It’s getting hot out there and protecting your skin is a must, especially your face.
As someone who hates to have anything on her face, blaming the many years of piling on layers of stage makeup as a dancer, I have realized that skincare is a must. I’ve seen firsthand the damage the sun can do to your skin, like premature aging, dark spots, and skin cancer. As a 40-ish-year-old, I am not down with wrinkles and will do what it takes to keep my skin looking right. That’s why I’ve realized how important it is to wear sunscreen on a daily, especially on your face, which is often the most exposed part of your body. As a beauty product newbie, I’m sharing with you a list of the 20 best sunscreens I have personally tested and recommend, as well as tips on what to look for when shopping for sunscreen, how to apply it for maximum protection, and learn how to get sun-kissed skin without the burn.
The importance of wearing sunscreen
Before we dive into the best sunscreens for the face, let’s talk about why it’s so important to wear sunscreen in the first place. The sun emits harmful UV rays that can damage our skin cells, leading to premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer. And while it’s true that some sun exposure is necessary for our bodies to produce vitamin D, too much sun can do more harm than good.That’s where sunscreen comes in. Sunscreen works by blocking or absorbing UV rays, reducing the damage they can do to our skin. But not all sunscreens are created equal. That’s why it’s important to choose a sunscreen designed for your face that provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.
What to look for in a facial sunscreen
There are a few important factors to consider while selecting a facial sunscreen. First and foremost, make sure that it provides broad-spectrum protection. This means that it offers UVA and UVB protection. UVA radiation can cause premature aging, while UVB rays cause sunburn. You should also select a sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor). The American Academy of Dermatology suggests applying sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30, but I recommend going higher if you can. For maximal protection, opt for a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or greater. Remember to look for a non-comedogenic sunscreen, meaning it won’t clog your pores and create breakouts- this is major! Many facial sunscreens are designed to be lightweight and non-greasy, making them ideal for daily usage.
Now that you know what to look for in a facial sunscreen, let’s get into the top 20 sunscreens for the face that I recommend. These sunscreens are broad-spectrum, high SPF, and non-comedogenic, making them perfect for daily use.
Top 20 sunscreen list
- EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen SPF 46 – EltaMD UV Clear, an oil-free sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, mixes seamlessly and leaves no white cast. Ideal for everyday face sunscreen and soothes acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation.
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios Utra-Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 60 – Sunscreen visibly reduces appearance of sun damage. Suitable to use under makeup. Oxybenzone and Octinoxate-free. Sunscreen visibly reduces appearance of sun damage.
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 70 – A best-seller, applies smoothly and absorbs rapidly for a light, undetectable feel. Helioplex Technology provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.
- Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 – GAME-CHANGING SUNSCREEN, totally invisible, weightless, scentless formula that provides oil-free sunscreen protection for all skin types, tones, & lifestyles.
- Coola Mineral Sun Silk Crème SPF 30 – Water resistant, fast absorbing, and has not greasy residue and it’s environmentally friendly.
- Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 – A sheer physical sunscreen that protects against free radical and oxidative damage, photoaging, and broad spectrum UVA/UVB rays for a more youthful complexion.
- Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ – Lightweight cream delivers continuous coverage and hydration without a greasy feel for all skin types.
- Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen SPF 35 – Protects against both UVA and UVB radiation with an SPF of 35 while using only natural, skin-loving ingredients.
- Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 – An oil-free moisturizer that helps skin seem younger and healthier in just 4 weeks without clogging your pores.
- Cotz Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40 – I LOVE! It’s sheer, gives a little bit of tint and it’s reef-friendly.
- Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream SPF 30 – The face lift tape is suitable for all skin types, helps to even out skin tone, and lifts the face, smoothing out the wrinkles.
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sheer Face Lotion SPF 50+ – Rubs in smooth and dries clear for sheer mineral sun protection and also has plant extracts to protect against blue lights from screens.
- Suntegrity 5-in-1 Tinted Moisturizing Face Sunscreen SPF 30 – Top rated, clean winner of the 2022 Dermascope Aesthetician Choice Award and routinely listed in the EWG’s Annual Sunscreen Guide – “Best Daily Use SPF” list, and has a Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database Green Rating. Also a Good Face Project Approved, Skin Safe Database 100% Best for Sensitive Skin, and Credo Clean Beauty. It’s also reef-friendly.
- First Aid Beauty Weightless Liquid Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide SPF 30 – A luxuriously lightweight mineral sunscreen with an ultra-sheer tint that blends seamlessly into skin for a satin finish.
- Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++ – A 100 percent mineral, indoor and outdoor SPF that shields against digital blue-light damage and UVA and UVB pollution.
- SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 – It delivers broad-spectrum sun protection from scorching and aging solar rays and a universal tint that enhances skin tone and shine without leaving white residue.
- Farmacy Green Defense Daily Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 – Invisible shields deflect UVA/UVB rays, unlike chemical sunscreens that absorb UV radiation. Winter cherry and beta carotene protect skin against blue light from smartphones, tablets, and computers, while moringa removes pollution-induced impurities to fight aging.
- Naturopathica Lavender & Turmeric Protective Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen – Made with calming lavender and skin-protecting antioxidants, the formula works with the skin’s natural function. Each ingredient’s efficacy, source, and environmental impact.
- Paula’s Choice RESIST Skin Restoring Moisturizer SPF 50 – A moisturizing sunscreen with natural minerals. Protects face and neck from sun exposure while pampering sensitive extra dry skin w/ moisture & antioxidants.
- Algenist Sublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid SPF 50 – Alguronic Acid combines with sunscreens to delay signs of aging caused by sun and environmental stressors.
Best SPF for face
As I mentioned, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. However, some experts recommend using an even higher SPF for maximum protection. The truth is, the best SPF for your face will depend on your skin type and how much time you spend in the sun. If you have fair skin or burn easily, you may want to opt for a higher SPF, such as 50 or even 100. On the other hand, if you have darker skin or rarely burn, an SPF of 30 may be sufficient. It’s also important to remember that no sunscreen can provide 100% protection, so it’s still a good idea to seek shade and wear protective clothing when possible.
Sunscreen brands to consider
There are many brands to choose from when shopping for facial sunscreen. Sunscreens with broad-spectrum protection and high sun protection factor (SPF) values are ideal for daily usage, and several well-known brands provide them. Products like Supergoop!, Coola, and Shiseido are great options because they are not heavy or greasy and may be worn daily. Some even include a little tint and give you an extra dewy look that we all love like Supergoop! Glow Screen with 40 SPF. This hydrating tinted sunscreen primes skin for makeup, hydrates to give your skin a dewy finish, and comes in four shades. I usually skip foundation and just use this on a daily with a little concealer.
How to apply sunscreen for maximum protection
Now that you know which sunscreens to use, it’s important to know how to apply them for maximum protection. The AAD recommends applying sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapplying every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. When applying, use enough to cover your entire face, neck, and don’t forget the ears or décolletage. A general rule of thumb is to use about a quarter-sized amount for your face and a shot glass-sized amount for your body. Apply evenly, and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day.
Sunscreen myths debunked
There are many myths and misconceptions about sunscreen, so let’s take a moment to debunk some of the most common ones.
- Myth: I don’t need to wear sunscreen on cloudy days.
- Fact: UV rays can penetrate clouds, so it’s still important to wear sunscreen on cloudy days.
- Myth: I don’t need to wear sunscreen if I have dark skin.
- Fact: While it’s true that people with darker skin are less likely to get sunburned, they are still at risk for sun damage and skin cancer.
- Myth: I only need to wear sunscreen at the beach or pool.
- Fact: You should wear sunscreen every day, even on days when you’re not at the beach or pool. UV rays can penetrate windows and cause damage even when you’re indoors.
Sunscreen for different skin types
Let’s talk about sunscreen for different skin types. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, look for a lightweight, oil-free sunscreen that won’t clog your pores. If you have dry skin, look for a moisturizing sunscreen that will hydrate your skin while protecting it from the sun. And if you have sensitive skin, look for a fragrance-free and hypoallergenic sunscreen.
Sunscreen for sensitive skin
Finding a sunscreen that doesn’t irritate can be challenging if you have sensitive skin. Look for a sunscreen specifically formulated for sensitive skin, and avoid sunscreens containing fragrances or other potential irritants. Some good options for sensitive skin- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 30+, La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra–Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 60, and Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Face Liquid Sunscreen SPF 50.
Let’s get real – wearing sunscreen is one of the most important things you can do for your skin. By choosing a facial sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection, has a high SPF, and is non-comedogenic, you can protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Be sure to apply sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days – if it’s daytime, there are rays – and reapply. With the right sunscreen and proper application, you can keep your skin healthy and looking youthful for years.