Updated: Glossier’s New Invisible Shield Sunscreen is the Perfect Sunscreen for those who HATE Sunscreen

If you’re anything like me, you love the benefits of daily sunscreen use (hello, fresh skin for life!) but hate the feeling of sunscreen.

My biggest complaints? Weird smell, whitecast, dry / chalky hands and skin after application, and oh my GOD does it burn when it gets in your eyes!

And when do I reapply it? How do I reapply it if I’m wearing makeup? Chemical or physical? Spray or lotion?

As much as I love the idea of wearing sunscreen, when it comes to actually wearing it.. I go without more often than I’d like to admit.  It seems like I’ve never been able to find a good feng shui with my sunscreen, except at the beach, where it’s do-or-die.

I’m happy to duck outside for 10 minutes and forget that the daily 10-15 minutes could be adding up to some serious discoloration over time.

Every now and then I have a “come to Jesus” moment with my sunscreen use, but that fades over time, because the user experience is really. that. bad.

So when Glossier launched their new sunscreen I just about crapped my pants. It’s everything I had ever imagined or dreamed of (and was already in my creative pipeline for future products, if I’m being honest), but I’m just so happy that SOMEBODY launched this sunscreen sooner rather than later. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better than any alternatives to date, so I am happy to talk your ear off about this baby.

So what is it?!

Hold up.

First, let’s do a quick rundown on sunscreens, in case you’re not totally in-the-know. I’ll admit I knew about 50% of these facts, so hey–no shame in a little education.


Intro: Breakdown of Sunscreens – Physical vs Chemical

Sunscreens are hands-down the most boring part of skincare, but sunscreen is so, so important to an overall anti-aging and anti-cancer strategy that it deserves all the spotlight that it can possibly get. So let’s break it down real quick with some sunscreen highlights from world-renowned esthetician Renee Rouleau (source):

Physical Sunscreen

The mineral sunscreen which physically prevents the sun’s rays from hitting your skin by deflecting them away. Think about snow, and how bright it is when you stare at it, because of the winter sun deflecting off of it–or how people always wear white clothes in the desert to deflect the sun’s rays; that’s what mineral sunscreen does for your skin.

Remember the lifeguard with a nose covered in white? Yep. That’s it. Physical sunscreen.

Physical sunscreen is what you often find in makeup–because titanium dioxide, a white powder, is used as the base for colored cosmetics like concealers and foundation. Zinc oxide is a common physical sunscreen.

Some quick facts about physical sunscreen:

+ Broad spectrum and protects against UVA and UVB rays

+ Non-sensitizing, non-comedogenic and good for the most sensitive skin types

+ Lasts longer than chemical sunscreen in direct sunlight

– Can sweat off, rub off and rinse off easily

– Creates white spots, streaks and a general “white cast” that is noticeable on the skin, especially on darker skin tones

– Need to apply more to completely protect against the sun, since you need the full physical shield


Chemical Sunscreens

Organic compounds (that sound like serious chemicals), Chemical sunscreens literally create a chemical reaction that shifts the UV rays into something else entirely (cool, right?). While physical sunscreens physically block the sun from reaching the skin, chemical sunscreens chemically absorb the rays. However, as with any chemical reaction, there’s a limiting reagent–meaning when the chemical finally runs out, because it’s been used up in the reaction, it’s time to apply more. It’s difficult to know when that point is, when the reaction is happening on your skin and not in a lab.

Those spray sunscreens that you practically bathe in? Chemical sunscreens, usually with a heaping dose of oil, to help them become water-resistant and spread more easily.

Some facts about chemical sunscreens:

+ Thinner, easier to spread, easier to wear and use. Less is more!

+ Easy to add oil, antioxidants, and other ingredients to enhance the formula

– Need to wait 20 minutes before sun exposure

– Need to reapply generously because the sun “uses up” the sunscreen, and the end of that reaction is not visible to the eye

– Can increase brown spots on the skin, because of the addition of internal heat

– Increased chance of irritation, pore-clogging, redness, eye irritation and all kinds of other yuckiness


Overall, physical sunscreens are better, but both sunscreens kind of suck if we’re being honest. Physical sunscreens really sting when they hit your eyes, you’re not sure when they’re “done” working, and can increase brown spots — which they’re supposed to prevent in the first place — while physical sunscreens may not be protecting your entire face unless it’s wholly white and are super chalky and just ugh.. yucky..

There was really no right answer.

Until now ~

Glossier’s New Sunscreen: An Introduction

I’ll be the first to admit that I was one of Glossier’s first sunscreen customers. I bought it the hour that it came out.  I was waiting patiently for this launch; the launch of a gel serum sunscreen.

Let me just say: This sunscreen is not perfect.

I know it’s not perfect.

But first let’s dive into why it’s almost perfect chemically, and then why I believe it to be the best product on the market.


Why Glossier’s Sunscreen is Almost Perfect

According to Glossier’s site, “Little spheres packed with UVA/UVB filters (Avobenzone, Homosalate, and Octisalate) freshly delivered to your skin with every application.”

The water-gel formula doesn’t contain any alcohol like other “water UV suncreens” (looking at your Bioré! I can SMELL the alcohol, y’all), contains a full mixture of chemical sunscreens to protect skin, and a full range of antioxidants to defend skin from darkening/dark spots and work on fading the ones that already exist.

The thing I dislike the most? The sweet orange peel oil.

Now, I’m all for using the teensiest, tiniest bit of essential oil to naturally scent a product (we’re talking 0.5% here, people), but many aren’t, because of the skin sensitizing effects of essential oils. That being said, at 0.5%, we’re more “scent” than “essential oil”. You can decide to enjoy the ride or protest it; your choice, really. And if we’re being honest, research shows that orange oil on its own has an SPF of about 4, “a finding that will be helpful in the selection of perfumes during the formulation of sunscreens.” (source)

Who are we going to listen to? Research or fear-mongering?  Personally, I think there’s been way too much fear-mongering about “sensitizing” fruit oils.

Others have also asked Glossier “what’s up?” because of their inclusion of some less-than-natural ingredients.

I’ll be honest here.. making a product that makes using sunscreen enjoyable is a first, big step. I’ll take it.

Now the rest of us can step up and improve off of this original formulation. I’m just happy for the innovation! Cheers to another great launch by Glossier.

Want to try it for yourself? Click the (affiliate) widget below to get your own Glossier Invisible Shield sunscreen:

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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