Not to be a broken record, but by now we all know that sunscreen should be worn year-round, right? Even the greyest of days can cause sun damage, or worse. That said, the onset of summer is always a good time to take stock of one’s approach to sunscreen and renew a commitment to this (literal) skin-saving product. To save you the hassle, we’ve made it easy and listed down below the best sunscreen for every skin type.
Wearing sunscreen is only a drag if you aren’t using the right one for your skin’s particular needs. But since the market is saturated with all different kinds of sunscreens — mineral, physical, and chemical — it can feel daunting to sort through the information available and figure our which makes the most sense for you.
Without further ado, here are some of the best sunscreens, a few key differences to look out for, and how to find the one that best suits our individual needs. Let’s get started!
Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen.
Determining whether to use a physical or chemical sunscreen is an example of how important it is to figure out what kind of sunscreen works best for your skin. Experts suggest physical sunblock over a chemical sunscreen for reducing damage to the skin. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and then converting those rays into heat energy on top of the skin. But physical sunblocks act as a block on top of the skin. These sunblocks reflect the UV rays instead of absorbing them as chemical sunscreens do. Because they don’t absorb the active ingredients from the sunscreen, physical sunblocks usually don’t irritate the skin.
If chemical sunscreens were dangerous, then dermatologists would be dropping dead left and right. Jokes aside, there are some unknowns about chemical sunscreens. Whether you prefer a chemical sunscreen over a mineral one or vice versa, applying sunscreen is better than no protection at all. Because the one thing we do know for sure is that sun exposure is a form of radiation and radiation causes skin cancers.
Can those with acne-prone skin find a sunscreen that won’t make it worse?
SPF prevents not only serious disease (skin cancer) but also prevents visible signs of aging like sun spots, uneven tone, and even melasma. It is imperative even, and especially for skin with acne. The benefits far outweigh the struggle of finding that works for you.
Simply put, not wearing sunscreen will most likely result in acne spots becoming sun damage scars later on. Open, wounded, and inflamed skin (which is what a pimple is!) is especially vulnerable to the harmful sun rays. Lighter formulas are oil-free and can even have ingredients that kill the bacteria and help correct acne.
As we get older should we change the kind of sunscreen we use?
As you age, the skin produces fewer oils and becomes more chronically dehydrated so your SPF may need to deliver more lipids. Powder-based SPFs or those that absorb oil may accentuate skin’s fine lines and wrinkles and be too drying. SPFs that have nutrients and lipids work better as we age. The good news is that some sunscreens can specifically help address signs of aging.
In my mother’s daycare, the teachers there help apply sunscreen every day when they go outdoors. Toddlers need SPF, pure and simple. Teens and twenty-something skin will benefit from lighter oil-free formulas. Middle agers probably need something fast and easy (think a busy parent who has little time) so a tinted all-in-one works great. Mature skin will drink up nutrient-rich SPF and benefit from advanced technology.
The kind of sunscreen you use should change based on your current needs and schedule. A busy postpartum mom might do best with a combination of a product that’s lightly tinted so she’s looking fresh and ready to go in one step. Someone dealing with winter flares of eczema may do better with one that is more moisturizing. Another person battling a pigment condition like melasma should be on a sunscreen that filters blue light, such as ones with iron oxide.
What to do about the dreaded mid-day reapplication?
Oftentimes, sunscreen is applied before a full face of makeup, so reapplying it isn’t always the most convenient option. That said, it’s imperative to do so. One should reapply after swimming or sweating, and every two hours when out in the sun. She says that for everyday use (like a workday with minimal outside time) once a day is enough. But, if you go for a noon walk, reapply before heading out. It’s also crucial to apply to arms and back of hands too!
Armed with this knowledge, let’s have a look at some of the best product recommendations!
Best sunscreen for oily skin.
Brush on Block Mineral Sunscreen
Powder-based sunscreens provide effective protection without being greasy, overly moisturizing, or occlusive. You can’t go wrong with Brush on Block Mineral Sunscreen. It stays on all day and is perfect for touching up makeup when you don’t want to redo your whole face. Just dust it on and go!
Best sunscreen for sensitive skin.
Colorescience’s Sunforgettable Brush-On SPF50
This is an excellent choice for on-the-go protection that doubles as makeup and is great for sensitive skin. It is all-mineral in a brush-on powder that comes in a variety of skin tones. I love using it as the finishing touch of powder to my morning routine and then re-applying as needed throughout the day. It is small enough to fit in a pocket or makeup bag and totally mess-free. It’s super easy to apply and reapply, and even kids and guys will love this one! It doesn’t run into your eyes when you sweat and stays on in the water.
Best sunscreen for acne-prone skin.
Elta MD Clear
Most sunscreens actually don’t cause true acne. In susceptible individuals, wearing sunscreen while outdoors may lead to a form of heat rash, which can look like tiny little acne bumps, but should resolve quickly. Elta MD Clear is an absolute fan favorite!
Best mineral sunscreen.
Colorescience’s Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield SPF50
Colorsciene provides invisible, 100% mineral protection from environmental aggressors such as UVA/UVB, pollution, blue light, and infrared radiation.
Best sunscreen for dry skin.
Supergoop’s City Serum
There are lots of great sunscreens available with added hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, or glycerin to help moisturize dry skin. This one is full of hyaluronic acid and packed with antioxidants like vitamin E and B5. It’s smooth and light, but extremely hydrating.
Best tinted sunscreen.
SkinBetter SunBetter Tone Smart SPF68 Compact
This compact since it has a high SPF, adapts to your skin tone for perfect coverage plus it comes in a beautiful compact you can easily carry in your makeup bag and reapply as needed. Easy to use, effective, and elegantly packaged, it is the opposite of the white, sticky and messy sunblocks of the past.
Best sunscreen for babies and kids.
California Baby Super Sensitive Broad Spectrum SPF 30+ Sunscreen
In general, with kiddos it’s best to stick with physical sunscreens containing the minerals titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (like California Baby.) If they look like little ghosts you know you’ve put on enough.
Need some more recommendations?
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen SPF 50
This ultra-light sunscreen is the only one that truly melts into your skin and feels weightless while providing actual protection from the sun. Personally, I don’t mess around with anything under SPF 35, and neither should you! If your someone who breaks out easily especially in the summer, then this sunscreen is meant for you. Once you try, you’ll be devoted to this for life.
Elta MD Tinted Sunscreen, SPF 46
This sunscreen doesn’t leave a white residue and blends into a clear/sheer look thanks to encapsulated pigments called iron oxides, which break upon contact with the skin to blend.
Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
BeautyCounter’s products is known for their clean ingredients, but especially for their sunscreen. A lightweight sunscreen is a necessity for hot Texas summers and this one won’t make you feel cakey.
Supergoop Glow Screen
This clean chemical sunscreen not only protects against the sun with an SPF of 40 but also helps me achieve a dewy, pearlescent glow. Fortified with hyaluronic acid and Vitamin B5, you’ll love how it goes on your skin so much that, yes, you will probably rub it into your face at night as well when there’s not a sunray in sight.
Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen
With its clean formulas that typically include lots of zinc—this sunscreen truly goes on clear.
EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum
Known for having a lightweight and matte finish, a go-to, fragrance-free sunscreen for under all of your makeup.
Coola Full Spectrum 360° Refreshing Water Mist Organic Face Sunscreen SPF 18
This super hydrating SPF 18 water mist is the perfect final step that sets your makeup and gives a pretty sheen to my skin in the morning. It infuses aloe and coconut water with a full spectrum sunscreen to defend against damage throughout the day and is made with clean ingredients. Plus, it smells sooo good!
iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30
This product not only does it not smell like a traditional sunscreen but it’s also very hydrating, isn’t oily, feels like a moisturizer, and leaves a lovely dewy finish. The main stars of the show: Gotu kola extract, aloe, vitamin E, and olive leaf extract to name a few. This is definitely a serum, moisturizer, sunscreen hybrid. We know it’s on the pricier side for sunscreen but your skin is always a worthwhile investment.
MD Solar Sciences Mineral Tinted Crème SPF 30
This tinted sunscreen is super lightweight with a matte finish (but not powdery or dry). It’s also packed with powerful antioxidants, Vitamin C, green tea, cranberry fruit and pomegranate extracts.
Cosmedix Peptide-Rich Defense Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen
This sunscreen is incredibly hydrating and full of all the rich, nourishing ingredients: peptides, trehalose, amino acids, natural botanical extracts and vitamin E.
Hope with all these sunscreen recommendations, you’re all ready for the summer now — let’s protect our skin and go have fun in the lovely sunshine! Feel free to share with us in the comments what’s your favorite go-to sunscreen.