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- Mineral sunscreens use physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to scatter and deflect damaging UV rays away from the skin.
- Beautycounter's award-winning Countersun Sunscreen ($39) is my go-to for everyday wear — it's a reef-friendly mineral formula that protects against UVA/UVB rays as well as blue light. It's also relatively affordable, so I can afford to use it often.
- Perhaps the best part of Countersun is that it doesn't leave a white cast on the skin. My only gripe is that it's only SPF 30. Below you'll find my full review.
After a couple of decades of life on earth as a pale, freckled person prone to the kind of sunburns that elicit condolences from strangers, I've come to accept sunscreen application as the consummate act of goodwill towards myself.
This idea was strengthened when renown NYC dermatologist and dermatological surgeon Dr. Dendy Engelman told Business Insider that just 10-15 minutes of incidental sun exposure — driving with the top down, walking to the subway, exiting and entering different stores at an outdoor mall — can compound and cause "significant sun damage and accelerated aging over time." And while said sun damage affects how rapidly your skin ages — and how it ages (causing wrinkles, age spots, loose skin, spider veins, and a blotchy complexion) — its most important side effect is the potential of skin cancer.
Once I realized just how far off I was with my laissez-faire, just-don't-sunburn approach to sunscreen, I set out to find a formula that was good enough to actually inspire consistent, everyday wear — and that would be affordable enough to be sustainable.
I ended up trying out Beautycounter's Countersun ($39). It's a mineral sunscreen, meaning it uses physical blockers like non-nano zinc to deflect harmful rays away from the body — and sidesteps the potentially alarming news released by the FDA recently that the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens are being absorbed into your bloodstream. Though mineral blockers tend to get complaints for leaving a white cast on the skin (they sit on top of the skin, rather than being absorbed into it), Countersun has garnered much fanfare for its relatively inconspicuous cast, lightweight feel, and lack of unpleasant residue. It offers broad-spectrum coverage against UVA and UVB rays as well as blue light, and the tube is large enough (6.7 ounces) to justify spending almost $40 for sunscreen. It's also reef-safe, and it was an Allure Best of Beauty winner in 2018.
My review of Beautycounter Countersun Sunscreen
In person, Countersun impressed me enough to secure itself as my go-to everyday summer sunscreen. It spreads smoothly and leaves a luminescent sheen rather than a grey-white cast. The leftover film is thin and almost entirely unnoticeable — though not as invisible as you'll get with a chemical sunscreen that sinks into your skin.
It's another plus that Beautycounter is a clean beauty brand that already nixes more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals, known as the brand's Never List, so you don't have to do the work of sussing out which ingredients you do and don't need to be afraid of. They do it for you. Since I stopped wearing foundation earlier this year, I know I'll be wearing this sunscreen even more than makeup, so what's in it is more important to me than most products I buy. Which means that, while I wish it was even cheaper than $39 for a big tube, it's a price I'm willing to pay every few months for a clean formula that I really love.
My one gripe is that I wish it was a higher SPF than 30. Typically, I look for something with at least SPF 50, though the American Academy of Dermatology technically recommends SPF 30 and above, and Beautycounter recommends reapplying after 40 minutes of swimming and at least every two hours otherwise (which is longer than I typically get out of a chemical SPF 30). Still, I could do with fewer applications — though I suspect you can't have much higher SPF without a starker white cast.
The bottom line
All in all, Countersun is the best mineral sunscreen I've found for everyday use and, per Dr. Engelman, the best thing to look for in a sunscreen, aside from the nitty gritty formula, is whichever one you'll use consistently. This one uses physical blockers rather than chemicals, comes without the suspicious and harmful ingredients I don't want but also don't want to be responsible for screening out (good on you, Beautycounter), and goes on without creating the white cast that mineral sunscreens are known for.
And, if sunscreen can be flattering, the sheer luminosity is … pretty flattering. If you're looking for a reef-safe, affordable, broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen option, I highly recommend you check this out sooner rather than later.
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