Although summer is long gone, that doesn’t mean that it’s time to stop wearing sunscreen, even in colder climates like mine in the upper Midwest. Sunscreen is something you can and should wear every day to prevent damage to your skin. It helps ward off both skin cancer and the signs of aging. So, to continue with my “I like stuff in stick format” theme, today’s post will be on sunscreen sticks! Easier to travel with, won’t spill in your purse. It’s handy.
There’s something a little weird about sunscreen sticks that reminds me viscerally of rubbing a giant stick of deodorant over my face. Why it happens with this and not other stick products, like skincare or foundation or highlighters or cleansers I couldn’t say. It’s a very strange experience, though.
In any case, like the cleansing stick mega-comparison thread that I posted earlier (oh my god it’s been so long since I posted, sorry) I’ll evaluate these by a number of different metrics. For each stick individually I’ll talk about where to purchase it, how it felt or smelled and applied, and my general thoughts about it. Then at the end, I’ll sum up with some comparisons: value in terms of price per product amount, how much white cast there is, how easy it is to get, things like that.
AmorePacific Resort Collection Sun Protection Stick
The packaging itself is pretty luxe – the tube and box are both gold and reflective.
The product itself is clear(ish) and therefore obviously doesn’t leave a white cast at all. It has a light, almost menthol scent, but spreads easily and doesn’t leave a greasy film behind. There’s more space in the tube than is taken up by the product itself, so the product does move around a little inside the bullet. I don’t like that last part at all.
It has an SPF of 50+.
Active ingredients: Buytl methoxydibenzoylmethane (3%), ethylhexyl salicylate (4.5%), homosalicylate 4.5%), octocrylene (9%).
Inactive ingredients: polyethylene, isopropyl palmitate, polymethylsilesquioxane, phenyl trimethicone, squalane, butyloctyl salicylate, helianthuss annus (sunflower) seed wax, ricinus comunis (castor) seed oil, phyllostachis bambusoides juice, portulaca oleracea extract, prumus mume fruit extrat, camellia sinensis seed oil, clyceryl caprylate, butylene glycol, alcohol, fragrance.
Shiseido Sun Protetion Stick Broad Spectrum
When I buy a Shiseido product, I expect pretty luxe packaging, kind of like I would expect from AmorePacific. This is just a plastic tube – but at the same time, it’s also nowhere near the AmorePacific price point. So I guess that’s okay.
The product fills up the entire bullet, so there’s no weirdness about product getting mushed up against the side. The stick itself is white and leaves a visible white cast, which is saying something because I’m pretty pale. I think anyone who has even a medium skintone would struggle with the cast that this leaves behind. It applies easily out of the bullet and spreads easily as well. It doesn’t have an oily finish – it starts out feeling a little greasy as you blend it out, but has a powdery feel in the end. There’s a light chemical scent, but it wasn’t particularly noticeable.
This sunscreen is labeled as being water resistant for 80 minutes. It has an SPF of 37.
Active ingredients: octinoxate (4.9%), titanium dioxide ( 9.2%).
Inactive ingredients: hydrogenated polydecene, polymethyl methacrylate, dimethicone, diphenysiloxy phenyl trimethicone, barium sulfate, kaolin, polyethylene, sorbitan sesquiisostearate, microcrystalline wax, phytosteryl/octododecyl lauroyl glutamate, zinc myristate, tocopheryl acetate, thiotaurine, stearyl glycyrrhetinate, copernica cerifera (carnauba) wax, methicone, silica, alumina, glycerin, triethoxycaprylylsilane, tocopherol, BHT, sodium carbonate, fragrance, mica, titanium dioxide.
Mustela Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen Stick
This is the least expensive of the sunscreens that I got in the US. You can tell from the packaging – it’s very utilitarian, with no frills or really any attempted aesthetic design. It’s just a stick. No shame in that game – it’s perfect for reapplication at the beach, since it’s not like you have to keep it pretty!
The Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen Stick drags a little when you apply it to the skin but spreads easily once applied. It leaves a white cast that is less noticeable than the Shiseido, and blends out well. The product itself sits comfortably on the skin but does look a little bit shiny and feels a little oily. It has a very, very light scent – I didn’t really notice it until I sniffed the stick directly.
Active ingredients: titanium dioxide (6.0%), zinc oxide (4.7%).
Inactive ingredients: aluminum hydroxide, beeswax, butyloctyl salicylate, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, cetyl alcohol, dimethicone, euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax, isostearic acid, neopentyl glycol diethylhexanoate, ozokerite, paraffin, polyethylene, stearic acid, tocopherol.
Etude House Sunprise Bye Sebum Sun Stick
I’m going to stop saying that these tubes aren’t luxe enough to compare to the AmorePacific. None of them are. I’m going to stop pointing it out, but it goes for literally every other stick in this post. AP wins for luxury. The end.
The product itself is sort of skin-colored, but light and very pink-tinged. It does leave a cast – I have yellow-toned skin so the sunscreen was actually pretty noticeable on me. If you are pink-toned it may be less noticeable for you. It has a light but undefinable scent. It applies easily from the bullet and spreads pretty easily as well.
This sunscreen is SPT 50+ PA+++. You can purchase it from Etude House’s international website for $12, at Memebox USA for $8, on Amazon for about $10, on RoseRoseShop for 6,800 KRW, and on Jolse for around $8.50.
A’Pieu Pure Natural Daily Sun Stick
Of all the sticks, this one has the scent that I find the most unpleasant. This stick is clear, so it doesn’t leave any cast. It is very oily-feeling when applied. When you blend it out a little the oiliness stops completely.
I was actually shocked at how well the sunscreen sank right into my skin after I blended it out a little – I literally couldn’t tell that there was anything on my skin at all. Kudos to A’pieu for doing that super well. When I first put this product on, I thought it was going to be a hot mess, it was so oily.
This stick comes in two versions; the Daily version and the Pposong version. I did only a little research on the Pposong version – it seems to be a more matte, sebum-control version. I have only tried the Daily version.
Clio Kill Protection Aqua Sun Stick
The Kill Protection Aqua Sun Stick is a clear yellow and doesn’t leave any sort of color cast behind. It applies super easily from the bullet. The down side is that it is also really oily.
It spreads out easily, of course, because it is so oily. This stick has a distinct chemical scent that I don’t particularly like, but it’s not super strong. The oiliness of the product does dry down a bit after a minute or so, but doesn’t completely go away before I need to apply my makeup.
Ingredients: octyldodecanol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, dicaprylyl carbonate, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, dibutyl ethylhexanoyl glutamide, ethylhexyl salicylate, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, dextrin palmitate, dibutyl lauroyl glutamide, 녹차수 (not sure what this is – maybe green tea water?), zinc PCA, olive leaf extract, ascorbyl glucoside, ascorbic acid, silica, vp/hexadecene copolymer, tocopheryl acetate, glycerin, purified water, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexyl glycerin, fragrance.
You can find Clio’s sunscreen stick on Amazon for about $23, on Clio’s international website for $16 (it’s on sale now, the base price is $18), on KoreaDepart for about $8, on RoseRoseShop for $14, and on eBay for around $17.
Innisfree Perfect UV Protection Stick – Oil Control
This product is decent in terms of sebum control but will do nothing about sweat. It has a scent that I find to be mildly unpleasant – kind of herbal. Like the others, the scent is not particularly strong.
The Perfect UV Protection Stick applies easily from the bullet and has a powdery finish, not oily at all. It fits really close to my skin and is very comfortable to wear. The stick itself is matte-ish yellow, and leaves no cast behind at all. This is something that I would absolutely put in a travel bag and take with me.
Ingredients: Silica, ceresin, octocrylene, dicaprylyl carbonate, ethylhexyl methoxyonnamate, isopropyl palmitate, phenyl trimethicone, stearyl heptanoate, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, ethylhexyl salicylate, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl trazine, diethylaminohdrozybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, tocopheryl acetate, MCA (CI 77019), dimethicone, hydroxyapatite, microcrystalline wax, aluminum distearate, synthetic fluorphlogopite, bisabolol, hydroxyacetophenone, lauryl PEG-9-polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, fragrante, polyurethane-11, helianthus annus (sunflower) seed oil, argana spinosa kernel oil, camellia japonica seed oil, camellia sinensis seed oil, macadamia integrifolia seed oil, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, acrylates/tridecylacrylate/triethoxysilylpropyl methacrylate/dimethicone methacrylate copolymer, triethoxycaprylylsilane, monascus extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, tocopherol, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) leaf extract, water, orchid extract, camellia coccinellifera fruit extract, citrus unshiu (satsuma mandarin) peel extract, propanediol, phenoxyethanol, protulaca oleracea extract, centella asiatica extract, citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, ethylhexylglycerin.
Starly All In Sun Block Stick
This stick I actually found to be fairly uncomfortable to wear. It is clear (clear yellow) so it doesn’t leave a white cast.
It applies smoothly on the skin and spreads fairly easily. However, it feels fairly oily and stays greasy throughout the day, which I find to be uncomfortable. The scent is a little spicy and citrusy, almost like lemon verbena, but isn’t strong or cloying.
Ingredients: Octocrylene, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, ethylhexyl salicylate, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, soluble licorice extract, adenosine, blue No. 1 (Cl 42090), potassium sorbate, and chlorphenesin.
This sunscreen is SPF 50+, PA+++. You can purchase it on eBay for $18.40, on BeautyBoxKorea for $14.55, or on Amazon for about $25. I actually purchased mine from TesterKorea for about $9, but it looks like they are out of stock now.
Comparing Sunscreen Sticks
So here’s the point where I talk about how these sticks stack up against each other.
First, we’ll start with a swatch picture.
Only three of the sunscreen sticks leave a cast of any kind on me: the Etude House, the Mustela, and the Shiseido. The rest of them go on clear. The Shiseido is the worst both in terms of the strength of the white cast and how difficult it is to blend out.
The next important distinction is skin feel. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the feeling of a sticky or greasy face all day. It’s a deal-breaker with regular sunscreen and I don’t intend to compromise about it with sunscreen sticks either. The clear winner for me in this category is the A’pieu, followed closely by the Innisfree and then Etude House. There’s a little bit of residue with the Shiseido, AmorePacific, and the Mustela, but it’s not awful. Clio feels kind of greasy and Starly is an absolute mess, so I certainly wouldn’t repurchase either of them.
None of these sunscreen sticks had a strong enough fragrance that I was either exceptionally pleased or displeased with them. I didn’t like the scents for the A’pieu and Innisfree, but for all of the sticks I basically had to stick my nose right on them in order to detect any scent. So this category wouldn’t exclude any products.
In terms of price point analysis, where there were multiple prices available I averaged them out. You can do some smart shopping around to get a deal better than this in some cases. Generally, the Korean sunscreen sticks were less expensive. They were 57 cents per gram (A’pieu), 67 cents per gram, (Etude House), 72 cents per gram (Innisfree), 95 cents per gram (Starly), and $1.03 per gram (Clio). The Mustela is cheaper than both the Starly and Clio sticks at 91 cents per gram. The Shiseido stick costs $3.10 per gram, and the AmorePacific sunscreen stick is a whopping $5.71 per gram.
In terms of purchase ease, the Mustela, Shiseido, and AmorePacific sunscreen sticks are available at Sephora. I had to purchase the rest of them online, which took significantly longer. If you’re just stocking up for a trip to the beach later and can afford to wait, I’d get the A’pieu or the Innisfree; if you need it right now, I’d get either the AmorePacific or the Mustela (depending on your budget and complexion).
My personal favorites, and the sticks I would repurchase, are the A’pieu and the Innisfree.
Do you have a favorite sunscreen stick I haven’t mentioned here? Let me know so I can try it out!