end and recommends this one for those 4 criterias I was looking for. The only reason I haven’t bought it is because it’s very pricey ($34 USD for 30mL/1oz).
What sunscreen or SPF moisturizer do you use, and what do you find worthy of repurchase?
(Finished! I intended a short review but they always end up so long! T_T Do you guys prefer shorter reviews or like these detailed ones? I got a lot of positive feedback for the Foundation + BB Cream Collection & Review, so I thought I’d do this one in a similar style.)