I put the MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals range of reef-safe sunscreen products to the ultimate test: a water sports-filled cruise to the Mexican Riviera in August. Let’s see how they worked!
As an avid warm-weather cruiser, snorkeler, and fan of lazing around on sun-drenched beaches, wearing the right sunscreen is super-important to me.
Sunscreens aren’t all the same! Since I spend so much time in the ocean, being sure to only wear products that don’t contribute to the breakdown of coral reefs is a non-negotiable for me.
Many widely-used sunscreen products contain harsh chemicals that negatively affect the health of coral reef ecosystems, the “rainforests of the sea“.
That’s why I was so excited when MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals reached out to me and asked if I’d like to try their range of reef-safe sunscreen products.
Since Mr. SBC and I were about to go on our first post-shutdown cruise—a seven-day Mexican Riviera itinerary with lots of ocean adventures—the timing was perfect.
Here’s my honest review of the MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals sun care range, field-tested for you!
Why using only reef safe sunscreen should be important to all of us
Most commercially available sunscreen products rely on chemical sunscreens to do the work of protecting our skin from dangerous UV rays. But many of these chemicals also break down coral reefs, harming the delicate balance of their ecosystems.
Here’s a short list of common chemicals in many sunscreens that contribute to coral reef deterioration:
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
But reef-safe sunscreens use physical sunscreens, like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, to block dangerous UVA and UVB rays from reaching our skin, without harming our ocean’s reefs.
Who are MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals?
Founded in 2000 in the US, MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals make science-driven skincare products inspired by nature.
Their entire range is vegetarian, PETA-certified cruelty-free, and free of phthalates, parabens, petroleum, sulfates, urea, artificial fragrances, and artificial colors.
They’ve also been making reef-safe sunscreen for over a decade! The company partners with the Coral Restoration Foundation, the world’s largest non-profit marine conservation organization.
As soon as I squeezed the first blob of this moisturizing zinc oxide sunscreen into my hand, I was in love. It. Smells. Like. Chocolate. Yum!
Resisting the temptation to eat my sunscreen, I applied a layer all over before changing into my swimsuit for our snorkeling trip to the Marietas Islands near Puerto Vallarta.
This Mexican national park is home to a live coral reef, and it’s so important to me to only wear sun protection products that are reef-safe when I snorkel or swim in the ocean.
Applying the sunscreen, I noticed how moisturizing it was to my dry skin. With coconut oil and shea butter, it felt more like putting on a soothing emollient—this isn’t your run-of-the-mill sunscreen.
And I’m glad I put it on when I did! Once we got to the islands, our tour guide let us know that sunscreen was prohibited (even reef-safe formulations) by park authorities (!!) Although we wouldn’t be permitted to apply any protection at the islands, it was OK if we were already wearing sunscreen.
I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t wait to put on my sunscreen! I’m a water baby, but my northern European ancestry and deadly family history of melanoma mean that sun protection is a must—especially on a seven-hour ocean sports tour in Mexico under the brilliant August sun.
So when I say I was putting this product to the test, I mean it!
I always read sunscreen product packaging, especially with water-resistant formulas. This one said to reapply after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, after towel-drying, and at least every two hours.
Could I do any of that? No. But even after a long sunny day of snorkeling, towel-drying, sweating, and sitting in the sun, I only got a sunburn in that one spot on my back we never can reach by ourselves.
I had planned to have Mr. SBC help me with a bit of sunscreen there just before I went in the water. You live and you learn.
When I’m on a cruise or at the beach, I typically wear a tinted moisturizer or BB cream with SPF. I like having a little bit of tint to brighten up my pale skin, but wearing actual makeup when I’m in and out of the water all day is too much for me.
But most tinted moisturizers leave me with a too-shiny finish, and many of the brands I’ve tried tend to wipe off too easily when I’m active.
So I was excited to try the Sun Shield Liquid SPF 50 that MyCHELLE sent me. I got a non-tinted version, along with Light/Medium and Medium/Dark tinted formulas.
Taking an initial look at the Light/Medium shade through the bottle, I was worried that it would be too dark for me (I think that Casper the Friendly Ghost must be one of my relatives).
But as soon as I gave it a try, I was pleasantly surprised that it blended in well with my skin tone. The product evened out a bit of the redness that we pale people tend to have, and best of all, it didn’t leave me looking shiny!
The zinc oxide formula is sheer and dries quickly, so you don’t have a lot of playtime when you’re applying it. I learned after a couple of days to really shake the bottle well and use the dropper to put a generous amount on my fingers before quickly applying it to my entire face.
So did it actually work?
I wore this product every day of our cruise, including during our snorkeling trip at the protected reef. (I gifted Mr. SBC the non-tinted version, and he wore it there too). Although we weren’t allowed to reapply any sunscreen at the islands, neither of us got a burn during our seven hours out in the blazing sun.
Sun Shield Liquid SPF 50 is available in non-tinted, Light, Light/Medium, Medium/Dark, and Dark shades.
I’ll admit I wasn’t as excited about this mineral sunscreen product as I was for the Solar Defense Body Lotion or the Sun Shield Liquid. It’s only an SPF 30 and the tube is much smaller than the body lotion.
But the product features natural ingredients—red algae oil and kukui oil, along with the active ingredient of zinc oxide (which is a fantastic physical sunscreen) so it had me curious.
At first glance, I was actually confused whether this was a facial or body sunscreen—with the small size tube I’d assume it’s for your face, but the front of the package doesn’t say either way.
The back of the packaging states that it’s for both face and body, and that you should wait 15 minutes before applying makeup. That got me excited to test it!
Although I don’t like wearing foundation when I know I’m going to swim (or sweat), sometimes on a cruise I know I’ll be putting on makeup to dress for a special dinner. But with the sun setting so late in the summer months, I still like to have some sun protection for post-dinner cocktails on deck.
But many mineral sunscreen formulations cause my liquid foundation to pill, even after waiting for the sun protection to dry.
So I decided to apply the Replenishing Solar Defense, wait a full 20 minutes, then apply my foundation (NARS Natural Radiant Longwear in case you’re wondering).
While I waited for my sunscreen to dry, I gave it the sniff test and pondered over its moisturizing qualities.
The scent isn’t a particularly delicious one—it’s nothing like the intoxicating aroma of the body lotion. MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals doesn’t use additional scents in their formulas. If the natural ingredients have an aroma, that’s what you smell.
If you’re sensitive to artificial scents in your skin products, this is super-important. However, the smell of the Replenishing Solar Defense sunscreen isn’t particularly appealing. It’s not terrible at all—it just doesn’t smell like something you’d choose for a scent.
As I waited for it to sink in and continued my sniffing and pondering, I noticed that the scent began to dissipate. I was left with just the faint scent of kukui nut, which I recognized from other products I’ve tried in the past.
Did my face feel moisturized? Not really. The product left me with an almost powdery finish, smooth but not any more supple.
Once I applied my foundation, I was glad to see that I had zero pilling issues! But the powdery-smooth sunscreen combined with my full-coverage foundation left me looking pallid.
I’d recommend this sunscreen for anyone looking for a fragrance-free physical facial sunscreen, but YMMV if you put foundation over it.
For those with drier facial skin, I’d recommend using your daily moisturizer before applying this moisturizing sunscreen.
Much like the Replenishing Solar Defense, MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals Sun Shield SPF 28 Coconut also comes in a smaller tube. Like that other product, it’s not clear at first glance what part of the body it’s meant for!
But again, the back of the packaging notes that it’s for both face and body. With such a small size for the price, I’d be more likely to use it just on my face.
This one is also a zinc oxide formulation, but with titanium dioxide as well (in a smaller percentage). Vitamin E and aloe are also included for their moisturizing properties.
I decided to test this formula the same way I did for the last product—apply, observe, and wait 20 minutes before applying the same foundation.
Upon application, I noticed that the sunscreen wasn’t quite as thick and powdery, and it sunk into my skin a bit more like a moisturizer. It also dried to a powdery-smooth finish, but slightly less so.
The scent also started out a bit odd, as many unscented products do. I was hoping to smell the coconut scent promised on the label, but if anything it was faint.
I actually roped Mr. SBC into my experiment at this point, offering him my cheek and cajoling him into telling me what it smelled like. (Thank heavens he’s such a trooper.) He couldn’t figure it out until I said, “coconut”? Then he agreed it smelled faintly like coconut. Kind of.
Onto the foundation test. After 20 minutes, I applied my foundation. Again no pilling! The final result was a bit better, as this formulation felt more moisturizing than the first one I tried.
But in the future, I’ll use both of these products on foundation-free days when I want a physical sunscreen and I’m not worried about having to wear full makeup.
Which MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals reef-safe sunscreen products were my faves?
If I could buy just two products from the MyCHELLE sun care range, it would be the Replenishing Solar Defense Body Lotion and the tinted Sun Shield Liquid.
These two products together will have you covered for a day at the beach or the pool!
I was so impressed by the waterproof quality of the Replenishing Solar Defense Body Lotion (and that divine scent!) that it’s going to be my go-to sunscreen for water sports from now on.
The Sun Shield Liquid SPF 50 requires a little more care in its application than my usual tinted moisturizer, but its non-greasy formulation and long wear make me a fan. This one’s going in my summer makeup bag!
I’d like to thank MyCHELLE Dermaceuticals for sending me a complimentary selection of their reef-safe sun care products to test. As always, my opinions are my own.