Advertised as “A lightweight, gel broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen that combines strong, safe sun protection with a hydrated glow,” the Sun Shield Body Glow features a soft gel-like texture and added mica shimmer for that extra glow.
It seemed a little gimmicky to me at first – the shimmer, the coconut milk scent, the added body oils – all made it seem more like a fun body lotion than a serious sun protection product to me. Or at the very least not as effective as other sunscreen formulas out there.
However, I recently came across the Sun Shield Body Glow on a much-needed Ulta run and decided to give it a try. And, honestly? I was pleasantly surprised.
Let’s get into it.
The Sun Protection Comes From Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, and Octocrylene
One of the very first things I looked at on the Sun Shield Body Glow was the active ingredients, to ensure that there actually was some sort of UVA/UVB protection there. Kopari lists Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5%, and Octocrylene 10% as the active ingredients in the formula, which are all common chemical sunscreen ingredients.
Invented in the 1990s, avobenzone is a chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s damaging rays, convert them into heat, and then release that heat into the skin. While avobenzone offers broad-spectrum protection and is fairly non-toxic, it does break down fairly quickly – in about 30 minutes. This is why most sunscreen brands (including Kopari) add other protective ingredients (more on that below).
According to SafeCosmetics.org, “Homosalate is an organic compound that belongs to a class of chemicals called salicylates. Salicylates prevent direct skin exposure to the sun’s harmful rays by absorbing ultraviolet (UV) light.” Homosalate is in about 45% of all US sunscreens, as it has been found to block cancer-causing UVB rays.
Like homosalate, octisalate has the ability to absorb harmful UVB rays. Octisalate also helps to stabilize avobenzone in sunscreen products, which extends its protective period. Additionally, octisalate makes sunscreen formulas water-resistant.
The last active ingredient is also the most problematic (potentially). Octocrylene is a common chemical sunscreen ingredient that has been found to prevent both UVA and UVB damage. Like octisalate, it also helps make products water-resistant, and also contains emollient properties, meaning that it can trap in skin’s moisture for a moisturizing effect.
One problem with octocrylene is that some people may have a reaction or have a sensitivity to it. The other problems come down to research and the safety of the ingredient. One report states that octocrylene may increase free radical production, however, more research is needed.
Of course, the Kopari Sun Shield Body Glow wouldn’t be any different than any other sunscreen on the market if it didn’t contain additional active skin care ingredients. According to the Kopari website, the Sun Shield Body Glow also contains:
- Macadamia & Hibiscus Oils
- Vitamin E
- Avocado & Coconut Oils
- Mica (for the shimmer)
Macadamia & Hibiscus Oils
Macadamia oil naturally contains squalane, a lipid that our skin cells produce naturally to help keep our skin hydrated and healthy. During our 20s and 30s, our skin’s ability to produce squalane slows down and our skin becomes rougher and drier. Additionally, macadamia oil is rich in Palmitoleic acid and Oleic Acid, which help boost keratin production. Keratin not only helps to keep our skin firm, but it also helps to protect it from UV damage. Plus, macadamia oil is a potent antioxidant and can help reverse and protect cell damage in the skin.
Hibiscus oil is also rich in antioxidants, called anthocyanocides. Not only do anthocyanocides help protect the skin from free radical cell damage, but they also contain astringent properties, which can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores. Hibiscus oil also moisturizes and lifts the skin by preventing the loss of elastin, the thing that gives our skin strength and elasticity.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that has been found to have moisturizing, protective, and anti-inflammatory properties. According to the Cleveland Clinic, vitamin E stops the skin from losing moisture, protects cells from damage, and softens the skin. Studies have also found that vitamin E helps to reduce inflammatory damage after UV exposure – basically it can help your skin feel a little better after a sunburn.
Avocado & Coconut Oils
Avocado oil contains beta carotene, protein, lecithin, fatty acids, and vitamins A, D, and E, which have all been found to moisturize and protect your skin from damaging UV rays. Plus, avocado oil acts as an emollient, which helps lock the skin’s natural moisture in, leaving the skin soft, supple, and healthy.
Coconut oil has a lot of the same benefits as avocado oil – rich in antioxidants and vitamins, softens the skin by locking in moisture, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Coconut oil also has the added benefit of being antibacterial! The lauric acid found in coconut oil gives it antimicrobial properties to kill bacteria on the skin and reduce inflammation. Another added benefit? Coconut oil actually has gentle exfoliating properties and can help the skin look and feel smoother.
Mica is a “natural stone mineral that contains small, shiny flakes. It is then ground down to form mica powder – a shimmer pigment that looks like a very fine glitter and is available in a vast range of colors.” Mica is commonly used in crafts, paints, and cosmetics. Mica is what puts the “glow” in the Kopari Sun Shield Body Glow. It’s what gives the product a subtle, shimmery finish on the skin. Mica has been found to be completely safe on all skin types, but like most ingredients, some people may have a sensitivity to it.
Pros & Cons of the Kopari Sun Shield Body Glow
So, I do like the Kopari Sun Shield Body Glow, but there are some gripes I have with the product. Here are the things I like and don’t like so much:
- It smells AMAZING. The coconut milk scent is subtle but sweet. Better than smelling like SPF chemicals IMO.
- It is super moisturizing! All of those added oils are definitely hard at work in this product. My skin felt super soft at the end of the day, not sticky or slimy as it might feel with traditional spray or lotion sunscreens.
- I like the shimmer. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for shimmer, which is probably why this ad was shown to me in the first place. I was a little concerned about looking like a disco ball in the name of sun protection, but the Sun Shield Body Glow has a subtle, classy shimmer to it. Your skin looks glowy and hydrated, not like you’re going to a club. Perfect.
- You have to reapply sooner. Per the Kopari website, the Sun Shield Body Glow should be reapplied every 40 minutes as opposed to a traditional SPF, where you would reapply every 1-2 hours.
- The texture is… interesting. While the Kopari website claims that this is a “gel” texture, it’s more like a thick body oil. It also took about 10 minutes for my skin to absorb the product.
- It’s hard to tell how well I applied. Because the Sun Shield Body Glow is clear and so moisturizing, it’s sometimes hard to tell which part of my body has sun-protecting ingredients, and which just has the leftover oil. It leaves my body moisturized and shiny, but does that mean that the SPF is there?
Listen, I like the Kopari Sun Shield Body Glow, but I wouldn’t necessarily use it as my go-to sunscreen. Between the reapplication time and challenges of making sure my entire body is protected, I wouldn’t use it on beach day. It’s more of a fun skincare product that happens to have SPF in it.
However, the Sun Shield Body Glow is the perfect product for those days or events where you want to have SPF on, but don’t want to smell like chemicals, have a white cast, or feel sticky. Outdoor wedding anyone?
Overall, this product pleasantly surprised me. It feels and smells lovely on the skin, while still providing protection from UV damage. Plus the shimmer gives your skin a youthful, healthy glow!
Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 10%, Octyldodecanol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Polyamide-3, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Fragrance (Parfum), Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Benzyl Salicylate, Linalool, CI 77019 (Mica), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides).