Best sunscreens in Sephora's Sun Safety Kit 2018

Only six of the 14 sunscreens in Sephora's Sun Safety Kit offer protection against UVA1, UVA2, and UVB rays, but all of them are still considered 'broad spectrum.'

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Sephora sells a Sun Safety Kit every year, which includes a ton of sample- and full-sized sunscreen and sun-related products, neatly packaged in a cute, reusable bag. It’s a great way to try out a bunch of sunscreens that have been popular among Sephora’s customers, without having to buy expensive, full-sized packages. You can also throw these mini-sized products in your bag, which makes them really great for retouching your sunscreen when you’re out and about.

To sweeten the deal, for every kit purchased, Sephora donates $25 to skin cancer research and education. Since the kit sells for $36, it’s almost like paying $11 and donating $25. Awesome.

I couldn’t find too much detailed information about all of the products included in this kit, so I decided to do the research myself (and share it here). Most importantly, I wanted to find out which products include active ingredients that filter all types of UVA and UVB rays, because I’m not sure that everyone knows that “broad spectrum” doesn’t always mean protection against both UVA1 and UVA2 rays (I certainly didn’t, until just a few weeks ago).

Why Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit 2018 is a steal

According to my calculations, the amount of sunscreen included in this kit (ounce for ounce) comes out to approximately $154.87. I determined this by calculating the per-ounce price from the full-size product price sold on Sephora’s website (linked in the “Product name” column of the table below), and then multiplying that value by the number of ounces included in the kit.

The packaging actually says it includes $161 worth of products, which makes sense, since I didn’t include the remaining (non-sunscreen) products in my calculation:

So actually, with those two products included, this kit comes out to about $168 worth of Sephora products. What a good deal.

Full-sized products included in Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit 2018

Plus, this kit includes two full-size products:

Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018 Lancome

These full-size products amount to $59, which more than covers the cost of the kit. So if you like (and would buy) either of these products anyway, it definitely makes sense to buy this sun safety kit.

Every product in the Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018

sephora sun safety kit review

I was interested in comparing the active ingredients in each sunscreen, in order to determine which of these products are physical sunscreens vs. chemical sunscreens. The active ingredients also tell us the range of UV protection a product is able to provide—UVA1, UVA2, UVB, or some combination of the above. To do this, I compared the active ingredients against the range of UV rays filtered by said ingredients, by consulting the Skin Cancer Foundation’s table as a resource.

Product name Active ingredients UV protection Price Value
AmorePacific Resort Collection Sun Protection Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (14%), Octisalate (4.5%), Octocrylene (9%) UVA1, UVB $32 for 2.7 oz. // 1.1 oz. size included in kit $13.03
Clinique Pep-Start HydroRush Moisturizer SPF 20 Avobenzone (1%), Octisalate (5%) UVA1, UVB $29.50 for 2.7 oz. // 0.24 oz. included in kit $2.62
COOLA Skincare Mineral Face SPF 30 Rosilliance - Light/Medium Titanium Dioxide (5.6%) UVB, UVA2 $52 for 1.5 oz. // 0.17 oz. included in kit $5.89
Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30 Titanium Dioxide (6.15%), Zinc Oxide (2.88%) UVB, UVA2, UVA1 $52 for 1.7 oz. // 0.33 oz. included in kit $10.09
Farmacy Beauty Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector with Echinacea GreenEnvy Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Titanium Dixoide (2.40%), Zinc Oxide (5.82%) UVB, UVA2, UVA1 $36 for 1.7 oz. // 0.34 oz. included in kit $7.20
Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 Zinc Oxide (20%) UVB, UVA2, UVA1 $36 for 2.0 oz. // 0.5 oz. included in kit $9.00
Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15 Octinoxate (7.49%), Oxybenzone (2.0%) UVB, UVA2 $24 for 0.15 oz. // 0.07 oz. included in kit $11.20
Lancome Bienfait UV SPF 50+ Super Fluid Facial Sunscreen Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (15%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (5%), Oxybenzone (6%) UVA1, UVB, UVA2 $40 for 1.7 oz. // full size included in kit $40.00
Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++ Avobenzone (2%), Homosalate (4%), Octisalate (4%), Octocrylene (2%) UVA1, UVB $80 for 1.7 oz. // 0.17 oz. included in kit $8.00
Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 30 Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (10%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (5%), Oxybenzone (6%) UVA1, UVB, UVA2 $42 for 1.7 oz. // 0.5 oz. included in kit $12.35
philosophy ultimate miracle worker SPF 30 Avobenzone (2.7%), Octinoxate (6.99%), Octocrylene (2%) UVA1, UVB $75 for 2 oz. // 0.25 oz. included in kit $9.37
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Water Resistant Avobenzone (2.5%), Octinoxate (4.9%), Octocrylene (5%), Oxybenzone (3%) UVA1, UVB, UVA2 $40 for 3.3 oz. // 0.23 oz. included in kit $2.79
Supergoop! Super Power Sunscreen Mousse SPF 50 Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (10%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (5%) UVA1, UVB $19 for 3.4 oz. // full size included in kit $19.00
tarte tarteguard SPF 30 sunscreen lotion broad spectrum SPF 30 Titanium Dioxide (3.36%), Zinc Oxide (4.13%) UVB, UVA2, UVA1 $32 for 1.7 oz. // 0.23 oz. included in kit $4.33

Overview of Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018

Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit includes a mix of chemical and physical sunscreens, and with the exception of the Fresh lip tint, which is SPF 15, all of these products offer at least SPF 30 protection. About one-third are physical, while the remaining two-thirds are chemical sunscreens.

Physical sunscreens in Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018

Five out of these 14 sunscreens are physical/mineral (only have zinc oxide, titanium oxide, or both as the active ingredients):

Sunscreens with the best range of UV protection in the Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018

In the Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018, the only sunscreens that were truly broad spectrum (protecting against all UV rays: UVA1, UVA2, and UVB) were:

  1. Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30
  2. Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
  3. Lancome Bienfait UV SPF 50+ Super Fluid Facial Sunscreen
  4. Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion SPF 30
  5. Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Water Resistant
  6. tarte tarteguard SPF 30 sunscreen lotion broad spectrum SPF 30
  7. Farmacy Beauty Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector with Echinacea GreenEnvy Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

Sephora Sun Safety Kit Farmacy Beauty Green Screen

Broad spectrum doesn’t necessarily mean protection against UVA1, UVA2, and UVB rays

If you look at the active ingredient chart here, you will notice that most chemical sunscreen ingredients protect against UVB (290–320 nm) or UVA2 rays (320–340 nm). The only chemical sunscreen ingredient that filters UVA1 rays is avobenzone, which is the ingredient that enabled three of the chemical sunscreens, AmorePacific, Lancome, and Peter Thomas Roth to get included in the list above.

Physical sunscreens are usually a safer bet when it comes to covering UVA1, UVA2, and UVB rays. Zinc oxide is the only FDA-approved active sunscreen ingredient that protects against UVA1, UVA2, and UVB rays. But if you see a sunscreen that only lists titanium dioxide as the only active ingredient, that product will not not protect against UVA1 rays. Therefore, it needs to be combined with either avobenzone or zinc oxide to offer protection against UVA1. Note that such a product can still label itself as “broad spectrum” because it protects against UVB and at least one of the ranges of UVA rays.

Avobenzone, the only UVA1 filter in chemical sunscreens

Avobenzone is the only active sunscreen ingredient other than zinc oxide that protects against UVA1 rays. However, a study published in Photochemistry and Photobiology showed that, in the presence of octinoxate (an active sunscreen ingredient that filters UVB rays), avobenzone may degrade. Therefore, it may be wise to avoid sunscreen that combines these two ingredients.

Interestingly, the FDA also does not allow avobenzone to be combined with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, as it can lead avobenzone to become unstable, according to this article, published in Pharmacognosy Review: “However, in the USA, combinations of avobenzone and physical sunscreens are not permitted. Avobenzone has been reported to be unstable when contained in formulations with physical sunscreens.”

None of the sunscreens in the Sephora Sun Safety Kit include this combination of active ingredients.

Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018

I don’t have any regrets about buying this kit—it has definitely given me a chance to try a ton of new products. And it comes in a zippered pouch that ’s perfect for storing sunscreen and other items you want to bring to the beach.

If you didn’t have a chance to pick up this kit before it sold out this year, keep an eye out for next year’s—it may be even better than this year’s.

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