No matter your skin type or your lifestyle, check out this list to find your perfect sunscreen match
Don’t let confusion be the reason why you skip sunscreen. With so many options out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But the good news is that there's a sunscreen for everyone, and for every lifestyle. Ultimately, the best sunscreen is the one you’ll actually wear every day, so if you’re just starting your sunscreen journey, don’t worry too much about getting the highest SPF or feel guilty about not re-applying. Just find a formula that works for you. But if you’re a sunscreen pro, you’ll know that formulas have become increasingly elegant over the years even at higher SPFs, making it easier to wear high sun protection everyday.
Here are some of our favourites...
1. Best sunscreens for dry skin
It might seem counterintuitive because many sunscreens can feel greasy, but zinc oxide (the most popular active ingredient in mineral and hybrid sunscreens) is actually very drying.
Hydro UV Defense Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 by Laneige, $39
This lightweight cream sinks in quickly and hydrates without being greasy. An all-chemical sunscreen, this one is free of any white cast. It's best applied in multiple thin layers, using long, smooth strokes. Applying the entire amount all at once (1/4 tsp for full SPF protection) or rubbing it in vigorously will cause the product the pill, but once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll be reaching for it daily.
Toleriane Sensitiv Creme SPF 30 by La Roche Posay, $26.50
This one is great for not just dry/dehydrated skin, but pretty much any kind of skin, including sensitive skin. If you have truly dehydrated skin, layer this over a moisturizer. If you have oily skin, this will be all you need. It contains glycerin and ceramides to help lock in hydration, as well as niacinamide to soothe any irritation. There’s absolutely no white cast because it’s a fully chemical formula, so it works for all skin tones.
2. Best sunscreens for oily skin
The reason why sunscreens often feel oily is because most SPF-active ingredients, both mineral and chemical, are oil-soluble, meaning they require oil to be effective. Even products that claim to be oil-free often disguise the oil as another product in the ingredients list. People with oily skin should look for descriptions such as “dry touch” instead of “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic”. These two below will work beautifully for those with oily skin.
Anthelios XL Dry Touch SPF 60 by La Roche Posay, $29.95
The only drawback to this sunscreen is that it doesn’t come in a larger container. The gel-cream is thicker than the fluid version, but this does a far better job at controlling shine. Give your skincare time to sink in before applying this to avoid pilling.
Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 30, 45 and 60 by Neutrogena, $18.49
This lotion dries to an almost powdery finish and those with darker skin tones may notice a white cast. Otherwise, the finish is nearly imperceptible. This one also has a scent that you’ll either love or hate.
3. Best sunscreens for reapplication
Every sunscreen recommends reapplication after two hours of sun exposure (faster if you’re sweating or in water). These two are fantastic for fast, on-to-go reapplication that will do the trick when you need a top-up. Neither are recommended for your initial, base sunscreen but they’re small, portable and perfect for reapplication purposes.
(Re)setting Powder SPF 45 PA+++ by Supergoop!, $40
This is a 100 percent mineral powder that lets you dust on some sun protection with its built-in brush. It’s translucent, so it works for a wide range of skin tones (more shades available if you’re in the US). The amount you’d have to put on to achieve true SPF45 would leave you looking cake-y, but for a mid-afternoon top-up, this will get you through the rest of the day while also knocking back any shine. It’s also excellent for dusting in your hair for part-lines. Before using, don’t forget to pull out the yellow pin nestled inside the brush, to release the powder. It’s technically refillable (the bottom canister unscrews) but, unfortunately, refills seem only available in the US if you happen to be travelling south.
Suncare Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ by Shiseido, $40
This one looks like a tiny deodorant, making it highly portable and mess-free. The solid sunscreen is completely clear and glides over the face and body with ease. It’s waterproof for up to 80 minutes and applies beautifully under or over makeup. It’s so popular it’s often sold out, but keep looking—it’s worth the hunt.
4. Best tinted sunscreens
While you can always put makeup over your sunscreen, that’s often a gamble. You need to figure out if your sunscreen is water-, oil- or silicone-based, and match that formula to your foundation. Tinted sunscreens offer a one-and-done solution. Just make sure you use the correct amount you’d use for sunscreen, not foundation. Avoid the temptation to mix your foundation into your sunscreen for a DIY tint. You’ll not only dilute the SPF but you’ll disrupt the integrity of the sunscreen making it break down faster.
Moisture Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 40 by Alumier MD, $49
Despite its name, this works very well for dry skin as well. It’s 100 percent mineral-based and fragrance-free, so it's great for those with sensitive skin. The shade range isn’t particularly wide but if you can find a good colour match, this could be your unicorn.
Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 by Skinceuticals, $50
This is one of the first tinted sunscreens to achieve cult status—and with good reason. It has a tint that’s there more to knock back the white cast than it is to impart a foundation-like coverage, so it truly works for a wide range of skin tones. It’s also extremely lightweight, almost water-y, so make sure to shake well before each use. The initial application can feel greasy but it will set, so apply your first layer then wait for it to absorb then reapply a second layer.
5. Best spray sunscreens
You can’t beat the convenience of a spray sunscreen, especially if you have a sensory aversion to lotions or are solo and need coverage on your back. If this is your application of choice, just know that you still need to rub it into your skin and, if your spray is an aerosol, that a recent study from Australia found that aerosol sunscreens contain approximately 30 to 60 percent propellant, meaning 30 to 60 percent of what you spray onto your body is not actually SPF, so apply more.
High Protection Spray SPF 50+ by Avene, $34
This isn’t your traditional spray in that it’s non-aerosol and doesn’t produce an even mist—rather, it squirts out a texture close to a thin lotion. It doesn’t sound great, but these are all pros because it forces you to rub this into your skin, which is actually quite nice because it’s a lovely milky texture (also great for patting over your face if you need a top-up there). It’s incredibly sweat- and water-resistant and doesn’t leave a white cast.
Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen SPF 60 by Neutrogena, $14.24
If you need an aerosol spray, this works at any angle and delivers a delightful, continuous mist. It really is ultra sheer and lightweight, but while it claims to be non-greasy, it’s got a very emollient finish that needs to be worked into the skin or given time to sink in before putting layers on top. Last year, Neutrogena recalled their aerosol sunscreens and this year have addressed it with this statement: “Our decision to remove all lots of specific aerosol sunscreen products from the market in July 2021 was made out of an abundance of caution. We have since conducted a comprehensive investigation into this matter and implemented a set of corrective actions including supplier modifications, specification changes and testing protocols. We are confident these corrective actions will prevent recurrence and many of our aerosol sunscreen products have returned to shelf. For more information, please visit here.”
6. Best sunscreens with skincare benefits
Why not have your sunscreen do double duty? Basic moisturizers with SPF are a great first step, but when you’re ready to invest in next-level skincare benefits, these are great options.
Matrix Support with Broad Spectrum SPF 30 by Neostrata, $75
An easy everyday sunscreen, this is a mid-weight cream in an airtight pump that includes skincare ingredients like retinol and neoglucosamine. Both the retinol and neoglucosamine help the appearance of uneven pigment and soften fine lines and wrinkles. Three to four pumps will provide a first thin layer over your face and neck. Repeat before the first layer sets with the same amount for full coverage.
Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF 50 by Dermalogica, $104
This lightweight cream is also housed in an airtight pump and contains antioxidants to neutralize free radicals and polypeptides to support collagen-producing activities. It visibly hydrates skin, leaving a soft satin finish. The light fresh scent is only strong enough to mask the typical sunscreen smell. It's a beautiful base for makeup.
7. Best luxury sunscreens
If you need to think of your sunscreen more as a daily treat than a chore, there are luxury options available. These two below have nearly identical percentages of the same sunscreen actives, but their formulas and how they perform are quite different.
This hybrid sunscreen has a rich, light, cream texture. It has a plush feel to it that needs to be smoothed out in long, even strokes to help minimize the white cast, hence this one is best for those with light to medium skin tones. It’s water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, and best applied onto clean, bare skin. As with all Shiseido skincare, this product includes potent, rare ingredients, such as golden oyster mushroom complex, Oshima cherry leaf extract and angelica root extract.
UV Protect Cream SPF 50+ by Clé de Peau Beauté, $168
This one is also a hybrid formula, using both chemical and mineral sunscreen actives. It’s a mid-weight lotion with a creamy texture that’s very easy to blend. It has a very light fresh scent, just enough to cover the typical sunscreen smell, which dissipates by the time you finish up your skincare/makeup routine. The texture is emollient without being greasy and due to the mineral particles it does have some white cast, which dramatically fades after about 20 minutes. It contains hyaluronic acid and antioxidant-rich botanicals such as mangosteen extract and hibiscus flower essence to help skin look plump and smooth.
8. Best sunscreens for kids
When it comes to kids, it’s best to stick to mineral sunscreens, free from chemicals. Yes, it means the formula will be thicker, stickier and noticeably white, but consider these all as pros. You want an SPF that will stay on them through all their activities and think of the white-ness of the lotions as a colour guide so you know exactly where you’ve applied enough sunscreen.
Sheer Mineral Body Lotion SPF 50+ by Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, $14.99
This all-mineral sunscreen has 9 percent titanium dioxide and 6 percent zinc oxide for broad UV spectrum protection, along with soothing aloe leaf juice, shea butter and witch hazel that will keep your kids’ skin protected all summer long. No, it’s not really sheer but it does have a thinner texture than their other suncreams, so it’s easier (and faster) to apply on squirmy ones.
Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50 by Aveeno Baby, $19.49
This all-mineral formula contains 21.6 percent zinc oxide along with Aveeno’s signature soothing oat for a sunscreen that’s gentle enough for baby’s skin but also works beautifully for anyone with very sensitive skin. The texture is thick and it definitely leaves a strong white cast but when it comes to babies and kids, it can be reassuring to have a physical indicator that the sunscreen is where it’s supposed to be.
9. Best sunscreen for under makeup
Sunscreen is the last skincare item you should put on before makeup, so it makes sense to think of your SPF as a primer. Not all sunscreens mesh well with all makeup formulas, so experiment on the back of your hand before trying a new combination on your face. These sunscreens generally work well for a lot of makeup.
Ultra Sheer Moisturizing Face Serum Sunscreen SPF 50+ by Neutrogena, $17.99
Lightweight and completely invisible, this sunscreen dries to a luminous finish, making it an ideal base for makeup. It’s chemical-based, so there are no powdery minerals to contend with. This is also a great option to put over makeup for midday reapplication since it’s invisible.
SkinPerfect Primer SPF 30 by Dermalogica, $74
This is meant to be a primer but it has a slight tint to it so, for a large swatch of skin tones, this will even out your skin enough so you might not even want to wear foundation. But if you do, you’ll find this primer acts as a smooth, silky canvas that minimizes pores and softens fine lines and wrinkles. It contains mica particles that impart a glow on your skin. It’s lightly fragranced with lavender, which is divisive—you’ll either love it or hate it. It's best applied after warming up slightly on fingertips.
10. Best Sunscreens for Body
When it comes to protecting your body from UV rays, get a large tube of sunscreen so you never feel like you have to skimp. You want to be able to put on a generous layer and have enough for reapplication a few hours later.
Sport Endurance Sunscreen SPF 30 by Ombrelle, $21.99
For a high performance, endurance level sunscreen, the texture isn’t too thick and spreads easily. It’s a solid choice for the family, especially if water activities are involved. This is sweat- and water-resistant (up to 80 minutes) and contains the Mexoryl blend of sun filters, giving you the maximum level of UVA protection (along with UVB).
Idéal Soleil Sport SPF 60 by Vichy, $29.95
This is becoming a summer classic because it performs beautifully at both protecting the skin as well as how it feels on the body. This lightweight lotion is hydrating without feeling greasy and can be applied to wet or dry skin, body or face. It’s hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and sweat- and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. This one also contains Mexoryl, for completely full spectrum coverage.