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We all love to have fun in the summer sun. And it can be easy to forget about how harmful UVA and UVB rays can be. But they can lead to skin cancer, including melanoma, and premature signs of aging
When it comes to protecting your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun, choosing the right sunscreen is paramount. And with an enormous number of options available, finding the perfect (for you) sunscreen can be overwhelming.
Texture, coverage, formulation, format, UV protection, performance—these are all valid rubrics for judging sunscreens. However, one person’s perfect sunscreen can be another’s ick. That’s why there are so many available. But who has the time to try them all?
After testing and analyzing a multitude of sunscreens, we’ve curated a list of the best facial sunscreens this year.
That being said, the best sunscreen is the one you’ll actually wear. So don’t get caught up on getting the highest SPF or the longest-wearing one or the one you think is “reef-safe” (there’s actually no industry standard for “reef-safe” and this term does not exist outside of marketing).
Whichever one you wear, just make sure you put on enough (1/4 tsp for the face, another 1/4 tsp for neck and chest, and about a shot glass full for the rest of the body), reapply as necessary and thoroughly cleanse at the end of the day.
If you’re putting on the recommended amount in order to reach SPF 30 protection, this will not be sheer, let alone ultra sheer. If you can get over that, this is a nice lightweight lotion. It dries down to a satin finish after 10 to 15 minutes. If you’re wearing makeup over this, it’s essential you allow it to settle and dry before going in with colour products or it’ll rub off in sheets. It’s mostly fragrance-free aside from the usual sunscreen smell. So while it won’t work for all skin tones, it should work well for most skin types.
This is a lightweight emollient (but not greasy) sunscreen with Aveeno’s signature ingredient: oat. While all mineral-based sunscreens are the safe choice for anyone with sensitive skin, this is a particularly good one. It’s fragrance-free and specifically formulated for reactive, sensitive skin.
This sunscreen took two years to develop and has a creamy yet lightweight texture. Like all 100 percent mineral sunscreens, it leaves a white cast but compared to most others in this category, it has one of the more sheer outcomes. It has a slight cucumber scent and while it claims to be suitable for sensitive skin, those with sensitivities to coconut (an ingredient here) should proceed with caution.
Mineral sunscreens have a reputation for being very emollient. But this one is a fantastic choice for those with combination, oily or acne-prone skin. It’s a nice, no-fuss moisturizer with broad spectrum protection. This actually helps absorb excess oil, keeping breakouts under control, giving skin a slightly matte finish.
From Vancouver-based, dermatologist-developed brand, Riversol, this mineral sunscreen is packed with skincare ingredients. Vitamin C boosts the efficacy of the sunscreen filters, vitamin E helps fight against free radicals, and antioxidant beta-t helps to fight against signs of aging. It comes in untinted shade 100 (suitable for light skintones), and shade 200 (suitable for medium skin tones). It’s harder to find mineral sunscreens that provide tints, so this is definitely appreciated, but deeper shades are definitely needed.
Chemical sunscreens are really the only option if you want to avoid the dreaded white cast. And Supergoop’s taken it a step further by developing this completely invisible broad spectrum sunscreen. The texture is gel-like, almost identical to the feeling of a silicone-based primer. As such, makeup lays beautifully over it. For many, this will be your perfect three-in-one: moisturizer, sunscreen, primer.
Like other products in the Aqua Bomb lineup, this one is very hydrating. The texture is light, a combination of a lotion and gel. It applies beautifully on the face, creating an even base for makeup. While it’s not greasy, it is best for those with dry to combination skin; those with oily skin may find it too emollient.
This is a lightweight moisturizer packed with skincare ingredients such as peptides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. Olay’s Regenerist line is often underrated and performs well above its price point. The lotion absorbs quickly and should do well on all skin types. The pump dispenser keeps the lotion hygienic and helps dispense the same amount day after day.
Shiseido does some of the most effective and elegant sunscreens available, and this one is no exception. Shake well before using and what you’ll get is a thin, translucent (almost clear) liquid that applies like a thick serum, leaving your skin incredibly soft, hydrated and with a slight sheen. This is an absolutely beautiful sunscreen you’ll be happy to reach for every morning.
Like other Cerave products, this one contains multiple ceramides as well as hyaluronic acid. This is a fantastic non-fussy sunscreen and its simple pump-tube design will appeal to those wanting a straightforward morning lotion. It’s best for normal or oily skin.