Photo credit: Vivesana
A radiant, bronze-goddess glow is one thing; looking like charbroiled filet mignon is quite another. But the mercury doesn't have to shoot through the roof before you break out the sunscreen—any prolonged exposure to the great outdoors demands it. Going windsurfing? Sunscreen. Snowboarding? Sunscreen. Stalking the Himalayas searching for self-aware, supra-intelligent Yetis? You betcha Sherpa you need sunscreen.
Vivesana, which means "live healthy" in Italiano, has a couple of broad-spectrum, water-resistant products formulated to ward off damaging UV rays while bathing your epidermis with moisture-infusing plant oils. Packaged in U.S.-made, bisphenol-A-free aluminum squeeze tubes, which have been coated on the inside to prevent any potential leaching, Vivesana's Solar to Polar Ultra ($29) and Solar to Polar Baby ($32) sunscreens are said to be the strongest 100 percent natural sunblocks available. The two are near-identical, except that the junior edition is certified-hypoallergenic and boasts a marginally higher SPF rating—42 to the Ultra's 40, which is hardly significant. Neither contains parabens, phthalates, fillers, thickeners, emulsifiers, or synthetic chemicals like oxybenzone. Another missing ingredient: water, which means a tiny dollop goes much further than you might expect.
As far as mineral sunscreens go, you won't get mistaken for a vampy extra from the set of Twilight, but the sunburn-fighter is supremely emollient, so if your skin tends to get greasy or clogged easily, I'd skip any pre-moisturizing.
The only ingredient that might border on iffy is alumina—not to be confused with the controversial aluminum chlorohydrate—which Vivesana tells me is the most inert form of aluminum. Coated with plant-based stearic acid to render it even further benign, the alumina is designed to sit at the skin's surface to deflect any headlong solar onslaught, rather than seep into your body.
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