This Reddit Post Shows How Ineffective Some Sunscreens Really Are At Protecting Your Skin
Most people apply sunscreen and just hope that it'll do its thing. But with so many choices—chemical or mineral? low or high SPF? lotion or spray?—it's only logical that not all formulas are equally effective. In order to compare a few options, Reddit user u/amyvancheese conducted her own test. If you're a skin-care nerd, you'll find the results fascinating. (Related: Does Sunscreen Really Absorb Into Your Bloodstream?)
After applying each sunscreen, the original poster (OP) used a device called Sunscreenr. Inside Sunscreenr is a camera that shows reflected UVA rays, which unlike UVB rays, reach the deeper layers of your skin and contribute to— and may even initiate—the development of skin cancers. Since sunscreen prevents the reflection of UVA rays, it appears dark through the device's viewfinder. After taking photos using the device, the OP posted side-by-side snapshots of each with a rundown of what she'd tested.
Her findings? Powder sunscreens appear to offer very little coverage. While they're well-suited to reapplication over a face of makeup, they don't seem to provide protection. The OP applied Bell Hypoallergenic compact powder SPF 50, and Physician's Formula Mineral Wear SPF 30, and in both photos she looked like she wasn't even wearing sunscreen. (Related: The Best Face and Body Sunscreens for 2019)
However, if you want an option that won't go on heavy for reapplication purposes, mists seem to have potential. The OP tested La Roche Posay anti-shine SPF 50 Invisible Fresh Mist and it showed up way darker than the two powder options. (Related: Supergoop Just Launched the First SPF Eyeshadow—and TBH This Is a Brilliant Idea)
According to her post, the OP tested three other types of formulas: a "milk," a traditional lotion, and a "hybrid" that's somewhere between lotion and milk. The milk, Rohto Skin Aqua SPF 50+, showed up the lightest of the three, leaving the OP to decide that the other two make better standalone options.
The two winners were the lotion, Boots Soltan Face Sensitive Protect SPF 50+ (Buy it, $20, amazon.com) and the hybrid, La Roche Posay Anthelios Shaka ultralight Fluid SPF 50+ (Buy it, $35, walmart.com).
Besides having an SPF of 50+, both offer broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and are designed to suit sensitive skin. So you should thank the OP for doing all the work for you the next time you're trying to choose a sunscreen.