Shopping for skincare products as a black woman can sometimes feel like searching for an expensive needle in an ashy, off-colour haystack. Regular readers of this blog might remember that part of the impetus for Chidi Beauty’s existence was my quest to find a clean, physical sunblock that would not leave a white cast on my face. That search ended years (and hundreds of dollars) later with Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30. But it is always nice to have options – after all who wants to be beholden to one product or brand. I have explored other contenders in the green beauty sphere, you can read about them here and here, but nothing has come close as a serious alternative, until now.
One YouTuber I follow, ZuZuNatural, shared an empties video last November where she spoke glowingly, though briefly, about a sample of Hynt Beauty’s Sun Prep Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen that she had tried. ZuZuNatural’s YouTube channel, like Chidi Beauty, focuses on green beauty, organic makeup and healthy living. That basically means she is a great resource for toxin-free product recommendations. And because ZuZuNatural has a complexion that is similar, though not identical to mine, her makeup and skincare reviews are more relevant to me than those of some other YouTubers I enjoy. During her November Beauty Empties video, ZuZuNatural said those three little words I love to hear when it comes to physical sunblock – “no white cast” (fast forward to 11:18 if you want to get straight to the Sun Prep review). I immediately knew I had to try it.
In shopping for Hynt Beauty’s Sun Prep SPF 30 I skipped the sample and decided to go straight for the full size product, which is 50mL/1.7 oz. With ZuZuNatural’s assurance that it leaves no white cast I was ready to dive right in. The full size retails for $55.00 USD across all the websites I found, so I searched for one that would give me a discount. There were no sales at that time so I ended up purchasing from The Detox Market, which offered a 10% discount for subscribing to their email list.
My order arrived quickly, especially considering that it was placed during the busy holiday season. The product’s outer packaging, which is a faint yellow or cream colour with grey and silver accents, differs from the labeling of product itself, which is black and white with silver accents. If this shipment hadn’t come from The Detox Market, this might make me question the authenticity of what I received. But perhaps Hynt Beauty is just rebranding? Regardless, the product itself matches what is pictured on Hynt Beauty’s website so I am optimistic that the product shipped to me is authentic. The outer packaging has a sticker with an expiry date – April 2019 in this instance – well past the time when I expect to have finished this sunscreen. The inner packaging of the sunscreen itself is a convenient, lightweight plastic cylinder pump.
Being a physical sunscreen, Sun Prep, of course, lacks the risks associated with chemical sunscreens. I searched for Sun Prep on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database and on the Think Dirty app. It was not listed as a product. That is not necessarily a bad thing as those ratings have been found to be less than entirely straightforward. Though it would be nice to have an overall picture of the safety of Sun Prep with all the ingredients considered together. Instead, I looked up the individual ingredients on the Skin Deep database. Looking up the active ingredient titanium dioxide reveals that it can be anything from a low to a moderate hazard depending on how it is used. Once it is not being used as an aerosol the risks tend more towards the low end. I was surprised to discover that leucidal liquid, a preservative, is quite a controversial ingredient and the jury is still out on whether it is safe, or even natural. Otherwise, the remaining ingredients are all in the 1-3 range, which means they have a low hazard or are on the low end of the moderate hazard scale.
The ingredients of Sun Prep SPF 30 are as follows:
- Titanium Dioxide 9%,
- Aloe Vera Gel (Purified Water & Aloe Vera Barbadensis),
- Sesamum Indicum (Organic Sesame) Seed Oil,
- Krameria Triandra (Organic Rhatany) Root Extract,
- Hyaluronic Acid (plant derived),
- Camellia Sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Extract,
- Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides,
- Oryza Sativa (Organic Rice Bran) Oil,
- Organic Laminaria Algae Extract,
- Organic Comfrey Root,
- Vitis Vinifera (Organic Grape Seed) Extract,
- Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Organic Licorice Root) Extract,
- Sodium PCA,
- Squalane (Plant Derived),
- Allantoin (Plant Derived),
- Leucidal Liquid (Radish Root Natural Preservative),
- Tocopherol Linoleate/Oleate (Vitamin E),
- Organic Wild Pansy Extract,
- Pycnogenol (Pine Bark Extract),
- Riboflavin Root Extracts,
- Organic Alpha Bisabolol (Chamomile),
- Plantain, and
- Beta glucan
Why I love it:
My first impression was swayed by the texture of this hybrid sunblock and primer – it feels very creamy, moisturizing and luxurious. Sun Prep SPF 30 feels more like a face cream or lotion. Even better, it immediately absorbs into the skin, even damp skin. I typically apply three to four pumps to my face and neck, and don’t have to spend time coaxing even the faintest hint of a white cast to disappear. You can apply as much of this sunblock as you feel is necessary. As promised on the packaging, this smooth, white cream settles into a completely transparent finish.
Hynt Beauty markets Sun Prep as a combination sunscreen and primer in one. They also sells Skin Prep Serum, which is also a primer so it seems that Hynt Beauty has other options if you are not concerned about sun protection. Sun Prep seems to protect my skin from the sun and make it look smoother, but I would not purchase it if its use as a primer is very important to you. Yes, Sun Prep does have a smoothing effect, as a primer should, but it does not stand out as a primer. It is not mattifying or pore-minimizing, which are also things I value in a primer. However, I do value the fact that Sun Prep plays nicely with makeup. You can apply this sunscreen first, without worrying about product pilling by the foundation, powder, blush or other makeup you apply over it.
Hynt Beauty’s Sun Prep Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen is a good clean, physical sunblock for the melanin-rich. It doesn’t claim to be non-comedogenic, but it did not cause me to break out or worsen any other skin conditions during the time that I have been using it. While there are a few oils in the ingredients list, there is nothing about this product that feels oily, greasy or sticky.
Depending on your perspective, this consideration may be a positive or a negative. Having grown to expect the $85.00 price tag of Nutrient Day Cream, paying $55.00 for slightly less Sun Prep feels like a small savings. But if you are used to purchasing a less expensive product for your sun protection, adding a $55.00 sunscreen to your beauty and skincare routine can feel like a lot. Regardless whether you want to absorb a more or less expensive sunscreen into your budget (pun intended), my hope is to help you make a decision without wasting your hard-earned money.
Why I don’t love it:
The very first time I used Sun Prep I immediately squeezed three full pumps into my hand and recklessly slathered it all over my face. I won’t make that mistake again. The burning felt in my eyes was extremely unpleasant, albeit brief. That same burning happens every time I wear this sunblock and laugh to the point of crying, which is pretty often. Subsequently, I came across someone in a Facebook group who experienced the same thing with Hynt Beauty’s concealer. No one was able to identify the cause of the burning. It seems that starting with a sample of any Hynt Beauty product you may apply near your eyes is a good idea. The burning from Sun Prep subsided after a couple minutes, but it is a good idea to be careful with this product around your eye area.
Also, I don’t know if this is at all related to the brief burning of my eyeballs, but Hynt Beauty’s Sun Prep SPF 30 is scented. Fortunately, Sun Prep doesn’t have that typical fake coconut, contrived beach scent. Instead, it has a pleasant, perfume-like scent that fades fairly quickly, though still stands out as unnecessary. Oftentimes the scent of skincare products is overpowering, or the result of an unnecessary ingredient added simply for fragrance purposes. Judging from the ingredients list, I cannot be certain that either is the case here. If the scent is naturally occurring, that is preferable to using masking ingredients to cover it up. But I highly doubt that such a perfume-like scent is naturally occurring. Others might disagree, but Sun Prep would be better without the scent.
At this time I am not prepared to say that Sun Prep SPF 30 is any more or less effective than other comparable non-waterproof and non-water-resistant sunscreens I have tried, e.g. Nutrient Day Cream, Three Sixty Five, Elements Sun Complex and Face Glow. I’ll leave that to those who conduct sunscreen effectiveness tests. But it is worthwhile to mention that like the others in this category, Sun Prep SPF 30 sweats off fairly easily.
Last, Sun Prep has the same finish as Nutrient Day Cream, transparent and slightly shiny, but my skin can sometimes feel tight and dry after using it. This is not consistent. But the first time I wore Sun Prep I slathered it on and flew out the door to run errands and meet a client. I spent the whole afternoon wondering if I had patches of dry skin on my face. I didn’t. If anything my face was slightly shiny. But it was weird to use a product that leaves my skin looking moisturized while simultaneously feeling dry. I don’t know if the issue is with my skin or this sunscreen, but that is something to keep in mind.
For some reason my skin prefers Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 and it’s many, many oils. This is in spite of the fact that my skin is acne-prone. It might be that my skin is dehydrated. But whatever the reason, Hynt Beauty’s Sun Prep SPF 30 is a close second in terms of experience. My bank account clearly prefers Sun Prep. But thanks to a little bit of budgeting, she is not the ultimate decision maker. If I can get my skincare routine together I will rotate Nutrient Day Cream and Sun Prep seasonally. But at the end of the day you want to know whether Sun Prep is worth buying for yourself. So, is it worth the price? Absolutely. And at $55.00 for 50 mL/1.7 oz, I am glad to say without any hint of sarcasm that clean, physical sunscreen for women of colour is progressively becoming more affordable.