It’s no secret that I am utterly religious about daily sunscreen. It’s one of the best (if not THE best) skincare tips I have.
We all know that sun exposure can be extremely harmful to our skin and can result in various forms of cancer later in life. We also know that the sun causes premature aging. No thank you! I wear an SPF every single day all over my face, neck, and chest and believe it is the most impactful part of my skincare routine. SPF is important even on days when you’re “mostly inside” because the damage caused by incidental sun exposure is cumulative.
AS SUCH, I’ve made it my life’s mission to find the best SPF out there. Someone’s gotta do it, after all.
I personally prefer to wear a tinted SPF because it (usually) saves me from applying face makeup. As a busy mom, I welcome a “two birds” moment with open arms. At the end of the post, I’ll also share a few non-tinted and matte mineral options because I know some people prefer those to a tinted or illuminating formula.
I should also note that I prefer a true face sunscreen product, as opposed to a foundation or tinted moisturizer with added SPF. With foundation, you don’t really need more than a couple of drops to cover your whole face, and when you use a sunscreen you use a lot more product. I’ve found that my skin tends to be much more protected when I am wearing sunscreen than when I’m just wearing a makeup product that happens to have SPF in it. I hope that makes sense.
Before we begin with the reviews of Supergoop Glowscreen and Elta MD Tinted UV Glow, I thought I’d share a little background about what started my search in the first place and explain the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens.
For years, I used–and loved–Supergoop’s Glowscreen, but this past year I decided to search for an all-mineral tinted SPF because I wanted to move away from chemical SPF.
When it comes to SPF products, they can either have a chemical or a physical (mineral) base. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays into the skin to prevent damage. While physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and “blocks” UV rays.
Chemical sunscreens (like Supergoop’s Glowsceen) are typically made with oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate, and/or other various chemicals. Chemical sunscreen’s big draw is that it is generally easier to apply and absorb than mineral sunscreens. It often isn’t as thick or sticky which makes it feel lighter on your skin than a physical sunscreen.
In my research, though, I’ve learned that many of the ingredients used in chemical sunscreens can be endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic (talk about a backfire?!). To make matters worse, chemical sunscreens have been found to absorb into the bloodstream at a higher concentration than the FDA’s safety threshold. I try to have a balanced approach when it comes to clean beauty, but when even the FDA is concerned about something, it’s worth looking into. (You can read more about the research and ruling on SPF ingredients here).
Much of this research on the safety of ingredients in chemical sunscreens is still ongoing, but to be safe, I decided to start searching for physical sunscreen alternatives.
Physical/mineral sunscreens are made of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. The advantage of physical sunscreen is that it starts working right away. Physical SPF doesn’t need to be reapplied as often as chemical sunscreens because it lasts longer.
Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are generally considered safe, and they aren’t known to enter the bloodstream like their chemical counterparts. These are also reef safe.
The downside of physical or mineral sunscreens is that the consistency tends to be thicker, and these products often leave a white cast on your skin from the zinc.
They can be more difficult to rub in. In the last few years, however, I’ve noticed that brands have made some great progress on this front. We are starting to see some mineral SPF products that lay really nicely and don’t leave a cast.
I’ve tried a bunch of mineral/physical SPF products in the last couple of years, and for the most part, nothing I’ve tried compares to Glowscreen (a chemical SPF). Glowscreen just has the best finish and lays so well on my skin.
BUT, I have been pleasantly surprised by Elta MD Tinted Glow SPF these last few months. Of all of the mineral SPF products I’ve tried, this one comes the closest to Glowscreen in terms of consistency, coverage, and dewy finish. I’ve also tried many of Elta MD’s products over the years and liked this one the best by far.
Today, I’m going to compare the two based on ingredients, product texture and coverage, function, price, packaging, and “wearability” under makeup.
Though the two products vary in their active sun-protecting ingredients (as discussed, Supergoop Glowscreen is a chemical sunscreen and Elta MD Glow is a physical), their formulas intersect in their anti-aging and skin tone-evening properties.
Glowscreen’s primary active ingredients are avobenzone, octisalate, and octocrylene. (According to my research, each of these contain health risks–this report from the Chemical Research in Toxicology journal noted the dangers that present when these chemicals break down in the body).
On the positive side, Glowscreen contains hyaluronic acid and niacinamide which are widely accepted as anti-aging. Niacinamide helps even out skin tone too. It also contains cocoa peptides which are known to help protect skin from blue light.
Elta MD’s Tinted UV Glow’s primary ingredient is zinc oxide which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Like Glowscreen, this product also has niacinamide and hyaluronic acid in it. The iron oxides in it can help protect from blue light too.
The only notable problematic ingredient in this product that I found in my research is a preservative called phenoxyethanol which can be harmful depending on the amount present in a formula.
Supergoop’s Glowscreen contains SPF 40, and Elta MD Tinted Glow contains SPF 36.
Glowscreen’s texture is very smooth, and the finish is dewy with a subtle tinted glow. The coverage is light but enough to help even out my red, uneven skin. The finish is illuminating and gives me a little pep in my step. Glowscreen comes in two shades now: Sunrise which is a lighter champagne color and Golden Hour, a deeper bronze.
Elta MD’s Tinted Glow is smooth but requires a bit of warming up once I pump it into my hands. This product also provides a dewy, tinted glow and has a similar “illuminating” factor as Glowscreen. The Elta MD sunscreen is, I’ve found, a bit more pigmented than Glowscreen, so the coverage is a bit more substantial. It’s not *quite* as glowy as Glowscreen, but it does a GREAT job of evening out my skin tone.
I tend to have sensitive skin and haven’t had an issue with either of these products.
Supergoop Glowscreen costs between $36-38, depending on the retailer. Elta MD Tinted Glow costs between $38-44.
Supergoop Glowscreen comes in a standing squeeze tube. Elta MD Tinted Glow comes with an airless pump.
Supergoop Glowscreen does contain some fragrance while Elta MD Tinted UV Glow does not.
Both Glowscreen and Elta MD Tinted Glow wear super well under makeup. I have no issues blending makeup products over either of them and find they both actually make an excellent primer.
If I could choose between the two products without worrying about the ingredients, I’d choose Glowscreen. It’s much smoother going on and is a bit glowier than the Elta MD Glow.
Given the fact that it is a chemical sunscreen, though, I am going to stick with Elta MD Glow from here on out. I think Elta MD Glow does a good job of achieving that dewy coverage with a cleaner lineup.
But if consistency and finish is your priority, Glowscreen is the better of the two.
In terms of sun protection, they perform equally to me.
Suntegrity 5-in-1 Tinted SPF 30: I wrote this post before I tried this product from Suntegrity, and I like it much better than the Elta MD Tinted UV glow. I wanted to add the option here because I think it’s the best mineral tinted SPF product I’ve tried. This goes on much smoother than the Elta MD Tinted Glow, the ingredients list is clean, and I love the glow it gives. Definitely recommend this one if you are in the market for a tinted mineral sunscreen.
Summer Fridays ShadeDrops Mineral SPF 30: I’ve tried this and liked it a lot. It’s smooth, sheer, and feels VERY light on the face. It’s not tinted, though, so I’m not using it as a go-to. This would be a great option for someone who is looking for a mineral SPF but doesn’t care about added coverage.
Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day Mineral SPF 50: This matte finish has SPF 50 and a major cult following. Looks like this a good option for those with acne prone skin.
Supergoop Mineral Matte SPF 40: This is another 100% mineral oil free SPF that would be great for those who prefer a sheer, matte finish. (Note: I asked one of my smartest friends to edit this post to make sure I didn’t sound like a big dumb idiot, and she added this comment here: “Can speak from experience, this is one of the best matte mineral sunscreens. It goes on completely sheer and not sticky. It is also non-nano zinc which makes its ingredient list compelling, IMO.” Thank you, Bianca for this important real-world data point).
I am always looking for recommendations on great mineral sunscreens, so please tell me if you have one you love! Or if you want me to test out one you’ve had your eye on? I’m here to serve, really.
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