Jun 292012

I’ve been wearing two sunscreens this year, so I thought I would do a comparison between them. The vast majority of my days I wear Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50 ($52/ 1 oz.). This is my second bottle, so I’m very familiar with the product. This sunscreen is a cosmetically elegant, hard-working, and high-protection product. It’s a perfect size to tuck into my purse, and I usually have one in there.

Chanel UV Essential SPF 50 feels slightly moisturizing as it goes on, and it dries down fairly quickly (about a minute or two). It acts as a nice buffer between my skin and my foundation. Generally, it works very well for a day where I’m in the office most of the time, or running a few errands.  I notice that I pick up far less color from sun exposure when I do re-apply it just before leaving for the day (Chanel recommends re-application every 2 hours).

 Chanel UV Essential SPF 50 uses active ingredients of  Octinoxate 7.5% Titanium Dioxide 2%, Zinc Oxide 17.1%. Using this sunscreen table, we can see that the first ingredient Octinoxate is a chemical sunscreen, and the last two (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) are physical sunscreens. This combination allows Chanel to provide a broad spectrum of protection for both UVA and UVB rays. According to Chanel, there are other skin care ingredients as well, “free-radical and anti-pollution shield with a Vitamin E derivative and plant extracts empowers this oil-free, lightweight formula to safeguard skin against environmental pollutants. Licorice Root Extract and a highly effective combination of UVA and UVB filters help diminish and prevent the appearance of dark spots and signs of premature aging.”  I’ve had no breakouts, clogged pores, or cosmetic concerns wearing this. It looks fabulous under foundation, and it is very good to my skin.

However, if I’m going to be out in the sun for several hours, I’ll use Institut Esthederm’s No Sun. This is a French line that prides itself on innovative chemistry. I purchased this on my second day in Paris, and I’ve been wearing it during my long afternoon walks (along with a visor) to protect my skin from the sun. This is a complete block against any sun reaching one’s skin, and I don’t get a hint of color when I apply it properly.

This is not a cosmetically elegant product, compared to Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50. It comes out as a thick white goo. When I first apply it, it looks like I’ve streaked, well, white goo all over my face. It takes about 20 minutes for the white color to fade, and even then it doesn’t fade entirely. It seems to create pores when I never had them before. I wear Nars Tinted Moisturizer over it, which helps immensely to make my skin look very close to human again.

The reason that I love this product is that it means exactly what it says–“No Sun.” According to Institut Esthederm, “the effects of the sun are blocked. Skin is protected and can be exposed without tanning in any sun conditions.” I get absolutely no color wearing this. At all.

Also, I get no breakouts or clogged pores, which really surprised me. I remove this with an oil cleanser and a thorough cleaning with a Clarisonic brush, sometimes followed by a toner. Still, the heaviness of this had me concerned. In fact, my skin is left feeling quite soft and good after I remove this at the end of the day.

Typical of Institut Esthederm, the ingredient list is a bit hard to understand: Anti-dehydrating complex, 
UV Incellum Technology.  
Internal protection: High definition hydrolysed proteins, Nucleotides of natural origin, Tocotrienol, Creatine, Vitamin complex, 18-β-glycyrrhetinic acid 
 External protection: Combination of filters and screens, Cellular Water, Water, ATP, Carnosine, mineral salts.

I’m going to add some random sunscreen advice here:

  • First, don’t go without sunscreen just because you think you’ll break out. If you have really oily skin, Elta MD Clear  SPF 46 is a great sunscreen that is designed to keep your skin clear while you are wearing it. No excuses, now, this is important.
  • Some women don’t seem to want to re-apply this once their makeup is done for the day. I’m less concerned about driving home with a perfect face. When I’m at work, I have makeup remover wipes, my sunscreen, and my Nars Tinted Moisturizer ready to go. I just reapply everything and don’t worry about finishing powder & blush on the way home (or I’ll bring a Nars Multiple, which is super easy to swipe on). If I’m not at work, I just re-apply the sunscreen over what I’m already wearing. I’m not sure if this is the “right” way to handle it, but to me sun protection is too important to skip.


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  16 Responses to “Chanel UV Essential SPF 50 and Institut Esthederm No Sun”

  1. SO glad you did a post on the CHANEL sunscreen. I was going to one on my site but you really said it all. At $50 it is a bit steep but with my super pale, burns only then goes back to white skin- it is worth every penny. It does go on amazingly smooth. It feels really good and while scented a bit it is pleasurable clean smell that’s very light and dissipates. My makeup application is flawless over it. My favorite part though is that it does not burn the corners of my eyes. For some reasons, some sunscreens can really burn (as in a chemical burn feeling) my face. Who wants to put that on? I have rosacea and this does not irritate my skin or eyes one bit. Even when my eyes get watery from the elements or laughing. I wore this in full sun to a Twins game a few weeks ago and did not get ANY color.

    It is a small container, especially considering the price. (About the size of the Vitalumiere Aqua.) However, I find that I am much more inclined to put it in my purse and carry it with me at all times as a result. That;s a major bonus because the top ensures it does not get on other things in my bag and that I reapply often.

    • I agree with every word Tara! And of course do your own review as well–let’s spread the sunscreen joy far and wide!

  2. Hi,
    I appreciate this review as I do own the Chanel, but only use it for my face, as it is not strong enough for anything below the neck. I typically use Neutrogena SPF 50 or 70 for below the neck, so how would you say the Institut Esthederm compares? Getting no color is just as important to me as actual protection.

    • S–it would work, but it would be a very expensive option. I believe that the technology and skin care ingredients make this particularly appropriate for the face, as it does seem to leave my skin quite conditioned. You might look at other good physical sunscreens–Invisible Zinc and Blue Frog or other options. So of course the Institut might be worth it to you, but I believe I paid about 25 or 30 euros for one ounce.

  3. I use the Peter Thomas Roth powder sunscreens that come in the brush to reapply my ssunscreen throughout the day without messing up my makeup. They contain high levels of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They work great for me.

  4. I really love this Chanel sun protector. Wish it was sold in a giant size so that I can use all over my body.

  5. I’ve been wearing Chanel’s SPF 50 for three years now. I’m quite generous with it and use it on my face, neck, and décolleté. Because it uses primarily physical sunscreens, my sensitive skin tolerates it very well and I haven’t experienced any burning, irritation, or breakouts. It is lightly moisturizing, contains anti-oxidants and skin tone evening ingredients, and it provides a silky smooth base for makeup. Although the small, lightweight plastic container slips easily into a purse, I agree with Christina–I’d love it if Chanel came out with a larger size 🙂

  6. Hi Amy! Thanks so much for this review! I have some comments and a question, whenever you have the time, I’d love to know your opinion..
    I find that physical sunscreens even in combination with chemical ones like the Shiseido Urban Defense and others, leave a horrible white cast on my face. This is especially obvious because my skin tone is deep (MAC NC43, Chanel VL 51). Additionally, I am sparing with my application of foundation, only applying it in a thin layer on some problem areas leaving my forehead,T zone and other random parts free of coverage. As you can imagine this is not an ideal situation to have a white cast base! 🙂 Therefore I’ve always used chemical sunscreens which occasionally cause a couple of seconds of tingling. Do you know from your experience/knowledge about sunscreens if chemical sunscreens are inferior or less effective at providing broad spectrum protection? I understand that many people have concerns of exposing themselves to so much chemicals on a daily basis, that is not one of my priorities as the aesthetic disadvantage of physical sunscreens is a deal breaker for me. Also if you know of a physical+chemical sunscreen that does NOT give a white cast I’d love to know!
    Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi Laksmi–I understand that physical-only sunscreens formerly did not provide broad spectrum protection–it’s the mix of physical and chemical that gives one the full spectrum of protection. That’s what the Chanel does–the mix.

      However, some sunscreens that claim to be “physical only” do claim BOTH UVA and UVB protection. This is a new development! The Institut Esthederm fits in this category. So does this Skincentuals. I’m not sure how they do it!

      Informally, I found that my skin seems to work best with physical sunscreens. The Institut gives me a white cast, so I doubt this would work for you. I would look into Elta MD’s line–their Elta MD Clear SPF 46 applies clear on my skin, although it has a physical sunscreen in it. Also, I believe that “Invisible Zinc” is a physical sunscreen that dries clear–unfortunately it’s not widely available in the U.S. I haven’t tried Skincentuals, but I may pick one up soon to give it a spin–it’s supposed to be a physical only, but does it dry clear or white? I don’t know (does makeup alley?)

      Hope this helps!

      • Thanks, I’ll try the Elta MD line soon, and definitely the Chanel one sooner! 😉

      • As a note on SkinCeuticals – I use their facial cleanser and moisturizer and they’re quite probably the best products I’ve ever used. I haven’t tried this specific sunscreen but it looks like it has a slight tint to it, so it doesn’t dry white but it doesn’t dry entirely clear, either. The next time I go to my esthetician I will see if I can check out the sunscreen and find out what it looks like on the skin.

        • Excellent-thank you Rebecca. I noticed this in a Pharmacie near me here in Paris but there is no tester. Thank you!

  7. I’ve been meaning to try the Elta MD one–I have very oily skin and for years, avoided sunscreen because it made me so darn greasy. Now, I’ve found some that work much better, but I’m still not 100% pleased. I’m kind of used to it by now though, so I should just get over it and do it.

  8. Definetly picking this up the next time I go duty-free shopping. I’m the worst at applying sunscreen if I’m just headed out the door, and I have a feeling it will bite me in the ass in 20 years. I’m guessing this doesn’t feel greasy after application since you can apply make-up on top of it, greasyness is the main reason for me not wanting to wear sunscreen every day, I just hate the feeling!

    • That’s right Kaja–it sinks in but does feel a bit moisturizing. If you are looking for a very “dry feeling” sunscreen, Elta MD Clear 46 is the way to go.

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