Summer Skin Care

Trader Joe’s $6 Sunscreen Is the Skin Care Star of the Summer

Kells McPhillips

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Graphics: Well+Good Creative

It’s a dreary, miserable day in New York City the first time I spray on Trader Joe’s sunscreen. In early May, Consumer Reports awarded  TJ’s $6 bargain buy a perfect score in the sunscreen category for its UVA and UVB protection. So we put it to the test. The Well+Good Test, if you will.

Applying SPF 24/7/365 (regardless of the weather) is what dermatologists recommend to protect against skin damage—even when the sun’s hiding behind a foreboding cluster of stratus clouds. So, no, I’m not being overzealous when I spray Trader Joe’s sunscreen on my arms and legs before getting dressed as usual and putting on my rain coat.

Feel-wise, the sunscreen goes on a bit lighter than usual spray varieties. It’s not too greasy, but it still has that second-skin, slightly sticky finish that stirs up summer camp nostalgia. The smell has nothing in common with that of your zip-lining, organized activity days. The spray bottle releases a citrusy, sun-soaked scent that leaves you smelling more like a margarita than a sandy eight-year-old.

It’s not exactly up to par with sunscreens that feel like skin care, but it does take about half a second to apply. I know you’ll be shocked—but I ended up making it home on my first, rainy trial day with the sunscreen sans burn. By the time I get home, I’m a tad bit sick of how the stuff has melted onto my skin, so I shower and shelf the bottle for a less rainy day.

A few weeks later, I got my chance on one of New York City’s first 75 degree days. I packed up the Trader Joe’s sunscreen and a good book and headed off to Central Park for an afternoon of lounging in the grass. Of course, all of us should always do our best not to chill in direct sunlight for any lengthy period of time. (The American Cancer Society recommends basking in the shade—not sun—especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.) So with my skin’s health in mind, I find a spot in the park that lets me easily migrate between the sun’s rays and the tree’s cover.

The back of the bottle suggests I reapply at least every two hours, so just to be safe, I put a 90-minute timer on my phone to hold me accountable. As time ticks by and my skin maintains its normal hue of paler than Edward Cullen. Now, I can shop my usual Trader Joe’s haul without making a separate drugstore stop for sunscreen. No sun damage for me.

Still mystified about the difference between sunscreen and sunblock? Here’s the deal. FYI, keep an eye on your bottle’s expiration date

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