We get it—you hate sunscreen. It's greasy, it's thick, it breaks you out, and it turns your makeup into a patchy, shiny mess. At least, that’s what you’ve been telling yourself since junior high. But now you're a grown-up and it is time to embrace the truth: Sunscreen is the single most effective way to preserve the longterm elasticity and suppleness of your skin. (If you're into that kind of thing.) You should wear sunscreen on every part of your body that faces the sun, but you need a good sunscreen for your face.
Do I have to wear sunscreen every day?
Yes. Wearing sunscreen every day is essential for protecting your skin against cancer-causing UV rays. Also, you don't know it yet, but you want to wear these products every day. Today’s sunscreens are amazing: They’re lightweight, semi-matte, and non-chalky, and they look completely invisible under your foundation. And I know you know this, but it wouldn't be right not to say it: Your skin deserves sun protection year-round, even when you're inside and not facing direct sunlight.
What's the best sunscreen for my face?
Glad you asked! We cherry-picked the absolute best formulas to slather on every morning (yes, 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 high school days, okay? Instead of dreading applying SPF every morning (yes, every morning!!), find an SPF product that you can actually look forward to. These wide-ranging and efficacious 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 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.
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.
K-beauty has the jump on SPF technology, and this is one of the country's best beauty exports. It has a cult following on Amazon thanks to its long-lasting protection and sea-creature smooth finish that makes makeup glide on seamlessly.
If you're a primer devotee, you understand the necessity of a smooth base for foundation and beyond. Not only does this AAPI-owned option sink in for a silky finish, but it also treats and calms skin with rice and Japanese wild rose.
This weightless formula actually repairs the UV damage you've already accumulated while it protects you from new rays, and it won't leave that telltale white cast.
Aveeno's proprietary soy skin-lightening blend can both prevent future sun spots from taking hold and lift ones that have already settled in. A note: Try the SPF 30 formulation, which is a smarter choice for all-day protection than the 15 variety.
What I like about this elevated drugstore score is that it provides SPF, yes, in a lightweight formulation. But it's also packaged alongside non-trivial amounts of proven skin saviors hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and ceramides, all of which enhance the health of your complexion. Plus, even though it's not mineral-based—which tend to be less irritating—it's supremely gentle and non-comedogenic.
A particularly elegant formulation excellent for layering under makeup thanks to silicone, vitamin E and non-inflammatory titanium dioxide. It also contains melanin, the naturally occurring skin pigment with free-radical zapping properties.
Caffeine and bisabolol, a soothing compound derived from chamomile tea, give this humble sunscreen an antioxidant boost that doesn't break out acne-prone skin thanks to a super-lightweight formulation. Extra points for the natural and (and very subtle) botanical scent.
A no-nonsense mineral sunscreen with a simple dose of vitamin E for a bit of added antioxidant protection. About as simple for sensitive skin as you can get.
Pay a lot, get a lot. The most expensive sunscreen of the bunch also has a lot to recommend it: Namely, moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid, wrinkle-releasing retinyl palmitate, exfoliating glycolic acid and collagen-boosting peptides, plus a host of botanical antioxidants like linseed extract. The result is a creamy, luxe sunscreen that does more than just scatter rays.
A particularly fast-absorbing fluid is great for those who find the sensation of glooping on lotion under makeup particularly distasteful.
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.
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.