Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Sephora Sun Kit

Trial & Error is Easy with Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit

Every year, Sephora puts out a Sun Safety Kit ($25.00), which includes a whole platter of trial-sized sunscreens to try. What I really like about it is it gives you an opportunity to find the right sunscreen for you–not just the SPF level, but the consistency, finish, and how it feels on skin. The kit also contains a pink makeup bag and UVSunSense UV monitoring bracelets (2).  It’s a great way to try out various sunscreens without forking over a ton of money to buy full-sizes or deal with returns.  They’re also travel-friendly, so you can take ’em with you for short trips, too.

Though I noted it where applicable, I know my skin reacts poorly with high concentrations of silicone, so I did not test those sunscreens on my face and only on my arm.  So while my skin may react one way, and I may be overly cautious by avoiding products altogether that contain it high-up on the ingredient list, your skin is inevitably different from mine–that is to say, don’t write off a product merely because it breaks my skin out.  For instance, I’ve worn both Shiseido’s SPF 55 and Neutrogena’s Dry Touch during previous summers and never thought they were acne-causing culprits.   I also regularly wear Make Up For Ever’s HD Foundation, which also contains dimethicone and other silicones.  Like many things in life, it may be about finding the right balance or mix–aka not layering on a sunscreen, primer, and foundation that all have it!

This year’s kit includes:

  • Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15 (0.14 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), octisalate (3.0%), and oxybenzone (2.0%). The full-size contains 0.5 oz. and retails for $67. It’s a lightweight cream that absorbs and dries down quickly, and it doesn’t feel greasy on the lid, but still provides all-day hydration for the eye area.
  • DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew UV Moisturizer SPF 15 (0.23 oz.) contains avobenzone (2.0%), ensulizole (1.0%), octisalte (4.0%), and octocrylene (1.25%). The full-size contains 1.7 oz. and retails for $40. I couldn’t test this one on my face, as it uses dimethicone (aka Temptalia’s nemesis) quite a bit. Instead, I tested it on my arm — it has a very lightweight, smooth consistency and dries down quickly. It has a soft finish that’s not greasy but not totally matte, but I did notice the “sunscreen” scent, which may put some off.
  • Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Lemon and Chamomile (0.10 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%) and avobenzone (3.0%). It’s a thicker lip balm in a squeeze-tube, but it’s very, very hydrating with a cooling sensation from the mint. I can apply this before I go to bed (around 10pm), and even at 5am, I can still feel a little left on my lips. (Normally, nothing is left on my lips!) The full size is $7.00 for 0.25 oz.
  • Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Defense Lotion SPF 30 (0.25 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), octisalate (5.0%), meradimate (5.0%), oxybenzone (3.5%), and avobenzone (1.0%). The full size contains 1.7 oz. and retails for $42.00. It’s a nice non-greasy formula that applies easily, but it takes about five to ten minutes to sink in and absorb fully.
  • Kate Somerville Protect SPF 55 Serum Sunscreen (0.16 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), oxybenzone (6.0%), octisalate (5.0%), and avobenzone (3.0%). It also has titanium dioxide in the ingredient list. The full size contains 2.0 oz. and retails for $45.00. It’s lightweight, doesn’t leave behind any greasy or sticky feel, and absorbs quickly. I really liked that this was scent-free, too.
  • Clarins Delectable Self Tanning Mousse SPF 15 (0.27 oz.) has a whipped cream texture that’s designed to give skin a natural, gradual tan. I couldn’t find any active ingredient (sunscreen) for this one, though. I did not try this one (I don’t use self-tanners myself!). The full-size includes 4.2 oz. for $42.00.
  • Cover FX BritePrep FX SPF 50 (0.16 oz.) contains octocrylene (9.0%), octinoxate (7.5%), oxybenzone (3.0%), and titanium dioxide (1.5%). The full-size contains 1.0 oz. for $45.00. It’s lightweight and absobs quickly. I did notice that a good shake or two of the product was necessary to make sure everything was as it should be, though. I think this is more suitable to dry to normal skin, but oily skin may find it feels just a tad greasy.
  • Bliss Best of Skintentions Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 (0.34 oz.) contains avobenzone (3.0%), homosalate (8%), and oxybenzone (3.5%). It has a very lightweight despite its thicker consistency, and it absorbs quickly. It has a smooth, velvety finish. It does have dimethicone in it, so I didn’t test it on my face, just my arm. There’s a light lemon-y citrus scent to it, but it doesn’t linger once its on the face.
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 60 PA+++ (0.23 oz.) contains zinc oxide (16.3%), octinoxate (7.4%), and ensulizole (2.0%). The full-size contains 3.3 oz. for $39.00. It is designed for the face and body, but to be honest, given the amount in this product and the price tag, I would go with a more affordable body SPF (it’s recommended you use 1 oz. for your entire body — aka 1/3 of the bottle here). It has a thin, liquid-y consistency, and it feels a lot like the original SPF 55 version but doesn’t dry down to the same near-matte finish for me. I think it’s better for normal to dry skin, but those with oily skin may find it a little greasy. I used to use Shiseido’s suncare very, very often, but after discovering that their formulations contain dimethicone, I’ve been more hesitant to start using it again on my face. Argh!
  • Ole Henriksen Herbal Day Cream SPF 15 (0.25 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), oxybenzone (2.0%), meridamate (3.0%). It has a lightweight feel and absorbs quickly once applied. It also has a herbal-ish kind of scent, which isn’t off-putting and doesn’t linger.
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer SPF 15 (0.25 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%) and octisalate (5.0%). I only saw the “To Go” size on Sephora, which is 0.5 oz. for $17.00. I didn’t try it on my face (dimethicone–can you see why this is frustrating? it’s in everything!), but on my arm, and it has a lightweight texture and absorbs in about thirty seconds to a minute. It does feel very smooth and not at all greasy or thick. However, I think in order to use this as sun protection, you’d really just have to use way more than is necessary for a primer.
  • Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Multi-Tasking Face SPF 20 (0.02 oz.) contains zinc oxide (20%). The full-size contains 0.08 oz. for $18. Summer Bisque was a surprisingly good match for my skin tone (NC25-ish), though a little on the darker side. As far as a SPF product goes, I definitely prefer a cream/lotion rather than in makeup (whether it’s foundation, powder, primer, concealer, etc.). Since this is a concealer base, I just think it’s a nice addition, but it doesn’t substitute for a face sunscreen.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you’re still in the market for that perfect sunscreen, this kit is one way to trial several without having to purchase full-sizes.


Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

21 thoughts on “Sephora Sun Kit for Sunscreen Newcomers

  1. i just discovered the jack black lip balm a month ago or so… and i fell in love with this product! you know (as i’ve bitched about it before) how jacked up my lips can get. they’re always dry and cracking and very little helps. this stuff is thick and LASTS (but it’s not waxy), it makes my lips SOFT and keeps them hydrated. it’s not sticky and it’s not shiny – which i LOVE. speaking as a guy, i don’t always want to run around with super glossy, porn star lips.

    not always.

    if shaun is taking requests – i’d love to see this turn up in one of his man-reviews! :)

  2. It’s a good idea-I like that there’s quite a variety. But honestly, I’m pretty hooked on Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunblock SPF 70. It works great under makeup and isn’t greasy for me. Plus it’s not that expensive as some of the full size ones in this sample would be.

  3. Lina

    I think it’s a nice kit, but charging $25 for samples which I’ve seen given out for free is a bit ridiculous, especially for the size. Just my opinion.

  4. kcrystal

    I remember back in the day when you were able to get free trial sizes and now you have to pay for them and i used to get ample amount of free trials .. 20-30 from different brands.

  5. i was so excited to purchase this bc i missed last years. i was pretty disappointed. the kit from 2 years ago was extremely better.

  6. macaddict

    Christine, how do you know when a sunscreen can cause breakouts? What are the ingredients to look for?

    • I don’t, actually! I just know that my skin tends to react with very large, painful pimples (the kind that are larger bumps and just *hurt*) whenever I’ve used a product with dimethicone high-up in the ingredient list, so I know that I need to be careful or stay away from products with it in it.

      There are a lot of ingredients that can aggravate acne-prone skin, but it definitely depends on your skin. There are many acne-sufferers who have no problem using dimethicone, while others avoid it. I did this post on ingredients many moons ago about ingredients known to be more comedogenic than others:

      (Funny enough, silicones are generally not considered comedogenic.)

      • Kate & Zena

        macaddict–There really is no cookie cutter, sure-fire way to know which products cause breakout-the acne kind or the hives/rash kind. As someone with super duper pale, hyper-sensitive skin, the only way to find out an allergy is, well, testing it. Make sure it’s the only product you’re switching. If you break out or have a reaction (ex. itching, rash, peeling, unusual dryness, headaches or what’s generally considered the worsts for skin care–hives and swelling), you know it’s because of your sunscreen.

        For example, Neutrogena and Aveeno sunblocks (two brands that I use A LOT) make me break out. It’s the fragrance, zinc oxide, retinol and/or oils that does it. I know this because Coppertone Oil-free SPF lotion does not break me out and it contains none of those ingredients. I break out in summer because I get a really oily T-zone during summer (combination, hypersensitive skin. gotta love it) so I know what’s normal for me and what isn’t. I’m generally allergic to fragrances in the first place (migraines and hives) so I avoid fragrances/perfumes as much as I can. I basically go around the store with tons of swatches up and down the inside of my arms to test for reactions before I decide on purchasing anything (this makes drug-store makeup shopping hard). I’ve had enough serious allergic reactions to skin and beauty items that I can’t not look at the labels and test them.

        If you do have sensitive/hyper-sensitive skin, here are some of the most common ingredients that cause reactions/breakouts:
        Mineral Oil
        Sodium Lauryl Sulfates and Sodium Laureth Sulfates (SLS)
        Titanium Dioxide
        Dimethicone or any silicones

        The best advice I can give is test products out, read a lot of labels and familiarize yourself with what tends to irritate your skin. You aren’t the only ones reading labels on the back of products, trust me.

  7. where can i find a sunscreen as good as the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 60 PA+++ ?
    sounds like it has a lot of benefits for the skin from the sun…more then most brands.
    the price is a bit high for sunscreen though

  8. trishket

    It’s amazing to me how many sunscreens are still sold without adequate protection! The Murad, Ole Henriksen, and Smashbox (don’t know about the Clarins because there’s no ingredients listed) don’t have the ingredients required (titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, or Tinosorb) to actually protect skin from UVA radiation – the rays that can cause skin cancer and wrinkles. Don’t tell me a company in the business of skin care does not know this. Ugh. OK, rant over.

    • Hi Trishket,

      Murad has oxybenzone, which covers part of the UVA spectrum (320-340nm), same with Ole Henriksen (both oxybenzone and meradimate) — they do not cover the entire UVA spectrum, but they do have some protection — just to clarify.

      However, some recommendations have included oxybenzone as a broad-spectrum ingredient ( — it’s all quite confusing.

  9. Ashley

    The only one of those I’d dare put on my face is the Bare Minerals powder, but even then I doubt it would work for me, as I bet they put bismuth oxychloride in there.
    Why did they only include one sunscreen product that contains physical blockers only?

    If anyone has used a good physical blocker, please reply! I’m itching to try out the Josie Maran one.

  10. This is great! I’m a makeup artist but skincare comes first. All skin is not created equal. My skin might absorb a product different than someone else. With this pack you can see what works for you and what doesn’t. I love it!!

  11. casey23

    Christine, I have a question about this methicone issue!! I have combination-oily skin, prone to breakout with pores (not that large) plus sensitive, what a delightful skin type isn’t it?!?!?!? I realized for some time that products containing dimethicone, trimethicone, etc. as an ingredients (especially high ranked in the ingredients list) are making my face itchy and causing redness!! I am trying to avoid silicone as you do, but I am having the hardest time to find a product (especially moisturizer, tinted moisturizer, SPF products..) Can you suggest at least a few products (moisturizing type) for my skin please?!?!? (Also, I live in Turkey so if you can suggest more regular brands than US brands, that would be a delight!) thank you :)

    •  @casey23 I’d actually recommend you try asking Rae from theNotice, because I know she very specifically went no-cone (whereas I just primarily avoid silicone primers but haven’t eliminated them from other products), so she would have a better idea!