The Search for Sunscreen

This post has been a long time coming! When I first started on this skincare journey, I struggled a lot with finding a good sunscreen that didn’t break me out. I grew up in a time when sunscreen was disgusting and not cosmetically elegant (See Labmuffin’s posts – she’s amazing). And getting older meant more sun-damage thanks to New Zealand’s harsh Sun. So! Enter my search!

I first started out hunting out sunscreens I had read about online when I was travelling overseas – even a couple of years ago the range in New Zealand was rather limited. I wanted something hardcore – like SPF 50 or PA+++++(as many pluses as possible!). Thankfully, we now get all the three I am reviewing here in my country.

A little bit of a caveat here: skin is a fickle beastie and so is anything you put on it. So please take my little review as a grain of salt.

All sunscreens have a cost/benefit trade-off.

First up is Anthelios XL by La Roche-Posay, second is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer fluid (found this in my local supermarket – New World), and last is Kiss Me Sunkiller Cool Perfect Strong (found in my local Japanese supermarket/store) (link given is not affiliated).

 tl;dr There are more cosmetically elegant sunscreen around – hunt around your local supermarket and pharmacy


The Gang: Anthelios XL, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Fluid, and Sunkiller

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL- ultra light

La Roche-Posay is one of those brands that is ‘science-y’ (yes I am writing that as a person with a PhD) – they have nice pictures of (actors posing) as dermatologists and their tag-line is ‘trusted by dermatologists. dedicated to sensitive skin’. I had heard nothing but good things about their sunscreen online so was excited to see it in New Zealand.


Cost? $$$

Rating? 50+ (UVB + UVA)

White cast? A little bit, not horrifically so and can be covered with foundation.

Cost/Benefit Tradeoff: It was first tacky but then dried down to a film that acted almost like a primer when I put my foundation on. You also have to shake it thoroughly.

Did it work for me? Sadly, my sensitive and dry skin reacted and within days I had redness and itchiness. I normally react to alcohol in sunscreens. It also, surprisingly, clogged my skin but that could be because I reacted to it.

Will it work for you? Probably! It was almost cosmetically elegant, although it was drying due to the alcohol (so might be good for oily skin) and a little perfumed. This is also a chemical sunscreen if you are after that sort of thing.

tl;dr Good if your skin handles alcohol and don’t mind a little bit of white-cast.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer fluid

I don’t really feel like I need to introduce Neutrogena, its a well-known brand in supermarkets and some pharmacies. I like most of their products, especially their make up removal wipes. I am a little brand loyal to them, so decided to try out their sunscreen.


Cost? $

Rating? 50+

White cast? Oh dear yes and still made a difference after I put on foundation.

Cost/Benefit Tradeoff: Dries to a semi-matte finish and soaks up skin oil. This makes it rather drying and you will need a moisturizer underneath if you are not super oily. It also makes it a good primer for foundation (though I would rather use an actual primer).

Did it work for me? Again, I reacted after a couple of days and it was too drying for my dry and sensitive skin.

Will it work for you? Most likely – and its a cheaper version of the La Roche-Posay reviewed above. Again, avoid if you have super sensitive skin that is dry.

tl;dr A good average sunscreen you can find in the supermarket. Good if your skin can handle its drying effect.

Kiss Me Sunkiller Cool Perfect Strong

Nevermind the title sounds like the perfect man (NOTICE ME SENPAI!), this sunscreen was a winner for me. Let me tell you why!


Cost? $/$$ (it’s much cheaper online)

Rating? 50+ PA+++

White cast? A little bit but nothing after the dry-down.

Cost/Benefit Tradeoff: Dries to a semi-matte finish but…was not drying?! I couldn’t believe it. This is the cooling version for summer and since then I have used the normal Perfect Strong version too. Very light and non-greasy!

Did it work for me? Yes! Even acted as a type of primer and make my foundation look smoother. Even on days without foundation, it dried down to an almost skin finish and I didn’t feel like I was wearing anything. I was gob-smacked.

Will it work for you? Yes! But again, it is a bit drying so be sure to use a moisturizer if you have dry skin. This ‘cooling’ version has more alcohol than the other versions, so have a look for the normal Perfect Strong.

tl;dr Fantastic sunscreen! A winner for me. Non-irritating and dried down nicely to a semi-matte finish. Look for the normal Perfect Strong version if you want less alcohol and therefore less of a drying effect. 


So you can see, the Japanese sunscreen was a winner for me. What you don’t see is all the OTHER sunscreens I tried out as well, such as:

  • Biore UV Aqua Rich Water Essense SPF50+ PA+++
  • Neutrogena Sensitive Lotion SPF60
  • Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry Touch SPF 50
  • Nivea Sun Protect Plus UV Milky Essense SPF50+ PA++++
  • Nivea Light Feel Daily Face Veil SPF30
  • Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face Superscreen SPF50+ (I really wanted my skin to like this one!)

So it was a bit of an expensive exercise! I hope one day I will be able to find a sunscreen that doesn’t cost a lot of money and that I can find easily at the local supermarket – until then I am buying my Kiss Me Sunkiller Perfect Strong (*swoon*) from my local Japanese supermarket!