Sunscreen Diaries: it's all about the mousse

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I'm on a mission to find sunscreen I actually enjoy wearing. So I'm starting a new post series, the Sunscreen Diaries, to report on my findings. I hope my hits and misses help you find the right products for you!

Summer has just started, and as I learnt at my own expense when I first moved here, you can't enjoy the Southern California summer without a thick layer of sunscreen. San Diego is at the same latitude as the Sahara desert, so the UV index is moderate to high year round, and goes up to extreme throughout the summer. Just yesterday, I walked literally across the street from work during my lunch break, and I got a mild sunburn on my decollete, just above the collar of my T-shirt, where I had neglected to lather SPF. I don't think I was outside for more than 15 minutes total.

So today I'll start the Sunscreen Diaries with products for the body, because a lot of us are very diligent about applying SPF to our face every day, but sloppy when it comes to the rest of our skin.

One thing you need to know is that I can't stand sticky, thick, gooey sunscreen. I can't. I could deal with it on the beach, but I just can't stand it on a daily basis when it's going to touch my clothes and make my arms stick to my desk. My hubby Dr C uses sunscreen daily on his arms as well, after a few sunburns suffered while eating lunch outside, and he also despises anything greasy and yucky. So I decided that we should try something new, something that we may actually enjoy applying every day: mousse sunscreen.

I heard that sunscreen in a foam form has been common in Asia for a while, but as far as I know it is new in the US, and I have found two so far: Supergoop Super Power Sunscreen Mousse SPF50 at Sephora, and Coppertone Clearly Sheer Whipped SPF50 at the drugstore. Let's compare them and see which one is best!

Let's talk about the price first. Supergoop is a high end brand sold at Sephora and department stores, so the Mousse doesn't come cheap: $34 for 7.1oz/210ml, or the smaller bottle I bought, $19 for 3.4oz/100ml. That's a lot of money considering you should apply sunscreen liberally for it to be effective! The Coppertone Whipped, on the other hand, is affordable and currently cheapest at Target where it retails for $9.99 for 5oz (drugstores sell it for as high as $14 so be sure to compare prices).

Both include broad spectrum protection, and with Coppertone you can choose between SPF 50 or 30. I got the 50 because I burn so easily that I always get the highest possible protection. They're also both what is usually referred to as "chemical sunscreens" and use a rather similar cocktail of UV filters: avobenzone, homosalate, etc.

In terms of texture, they're actually very different. The Supergoop Mousse is indeed very mousse-y, it's a lightweight foam that feels like a foaming cleanser. The Coppertone Whipped really looks and feels like whipped cream, or shaving cream. It's much denser and heavier. As a result, the Supergoop Mousse absorbs into the skin faster and feels lighter, but I have the feeling that it's very hard to apply enough. Because it's so airy, you really need to use a lot to cover your skin as thoroughly as you should (I've burnt many times after applying sunscreen, but not enough). With the Coppertone Whipped, on the other hand, you have to massage the cream into the skin a little longer, however I feel like you get better coverage. Both sink into the skin beautifully and don't leave it feeling greasy or sticky. There's a bit of sheen left, but that's about it. I would say that the Coppertone Whipped feels a little more like rich body cream, while the Supergoop Mousse feels like a very light dry oil.

swatches showing texture foam whipped cream

So far, so good on both sides, but, there's a but, I was absolutely shocked when I read the non-SPF ingredients list of the Supergoop Mousse. Here's the full list, excluding the actual UV filters:
Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Bis-Hydroxyethoxypropyl Dimethicone, Butter Extract, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cananga Odorata Flower Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Chlorphenesin, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Crambe Maritima Leaf Extract, Cucumis Melo Cantalupensis Fruit Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Disodium EDTA, Glycerin, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Hydrofluorocarbon 152A, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Panthenol, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Polyester-5, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Extract, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Rose Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Extract, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Trehalose, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Water.

It's a long list and includes a whole bunch of plant extracts, but if you look closely, in the first third of this list, you will find both orange peel and lemon peel extracts. Now there's a bit of a trick here: usually lists show ingredients in order of concentration, from the one that you find in the highest quantity in the product to the lowest, but it's not the case here. The reason for that is that this product being a sunscreen, it is subject to the labeling rules of drugs rather than cosmetics in the US, and Supergoop decided to list the "inactive ingredients" in alphabetical order instead. That's why it starts with Aluminum starch and ends with Water.

So we can't know for sure if there's a lot of or very little lemon and orange peel oils, but that doesn't really matter: there should be none. You probably know that these citrus oils are irritating for the skin, but if you're like me, you're not so concerned about using them on your body as you are for your face. However you might not realize that citrus oils trigger a phototoxic reaction when the skin is exposed to the sun, potentially causing sunburns, irritation or discoloration. I'm sure Supergoop would tell me that there's too little in here to cause phototoxicity, or that the sunscreen ingredients prevent it from happening. But really, WHY include an ingredient that should not be exposed to the SUN in a SUNSCREEN? How does that make any sense? What was the point, Supergoop? The Mousse doesn't even smell good like citrus! This was really a WTF moment when I looked into the ingredients...

Just to set the record straight, the Coppertone Whipped formulation isn't perfect either, since it contains some fragrance, but we know for a fact that there's very little of it since Coppertone stuck to the classic order of ingredients from the highest to the lowest concentration in their list (excluding the UV filters): Water,Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate,Behenyl Alcohol,Glycerin,Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer,Dicaprylyl Ether,Microcrystalline Cellulose,Glyceryl Stearate,Cetyl Alcohol,Benzyl Alcohol,Butylated PVP,Palmitic Acid,Stearic Acid,Myristyl Alcohol,Chlorphenesin,Tocopherol (Vitamin E),Cellulose Gum,Lecithin,Disodium EDTA,Lauryl Alcohol,Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate,Fragrance,Nitrous Oxide.

As if I needed another reason to pick the Coppertone as my favorite, the nozzle on my bottle of Supergoop is super annoying. You have to push so hard on it that I need to put it on the countertop and press with my whole right hand - my left isn't strong enough... Not exactly practical to reapply on the go!


If you want to try a mousse sunscreen this summer, I'd go for the Coppertone Whipped rather than the Supergoop Mousse. It's cheaper, the foam is denser so you get more product on your skin for better protection against UVs, and Supergoop ruined their otherwise interesting formula by including phototoxic citrus oils and an obnoxious spray nozzle.

Where to buy?

The product featured in this review was purchased by me. I received no compensation to write this post, which only reflects my personal opinion. This post contains affiliate links. I receive a very small commission when you click on those links, and the money generated covers a small portion of my expenses to purchase products for review. Clicking on those links helps ensure that Beaumiroir continues to publish reviews of new and exciting high end French products - at no cost to you!

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