This past winter, my brother made a quick visit to LA and showed up with this bottle of sunscreen he had picked up in Cancun.
Try this, he said. It doesn’t suck. Even you will think so.
I took a glance at the cheap, drugstore looking bottle and uninspired branding and had my doubts, but my brother as right! This sunscreen doesn’t suck at all. In fact, it’s one of the most cosmetically elegant Western sunscreens I’ve come across. Let’s take a look:
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Malibu High Protection Lotion SPF 50
Clinically proven to be kind to skin. UVA/UVB Sunscreens. Photostable, Non-whitening. Contains Vitamin E & Aloe Vera. Water Resistant.
Country of Origin
Made in England
Where does it fit in your routine?
Apply after all other skincare steps.
Size and Price
The bottle I have contains 100ml of product and cost $320 MXN or $17.07 USD. It is currently available on Amazon for $16.12. If you’re in the UK, this bottle costs under £5 from Malibu Sun.
Cheap, white plastic bottle with an orange, flip cap on top for the sunscreen to dispense through.
No added fragrance but there is a generic sunscreen smell.
Color and texture
Out of the bottle this sunscreen initially looks like your typical, pasty, white, drugstore sunscreen. That only lasts until you start spreading it out! Although it looks thick, this sunscreen is surprisingly fluid and spreads effortlessly! It does not tug the skin at all and does not clump or settle into fine lines. It takes a moment to dry (all alcohol-free sunscreens do) but once dry, cooperates well under makeup. The finish is a tad dewy and a feels a tad balmy to the touch, but does not feel heavy.
Water (Aqua), Homosalate, Octocrylene, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Propylene Glycol, Benzophenone-3, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Diisopropyl Adipate, Glyceryl, Oleate Citrate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propylheptyl Caprylate, Tricontanyl PVP, Glyceryl Stearate, Aloe Barbedensis (Aloe Vera Leaf Juice), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Stearic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Hydroxyacetophenone, 1,2-Hexanediol & Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide
- Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone)
- Benzophenone-3 (Oxybenzone)
- Ethylhexyl Salicylate (Octisalate)
- 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor (Enzacamene)
All of these filters are FDA approved, which is kind of interesting given this is a UK product. Unfortunately, % concentration of each filter is unknown.
No. Oxybenzone is a skeletal endocrine disruptor that deforms and immobilizes coral, is particularly toxic when exposed to light, and along with enzacamene causes complete coral bleaching even in low concentrations. Please do not use oxybenzone or enzacamene in the ocean.
Blocks UVB (280nm-320nm) Rays?
Yes. Homosalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, octisalate, and enzacamene all filter UVB rays.
This product has a SPF of 50.
Blocks UVA1 (340nm-400nm) and UVA2 (320nm-340nm)?
Yes. Avobenzone (BMDBM) is an excellent UVA filters. By itself, it is very unstable and degrades in light, but the octocrylene (OCR) in this formulation would help stabilize avobenzone.
This product has a Superior UVA Star rating of 4 Stars indicating UVAPF (UVA Protection Factor) is 80% – 90% the labelled SPF, or 40 – 45. I don’t know enough about UK sunscreen regulations to know whether or not the absence of a UVA circle (which is a European UVA rating system that indicates UVA protection is at least 1/3 of SPF protection) is weird, but there is no UVA circle anywhere on the bottle.
This is not my favorite sunscreen ever, but I could easily use this daily with minimal complaints. Cosmetically, the most important criteria for me is sunscreen needs to be invisible, meaning no clumping or settling onto skin and absolutely no white cast. This sunscreen checks that box. It is completely sheer – no change to my skin tone, color, or depth whatsoever -, applies smoothly, and works well under makeup. Once dry, there are no visible indications that I have sunscreen on.
Last year, I picked up the Sephora Sun Kit that contained 12, higher end sunscreen products, most of which are many times more expensive than this sunscreen. This Malibu SPF 50 is much less annoying to use than any of those sunscreens. IMO the cosmetic elegance of this sunscreen falls in the normal range of Japanese and Korean sunscreens in both ease of application and finish. Pretty incredible considering this doesn’t contain any of the fancy, superior UV filters that are common in Asian and European sunscreens.
Issues/potential issues with this sunscreen are the scent and minor eye irritation (I have stupid sensitive eyes so YMMV). The texture is not greasy but it’s also not matteifying. I have dry skin and like that I can use this in place of moisturizer, but it might not be the best option for oilier skin types. It’s also alcohol free so doesn’t have the instant drying effects that a lot of Japanese sunscreens do.
Lastly, and this more paranoid speculation than legitimate gripe, but part of me thinks the UVA rating is too good to be true – is it even possible to achieve UVAPF of 40 – 45 with avobenzone as the only UVA filter? It would definitely be nice if Malibu Sun would disclose the % concentration of each UV filter which would help me level set this formulation with other sunscreens on the market.
Overall Rating: 4.3/5