Friday, 13 May 2016

3 Sunscreens I've Been Trialling Lately


As you all know by now (and if you don't, then catch up on the story here), sunscreen is something that has become terribly important to me of late. Having had 2 skin cancers removed from my face in the last 4 months, I don't wish to discover any more and if there's anything I can do to prevent further damage down the track, then a tube of SPF is something I want on hand at all times.

I've been using chemical sunscreens for a while now, but in my seemingly never-ending quest to find the perfect sunscreen, I've recently switched to using physical-based sunscreens, purely because I felt like a change & I wanted to see how far advanced formulations are from the thick, white days of old.

Don't know what the differences between physical & chemical sunscreens are? Here's a quick run-down, courtesy of Skinacea (there's more information there if you want to read it):

Physical = Physical sunscreens protect your skin from the sun by deflecting or blocking the sun's rays. They're generally photo-stable & contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide as UV filters.

Chemical = Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun's rays. Some chemical filters can scatter sun rays, but still mostly just absorb them. Most of them are photo-stable, however, some are not. As far as UV filters go, they contain any variety of these ingredients:
  • Octylcrylene
  • Avobenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octisalate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Homosalate
  • Helioplex
  • 4-MBC
  • Mexoryl SX and XL
  • Tinosorb S and M
  • Uvinul T 150
  • Uvinul A Plus

Before we get into this review, I'll let you know what my sunscreen requirements are, as a frame of reference:
  • I like to use at least SPF30+, but I do prefer SPF50+ for just a bit more coverage. I know it's only about 1-2% more, but I need all the help I can get.
  • Non-greasy and non-sticky/non-tacky. These 2 are now non-negotiables as I don't like those sorts of feelings on my skin. I don't mind if I look shiny - that, as far as I'm concerned, is the least of my problems!
  • Suitable for sensitive skin. 
  • Absorbs well & doesn't leave me with the Dreaded White Cast (DWC). 
  • I don't mind if it's chemical or physical, as long as it meets my other requirements.
So without further ado, here are my thoughts on the 3 sunscreens I've been trialling & testing in recent times, all of which are either partly or fully physical-based:


Cancer Council SPF50+ Professional Sunscreen For Scars

I was put onto this by a Beautyheaven member, who was singing its praises and reckoned it was suitable for fair skin like mine (and hers). Unlike the other 2 sunscreens I'm featuring in this post, this one contains a tint which (thankfully) isn't too un-natural looking on my skin; but I have occasionally mixed this with another sunscreen just to lighten the tint further, so that it's more suitable for my lily white skin. If I wear it straight (as I have done at the time of writing up this post), then my guess is it's about 2 shades darker than my skin tone - enough to stand out, but not quite enough to make me look like an oompa loompa. If I'm honest, the tint does scare me a bit & it does stain clothing if you're not careful, but the stains are easily removable. Another thing I've found with the tint is it doesn't absorb into my skin & if I happen to touch my face for whatever reason, it can transfer to my fingers. In terms of covering the noticeable (but well-healing) scar I have on my forehead from surgery, this does a pretty good job. I'd say this is like a slightly thick tinted moisturiser.

Sun protecting ingredients wise, this is a combination of physical & chemical, with a fairly high percentage of zinc oxide per tube (200mg/g). Another thing you ought to know is that this does contain some skin goodies like niacinamide (Vitamin B3), aloe vera & allantoin; but despite this, I seem to be reacting a little to it. I'm not sure if it's due to me vigorously rubbing in product or the ingredients themselves, but I've noticed my face starts to feel a bit hot after application. I also find it somewhat difficult to remove at the end of the day - I've sometimes had to triple cleanse in order for my skin to feel clean & really, who's got time for anything more than a double cleanse??

Cancer Council SPF50+ Sensitive Sunscreen

This was also recommended to me by the same Beautyheaven member I mentioned above. I mostly used this whilst on holiday recently and thought it was really good. It feels quite light on the skin compared with the other 2 sunscreens in this post + I don't feel greasy with it on. I do look shiny though; but my usual chemical sunscreen does the same, due to containing aloe vera & Vitamin E (which this also contains). Tbh I don't care about looking shiny - being protected is my biggest concern - but if you're an oily lass, then you might want to find something more mattifying. Like the Professional Sunscreen for Scars, this too is a physical/chemical combination; but unlike the aforementioned sunscreen, this has a lower zinc oxide level (50mg/g) per tube, which might explain why I find this the easiest of the 3 to remove at the end of the day.

The only problem with this sunscreen lies with its consistency. Whilst it is easily spreadable, it is also quite runny and can squirt out of the tube if you're not careful. Case in point: whilst I was away, I found a whole lot of it at the bottom of my beach bag one day, staining my poor kaftan. However, if you keep it in a cool place (i.e. the fridge) it isn't as runny, although you might want to bring it to room temperature before applying because it does thicken to the point of being hard to squeeze out.

Ego SunSense Sensitive SPF50+ for Sensitive Skin

I decided to try this on a whim whilst in Chemist Warehouse one day, as it contains both titanium and zinc oxide as its only sun protection actives. I really wish I'd read some reviews first because this is terrible...not from a sun protection sense, but from an aesthetic point of view it's hello to Dreaded White Cast, coming to you live from Non-Absorption City. I've only worn it once and after rubbing it vigorously into my face, it not only made my skin turn a bit red, but it also made me look slightly purple-ish. The last time I looked, resembling Grimace from McDonald's wasn't a trend! I almost considered posting a photo, but I'd rather not embarrass myself. ;o) This sunscreen also did the same thing to my arms, so not only does it not work on your face, but everywhere else. Looking at it, it reminds me of the zinc cream my Mum made me wear on my nose as a child. It's for all these reasons that I'm really glad I only bought the smallest tube!

From top: Cancer Council SPF50+ Professional Sunscreen for Scars, Cancer Council SPF50+ Sensitive Sunscreen, Ego SunSense Sensitive SPF50+

All 3 smeared out
My verdict? For me, the sensitive sunscreen from the Cancer Council is a winner. I can forgive the runny consistency because of its feel on the skin, the fact that it's SPF50+ and it doesn't make me look like a ghost. At about $11.99-$14.99AUD for a tube, it's cheaper than the Cetaphil spray sunscreen I've been using up till now and it has a higher SPF than that one as well. As for the other 2, (as mentioned) I'm a bit afraid of the other Cancer Council sunscreen, but I want to use it up because it is pricey stuff at around $19.99-$27.99AUD a tube. The Ego SunSense sunscreen is awful, but again, I'll probably just wear it around my house since no-one will care if I look like a ghost...

Has this experiment been enough for me to consider using physical sunscreens again? I'm not sure. I'd only purchase one if the formula was like the Cancer Council Sensitive sunscreen. If it's like the Ego SunSense, forget it.

UPDATE 30/8/17: Since publishing this post, I've thrown out both the Ego Sunsense Sensitive sunscreen + the Cancer Council Professional Sunscreen for Scars as both of them were unsuitable for my skin & my skin's needs - the former because it was straight up terrible, the latter because the tint was too dark for my skin & transferrable. I've also stopped using the other Cancer Council sunscreen mentioned in this post as I found it made me too shiny. I now use another Ego Sunsense sunscreen, this time the Sensitive Invisible sunscreen, which hadn't been released at the time of this post. I highly recommend it, especially if you live in Australia or are travelling to Australia any time soon. The sun is harsh here people, don't forget that!

Cancer Council sunscreens can be purchased online, at their retail outlets Australia wide and at selected chemists. I bought both of mine from Cincotta Chemist and (by chance, from) Blooms the Chemist.
Ego SunSense sunscreens can be purchased at various outlets, including Chemist Warehouse.

*All products featured for review on The Novice Life are purchased by me, unless otherwise stated. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more details.

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Have you tried any of these sunscreens? Do you use a physical or chemical sunscreen? Can you tell the difference between the 2?


  1. hey... i want to reach out to you to say i got burnt 2x in a week with the Cancer council "amazing" sunscreen. scared stiff now. i am switching to invisible zinc high zinc spf50.

    hope you are well and had a good trip! xxx

    1. I stopped using it ages ago as it's not suitable for my skin tone. The Sensitive sunscreen for me is still a winner.


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