I’m sure you’re thinking “cry me a river,” but while a golden glow sure beats a lobster bake any day, with such quick melanin changes comes a most unwanted consequence: tan lines, the kind that crisscross your body like long-lost continents and take months to fade into oblivion. And so I spend my Central Park runs in head-to-toe black (including full-length leggings), even on 100-degree days.
Fed up with my goth athletic look, I recently test-drove some of the more powerful sunscreens on the market in the hopes of finding even-toned nirvana. While I will sadly still leave the skimpy Under Armour tops to others, this quartet has kept me from looking like a bad paint job.
Clarins UV Plus HP SPF 40 Day Screen
What: A sheer, oil-free liquid whose mineral filters block out rays while an antioxidant complex derived from cantaloupe melon extract fights wrinkles and DNA damage.
Verdict: One of the airiest formulas I’ve ever used, it absorbed immediately into my skin, leaving no residue or chalky dryness like other oil-free types. I loved it, though it’s intended for the face (I also applied it to my neck and chest and there was only the faintest trace of a tan afterwards). $38.00, clarinsusa.com
What: An oil-free, oxybenzone- and paraben-free, broad-spectrum lotion with a special “wetskin tech” polymer (originally developed for surgical use) that bonds to skin, optimizing its water resistance for up to 80 minutes.
Verdict: Rubbed in smoothly with only a slight sheen after. Was perfect for head-to-toe coverage (and didn’t feel greasy on my face), prevented tan lines on shoulders and chest when wearing a tank top in the sun and stood up well to a sweaty workout—but I still had a distinct line of demarcation after an hour-long run. $8.99, oceanpotion.com
Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Spray
What: A broad-spectrum, alcohol-, paraben- and fragrance-free formula, water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and applied with a specially developed 360 degree aerosol spray mechanism to provide optimal coverage at every angle. Contains the famous Mexoryl and a patented Cell-Ox Shield, including the antioxidant complex Senna Alta, to ward off free radicals and enhance its efficacy.
Verdict: The lotion was visible after spraying, making it easy to see when you’d missed spots (it requires rubbing in). The high SPF shield blocked out rays, but its silky finish, while not oily, made it better suited for a leisurely walk on the Highline than a perspiration-soaked sprint in the park. $35.50, laroche-posay.us
Kiehl's Cross Terrain UV Skin Protector SPF 50
What: A wax-like product (it looks like hair pomade) made of Squalene, an olive-based moisturizing oil, it is fragrance-free and formulated to be water-, sweat- and wind-resistant, no matter how crazy the weather conditions (it was “adventure-tested” by an extreme Arctic skier-trekker as part of collaboration between Kiehl’s and National Geographic’s Young Explorers Program in developing the full Cross-Terrain collection).
Verdict: Hands down my favorite in preventing the dreaded shorts tan-line. It held up during a particularly grueling, windy, hill run in Mykonos (95 plus degrees, no shade), leaving me with only a faint ring around my thighs. And while I expected the waxy texture to melt in such hot weather, it stayed comfortably and fully intact. That said, I won’t be covering my face in it, at least not in the summer. $25.50, kiehls.com
Photos: courtesy of the subjects