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Cruelty-Free Sunscreens for Mature Skin


Mature skin has challenges that younger skin just doesn’t have. By this age, most of our faces (and I’m going to include décolleté in this) have taken a significant beating from the sun. And even though most of the damage was inflicted in our youth, we need to remain vigilant about protecting it from the sun. Today I’m sharing a roundup of the best cruelty-free sunscreens for mature skin. I have an entire arsenal that I rely on so here are some of my favorites that are all cruelty-free.

beach bag sunglasses and sunhat on beach

Sunscreens are separated into chemical or physical. To be honest, they’re all chemicals. Some are just assumed to be safer and more effective.

What is the most effective sunscreen for mature skin? One that you will use consistently and use enough of. Most people use a thimbleful of sunscreen and spread it too thinly. Please check out How Much Sunscreen Do You Need?

Physical cruelty-free sunscreens for mature skin

Physical sunscreens provide the best protection and are the gentlest because they reflect the damaging rays. They’re called sunblock because they block the rays from absorbing into your skin. Zinc oxide is the gold standard for sun protection because it blocks more rays than even titanium dioxide.

 

3 tubes of australian gold cruelty free sunscreen

 

They do tend to leave a white cast so many companies add tints to help them blend in better. For many years I used Elta MD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41. I used it in place of foundation to give my face a smooth finish. Then I switched to Australian Gold Tinted Face SPF 50 to get that extra bit of coverage.

Josie Maran makes a lovely Broad Spectrum SPF 47 moisturizer that I’ve used for many years and love. I never rely on a moisturizer with SPF alone, but this one has a titanium dioxide 5.1% and zinc oxide 6.4, so it’s very protective.

I use this Australian Gold Untinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 on my arms, back of my hands, and décolleté every day, rain or shine. It’s very affordable, gives good solid protection, and has no tint to rub off on collars or sleeves. I often have a hard time finding this so I order them 3 at a time to always have them on hand.

My current favorite sunscreen for my face is this ISDIN PHOTO Ultralight Emulsion. It has 11% zinc oxide but dries down invisibly. Because it has a watery consistency, it’s easy to spread further than you should, thereby not giving you enough coverage. Resist that urge and keep smoothing over your face until absorbed, then add more for your neck and chest.

 

colorscience physical sunscreen for mature faces

 

I’ve been a big fan of Colorscience everything for years. They consistently make reliable, superior products with high SPF that are recommended by many dermatologists, including mine.

I’ve used this ColorScience Brightening Primer for years. It helps illuminate your complexion, smoothes its appearance with an SPF of 20 from titanium dioxide 5% and zinc oxide 4.5%. It’s not enough on its own for me so it’s just the beginning and I add stuff on top.

I just started using this Sunforgetable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50 and love it! It comes in 3 “shades” which is a bit misleading because it rubs in to be totally invisible. I have the original which is a universal peach that disappears and leaves no film or shine.

I keep the Sunforgetable Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral powder in my purse for touch-ups during the day. It’s pricey and other brands do make similar products so you could shop this type of product around. It solves the dilemma of refreshing your sunscreen throughout the day without disturbing your makeup.

The Colorscience Total Eye 3 in 1 Renewal Therapy Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Concealer just arrived yesterday, and I’m excited to try it. Its ingredient list reads more like an eye cream, yet has a strong SPF you can use over your entire lid, from undereye to brow. I will keep you posted on this one.

The total SPF you wear is not calculated by the addition of one product with another, it’s only as high as the strongest single SPF product you wear. I think that layering helps ensure I haven’t missed any spots…but that’s not a scientific fact, just my opinion.

 

Chemical sunscreens for mature faces

There is some controversy over the safety of chemical sunscreens which I wrote about here. The FDA has decided that only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safe, but we all make our own decisions and for many, they just can’t tolerate the physical sunscreens.

 

elta md chemical sunscreens

 

This Elta MD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 is a best-seller everywhere. It absorbs into your skin with no residue so makeup goes on easily. It contains zinc oxide but I have it in this category because the other sunscreen ingredient is octinoxate. It is sheer, lightweight, and contains hyaluronic acid which helps hydrate skin.

This Elta MD UV AERO Broad Spectrum Spray SPF 45 is another combo of zinc oxide 9.3% and octinoxate 7.5. It is totally invisible on your skin and offers great protection. They recommend you apply this 15 minutes before sun exposure. It sprays on white so you can see where it is, then dries clear after you rub it in. Sprays are easy but I only use mine while outside to avoid breathing in the fumes. This is perfect for a beach bag.

I am neurotic about protecting my skin from any future sun damage. I do as much reading as possible and try new ones all the time. I have no problem relegating one to “not for me”  if it’s streaky, greasy, or generally unpleasant. If I don’t love it, I won’t use it, which makes it worthless to me.

What are your favorite sunscreens?

The Over 50 Style team is chatting LIVE on Instagram today at 11 am PT/ 2 pm ET. This week we’re discussing body shapes and how we dress them.

Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.

38 Comments

  1. Kay
    June 19, 2021 / 7:06 am

    Great article! I was so stupid about sunscreen until 15 years ago when I got my fist skin cancer diagnosis. I was the one who got bad sunburns and uses tanning beds. I have had several squamous skin cancers over the years and many precancerous spots. I see the dermatologist every six months. I am religious about using sunscreen now. I

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 19, 2021 / 7:18 am

      I wish I knew then what I know now too! My dermatologist assures me it’s still very important to protect ourselves from the sun.

  2. Nancy
    June 18, 2021 / 7:26 pm

    Very informative post. I’ve never heard of most of them! I’ve been relying on my moisturizers SPF 20, but have been feeling that it’s not enough. I don’t do much about the rest of my body on a day to day basis; you’ve given me the incentive to start. Thanks for all the tips!

  3. Linda Totty
    June 18, 2021 / 12:07 pm

    I always enjoy your posts! I love your honesty and suggestions. Very often I am able to try what you have recommended, and I am always pleased with the various products.

  4. Katelyn K
    June 18, 2021 / 10:48 am

    As a former facial skin cancer patient, I cannot fathom being without sunscreens these days. As I snorkel the numerous reefs here in South East Florida, reef safe mineral products are all I’ll use. For the body it’s Think Sport SPF 50+ Mineral Formula – 20% non-nano (reef safe) zinc oxide. While it goes on thick and white, rubbing well into the skin makes it almost disappear. I’d rather be white then burned and this product sure works. For the face and eyes, It’s Versed Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen, what Susan Blakey (of “un femme d’un a certain age”) recommends. Versed is a slightly tinted 15.2% non-nano product that goes on clean and absorbs well. I wear over my usual daily moisturizer and under mineral sunscreen CC foundation cream. My lips and eyes go to sunscreen is Sun Bum Mineral Formula Lip Balm – SPF30. Also a non-nano zinc oxide product. Goes on a little white but absorbs and provides excellent protection. Sun Bum also has no preservatives and uses natural ingredients.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 4:54 pm

      Thank you for sharing those, Katelyn. I have been reading about nanoparticles and it’s a hot topic in sunscreen.

  5. Betsy
    June 18, 2021 / 10:20 am

    I LOVE when you recommend cruelty free! Thank you. Great recs. I also like COOLA Classic Body Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, Guava Mango, which I bought online from Costco.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 4:51 pm

      Coola is a wonderful line!!

  6. Beth
    June 18, 2021 / 10:18 am

    I highly recommend Paula’s Choice products and use their Skin Restoring Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 50 with antioxidants. Whatever sunscreen you choose, select one that includes antioxidants that will bump up protection from free radicals in the environment!

  7. Julie
    June 18, 2021 / 9:22 am

    I love this subject! Most of my googles are about sunscreen, tinted moisturizer, self tanners!My all time favorite is alba botanical soothing sunscreen in pure lavender. It is 45 spf. I love the smell. My local TJMaxx sells it but only in the summer so I’ve learned to stock up.I also found a small tube of the Australian gold botanical to keep in my purse. I’m still looking for a facial product.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 4:48 pm

      It’s so smart to carry some with you!

  8. Susan
    June 18, 2021 / 8:48 am

    Sunblocks that use minerals like titanium and zinc oxides protect the planet’s coral reefs from damage. Resort staff notice the oily sheen of sun screens on the water in the beach areas after a day of heavy use and the chemicals in many lotions are known to be destructive to the coral. I believe Hawaii is planning to ban the use of certain products in an effort to protect their marine environments. I think it would be wonderful if all tourists were required to purchase only safe sun lotions at their holiday destinations…one less thing to pack in a suitcase!

    • Jacquie in NorCal
      June 18, 2021 / 10:03 am

      Thank you for mentioning our planet’s reefs in the same sentence as Suncreen. While I am not a diver the rest of my family are divers, and they bemoan the state of the reefs all around the world, Indonesia, Australia, the Caribbean. Consequently we use reef safe sunscreens. My personal favorite is Elta MD Elements.

    • Katelyn K
      June 18, 2021 / 10:53 am

      Fully Agree Susan! We need to preserve and protect our reefs as they are rapidly dying out. I see the physical damage each year as I snorkel and dive the Florida reef systems. I only use non-nano reef safe products.

      • Barbara Shapas
        June 18, 2021 / 3:28 pm

        https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/hawaii-senate-bill-bans-harmful-sunscreen-chemicals-2021-03-09/

        This is a link to a March 2021 article about sunscreens allowed in Hawaii. Please read it…it’s short. We must also apply this to all coral reefs, wherever in the world. Unfortunately, this bill failed to pass.

        Basically, the bill was attempting to add avobenzone and octocrylene to the already banned oxybenzone- and octinoxate-containing sunscreens. In a multinational study published by the American Chemical Society in 2021, researchers looked at the degradation of octocrylene into benzophenone, which is a mutagen, carcinogen and endocrine disruptor (which means it alters how hormones work). The entire publication is here: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.chemrestox.0c00461#

        For those not into reading scientific journal articles, I’d suggest reading the short Abstract and then scrolling down to view a couple tables of the tested sunscreen products.

        We all need to be very concerned about putting these products on our bodies!

      • Jennifer
        Author
        June 18, 2021 / 4:56 pm

        Thanks for sharing this Barb, this kind of reading is right up my alley.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 4:47 pm

      I’m very happy to see them taking a stand to protect the coral reefs! Hawaii won’t let you bring in ones that damage it and luckily we have lots of options.

  9. Jan
    June 18, 2021 / 8:41 am

    What a timely blog this morning! I want to give a personal shout out to the tinted Australian Gold sunscreen. I have been using it every day, all year round. My skin has taken on a yellow undertone that I don’t recall having in my youth. This tinted product simply neutralizes my coloring and does not settle in my wrinkles. I love it! I purchase it at my local Menards (large hardware/lumber) store. I know it sounds crazy but they carry a display year round and it’s very affordable.
    Thank you for another informative blog!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 4:46 pm

      Let’s hear it for hardware stores :)!

  10. Donna
    June 18, 2021 / 8:31 am

    I have been using that Australian Gold Tinted for face that you recommended some time back, very good. I am using this either alone or under foundation while I am up in Colorado where the sun is much stronger. I use Neutragena for neck and arms. I will try the Australian Gold for body in future. I may try others you suggested here.
    I had a precancerous spot on side of nose that was removed with chemo cream. Left no scars and skin looks new. I had it done during lockdown and hid under a mask . The process is several weeks from start to finish , but works well. The skin is red and raw until you are done. Well worth the inconvenience and ugly look.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 4:43 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience with that cream. I know they recommended it for a friend and his entire face was a mess, so I’m guessing small spots are easier to use it for

  11. Anon
    June 18, 2021 / 8:07 am

    Always a challenge to find sunblock that works, and doesn’t cause breakouts or irritation. My favorites sold in Canada are the physical (mineral) tinted sunblocks from Ombrelle, La Roche-Posay and Avène. Kiehl’s also has one I like. I use at least SPF 50, wear a hat and long sleeves. L’Oreal came out with an untinted mineral sunblock, but it’s hard to find in the stores lately. Estée Lauder also has a tinted mineral makeup with sunblock, but it, too, is hard to find in my shade, and on the expensive side.

  12. Anne
    June 18, 2021 / 7:19 am

    I have terrible allergies to a preservative found in so many products today. I get blisters that itch terribly and my skin resembles eczema. I use Supergoop, mostly because it is safe for my skin. I just looked up Elta and I can use it too, so I will give it a try. Thank you for sharing the information. Have a great weekend.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 4:41 pm

      I’m glad to know it’ll be gentle enough for your skin

  13. Jackie
    June 18, 2021 / 7:09 am

    Thanks for sharing your research and encouraging us to use sunscreen daily. Today the sun is bright at 7am, so it’s a hat as well, today for me.

  14. Rose
    June 18, 2021 / 7:07 am

    Great information! I never leave the house without sunscreen. Always in my moisturizer and my foundation, plus I wear a hat. Golfing is a real challenge but I have SPF sleeves and that really helps.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 4:40 pm

      I’m a big fan of fabrics with sun protection too!

  15. Tina O
    June 18, 2021 / 7:01 am

    Thanks for talking about sunscreen. I use a daily SPF50 moisturizer from Bioelements. I’ve used their skin products for years. To protect my scalp, I use Baby Bum SPF50. I’m out regularly with my dog and walking so I stay covered up. I keep a bottle of Aveeno lotion with sunscreen in my car to protect my hands from exposure when driving. These have all served me well!

    • Mary Youra
      June 18, 2021 / 10:42 am

      Tina–
      Would you elaborate on how you apply the Baby Bum to your scalp?
      Thanks,
      Mary

  16. jmp
    June 18, 2021 / 6:01 am

    Great information! Thank you

  17. Valla Rogers
    June 18, 2021 / 5:41 am

    My hair is a bit thin on top so it will burn if I don’t put something on it. I use the Colorscience mineral powder for when I’m not wearing a hat. Other products make it greasy looking.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 6:11 am

      Thank you so much for mentioning that powder, Valla! It sounds brilliant. I didn’t know it existed. I need to get some and buy it for my grandson!! It’s never too early to start protecting your skin.

    • Pat
      June 18, 2021 / 9:58 am

      Hi, I too use Colorescience mineral powder, but how do you keep the brush clean? I e tried several methods, any suggestions would be so appreciated.
      Thanks,
      Pat

  18. Marie
    June 18, 2021 / 5:21 am

    I use the Elta 45. I used it all last summer and just restocked. I have confidence wearing it in direct sunlight. My skin doesn’t look any redder or freckled after exposure to sun. I’m always hiding from the sun and wear hats .

    Thanks for the overview and doing the research.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 6:16 am

      I do love the Elta MD line. It’s got so many great products.

  19. Paulette Levy
    June 18, 2021 / 5:13 am

    My dermatologist has given me this Isdin sunscreen and have to say I like it, just for the reasons you give.
    She seems to favor Isdin products as a few years ago years ago she prescribed their 3 month capsules for hair thinning and loss and it worked! ( I had been hospitalized for 11 weeks given huge doses of antibiotics for a massive kidney infection and on a ventilator etc. very sick. My hair is now thick and healthy! I trust Isdin products!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 18, 2021 / 6:22 am

      I’m so sorry you suffered like that, Paulette! I haven’t looked into the Isdin line further but I will now. Thanks so much

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