As life would have it, immediately after I reaffirmed my decision not to review subscription boxes, Beauty Heroes sent out its July 2016 Subscription Box containing a product that demands to be reviewed. Don’t you think that Beauty Heroes founder Jeannie Jarnot did that on purpose? I do.*
Sunblock is a big concern for many people. So is finding an effective sunblock that doesn’t leave a white cast when applied. Add to the mix the requirement that the sunblock provide physical, as opposed to chemical protection, and be toxin-free, and you are basically looking for a needle in a haystack. This past March, I found my needle and joyously declared that my own personal, seemingly never-ending search for a non-whitening, toxin-free, physical sunblock had finally come to an end. I sang the praises of Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream with SPF 30 Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, and never looked elsewhere. Until now.
At the time I opened my July 2016 Beauty Heroes Subscription Box, I wasn’t actively looking for a new sunblock. But when Jeannie puts the Beauty Heroes stamp of approval on a product and includes it in the Subscription Box, you try it. And so I did.
The July 2016 hero product was Kari Gran’s Three Sixty Five SPF 28, which owes its name, in part, to the fact that we should be wearing sunblock every single day of the year. The main reason I was excited to try Three Sixty Five was my hope that it would give those of us with dark brown skin another option for toxin-free, non-whitening and effective sun protection. This is especially important because, (1) options are good, and (2) those who are concerned about nano-particles might have some hesitation about using the only other sunblock that makes the grade – Nutrient Day Cream.
After publishing my blog post on Josh Rosebrook’s Nutrient Day Cream, I came across an article by W.S. Badger, Inc., titled “Why Doesn’t Badger Use Clear Zinc Oxide?” I highly recommend that you take the time to read the entire article, which explains the essentials we should all know about non-nano zinc oxide. Initially, we get a definition of “nanoparticles,” which are “any particles that are smaller than 100 nanometers (billionths of a meter).” Badger then explains that nanoparticles became an area of concern because they are so small that they are thought to be able to “penetrate the skin to enter living tissue.” There are so many unknowns about the effects of a product penetrating living tissue that nanoparticles were not viewed as safe. Badger did its own research, putting ZinClear, the brand name of the first non-nano zinc oxide powder, under a microscope. Badger saw that non-nano zinc oxide is actually nano zinc-oxide particles fused together to form non-nano particles that are too large to be absorbed by living cell tissue. These particles are technically non-nano because they have been fused together to form larger particles, but their classification is not as straightforward as the name “non-nano” implies. “Fused-nano” or something similar might be more accurate, but obviously less effective for marketing. Meanwhile, use of zinc oxide nano particles in sunscreen was found to pose no real health concerns.
Understandably, some people still prefer to avoid nanoparticles in sunscreen products. I reached out to Josh Rosebrook about my newfound information. He, of course, was fully aware of the issues concerning nano and non-nano zinc oxide. Josh initially marketed his Nutrient Day Cream as non-nano, but has since decided that he will remove those words from any new labeling. I continue to use and love his Nutrient Day Cream, but looked forward to experimenting with Three Sixty Five to find other sunblock options for Chidi Beauty readers, especially those who want a truly non-nano zinc oxide sunblock that looks good on darker skin tones. Badger brought that hope to a screeching halt as it explained that “you just can’t get a clear zinc oxide without using nanoparticles.”
Unless and until Kari Gran discloses exactly what type of non-nano zinc oxide she uses, or until someone puts it under a microscope, we have no way of knowing with any real degree of certainty. Until then, because Three Sixty Five is zinc oxide based and can be transparent when applied, I will assume that it, and all other similar sunblocks, use ZinClear or some other fused-nano zinc oxide.
Kari Gran’s Three Sixty Five SPF 28 has an impressive, brief ingredients list:
Her website describes Three Sixty Five as a “physical, broad-spectrum, facial sunscreen designed to be used 365 days of the year – rain or shine.”
The first thing I noticed about Three Sixty Five SPF 28 is that its texture, described as serum-like, is extremely watery. This is not necessarily a bad thing as the texture makes it easier to apply and blend than thicker zinc oxide sunblocks. Also, Kari Gran was thoughtful enough to choose great packaging for this sunblock so it can be easily applied without making a mess or leaking in your makeup bag. Three Sixty Five SPF 28 has a silky, smooth, oily texture. It is so delightful to the touch that the texture coaxes you to massage it into your skin. This is truly the most luxurious sunscreen I have encountered. The scent is neither good nor bad. Most noticeably, the scent is a little chalky, as you might expect, and has a faint castor oil aroma, but is otherwise unremarkable.
Given the ingredients list, it should be no surprise that Three Sixty Five SPF 28 is quite oily when applied. I tend to have oily skin, and it did not make my face look greasy or disgusting. But if you are going for a matte look you’ll definitely need to blot, apply powder, or otherwise dull the shine of this sunblock after application.
The directions suggest applying a moisturizer before applying Three Sixty Five SPF 28. Naturally, Kari Gran suggests using her Essential Serum. As a rule, I prefer not to use serums during the daytime because, even though I might be wrong, it doesn’t seem like a wise idea to apply oil to my face before going out into the sun. I know some oils are said to have sun protection properties, but even when followed by a layer of sunblock it just doesn’t seem like the best thing to do. So, throwing caution to the wind, I tried the serum + sunblock combination, and spent my day walking around looking like I had applied oil to my face and walked out the door. The serum + sunblock combo might work if you have dry skin, but for those of us with oily skin the final look is just unnecessarily shiny. Again, my face did not look greasy or disgusting, but the shine was enough to be somewhat unflattering.
Normally, I apply a lotion moisturizer before my sunblock. So I also tried Three Sixty Five with my current facial moisturizer, Graydon’s Green Cream. The combination worked beautifully. It was less shiny than the serum + sunblock combo, but by no means was I left with a powdery or matte finish. Surprisingly, when layered over either a serum or lotion, Keri Gran’s Three Sixty Five does not leave behind that dreaded white cast. Even on my dark brown skin. I actually asked for a second opinion to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me (1980’s hip hop fans, take a 30-second music break here), and was told that there was no sign of any white cast on my face. Hooray! That officially means I can add Three Sixty Five SPF 28 to my beauty cabinet as another option for a clean, physical sunblock that looks good on dark brown skin.
But wait! Don’t run out and apply this sunblock all willy nilly just yet. It only works well if you follow two important rules. First, under no circumstances are you to ever, ever apply Three Sixty Five SPF 28 on damp skin without a moisturizer. I did this just to see what the result would be (yes, I love Chidi Beauty’s readers), and it looked like the Blue Man Group had started taking applications from women. It was terrible. And no amount of massaging, rubbing or coaxing would make it blend into my skin. I basically had to wash my face and start over. I also tried this sunblock on dry skin with no moisturizer underneath and the result was also no bueno. So moisturizer of some sort is a must. Second, to ensure that there is no white cast, you must massage the sunblock into your skin for a minimum of 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remember that that is the minimum. Yes, this sunblock takes a little work to blend in, but the end result is totally worthwhile.
I won’t say anything about the effectiveness of Three Sixty Five. Given the results of recent independent reviews of various sun protection products (lotions, sprays, powders, etc.), I prefer to leave that to the experts who have legit, scientific means of testing whether sun protection products actually live up to their claims. What I can say is that my skin fared well while wearing this sunblock, and I did not suffer any sun damage in addition to what I already have.
Why I love it:
This physical sunblock is toxin-free and non-whitening. I am equally pleased that it is transparent on dark brown skin. Kari Gran Three Sixty Five SPF 28 melts into the skin completely, and is easy to wash off. This remains true whether you are blending and washing using other Kari Gran products or products from your other favourite natural beauty brands. When used alongside her Cleansing Oil, Hydrating Tonic and Essential Serum, you really do have a great skin care system, even for oily skin (though I did have to double cleanse in the evening using my regular facial cleanser following the Cleansing Oil).
Why I don’t love it:
Using this sunblock is a little more like baking than cooking; it is more science than art. Using a moisturizer underneath is an absolute must. Likewise, applying this sunblock onto dry or damp skin without a moisturizer is an absolute no-no. Also, knowing the science behind “clear” or “non-whitening” zinc oxide, I would prefer that brands not label ZinClear and similar products as “non-nano.” Technically they are non-nano, but that is an incomplete, and thus inaccurate explanation of what the ingredient really is. Is it permissible and accurate? Yes. But I prefer full disclosure. As it stands right now, there is no way to be certain concerning the type of zinc oxide used in this sunblock, but because it applies clear I have to assume it is ZinClear or something similar.
At $48.00 for a 30 mL/1.0 oz bottle, Three Sixty Five SPF 28 is actually more expensive than 60 mL, but cheaper than 30mL of the Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream. Keep in mind that the full size bottle of Three Sixty Five is half the volume of a full size bottle of a Nutrient Day Cream, so the initial sticker shock is less.
Opaque yet technically truthful marketing concerning nano and non-nano zinc oxide is something I can’t hold against any brand because, at the end of the day, that is the nature of marketing. It takes a little bit of work to use this sunblock, but the end result is great. While Three Sixty Five SPF 28 might be a little pricey, it is full of great, high quality ingredients that might actually improve the condition of your skin. All-in-all, this is a well-formulated, luxurious, sunblock with great ingredients. I enjoy wearing it and would recommend it to others with dark brown, oily skin like me.