I recently tried Blue Lizard and Australian Gold, two US sunscreens with mineral (inorganic) active ingredients.
Both of these have been popular on skincare forums and Reddit for years, but aren’t actually available in Australia (despite being marketed as “Australian sunscreen”). I’ve been really curious to try them out, so I picked them up as souvenirs when I was in the US for Open Sauce recently.
Although I know a lot of us sunscreen nerds tend to dismiss US sunscreens, it didn’t go as badly as I expected!
Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen
- SPF 50+, broad spectrum (US)
- 80 min water resistance (US)
- Filters: Titanium Dioxide 8%, Zinc Oxide 10%
Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen is one of the more highly rated mineral sunscreens available in stores in the US.
Blue Lizard “Australian Sunscreen” did apparently originate in Australia (at least according to their website), but you can’t buy this in Australia, and none of their sunscreens are listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
The blue lizard in their logo also isn’t an Australian species (pro tip: if something is blue in Australia, it’s probably tiny and super dangerous and you should get the hell away from it!). So as an Australian, the branding is a bit weird, but it’s interesting to see what Americans think of Australia!
This sunscreen is rated as SPF 50+ and broad spectrum, with 80 minutes water resistance which is the highest allowed level in US.
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It has 10% zinc oxide and 8% titanium dioxide as the active sunscreening ingredients, and doesn’t seem to have any chemical “SPF boosters” in the ingredients list, making it a good option for people with lots of sunscreen allergies.
However, this also makes it a bit worrying when it comes to white cast – my fears were confirmed when I first applied it:
Surprisingly, the white cast did settle down quite well after about 10 minutes. It dries down quite greasy, and I had little white flecks on my skin. But overall I was pretty impressed by how well this did in terms of white cast for an untinted mineral sunscreen which has no SPF boosters.
The sunscreen cap changes colour to blue in UV, which is pretty cool!
My partner used this on a beach day for his body and he absolutely hated it because it doesn’t spread well. It kind of drags on skin, and takes a lot of effort to spread. But this is a good thing for face application, because you don’t have the issue where it feels like it slides around forever as you’re applying it, like with Supergoop Unseen and similar silicone-based sunscreens.
He also found that the sunscreen formed white beads of water when he went into the water, which made me doubt how well it holds up – the 2023 Consumer Reports test found that the average protection after water exposure in their modified tests was SPF 14 (they also found that it doesn’t seem to meet the EU/AU 1/3 SPF requirement for UVA protection).
The final greasiness was A LOT on my skin – I wouldn’t wear this again by choice. It might be better if your skin is on the drier side, and again, despite the texture, I do have to give it credit for being one of the few options for people who need to avoid SPF boosters.
But I have talked to a few people with a lot of chemical sunscreen sensitivities who’ve said that Asian chemical sunscreens have worked better for their skin than mineral sunscreens, so I think that’s an option worth considering if you haven’t gone down that road before.
Blue Lizard also have a Sheer Lotion which was out of stock when I looked for it. It’s a fair bit more expensive but it is specifically formulated for the face and has lower inputs of the inorganic active ingredients, so hopefully it’s a bit more wearable.
The sensitive lotion was a little bit annoying to remove because it’s waterproof and greasy. It came off reasonably easily when I used a cleansing oil first, but I did have to rub a bit when I was washing with a body wash for the rest of my body.
Active: Titanium Dioxide 8.0%, Zinc Oxide 10.0%
Inactive: Alumina, Aluminum Stearate, Beeswax, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetyl Dimethicone, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Chlorphenesin, Dimethicone, Disodium Edta, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Hexyl Laurate, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, PEG-7 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Propanediol, Purified Water, Sorbitan Oleate, Stearic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, VP Hexadecene Copolymer
Australian Gold Botanical Tinted Face
- SPF 50, broad spectrum (US)
- 80 min water resistance (US)
- Filters: Titanium Dioxide 4%, Zinc Oxide 4%
Australian Gold Botanical Tinted Face 50 BB Cream is also not an Australian sunscreen. As well as not being sold in Australia, the brand originated in… Florida. I think the packaging is meant to feature gum leaves (which are Australian), but the shape are a bit off and they don’t have branching veins (Lab Muffin Beauty Science, Australiana connoisseur!).
There are three shades available, and I tried the Fair to Light shade which was a pretty good colour match for my skin. I’d imagine you’d need to have a pretty good shade match for a product like this to work for you.
After drying, the colour darkened slightly and went a little more orange (though not as orange as Supergoop Glow Screen), so I recommend you test it out carefully on your skin before you commit.
It has eucalyptus extract in it, so it does smell and feel a little minty on my skin.
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The main thing that stood out to me was how matte this is when it dries. It actually blew my mind quite a bit! It was the complete opposite experience to the Blue Lizard sunscreen.
Once it dried, the tint just didn’t budge, so you do need to be careful when applying and make sure any streaks are blended out. It’s very much like a foundation… or perhaps vinyl body paint.
On my skin, it was a bit more drying than I like, and it feels a bit like I have a clay mask on. But at the same time, it was less drying than I expected for the level of matte and non-shiny it is.
I was expecting it to accentuate fine lines, and maybe crack a little or go powdery, but surprisingly it was just extremely impressively matte. After a few hours, there was a little oil breakthrough on my forehead and nose. Even without powder, I don’t think I’ve ever had this level of oil control with foundations.
I can imagine some people are really after this sort of finish. I haven’t had the chance to try it out on a really hot and sweaty day yet – I’m curious how well it’ll hold up.
I think this goes without saying – I really don’t think this will go well if you have dry skin. It might be wearable with moisturiser underneath, but I’d imagine it’s quite drying.
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Getting this off my skin afterwards was surprisingly not too bad – again, a cleansing oil followed by cleanser got rid of it (I used Skin1004 Madagascar Centella Light Cleansing Oil).
I’ve been asked about the low active percentages in Australian Gold products. They do seem a bit low, and I suspect they used AMA Labs for the test results on their site. But iron oxides do protect in the UV region as well, so for their tinted products I have a bit more faith that they have adequate protection.
Active: Titanium Dioxide 4%, Zinc Oxide 4%.
Inactive: Cyclopentasiloxane, Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Silica, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Hexyl Laurate, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Terminalia Ferdinandiana (Kakadu Plum) Fruit Extract, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Extract, Porphyra Umbilicalis Extract, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Stearic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Panthenol, Squalane, Disodium EDTA, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Alumina, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides (CI 77492, CI 77491, CI 77499).
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