Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Summer Round Up


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.


  • it doesn’t rub off on or stain clothing
  • it doesn’t feel greasy
  • it’s the best price per ounce with the least wasteful packaging
  • Cons

  • has to be rubbed in well and can sometimes leave an opaque ghostly layer on the skin
  • if I still have it on my palms when I’m riding a bike it gets my grips all slippery and gross
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    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.


  • putting on suncreen takes two seconds and it soaks in right away
  • easy to apply to hard to reach places
  • doesn’t smell weird
  • Cons

  • pretty expensive
  • pretty fucking not good for you if you inhale it, which is easy to accidentally do
  • bougie
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    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.


  • soaks in wicked fast, very little to no rubbing in needed
  • super easy to spot-apply to tattoos
  • Cons

  • rolling what looks like deodorant over my face feels weird
  • more expensive, lots of packaging for only a little product
  • rolling it over your entire body would be kind of tedious and also would use half of the package
  • 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.


    • kaz May 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      As someone who has done a lot of bike touring/bike camping, my fave thing about the stick sunscreen is that it can’t get squeezed in your bag/panniers and cover everything in your bag with nasty sticky sunscreen. Ask me how I know about that.

      I keep the stick stuff in my bike tools kit and always have it with me to re-charge my sunscreen application. (I agree it would be kinda annoying to cover your whole body with it, but it’s great for touchups.)

    • ridonrides July 13, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      Don’t know about the stick that you’re using, but I have the “pure” baby sunscreen stick (formulated for babies, and is baby-sized). So I’m surprised the adult stick has chemical sunscreens instead of the zinc oxide/titanium oxide that’s in the baby stick. I don’t wear a lot of sleeveless or scoopback tops; so my arms, hands, and legs get the most sun exposure. I used to tan deep brown but now in my mid 30s, I have a lot of freckling and my hands are looking super leathery. 🙁 I don’t like to think of myself as vain, but it’s bothered me enough to finally wear some sunscreen. I only advocate the stick, because it works right away and great for applying right when you head out the door (which you wrote about). Stick is nice for rolling onto back of hands, too. Probably not great for face use since the white cast thing (which you wrote about). I’ve stuck with the stick for my body and a regular lotion for my face.


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