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Summer Sunscreen Skincare - The Paula Begoun, “Cosmetic Cop” Reviews

Updated on July 20, 2009

Now that summer is here, it’s time to stock up on the sunscreen! But not all sunscreens are alike. With all the different brands, formulations and SPF’s (sun protection factor) ranging from under 10 to over 100, how do you choose? Rather than just going for what’s on sale, I checked out what expert Paula Begoun recommends for sunscreen products.

If you’re not familiar with Paula Begoun, she is the creator of Paula’s Choice skin care and cosmetics products. She has more than 25 years of experience in the beauty industry, and has performed in-depth research and study of skin and cosmetic ingredients. She is the author and publisher of seven best-selling books on the beauty industry, including Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me 7th edition, Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal, The Beauty Bible 2nd Edition, and Don’t Go Shopping for Hair-Care Products Without Me. Paula’s books have sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide. She is a nationally-recognized consumer expert for the cosmetics industry.She has made appearances on Oprah, CNN, The Today Show, 20/20, Dateline NBC, The View, and Primetime.

Paula’s website,, isn’t just a sales tool for her product line. She has carefully and expertly evaluated products from cosmetic and skin care companies from Almay to Zapzyt. She has her own product rating system, ranging from a check mark and smiley face , for those products she identifies as a “Paula’s Pick” (a product that exceeds expectations and goes beyond the criteria for a product in its category) to the frowning faces, which reflect a product that is truly bad for the skin from almost every angle, including price, dated formulations, performance, application and texture, as well as potential for irritation, skin reactions and breakouts.

Paula’s Criterion

Paula’s determination of each individual product’s rating is based on a specific benchmark established for each product category. In the case of sunscreen, it’s the importance of UVA-protecting ingredients in a formulation. In addition she asks these questions:

  1. Given the ingredient list, can the product do what it promises?
  2. How does the product differ from other products?
  3. If a special ingredient is showcased, how much is actually in the product, and is there independent research verifying the claim?
  4. How far fetched are the product’s claims?
  5. Are there similar or identical formulations available that cost less?

Click here for the complete list of Paula’s questions.

Paula’s Picks

The following sunscreens are Paula’s Picks. These are the cream-of-the-crop, they exceed expectations and go beyond the criteria of other sunscreens.

Avon – Moisture Therapy Mineral Sunscreen Cream with SPF 28, sold for $9.99/3.4 ounces.She rates this sunscreen’s mineral-based formula as an outstanding option for normal to slightly dry or slightly oily skin that is sensitive or struggling with rosacea. This sunscreen contains iron oxides, a type of pigment added to offset the potential white cast that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can have on your skin. This sunscreen earned the Paula’s pick rating, in part, because it is fragrance-free and tailored for sensitive skin.

Neutrogena – Age Shield Sunblock SPF 30, sold for $9.99/4 ounces. According to Paula, this sunscreen is appropriately named and honestly describes what a well-formulated sunscreen does for your skin. This avobenzone sunscreen is fragrance-free and certainly has the UVA range covered. The formula also includes several antioxidants. Without greasiness, it’s a texture that someone with normal to very oily skin will love. It is suitable for use under makeup. Paula notes that Neutrogena is “touting this and their other sunscreens with Helioplex as a breakthrough, when, in fact, (according to her research) isn’t anything new under the sun.” What really counts is that this sunscreen is a well formulated, broad spectrum sunscreen that should make the list when shopping for a water-resistant SPF 30 sunscreen.

Paula’s Other Recommendations

These sunscreens are not "Paula's picks”, however they are in the category of great products that are highly recommended because of their performance or impressive formulary characteristics.

Coppertone – Oil Free Quick Cover Lotion Spray SPF 30, sold for $9.99/6 ounces. This sunscreen includes avobenzone for sufficient UVA protection. She calls it a good, spray-on sunscreen lotion for normal to oily skin. She notes that this sunscreen is water resistant, but not waterproof and requires reapplication after prolonged immersion in water or perspiring.

Coopertone - Water Babies Lotion SPF 50, sold for $10.99/8 ounce. The Water Babies Lotion is a good, basic, in-part avobenzone sunscreen that is water-resistant, and not waterproof, as claimed. It must be reapplied after prolonged swimming or perspiring. Despite it being a recommended sunscreen, she notes that this formula is not a gentle, non-irritating formula as claimed. The active ingredients have the potential to sting or cause other types of sensitizing reaction’s to anyone’s skin, regardless of age. She indicates that a mineral based sunscreen whose only active ingredients are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are distinctly preferred for use on babies.

Banana Boat – Sport Performance Dri-Blok Continuous Spray SPF 30, sold for $9.99/6 ounces. She calls this sunscreen formula “very good, and in-part avobenzone sunscreen for active people with normal to oily skin. The film forming agent ensures water- and sweat-resistance, however, as with all sunscreens, this needs to be reapplied after excessive perspiration or water immersion. This spray-on sunscreen does not contain alcohol, which is very drying to the skin.

My Conclusions

From Paula’s two picks, I plan on trying the Neutrogena – Age Shield Sunblock SPF 30. This product is readily available online and in stores like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. I will mostly likely only use the product on my face, as its slightly more expensive and is suitable for application under make-up. I like the convenience of a spray, so for my family, I will try the Banana Boat – Sport Performance Dri-Blok Continuous Spray SPF 30. This sunscreen has a very good formula for active people and unlike other spray-on formulas, doesn’t contain alcohol. And now that I have all this sunscreen, I just need some sun!


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    • crystolite profile image


      7 years ago from Houston TX

      Informative hub which should not be neglected by people who really care for their skin.I think i will also look for a better sunscreen cream for my own delicate skin.

    • iTanSmart profile image


      8 years ago from Fort Myers, Florida

      We agree with Paula's picks. The best sun blocks or sun sunscreens are ones that equally reflect or absorb UVB and UVA rays. Sunscreens with High SPFs effectively block the UVB rays responsible for sun burns but don't necessarily block UVA rays that cause wrinkling and more dangerous forms of skin cancer. When dealing with the sun it's best not to take chances. This is why we developed iTanSmart an App. that tells you when you it's time to get out of the sun before getting burned. iTanSmart incorporates all the excellent information in this blog and more to help keep you safe from over exposure to the sun.

    • profile image

      Emma Watson 

      8 years ago

      Ya it is true..Using a sun cream to protect your skin is very useful...

    • Kristi Maloney profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Maloney 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for your comment Brian. I love to read product reviews and appreciate it when they are coming from an expert. I hope others find this info. helpful!

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      9 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      Always a good idea to use sun cream to protect your skin.


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