Saturday, March 31, 2018

Physical Sunscreen Comparison - Fancl, Avene and Clinique

Summer fall winter spring is finally here so it's time to review sunscreens I got a year ago! A professional blogger probably would have done this kind of post eight months ago but this blog is more of a hoarder's diary, it takes me a while to formulate thoughts on skincare items. I don't want to sing praises for something that I ended up hating a month later. Anyway, I have had them long enough so my opinion won't change much later.

 A quick refresher on my skin background. I have been using sunscreen for over a decade, but only intermittently because they give me reactions when I use them more than 2-3days straight (hives, rashes or clogged pores). Last year I finally realized that I am one of the many who are allergic to chemical filters. After limiting myself to physical-only sunscreen, I have been able to use it the only right way: Everyday (that I step out), rain or shine.

Ever since my realization, I have tried various physical sunscreens from both American and Japanese companies. I did mentioned I like Josie Maran (too oily for summer and probably not strong enough) and Origin ones and went through more than one bottles for each (then suddenly lost interest when I was half way through second bottle).

Knowing there are better options out there, I kept trying/buying. 
Fancl Sunguard Protect UV SPF 50+ PA++++ (around $30 online for 60ml)

First contestant from Fancl, the Japanese skincare brand designed for sensitive skin. The Sunguard Protect UV is a standard white-out sunscreen liquid. The first thing I notice, here is the ingenious design of the packaging:
There is a clear divider between the bottle, as soon as you remove it and close the cap, the opening is punctured and ready to be used. This ensure the integrity of a products that's relatively free of preservative.
White cast is an unavoidable part of sunscreen and I am all prepared knowing  a product has such a high SPF, Fancl isn't just white, but more of a bleached paper with blue undertone kind of white. While it blends without crumb, the geisha cast is a bit difficult to pull off during summer.

  I get an obvious shade difference on my hairline and around my eyebrow, and the white tint floats when I sweat.

 On the face, it forms a film that hugs the skin tightly, as the day went on, film gets broken down by sweat and body heat, turning it into a semi sticky finish that's still a pain to remove. The white cast and poor water resistance made it entirely unusable for summer so I used it for two weeks while waiting for other brands to arrive. 
Anyway, I picked it up again during winter when my skintone became less tan and drier. On a moisturized (but not wet) surface, it applies very evenly and the white cast is there but much more manageable. In fact, the dry and tight film is forms is a perfect base for the IT Cosmetics CC cream I use (which is a little dark for me anyway). 

On days when my skin is thinned out, gets blotchy. I just need to remind myself that not to use it with lighter face powder (I sometime go for lighter shade to bring my face same color as my neck) because it will make my face look like powdered mochi. Some days I hate this with a passion but I finished the whole 60ml bottle, there must have been some love between us? 
I can't understand most part of the ingredients except for cyclopentaxilosane, water, Zinc Oxide (something else) and Titanium Dioxide, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin and bunch of extracts. It's free of alcohol and preservatives and gave me zero reaction whatsoever.

Of course a cleansing oil or balm is needed or it will clog the pores. Fancl is terribly unnatural and ineffective for summer but it served me well from January through March. It should be perfect for very fair people living in cooler climates.
Contestant number 2 is Avene Mineral Water Ultra Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion ($28 for 38.5ml) . It claims that it's moisturizing (true), lasts all day (nah-uh) and suitable for all skintone. 

Technically everything is free of white cast if they argue that their Caucasian is their target demographics so Avene, the pricey drugstore brand isn't wrong.
The main filters used are 4% Titanium Dioxide and 6% Zinc Oxide, which to me is a bit low since I have read somewhere the Fancl has Zinc Oxide around 13% and TiO2 around 5% (Don't quote me).
Avene has a light milky gel texture that does feel moisturizing on but it's far from long lasting. The water resistance is so bad that it turns into milky sweat minutes after I step outdoor. Aside from the poor wear and lower protection (it claims to be SPF 50 and I don't believe it), it's just too stinky to be worn out. It's smells like metal oxide mixed with sweat...I don't need all these extra smell when I already sweat like donkey.
Last one is Clinique Broad Spectrum SPF 30 mineral sunscreen fluid ($27.5 for 30ml) I bought it as a mere cartfiller from Sephora when I was trying to reach the free shipping threshold. I looked at the ingredient list when I received it and saw

Titanium Dioxide 3.2%, Zinc Oxide 2% 

What the heck is it, sunscreen for Eskimos? With such a low concentration, I wouldn't even use it during winter in Alaska. Anyway, the white cast is the weakest of the three, thanks to their "Invisible Shield Technology" (aka skimping on ingredients technology). The sunscreen is easy to blend and seemly fine in textured, I think I might as well wear not put on anything since it's not even waterproof.

I can't believe that I spent $ 27.5 for this crap so I am keeping it to remind myself of my foolishness. (Another Exhibit I am an idiot, I just paid 40 bucks to file state tax online, which was free the last two years). 

Excuse me while I kick myself in the abdomen.

Overall, beside Fancl that can be used during winter, the other two are overpriced and not that effective/if not utterly garbage. My true sunscreen love is Anessa Aquabooster Mild that I have gone through two bottles of. I will save it for next review so this post won't be too long.


  1. Ooohh I'll look forward to reading your review of Aquabooster Mild. I have a bottle but haven't tried it yet. From just your photo above though, its texture is the most elegant out of the four.

  2. It's blendable (the white cast is in aclear creamy base) super effective (my spot fade faster/doesn't get worse wearing it) but stay slippery forever when I use two large globs. It gets everywhere, my sleeves and jacket collar but when it comes to physical sunscreen I have to pick my poison...this is the one I can deal with. I mean I can always use blotting paper and powder afterward.

  3. Interesting. That sounds like it would be a mixing candidate just like Sunkiller Perfect Strong Moisture! Good thing I still have several half-used sunscreens I could try experimenting with ^.^


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