We get it—you hate sunscreen. It’s too greasy, it’s too thick, it breaks you out, and, most annoyingly, it turns your makeup into a patchy, shiny mess. At least, that’s what you’ve been telling yourself since junior high. In reality, today’s sunscreens are freaking awesome. They’re lightweight, semi-matte, and non-chalky, and they look completely invisible under your foundation. And I know you already know this, but it wouldn't be right not to say that your skin deserves sun protection year-round, even when you're inside and not facing direct sunlight.
And to prove it to you, we cherry-picked the absolute best formulas to slather on every morning (every single morning, lest you become a skin-cancer statistic). These sunscreens can fight acne, brighten dark marks, fade scars, and, yes, even make your foundation look ridiculously smooth and natural. A lot has changed since your Britney Spears days. Instead of dreading applying SPF every morning (every morning!!), find an SPF product that actually makes you look forward to it. These products aren't just protection—they're skincare and makeup enhancers, too. Go forth and find your new favorite SPF product.
Sunscreen haters, meet your new favorite sunscreen. The totally clear gel truly disappears into skin as soon as you smooth it on, so it won't leave a cast on deeper skin tones, or cause dark makeup shades to look ashy. It's also free of fragrance, common irritants, and oil—all the stuff you'd usually use as an excuse not to wear sunscreen. Basically, it’s the most pared-down, nothing-to-see-here formula haters could hope for.
This creamy sunscreen has the biggest stamp of approval from Consumer Reports (the Anthelios line has been ranked number one for four years running). It’s crazy lightweight and non-chalky—a rarity for mineral-based sunscreens—and it’s got the tiniest bit of a tint to it so you can wear it alone for a subtle blurring effect, or layer it under your concealer and foundation for a smooth finish.
Ask 100 derms what their favorite sunscreen is, and you’ll get 100 of the same response: EltaMD. Not only is the cult-favorite formula completely safe for acne-prone skin, but it’s also infused with a small dose of lactic acid to keep pores clear, along with mattifying ingredients that’ll help prevent your makeup from slipping and sliding by noon.
The reason you’ve seen this lotion on every billboard and commercial for a decade? It’s freaking awesome. And in the wise words of your mom, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The sunscreen-spiked moisturizer dries to a semi-matte finish, making it excellent for all types of foundation and BB creams. Plus, it’s filled with soy extract, an antioxidant that fades scars and discoloration over time, so you'll reap even more rewards for diligently applying your sunscreen every single day.
See you later, slippery formulas and makeup meltdowns. This water-resistant sunscreen is here to save the day. It has a creamy, lightweight lather that will sink right onto your skin and stay put for hours. You'll never have to worry about patchy foundation after approximately 15 minutes outside with this light-as-air formula that acts as the perfect base pre-foundation. Those with dry skin will appreciate the microspheres floating around to lock in moisture without that extra shiny side effect.
I get it—applying sunscreen feels like an extra annoying step in your skincare routine. But sunscreen in stick-form makes the process ten times easier. This clear stick is is actually clear, meaning it won't leave an ashy white residue on deep skin tones. The stick glides right on top of your skin so beautifully and feels literally like nothing. What's even cooler is that you can apply this on top of your makeup and it won't mess up your foundation. Don't believe me? Watch this video.
One time I asked eight brown-girl beauty editors their favorite sunscreen for dark skin, and half of them name-dropped this gem. Why? It truly is invisible, and works on the deepest of complexions. Fortunately, the sunscreen market understands the demand to create innovative formulas that are better than the not-so-good options for women of color. Glossier listened, and created this gel-based formula full of active microcapsules to deeply hydrate and protect the skin.
Your finicky skin will love this mineral-based formula that combines SPF 30 with essential ceramides to soothe irritation and protect it from environmental aggressors.
Bare Republic’s lotion hydrates parched pores with an infusion of raspberry, grape, and carrot-seed oils. Plus, the fruity scent (think daiquiris sipped surfside) doubles as your signature fragrance.
Neutrogena's spray-on mist makes sunscreen reapplication a total breeze (even over makeup), so give your face a quick spritz to mattify pores and prevent UV damage.
Prevent new pimples from cropping up with Dermalogica’s noncomedogenic formula. Bonus: It also has green tea extract to fight free-radical skin damage before it happens.
Brush On Block’s translucent powder blends seamlessly and has a self-dispensing brush that you can buff over your face, neck, and scalp throughout the day.
This serum- sunscreen fusion combines broad spectrum SPF 50 with an antioxidant complex to improve the appearance of dark spots and skin texture over time.
A version of this story appeared in the April 2020 issue of Marie Claire.