When I first wrote the Product Review Rubric for Non-Sunscreens, which I updated recently in case you want to re-read it, I pretty much assumed it would suffice as a one-size-fits-all kind of rule book. However, while reviewing sunscreens for the Sun Protection Page, I found myself evaluating them using a completely different set of rules. Therefore, it makes sense to create a separate rubric for evaluating sunscreens so that you guys can better understand why I recommend certain sunscreens and not others.
Since I always recommend a separate antioxidant product to be applied underneath a sunscreen (as you will see in the Ideal Routine and Sun Protection Pages), when it comes to sunscreens, all I care about are the UV filters and the vehicle. I don’t need fancy-schmancy ingredients like antioxidants and anti-inflammatories–though they are welcome (conditionally), JUST SUN PROTECTION. Therefore, if a sunscreen doesn’t contain any type of those ingredients, it will not receive any kind of penalty.
On the other hand however, I realize that many people are not willing and/or not able to apply multiple products during their morning routines; they prefer combination products (i.e. sunscreen + antioxidants). Therefore, I will indicate whether I believe a sunscreen contains adequate levels of antioxidants to warrant my recommendation of being a combination product, and if the UV filters alone provide enough protection against both UVB (and UVA) rays, since we know that antioxidants and anti-inflammatories can exaggerate a sunscreen’s true SPF rating.
All product reviews for sunscreens will follow this format:
Protection Against UVB Light:
Labeled SPF Rating:
Theoretical SPF Rating:
In this section, I will discuss whether a sunscreen’s UV filters can realistically achieve the labeled SPF rating. Any potential vehicular influences will also be discussed here. Finally, looking at both the Extinction and Transmission Profiles below, the likelihood of a UVB “bias” will be discussed.
The pictures of the two (2) sunscreen-specific UV profiles obtained from the BASF Sunscreen Simulator will be placed here, between the two “Protection” paragraphs.
Protection Against UVA Light:
Labeled UVA-PF Rating:
Theoretical UVA-PF Rating:
The amount of protection a sunscreen provides against (short) UVA-II will be discussed minimally. The focus will be on how much protection a sunscreen provides against UVA-I rays–specifically, how well it protects against mid-range UVA-I rays versus endpoint UVA-I rays (if any of those at all). And as with the UVB section, the likelihood of a UVA “bias” will be similarly discussed.
No matter the potency of a sunscreen (in realistic scenarios), if it’s not at least mostly photostable, such a sunscreen is pretty much worthless. Therefore, this section will discuss how photostable a sunscreen is by again, drawing meaning from the two photos above.
Every other relevant topic will be thrown in this section. The discussion of things like the presence or absence of antioxidants and other notable ingredients will be noted here, as will the texture and color/tint if I’ve had a chance to try the reviewed sunscreen.
This will be a summary of everything I’ve said, plus any last thoughts I may have on the reviewed sunscreen.
Recommend: YES or NO
Also, I will include the following Checklist ONLY IF the sunscreen was shown to be at least mostly photostable:
Level of UVA-I Protection: (Decent, Good, Very Good, or Excellent)
Combination Product? YES or NO
Only Contains Inorganic UV Filters? YES or NO
Fragrance and Essential Oil-Free? YES or NO
Let me know if you guys like this format, and if you think I’m missing or including something that is (not) necessary.
***Unlike with non-sunscreen products, sunscreens will not be a given a numerical score.