We’ve got the best beauty secret ever—the most effective antiaging remedy in a tube. It protects your skin while diminishing fine lines, wrinkles, and brown spots. They call it sunscreen.

Forget diamonds; a proven moisturizer with a broad-spectrum sunscreen is really a girl’s best friend. Ask any dermatologist. Because beyond all the glamorous advertising campaigns, the newfangled ingredients, and the ce-lebrity endorsements of $100-plus jars of La Mer, the daily use of an effective sunscreen or moisturizer with a minimum of SPF 15 is the best way to stave off a trip to the plastic surgeon or protect any cosmetic treatment already obtained, be it Botox or another product.

That’s the simple part. The not-so-simple part is ensuring that your sunscreen makes good on its name, and truly screens the sun. That’s where it gets a little technical. We consulted two Chicago dermatologists, Carolyn Jacob and Neha Robinson, both board certified, who happen to possess lovely skin themselves. They told us to look for formulas containing zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or avo-benzone (particularly effective when combined with oxybenzone in Neutrogena’s Helioplex products). In a nutshell, these substances either reflect or absorb those harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can cause wrinkles or lead to skin cancer.

“Unless you live in a cave, you are exposed daily to UV rays that can harm your skin,” says Jacob, who also is a Harvard-trained cosmetic and laser surgeon and the director at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology on West Kinzie Street. Although most patients realize they should use a product with SPF, she explains, “the problem is there’s a lot of misinformation in advertising. It becomes confusing for the layperson.”
To simplify the choices, Chicago Fashion has compiled a list of some of the city’s best-selling skin products with SPF, all of which contain at least one of the three protective ingredients. Robinson, a Northwestern-trained phys­­­­ician and dermatologist at Dermatology & Aesthetics of Wicker Park, however, recommends that patients use sunscreens or moisturizers with a sunscreen, rather than relying on foundation or powders to provide full protection.


Top Shelf


Natura Bissé Barcelona Sun Defense Cream. This lightweight water-resistant cream, good for all skin types, is the best-selling sunscreen at Lincoln Park’s Endoexo. It contains titanium dioxide with SPF 30. (2.5 ounces, $115)

Arcona sunsations Mineral Makeup. This all-natural breathable mineral foundation with SPF 25 packs zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as well as vitamins C and E. Comes in seven shades with a brush in tube. Available at Endoexo. (.25 ounce, $45)

Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer. A lightweight daily moisturizer with SPF 45 and oxybenzone in the brand’s patented Helioplex, plus a dose of vitamin E. (1.7 fluid ounces, $12.99)

Middle Shelf

M.A.C Prep + Prime Face Protect. This lightweight oil-free makeup primer with SPF 50 consistently sells out at M.A.C’s Oak Street store. It contains zinc oxide and includes vitamin E, an antioxidant. (1 fluid ounce, $26.50)

Replenix CF Advanced Anti-Photoaging Complex. A favorite of Robinson’s, this daily moisturizer contains antioxidants and both zinc oxide and avobenzone with SPF 45. (4 fluid ounces, $35)

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. Not to be substituted for a full-fledged sunscreen, this easy-to-apply lightweight tinted moisturizer, with SPF 20, has been a top seller from Laura Mercier since the get-go, with an estimated 100 units a month sold at Neiman Marcus on North Michigan Avenue. (1.5 fluid ounces, $42)

Oil of Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturizer. A daily moisturizer with SPF 30 and avobenzone. Also contains vitamin E and aloe. (2.5 fluid ounces, $14.99)

Bottom Shelf

Elta MD UV Sport. Available in Robinson’s Wicker Park office, this waterproof sunscreen with SPF 50 contains a high percentage of zinc oxide and is recommended for heavy sun exposure. (3 fluid ounces, $19)

Tarte Smooth Operator. This lightweight tinted moisturizer, which is also considered an oil-free foundation, contains SPF 20 with both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Providing medium coverage, the product also possesses vitamins C and E. Sold at sephora.com. (1.7 fluid ounces, $35)


photography: (top) Thierry Rouchon, (bottom) Blackbox Studios, Inc.