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The Best Face Sunscreens to Keep Your Skin Protected All Year Round

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Baconstudiony/Adobe Stock Images

In the dermatology and skincare world, it’s a well-established fact that exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can damage skin cells and increase your risk of skin cancer. To protect the skin and prevent premature signs of aging, dermatologists recommend incorporating a broad spectrum SPF sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) into your daily skincare routine. But before you begin using one sunscreen from head to toe, it’s important to note that facial sunscreen and body sunscreen are formulated differently.

"Facial skin is unique and has specific needs," says dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD, of The Dermatology and Laser Group. "Products applied to the face need to be formulated so that they are non-irritating and don't clog pores. Some sunscreens designed for the body are formulated with oils and other ingredients that can potentially clog pores, causing inflammation and conditions such as breakouts."

When selecting a face sunscreen, you’ll want to consider your skin type, but you’ll also want to double-check that the formula provides broad-spectrum protection, AKA protection against both UVA and UVB rays. “UVA and UVB can both damage the DNA in our skin cells and are both therefore responsible for causing both skin cancers as well as signs of premature aging. The full spectrum of UVA is particularly hard to protect against with currently available products. Mineral-based sunscreens that contain either zinc oxide or a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide tend to work best.”

With all this in mind, let’s explore 20 of the best facial sunscreens available right now. Whether you're looking for a mineral sunscreen that won't leave a white cast or a lightweight formula that layers seamlessly under makeup, there’s a sunscreen in this for you. Continue reading below to find a sunscreen formula that suits your skin type and lifestyle.


About the Expert:

Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder and director of The Dermatology & Laser Group.

1. Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin:

FIRST AID BEAUTY Weightless Liquid Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide SPF 30

FIRST AID BEAUTY Weightless Liquid Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide SPF 30
Courtesy of FIRST AID BEAUTY

"In general, I find that most of my patients with sensitive skin tend to do best with mineral sunscreens that contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide," says Dr. Akhavan. "Sometimes skin sensitivity is a result of an allergy to a specific ingredient such as a preservative in sunscreens."

If you tend to do well with formulas that feature sweet and simple ingredient lists, you'll love this zinc formula from FIRST AID BEAUTY, a go-to brand for anyone with sensitive skin. The oil-free, non-comedogenic formula absorbs right away and offers clean, no-frills sun protection that won’t ever irritate the skin.

2. Best for Oily Skin:

MURAD Acne Control Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45 | PA++++

MURAD Acne Control Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45 | PA++++
Courtesy of MURAD

If your skin is on the oily side, and most sunscreens tend to leave your skin looking shiny, reach for this SPF that delivers up to 10 hours of oil and shine control. The secret to this formula's success is a unique combination of oil-trapping microspheres, avocado extract, and African yellow bark extract. While the microspheres trap oil, the extracts visibly tighten pores.

3. Best Sunscreen to Use Under Makeup:

COOLA SUNCARE Full Spectrum 360° Mineral Sun Silk Crème Organic Face Sunscreen SPF 30

COOLA SUNCARE Full Spectrum 360° Mineral Sun Silk Crème Organic Face Sunscreen SPF 30
Courtesy of COOLA SUNCARE

Stay cool, calm, collected, and protected with this SPF 30 mineral sunscreen from COOLA. The oil-free, fragrance-free, weightless formula sinks into your skin seamlessly while 15 percent non-nano zinc oxide protects your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Supercharged antioxidants keep your skin looking firm and youthful while niacinamide blurs pores and controls oil. Wear it underneath your makeup and you’ll forget you even have it on. This formula is also made with 70 percent organic ingredients, making it another great option for sensitive skin types.

4. Best Sunscreen for City Dwellers:

FARMACY BEAUTY Green Defense Broad-Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen

FARMACY BEAUTY Green Defense Broad-Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen
Courtesy of FARMACY BEAUTY

While the sun is certainly enemy number one, our skin also needs protection from other pollutants and environmental forces (which can be especially potent if you live in a major city). This non-greasy, invisible Green Defense mineral sunscreen from FARMACY tackles almost all daily skin stressors. SPF 30, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide team up to stop UV rays and sunburns in their tracks while marigold extract protects against damaging free radicals.

5. Best for Acne-Prone Skin:

JUICE BEAUTY SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer

JUICE BEAUTY SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer
Courtesy of JUICE BEAUTY

Acne-prone skin types and anyone with oily skin knows all too well that finding a moisturizer that doesn't make you break out is a constant challenge. This non-comedogenic face lotion was made specifically with you in mind. This hydrating, organic formula provides broad-spectrum protection and is also loaded with skin-clearing ingredients like pomegranate juice, cucumber, and vitamin C to actively restore balance.

6. Best Sunscreen for Dark Skin Tones:

SUPERGOOP! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

SUPERGOOP! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Courtesy of SUPERGOOP!

If mineral formulas tend to look chalky on your skin tone, reach instead for this innovative formula from SUPERGOOP! With a totally transparent texture (we mean totally), it instantly disappears into the skin, no intense massaging required. The velvety texture feels silky smooth (almost like a makeup primer) and the SPF keeps your skin protected all day long.

7. Best Sunscreen for Irritated Skin:

KINSHIP Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 32

KINSHIP Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 32
Courtesy of KINSHIP

If you're currently dealing with a breakout or skin irritations, reach for this probiotic-rich mineral formula. KINSHIP's proprietary pre-probiotic blend keeps your skin expertly balanced, helping the good bacteria to flourish while fighting off all the bad stuff. Turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties also come into play here to soothe any current breakouts. Finally, you don't have to choose between sun protection and calm, clear skin.

8. Best for Tired-Looking Skin:

ORIGINS GINZING™ SPF 40 Energy-Boosting Tinted Moisturizer

ORIGINS GINZING™ SPF 40 Energy-Boosting Tinted Moisturizer
Courtesy of ORIGINS

Whether you had a late night or your skin just feels like it could use a morning pick-me-up, you'll love this energizing moisturizer. In addition to protecting with SPF 40, this multitasking moisturizer invigorates tired skin with coffee and ginseng, boosting its moisture levels and giving the complexion a healthy radiance.

9. Best Powder Sunscreen:

TARTE COSMETICS set & protect mineral sunscreen powder Broad Spectrum SPF 30

TARTE COSMETICS set & protect mineral sunscreen powder Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Courtesy of TARTE COSMETICS

If you don't love how sunscreen feels layered under your makeup, a powder sunscreen is a great alternative to traditional face sunscreen formulas. This unique product is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: SPF in powder form. Instead of applying your SPF before your makeup, brush this on after you’ve perfected your concealer and foundation to both set your face makeup and shield your skin from sun damage. Plus, it makes SPF touch-ups a breeze throughout the day.

10. Best Matte Sunscreen:

REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Face Sunscreen

REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Face Sunscreen
Courtesy of REN

Do you tend to prefer a smooth, matte complexion over the dewy sheen that most sunscreens give? If so, this matte sunscreen can provide the finish you're after without sacrificing any of the sun protection. Zinc oxide blocks UVA and UVB rays, passionfruit extract gives the skin its daily dose of antioxidants, and rice starch mattifies by absorbing excess oil and minimizing the appearance of pores.

11. Best Nourishing Sunscreen:

JOSIE MARAN Argan Daily Moisturizer Mineral SPF 47

JOSIE MARAN Argan Daily Moisturizer Mineral SPF 47
Courtesy of JOSIE MARAN

When you want sunscreen that is truly equal parts sun protection and skincare benefits, reach for this nourishing formula from JOSIE MARAN. While zinc oxide and titanium dioxide create an invisible sun-protecting barrier on the skin, other top-tier skincare ingredients like argan oil, jojoba oil, and aloe hydrate the skin, leaving it healthy and super soft.

12. Best Water-Resistant Sunscreen:

SHISEIDO Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen

SHISEIDO Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen
Courtesy of SHISEIDO

This science-forward formula combines SHISEIDO's WetForce Technology with its HeatForce Technology to create a water-resistant sunscreen formula that actually gets stronger when it's exposed to heat and water. If the outdoor activities on your agenda include swimming or working up a sweat (or both), you can trust that this formula will keep you protected from sun exposure for up to 80 minutes.

13. Best Sunscreen Serum:

GLOSSIER Invisible Shield

GLOSSIER Invisible Shield
Courtesy of GLOSSIER

This ultra-lightweight water-gel formula feels like a serum but protects like a traditional sunscreen. It’s a great, ultra-breathable option if you want to keep your routine as light as possible. Plus, it goes on totally transparent, making it another great option for darker skin tones who may find that most sunscreens leave a white cast behind.

14. Best Sunscreen for Dry Skin:

BIOSSANCE Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen

BIOSSANCE Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen
Courtesy of BIOSSANCE

This superstar broad-spectrum sunscreen uses 100% non-nano, non-toxic zinc to provide invisible protection while clean, plant-derived squalane oil hydrates the skin. The superstar hydrator offers deep moisture that absorbs quickly and is non-comedogenic. Layer this over your day cream whenever your skin feels like it could use a little bit of extra hydration.

15. Best Sunscreen for Mature Skin:

KIEHL’S Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream SPF 30

KIEHL’S Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream SPF 30
Courtesy of KIEHL'S

This rich, wrinkle-reducing cream uses two minerals to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. Copper helps to fortify the skin and improve elasticity while calcium helps to improve the moisture barrier, locking all the formula’s protection and nutrients in.

16. Best Illuminating Sunscreen:

SUPERGOOP! Glowscreen SPF 40

SUPERGOOP! Glowscreen SPF 40
Courtesy of SUPERGOOP!

If highlighter is your favorite step in your makeup routine, you're going to love this ultra-glowy sunscreen. It's not quite as luminous as highlighter, but it does feature a noticeable pearlescence that leaves your skin dewy and super glowy (but never glittery). It's the easiest way to instantly illuminate your skin tone sans makeup. To really ramp up the dewy effect, this moisturizing sunscreen also includes hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 for an added boost of hydration.

17. Best Plumping Sunscreen:

PACIFICA Vegan Collagen SPF30 Every Day Lotion

PACIFICA Vegan Collagen SPF30 Every Day Lotion
Courtesy of PACIFICA

This age-defying sunscreen pairs sun protection with impressive skin-plumping benefits. The formula uses elasticity boosting vegan collagen, plumping hyaluronic acid, and hydrating aloe vera to create a powerful trio that keeps skin looking firm, fresh, and protected.

18. Best Sunscreen for Indoor Days:

COCOKIND Daily SPF

COCOKIND Daily SPF
Courtesy of COCOKIND

We’ve said it once, we’ll say it a thousand more times: You should be wearing sunscreen every single day, even when it’s cloudy and rainy out. If you need a little bit of incentive to *actually* wear this essential indoors, try this SPF formula that includes blue phytoplankton, an ingredient that can actually help to combat any potential skin damage caused by blue light exposure (AKA the light that emits from your phone and computer screens). This is a clean, lightweight formula is one that will protect you both indoors and out.

19. Best Tinted Sunscreen:

THRIVE CAUSEMETICS Buildable Blur CC Cream™ Broad Spectrum SPF 35

THRIVE CAUSEMETICS Buildable Blur CC Cream™ Broad Spectrum SPF 35
Courtesy of THRIVE CAUSEMETICS

In one simple step, this multitasking product primes, blurs, brightens, and protects. The color-correcting cream instantly evens out the skin tone, diffuses imperfections, and gives the skin a smooth, radiant finish. Apply a thin layer for just a touch of coverage or build it up for more. Broad-spectrum SPF 35 keeps the skin shielded from the sun while vitamin C helps to boost glow and minimize the appearance of dark spots.

20. Best Brightening Sunscreen:

TULA Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30

TULA Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Courtesy of TULA

If you prefer a lit-from-within glow over a pearlescent one (like SUPERGOOP!'s Glowscreen), try this oil-free, clean chemical sunscreen. The non-comedogenic formula is powered by radiance-boosting ingredients like probiotics, pineapple, and papaya. While probiotics keep your skin healthy and smooth, pineapple and papaya extracts brighten up the skin naturally.

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About the author
cortney-clift-headshot
Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated February 10, 2021 12:00 AM