As a Chicana from So Cal who could surf a solar flare and just get a really dark tan, I was never too shook about sunscreen until I covered my body with approximately a billion dollars in tattoos. I didn’t bleed out all over a guy with cobwebs tattooed on his scalp just to let my colorful artwork bake blurry, smearing and fading with sun damage.
In my efforts to protect myself from frying under Chicago’s sun, which we’re just starting to see this year, I’ve tried a bunch of sunscreens that have clogged my pores, smeared white ghost residue all over my messenger bags, and made my sweaty face shine greasily. The only brand I can reliably stand is Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer line. They’re not paying me, I just figured there’s a bunch of people reading this blog who also clock a lot of time on bikes in jorts who could use some recommendations.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock Lotion
This is your standard suncreen that comes in a million SPF strengths you pour out into your palm and rub into your skin. Chemical sunscreens take 20-30 minutes to become effective with your skin, so I like to apply this first thing in the morning along with my deodorant and let everything dry before I put on my clothes, well before my morning commute.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunblock Spray
This stuff is really cool and easy to put on and it feels great on the skin, but you just get way less of it than you get liquid suncreen, and it costs a little more. It feels wasteful, honestly. I only use it to sunscreen the tattoo that’s in the middle of my shoulderblades that is incredibly difficult to reach with my hands.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face and Body Stick
I just discovered this! I am very Pro-This. I think it’s a great, small size and light weight for throwing in your messenger bag. Also, if I realize I need to reapply sunscreen to my tattoos right before I run out the door on my bike, the handsfree application helps keep my palms not greasy.
The only problem is that, like the spray, you simply don’t get as many ounces per dollar as you would with the original liquid sunblock.
I’d also like to mention that I have pretty sensitive skin that shows reactions to lanolin, fragrances, latex, and lord knows what else. I’ve never had reactions to any of Neutrogena’s sunscreen products, other than the occasional clogged pore that goes along with smearing goop all over dirty sweaty skin. They also make (more expensive) sensitive skin formulas, and facial sunscreen that promises no zits.
Please note that these are all chemical sunscreens, which absorb into the skin and protect you by chemically reacting with UV rays. Some people prefer physical barrier sunscreens, which use the minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block your skin from the sun. I really fucking hate physical barrier sunscreens (which you’ll often find marketed/greenwashed as “natural”). They leave a greasy white crust everywhere my messenger bag touches my body, which then would rub back on me all dirty and give me pimples and also just look disgusting on my bag. It was gross as hell. However, some people may enjoy them, and you can pick them up at the drugstore (Aveeno makes many varieties) or at crunchy spots like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.