A Sunscreen to Rule Them All?


Summer is here and, consequently, so is a season some of us have to fear when it comes to skincare. Summer means sun, and sun means SPF, and SPF can be a cause for skin problems. SPF is a necessity, but so many sunscreens can be heavy or greasy or leave behind a white cast that changes our entire look. As we here at the Attic not only have different types of skin, but have different access to various products around the world, we thought we’d go around and share some of our favorites.

Olivia Lindem

Being of Nordic and Turkish descent, I have extremely fair skin and can turn lobster-red if I forget my sunscreen. I used to tan as a child, but as I got older and spent more time indoors, I literally developed an allergy to the sun. At the same time, I completely missed out on the 2000s tanning craze, and years of people telling me I’m so pale that I look sick backfired and made me embrace my Lady Mary pallor. I’m trying to get past that now, spending more time outdoors and trying to reingratiate myself with the sun. I know, though, that to do that, I need to be properly protected. One of my grandmothers has had repeat cases of skin cancer – a result of tanning without sunscreen for years, so I know the dangers of neglecting SPF.

Favorite Products

  • Face: I swear by Kiehl’s when it comes to skincare (at least for my face), and their Super Fluid UV Defense SPF+ 50 is my go-to sunscreen. I’ve used their Ultra Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30 in the past and am planning on switching to their new Ultra Facial Cream with SPF 30 for year-round protection, but I’m scared to use anything below SPF 50 in the summer. Back when I lived in the US or at least used to visit frequently enough to stock up, I used to use Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SPF 100 sunscreen for my face. It worked well and I miss having it as a cheap alternative.  
  • Body: I’m less picky when it comes to sunscreen for my body. I just have three wishes for it: that it’s affordable, that it’s a spray, and that it’s at least SPF 50. While I’m reluctantly willing to pay 50 Swiss francs/dollars for sunscreen for my face, I will not do so for my body. Again, back when I could stock up in the US, I favored Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Body Mist in either SPF 70 or SPF 100 (I know they say anything above SPF 50 is a scam, but what calms you calms you.) If I could find that in Switzerland, I would continue to swear by it. For now, I’m using Garnier’s Ambre Solaire SPF 50 spray. (I’m actually using the kids version because I couldn’t even find the adult one last year. Consequently white cast everywhere, so I wouldn’t recommend it).

Honest Mistakes: Last year, I worried that applying moisturizer and sunscreen every day would be too much for my skin, so I decided to be proactive and went a couple of weeks applying sunscreen instead of moisturizer. It was not a good move. My skin dried out and got irritated.

Sunscreen Wishlist: Glossier’s new sunscreen seems like a dream. I like that it looks so light and doesn’t leave behind any white cast. It is only SPF 35, but it looks so nice anyway that I like to think I’d conquer my fear if they started shipping to mainland Europe.


Lauren Olmeda

I won’t lie - having Puerto Rican ancestry and an olive complexion that rarely burns makes me forget about protecting my skin quite often. And although I live on an island with palm trees, the sun rarely shines strongly enough to burn, so I can be pretty bad about neglecting SPF. I am trying to be better, especially as summer approaches; two of my close friends have had scares with skin cancer, so the importance of protection cannot be understated.

Favourite Products

  • Face: I also use the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30; Kiehl’s are number one in my book. Their products are on the pricey side, but the little containers last for months and only a small amount is required. La Roche-Posay also have an amazing line of facial sunscreen, and their Ultra Light SPF 60 is a summer purchase for me.
  • Body: Like I said before, I am one to forget to apply sunscreen. I’m usually already in the water by the time I realize I’ve forgotten, so Neutrogena’s Wet Skin Sunscreen is the best product for absentmindedness. Coppertone is the brand of my childhood - I like their Oil-Free Lotion for its simplicity. I’m not all that picky about sprays vs. lotions; I like being able to see my skin absorb the lotion, but sprays are definitely easier to apply. I also really like the scent of sunscreen on its own, so I tend to go for fragrance-free protection.

Honest Mistakes: In the past, I was a sucker for a deep tan. I have used tanning oils and paid the price - I got sun poisoning when I was 17 on an Italian holiday, and I actually vomited from the pain. The skin on my chest area has never been the same and is now extremely sensitive even to the slightest change in temperature, and I will never use a tanning oil again. Now that I live in Ireland and pale skin is the norm, I am far less afraid of my wintry paleness and would rather be pale than ever be in that much pain again. My skin tans naturally even when I use SPF, but deep tans are just not worth it.

Sunscreen Wishlist: As the weather warms I like to run outside, so this Sugar Sport Treatment looks quite good. I like the stick applicator for quick, on-the-go application. I also still love how my olive skin looks with a tan, so a spray-tan from Jules Von Hep, celebrity-tanner extraordinaire, is definitely on my wishlist.


Raquel Reyes

Oh goodness, am I about to put myself to shame. Being of Central American descent, my skin is an odd mix somewhere between pale and olive that I still haven't completely figured out. None of the girls at Sephora know what to do with me either. I vaguely remember my parents slathering it on me at the beach as a child, but growing up I didn't learn much about skin protection and thus never went to the trouble of using it myself. I thank my lucky stars I've never had any sun problems. I've never burnt, only slightly tanned, or in reverse, when I've stayed indoors too long, gotten to that ‘deathly pale’ place.

Favorite Products:

  • Face: When I moved to The South, I started wearing makeup to cover the acne that had started showing up due to what I assumed was the stress of a new place and a change in climate. I used Rimmel London’s BB Cream SPF 25, mixing Light and Medium to get my proper tone. Around the time I turned 25, SPF became more of a priority in the anti-aging process. I still don't burn, so even now protection for me is mostly about discoloration and wrinkles. (I like to joke that my older sister inherited all of the collagen in the family because I always get mistaken for the older one when we're out together.) I also recently learned that you need roughly a blueberry sized amount of SPF to ensure protection, and that nobody uses that much foundation, otherwise they'd look like a pancake. So I use a foundation with no SPF now, and apply CeraVe’s Broad Spectrum SPF 50 InvisibleZinc Sunscreen after my moisturizer. I'm still exploring other options as it leaves a horrible white cast, but I like its coverage and the fact that it's waterproof, so I don't worry about sweating it off on my bike ride.
  • Body: I am definitely worse at protecting my body. Do long sleeves and midi skirts count as protection? (I know, they don't.) Despite the lack of sun damage, I do have sensitive skin that can break out in hives with the wrong product so I'm typically wary. At the moment I actually use Eucerin Daily Protection SPF 30 Face Lotion on my body. It's lighter weight with less white cast than the CeraVe, so if I don't feel like putting on makeup I'll use that on my face as well.

Honest Mistakes: Probably the last two and a half decades of negligence.

Sunscreen Wishlist: I love makeup and skincare, but finding the dream product for each individual is such a process, and for what is more of a required medicinal product than an enjoyable cosmetic one, it's not even much fun. It's truly pointless but I wish that I could just know what sunscreen to use without having to try them all.


Lee Clark

I’m a mix of Irish and English so my pallor comes through if I’ve not spent time in the sun.  However, when I was younger I was outside all of the time and I tanned so so beautifully now that I look through photos.  But my freckles were not something I was proud of, and as my interest in Morticia Addams increased (I wish this was a joke, but honestly she’s still GOALS), I decreased the time spent in the sun.  The pallor was noteworthy and set me apart from my peers when the tanning craze hit in the 2000s.  I am regularly complimented on my skin, I think because I specifically stayed out of the sun for so many years.  I notice the compliments are from women who are much older than me, and who lamented about their time in the sun.  However, the warnings are slowly fading as I’ve found spending some time in the sun, sans sunscreen (gasp!), to get some Vitamin D has been really beneficial to my mood, and eliminated the need to take it in pill form.  My skin is now one step above cadaverousness so not “tan” at all.

Favorite Products:

  • Face: My husband and I both use Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 (which maybe takes the cake for longest title?) because I see no reason whatsoever of why we need different products.  I use this everyday but after I have had my morning time in the sun. I also like to have a cup of coffee in the morning outside, it’s a nice way to start my day.  It’s a low SPF but I’ve found that it works for me.  My Bobbi Brown foundation also has a bit of sunscreen so that’s an additional layer as well.
  • Body:  I used to use Supergoop! Mineral Sunscreen but now with a baby it’s just easier to use his.  We use Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50 as a family and it has a bit of white tint but if you rub it in it disappears after a bit.  I also take other precautions with clothing, sometimes adding a lightweight scarf, or a hat, and I always wear sunglasses to help protect my eyes from the sun.  I also try to avoid spending the bulk of my time outside during the non-witching hours of noon to four p.m.

Honest Mistakes: Going to the pool from 12pm to 9pm every single day in the summer with little to no sunscreen for years on end.

Sunscreen Wishlist: I’m anxious to try Glossier’s sunscreen, just like Olivia.  I’m a Glossier fan girl so when I saw Invisible Shield unveiled my immediate reaction was, “NEED.”  I have yet to purchase because I’m waiting for my next restock of other Glossier products to come around, so I’ll try it then.  Fingers crossed it’s as wonderful as everything else they have (the cult of boy brow is well-deserved).


Amy Richardson

Although I am British through and through,I am not an English rose. I’ve inherited my mum’s olive skin, but my dad’s very English tendency to burn and I have quite a few freckles and moles. I am super pale and have never tanned particularly well. I’m not massively bothered about being tanned either, though it is a pain that I struggle to get foundation to match my skin. Living in England, I am a bit worried about vitamin D deficiency, so I do sit outside in the sun in the summer without any make up or moisturiser on for about 30 minutes in the morning as I find it helps my mood and my skin.

Favourite Products

Honest Mistakes: On the day of my sixth form induction it was unexpectedly sunny and so we spent all day outside. Although I had put sun cream on in the morning, I didn’t take any with me and didn’t even think to ask someone else for re-applying and burnt terribly. The next day I was lobster pink - just in time for my prom!

Sunscreen Wishlist: I would also love to try the Glossier sun lotion! The brand is coming to the UK sometime later this year and I can’t wait to try all their products. Aside from that I am open to recommendations!

What about you, readers? How do you protect your skin from the sun?

Image: Olaus Magnus, "On the Reflections of the Sun," 1555.