Reviewing my Christmas presents #1: Vertra sunscreen/makeup

In this series of posts, I review some of my choice gifts from Christmas morn. In the spirit of patriotic commercialism and material excess, I give every product a perfect 10 rating and my highest recommendation. Please buy accordingly. Any product NOT reviewed can be assumed to also receive a 10, and furthermore, it may be assumed that I did not get that product for Christmas. Please send accordingly.


When the Beatles came along sporting shaggy mop-tops, boys both sides of the pond rejoiced. They could wake up ten minutes later, save money on crew cuts and Brylcreem, and generally stick it to the generation that won WWII. Messy hair turned cool. When Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997, closet golf dorks were suddenly classy men about town. We They could finally wear our pleated pants and polos outside the confines of the country club. Golf turned cool.


Surfers’ discovery of Shiseido face stick sunscreen in the early 2000’s caused a similar revolution. Now young, heterosexual men can wear what’s essentially makeup without causing a stir. It’s a very “Is he or isn’t he?” thing. As you know by now, the stick is tinted the perfect shade of tan human flesh, so it protects while netting cool factor 10. Vertra Elemental Resistance caught on to this a couple of years ago and launched their own brand of skin-toned sunscreen with a team of real surfers and a heavy surf advertising push. On December 25th I found two sticks of Vertra’s Shelter Kona Gold under the tree, and I’ve been using it for all outdoor activities. What follows is an impartial review.



  • The Dorian effect. This sunscreen is Shane’s signature product, and it’s actually formulated to match the tone of his lovely skin. Dorian fans (and Buffalo Bill folks) will like this.
  • Goopiness (sounds like a love infection – I kid, I kid). Vertra’s stick is thicker than Shiseido’s, or so I found, and it seemed to cling fondly to my cheeks even after hours of wear. Good for long sessions or those who burn easily.
  • Price. This stuff, like Shiseido, is still very costly when you could grab some zinc oxide instead or, if you’re really cheap, just stay inside until you die. Either way you’ll save about enough cash to visit your favorite UV tanning salon.
  • Grease. Those prone to breakouts may find their faces turned red and blotchy the day after, even if the Vertra stick prevents a sunburn. Adolescence is cruel that way. Of course, you can just use more of the Vertra stick to cover up acne – hair of the dog and all that.
In the end, I might prefer Shiseido – only on the grounds that using Vertra shows an acquiescence to surf-centric marketing (like how surfers can safely wear Nike only now that Nike has a surf program). If I’m going to be a drone – and let’s assume that I am –  I can at least pretend not to be influenced by the industry buzz. More on this in post #2, wherein I discuss another excellent Christmas gift: a pair of M410 shoes from New Balance (no surf team yet!).