Recently, The New York Times ran a story that notes that U.S. sunscreen protection standards are based on those promulgated in 1978, which prevents many European sunscreens from being sold in the U.S. This includes an ingredient called Tinosorb M, which is particularly effective at blocking UVA rays.
If you are traveling in Europe, you may wish to look for Avene’s Emulsion line, a gel-based sunscreen that I find very effective in blocking the sun.
This sunscreen is relatively inexpensive–it sells for about 9 or 10 euros, which works out to around $12-15, depending on the exchange rate. One of my favorites from their range is Avene Emulsion Very High Protection 50+, which has never caused any skin irritation or breakouts. It works nicely under my liquid foundation, and seems very effective.
Ingredients (from Tubotica.com’s website): Avène Thermal Spring Water (Avene Aqua), Octocrylene, C-12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Disopropyl Adipate, Methylene Bis-BenzotriazolylTetramethylbutylphenol, Cyclomethicone, Water (Aqua), Titanium Dioxide, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, PVP/Eicosene Copolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Caprylyl Glycol, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Oil (Curcubita Pepo), Decyl Glucoside, Dimethiconol, Disodium EDTA, Fragance (Parfum), Glyceryl Behenate, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60, Propylene Glycol, Silica, Sorbic Acid, Sorbitan Isostearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Glucoside, Tribehenin, Xanthan Gum.