Whether you’ve come to terms with it or not, face sunblock is a necessity that you need to incorporate into your daily skincare routine. Not only does face sunscreen help protect your complexion from cancer-causing UVA and UVB rays, but it will keep sunburns at bay (if you reapply!) and protect your skin against premature aging.
“It’s important to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of the skin, but the face is especially vulnerable to UV damage — your face tends to be exposed all year round and is rarely covered by clothing,” said Kim Nichols, MD, a dermatologist practicing in Greenwich, CT and a spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation. “Even when wearing a face mask or hat, you want to be sure you have sunscreen all over your entire face.”
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you apply only one ounce of sunscreen (about the size of a shot glass) to your face and body and to wear more than just sunscreen to protect your skin.
“Sunscreen is just one part of a sun protection strategy that includes seeking shade and covering up with UPF clothing, wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses,” Nichols said.
Since warm weather is on the horizon and you may be spending more time at the beach in the next few months, it’s important to incorporate face sunscreen into your routine year-round.
“If there is one thing I tell my clients over and over again, it is that you need sunscreen every day, year-round, no exceptions,” master esthetician Nicole Caroline told The Post.
In addition to all the protective benefits of sunscreen that you’re probably already aware of, Caroline explained other aspects that you can gain.
“Sunscreen can also provide a great amount of antioxidant protection, helping to fight off free radicals, prevent dark spots from forming, protect us from blue light emitted from our devices and keep our skin cells youthful and healthy all at the same time,” she said. “We are exposed to all of these things every day of our lives, so it only makes sense we would wear sunscreen every day.”
Since it’s safe to say that face sunscreen is a must-have in your beauty cabinet, you might as well find one that you love. In an effort to downshift your research, we interviewed a handful of experts – dermatologists, estheticians and makeup artists – to get the lowdown on all the best face sunscreens. Whether you struggle with acne, want sunscreen that won’t sting your eyes when you workout outside or you’re hunting for the perfect sunblock to wear underneath your makeup, we’ve got you covered (literally!).
Best Face Sunscreen Overall: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen, $55
NYC dermatologist Dr. Hadley King is a big fan of the ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen. “It not only provides 100% mineral broad-spectrum SPF 50+ [coverage] but it also contains DNA repair enzymes which means it’s actually repairing and protecting at the same time,” King told The Post. “The texture is lightweight and easy to use.”
Best Face Sunscreen To Wear Under Makeup: Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen, $34
If you’re looking for a good quality, lightweight sunblock to wear underneath your makeup, look no further.
Celebrity makeup artist Jeannia Robinette is a big fan of the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen. “This sunscreen is a game changer! It’s invisible, hydrating, melts into the skin and doesn’t leave that white residue that some face sunblocks can give,” she said. “It feels like heaven and has a high SPF of 50 which is always great.”
Beverly Hills-based cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Mariana Vergara also recommends this sunscreen. “It has an oil-free formula that glides onto the skin while providing broad-spectrum SPF 40 protection,” Dr. Vergara said. “It can be used as a makeup primer under the foundation when you want a little more coverage.”
The Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen is extremely well-loved on the Internet too — with more than 2,000 positive reviews on Sephora to prove it.
Best Tinted Face Sunscreen: La Mer The Radiant SkinTint SPF 30, $95
While this tinted sunscreen definitely has a hefty price tag, Caroline thinks it’s worth the splurge.
“This product gives a dewy glow and is perfect for an anti-aging boost while providing some light, natural coverage,” she said. ” [It’s] one of the pricier options on [my] list, but it is an indulgence that is worth it.”
Best Face Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin: Pipette Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $17
For those who have sensitive skin, Caroline recommends this mineral sunscreen that is actually formulated for babies.
“It’s a fairly new brand developed in 2019 that I have been loving so far. I use it on my five-year-old son and it instantly calms and moisturizes his sensitive skin. It is 100% clean and 100% non-toxic,” she said.
It has a lightweight, fast-absorbing, non-sticky formula that rubs in easily (no ghostly white cast!), protecting from the sun’s harmful rays. It goes on sheer and is made with non-comedogenic ingredients (so it won’t clog pores).
Best Face Sunscreen for Acne-Prone/Oily Skin: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, $37
The EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Sunscreen was by far the most popular product, mentioned by four different experts.
“[This sunscreen] has been the overall winner in this category for a while due to its light, oil-free, non-comedogenic abilities. It also includes lactic acid which can gently help slough off dead skin cells that would otherwise clog pores and trap oil,” Caroline said.
“It’s formulated for sensitive, acne and rosacea-prone skin so it’s really gentle and almost never irritates [the] skin. Also, it’s quite moisturizing, spreads really well and contains niacinamide which helps calm inflammation and also decreases oil production,” Dr. Robin Schaffran, Chief Dermatologist of BalmLabs, told The Post.
If that doesn’t convince you, maybe the 3,600+ positive reviews on Dermstore will!
Best Face Sunscreen for Dry Skin: EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40, $31
When it comes to dry skin, Dr. Schaffran likes this EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 option. “This is a great broad-spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen that is formulated with Hyaluronic acid to help hydrate dry skin,” she said.
Tip: consider applying your go-to hydrating face lotion before applying this sunscreen if you struggle from severely dry skin as one product might not give enough moisture.
Best Waterproof Face Sunscreen: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid Face Sunscreen SPF 60, $30
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Board Certified NYC dermatologist, likes to recommend the La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Fluid Face Sunscreen with SPF 60 for those looking for a great waterproof face sunblock.
“[It has an] all mineral formulation that fully rubs into the skin [and] it contains hyaluronic acid which acts like a sponge to pull in hydration to moisturize and plump the skin, Dr. Zeichner said.
It’s lightweight, fast-absorbing and provides a non-whitening, matte finish with an antioxidant-infused formula to help visibly reduce the appearance of sun damage.
Best Budget-Friendly Face Sunscreen: Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $14
For those looking for an inexpensive but effective sunscreen, give this Cetaphil Daily Moisturizer with SPF 50 a shot.
“I love this moisturizer because it’s lightweight and non-greasy — [leaving] the skin very hydrated and soft. It’s also clinically tested hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic so it doesn’t irritate your skin or clog pores,” Dr. Vergara said. “It’s very affordable and can be used on every skin type.”
Best Face Sunscreen For Hyperpigmentation: EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 Sunscreen, $34
According to Caroline, sunscreen cannot actually lighten your already existing dark spots or melasma brought on by previous sun damage, hormones or acne scars, but it can prevent new hyperpigmentation from forming.
Dr. Schaffran recommends this EltaMD option for her patients struggling with hyperpigmentation or melasma, a disorder of excess hyperpigmentation on the face.
“It’s best to wear sunscreens with a high concentration of zinc oxide (9%) as the main active ingredient. With this level of zinc, it’s important to find nice formulations where it spreads evenly and doesn’t leave too much of a white hue,” Dr. Schaffran said. “[The EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 Sunscreen] is geared for sensitive skin, has lots of antioxidant activity and spreads nicely.”
Tip: You also want to keep your skin cool, as heat can bring up pigment similar to the sun.
Best Spray Face Sunscreen: Supergoop! Sunnyscreen 100% Mineral Spray For Babies SPF 50, $26
While Caroline isn’t the biggest fan of spray face sunscreens, she does recommend this mineral spray option from Supergoop! — which is actually meant for babies and kids. “I like a baby formula for adults for many reasons,” she said. “It’s safe for the eyes and won’t sting or burn, and it’s super easy and convenient to carry and spray away, which is a big bonus!”
It’s lightweight, gentle, super travel-friendly and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes — what more could we ask for?
Dr. King also likes the Supergoop! Defense Refresh (Re)setting Mist SPF 40 Sunscreen, noting that it’s “great for setting your makeup and makes reapplying easy” and has a “nice, light texture.”
Best Stick Face Sunscreen: Supergoop! Glow Stick SPF 50, $25
Robinette raves about the Supergoop! Glow Stick. “It’s so easy to apply on the go, gives the face a major glow and is just an all-around fabulous sunscreen option,” she said. “Every time I use it people always tell me how amazing my skin looks and ask me how I achieved my glow.”
[This sunscreen stick is] quickly becoming a cult favorite,” Caroline added. “This little glowy stick (hence the name) combines hydrating ingredients with a whopping SPF 50, which is great for re-applying throughout the day! It’s great for both [the] face and body.”
Tip: If you have oily skin, you may want to skip — especially in the hot summer months.
Best Powder Face Sunscreen: Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen Powder, $32
Dr. King likes the Brush on Block Powdered Sunscreen for those who are hesitant to reapply sunblock because they don’t want to smear and mess up their makeup.
“It absorbs excess oil so it can serve a dual purpose as [both] a finishing powder (actually extending the life of your makeup) and providing sun protection,” Dr. King said. “It’s portable, convenient and won’t leave white residue on your clothes. It’s all mineral [and includes] zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as well as antioxidants to protect [your skin] from UVA and UVB sun damage as well as blue light and infrared A rays.”
Best Natural Face Sunscreen: Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Non-Tinted Sunscreen Face Lotion, $18
For those looking for an eco-friendly and clean face sunscreen, Dr. Schaffran recommends the Sun Bum Mineral Sunblock.
“There are lots of mineral (chemical-free) sunscreens out there but this one feels really nice and isn’t thick and heavy like other similar natural sunscreens and it’s also reef-friendly,” she said.
Best Face Sunscreen for Exercising Outside: SolRX WaterBlock Matte Zinc Sunscreen, SPF 50, $23
Caroline raved about this SolRx WaterBlock Matte Zinc Sunscreen for those looking for a good option to protect their skin while they workout outdoors.
“Hands down, SolRx really wins in all categories when it comes to sports, which is why it has remained the top choice among athletes, triathletes, and lifeguards,” she said. “The thick formula doesn’t break down over time and [it doesn’t leave a] white cast.”
According to Caroline, this sunblock will remain water- and sweat-resistant throughout the day, even if you’re undergoing an intense activity, like running a triathlon.