In the land of beauty products, a really great physical sunscreen is sort of like the Loch Ness monster: Elusive and controversial. (Also, no one's totally sure if one even exists.) Traditional physical sunblocks are often made with zinc and have a rep for being thick and sticky, and leaving behind a "white cast" i.e. that tell-tale ghostly pale finish. So why not just use a chemical formula? Well. While they can do a good job under the right conditions, sensitive skin types don't always fare well with them.
And if you have hyperpigmentation, a chemical formula can make the condition worse due to the way it works as you wear it. (In a nutshell, a chemical reaction occurs which causes heat in the skin. Heat = no good for hyperpigmentation.) Plus, chemical sunscreens are not exactly natural, which is increasingly important to a lot of people. Because of these problems, many don't wear sunscreen at all, which is downright scary considering we live in Australia. Le sigh.
But, it's 2018 folks, and a few local brands have been hard at work trying to dispel the myth that physical sunscreens are rubbish. It might be that summer is just around the corner, but three of our favourite Aussie brands—Go-To Skincare, Hop & Cotton, and Invisible Zinc—have all recently released physical sunscreens. Spoiler: Each one is a delight to use.
Keep scrolling for our reviews.
One of the most hyped products of 2018, Zoe Foster-Blake has launched Zincredible via her beauty brand Go-To—a daily moisturiser with SPF15. It's everything she promised: Hydrating, dewy, easily absorbed, and completely transparent. I will note however, that for extremely oily skin types, it might be a bit heavy. I was initially concerned with the sun protection factor, but as Zoe explains, it's very difficult to formulate a physical sunscreen without sacrificing the consistency of the formula. Besides, for a regular day with minimal sun exposure (commuting and a few errands), it's perfect.
Hop & Cotton is an innovative brand founded by cosmetic chemist and molecular biologist Ee Ting Ng. Customers complete a questionnaire regarding their skin concerns, and Ee then goes off and creates bespoke products specifically to address said concerns. Skinshield is the latest launch, and it's a broad spectrum physical sunscreen formulated with 21 percent zinc oxide. (Note: This one isn't customisable, but is oil-free, so it works well for most skin types). On first application it felt a little sticky, but after about a minute it had fully absorbed and my skin felt soft and hydrated.
Invisible Zinc are probably the OG when it comes to physical formulas in Australia, but I think this launch is the brand's best yet. The formula comes in three shades (transparent, light, and medium), and glides onto skin in the same way a rich moisturiser would. Each formula has an SPF factor of 50, making it ideal for days at the beach or spent outdoors. Consider this your summer vacay staple.
If you're spending time in the sun, we suggest keeping exposure minimal, and wearing a Matteau long sleeve swim top when swimming for extra protection.