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Wearing SPF is absolutely essential if you want to avoid skin cancer and premature skin aging. And we can probably all agree we want to avoid those things.

But we get it: some sunscreens just don’t jibe with our skin. Some are goopy, hard to rub in, and impossible to wash off. Some leave you looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost. And some can mess with your skin — causing acne, irritation, or dryness. But the worst part? Some sunscreens just don’t get the job done and leave you with a sunburn even though you thought you did everything right.

So what’s a beachgoer to do?? Don’t worry bestie, we’ve got you. We chatted with a dermatologist and researched the best sunscreens for your face that’ll protect you from the sun and help you reach your other #SkinGoals. Keep reading to find our top protective picks.

To give your skin some summer lovin’, we got some tips from Jeannette Graf, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Here’s how we picked the best sunscreens:

  • Check the ingredients. Different skin concerns call for different ingredients. We included a wide range of products that are formulated to target different kinds of skin concerns — so you’re covered (literally) whether you have oily, sensitive, dry, or acne-prone skin.
  • Go broad. A good face sunscreen should be broad spectrum, meaning it filters out both UVA and UVB rays. Every sunscreen below is broad spectrum to keep alll the rays away from your beautiful face.
  • Up that SPF. An SPF of 30 filters 97 percent of the sun’s rays, so we made SPF 30 our minimum level of protection. You won’t find anything lower than that on our list.
  • Vetted products. We put every product through a thorough vetting process that checks for unsupported health claims, shady business practices, and lawsuits related to the product. Every product on this list passed that vetting.

We had a look at 12 face sunscreens that will give you one less thing to worry about on your beach vacation.

Best body and face sunscreen

Bare Republic SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray

  • Price: $
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main active ingredients: zinc oxide
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: smells nice, can be used on your whole body
  • Cons: thick consistency

“Is this all rubbed in?” will become a thing of the past with this sunscreen spray. It goes on smoothly, dries quickly, and doesn’t feel greasy.

The natural coconut-mango scent will take your brain to a nearby beach, even if you’re just lying on a towel in your backyard.

Reviewers say the sunscreen smells good enough to eat but complain that it’s got a thick, rubber-like consistency that makes it tough to rub into the skin. The glue-like feel makes it a bad choice for layering under makeup. But overall, fair-skinned folks say it’s a super protective option and appreciate that it doesn’t leave a serious white cast on their skin.

Best face sunscreen for acne-prone skin

Vichy Laboratoires Capital Soleil SPF 60 Soft Sheer Sunscreen Lotion

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 60
  • Sunscreen type: chemical
  • Main active ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: fragrance-free and delivers a matte effect
  • Cons: can leave a white film behind on darker skin tones

This sheer formula feels ~luxe~. The oil-free lotion absorbs rapidly, providing a dry-touch finish and a thoroughly non-shiny face. Unless you’re in the supporting cast of “Beauty and the Beast,” a shiny face doesn’t have to be on your vacation itinerary.

Plus, it’s oil-free, fragrance-free, noncomedogenic, and allergy-tested, so it really does work wonders for acne-prone and sensitive skin. Just remember to reapply regularly, since it’s only water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.

Some reviewers say the product is blendable while others complain it can leave a greasy, white film behind. Another person says they like the sunscreen’s slight tint so much, they don’t even wear makeup when using it.

Best face sunscreen for dry skin

Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen SPF 30 for Face

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: chemical
  • Main active ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octycrylene, oxybenzone
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: wears well with makeup, smooth consistency
  • Cons: scent gets mixed reviews

Dermatologists have been recommending this skin-protectin’ bad boy for some time now.

It offers broad-spectrum protection and won’t mess with acne-prone skin, and the oat extract hydrates and nourishes your visage. Think of it as your favorite lotion that just so happens to protect you from the sun’s rays.

Reviewers like this sunscreen for its nongreasy, fast-absorbing qualities. Bonus: it plays well with makeup, so it’s a great daily SPF.

Best drugstore face sunscreen

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Lotion SPF 50

  • Price: $
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main active ingredients: zinc oxide
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: affordable, doesn’t dry out skin, good for sensitive skin
  • Cons: leaves an obvious white cast and has a sticky consistency

Zinc is one of the strongest physical sunblocks out there. You know that white-nosed lifeguard look? That powdery stuff is a hearty helping of zinc.

Problem is, it’s chalky and doesn’t blend well. So Neutrogena created a naturally sourced 100 percent zinc oxide formula that’s supposed to disappear on skin while still protecting against UVA and UVB rays. (More like NEATrogena, amiright?)

Free of fragrance, harmful chemicals, dyes, and common irritants, it’s great for sensitive skin and is an invisible protective force against sun damage. Because in that water polo match, it’s zinc or swim.

People like the dry-touch effect and say that the sunscreen has a mattifying effect — but after a while, it feels sticky. The downside? Reviewers say it still leaves a noticeable white cast and isn’t great for wearing under makeup.

Best dermatologist-recommended face sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 50

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main active ingredients: zinc oxide
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: great for ultra-sensitive skin, ultra-light, fluid consistency
  • Cons: expensive and can be hard to wash off

La-Roche-Posay Anthelios is essentially the kale of the sunscreen world. It’s recommended by doctors, slightly more expensive than you’d like, and not particularly tasty — but you know it’s good for you, so you drop a few extra dollars on it.

For more than 30 years, the Anthelios line has been a staple for sun-sensitive or generally sensitive skin. It’s oil-free and will even help absorb shine-inducing, pore-clogging oil. If you have lighter skin or have dealt with heat rash or sun sensitivity, this one’s for you.

Reviewers with sensitive skin agree that this is the GOAT of face sunscreens. It spreads easily and is lightweight enough to wear under makeup.

Best face sunscreen for sensitive skin

Cetaphil Daily Face Moisturizer with Sunscreen SPF 50

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: combination
  • Main active ingredients: octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: fragrance-free, dermatologist-recommended, easy-to-use pump bottle, works well under makeup
  • Cons: leaves a little bit of sheen behind

If you’ve ever faced up to acne, you probably already know about Cetaphil. This brand’s products have achieved notoriety for being ultra-gentle on sensitive skin.

Like its packaging says, this nongreasy daily-use product hydrates like your favorite gentle moisturizer. It also provides ample sun protection with an SPF of 50.

Stash one in your makeup and/or beach bag and put those fears of sunburn or acne aside.

Reviewers say the lotion is moisturizing, nongreasy, but isn’t totally shine-free. The lightweight combo sunblock moisturizer also does well under makeup and doesn’t run with sweat. 💦

Best face sunscreen for under makeup

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Daily Defense

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main active ingredients: titanium dioxide
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: hydrating formula
  • Cons: leaves a white cast

This skin-friendly sunscreen contains antioxidants to give your skin a blast of nourishment while it protects it from the sun’s rays.

It’s also perfect for people with sensitive skin and it’s fragrance-free. The company is also committed to using clean, earth-friendly ingredients. And we’re here for it.

It has a tint to it, so you can apply it solo but it also layers well with makeup. But people complain that it’s hella greasy — so stay away from this if you’ve got oily skin probs.

Best face sunscreen for oily skin

EltaMD UV Facial Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 46
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main active ingredients: zinc oxide
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: odorless, sheer
  • Cons: might take some adjusting to get used to the added niacinamide

Gentle mineral sunscreens have a lot going for them. But this EltaMD sunblock is a triple threat. It’s suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin. It’s oil-free. And derms lurv it.

And since your skin deserves a little treat, it also contains niacinamide, which can help curb oil production. It also has “anti-aging” properties and can reduce hyperpigmentation. We told you it was a triple threat, didn’t we??

A lot of mineral sunscreens wish they could go on sheer. But this formula is legit transparent. And it’s fragrance-free. One customer warns not to use mattifying products with it, though, because it’ll cause some serious peeling.

Best tinted face sunscreen

Sun Bum Mineral Tinted Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main active ingredients: zinc oxide
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: nongreasy, no white cast
  • Cons: has an orange-hued tint, not good for dry skin types

It’s a bummer, but the coral reefs are dying and they’re a vital part of the ocean’s ecosystem. Unforch, chemical sunscreens can leach into the water while you’re having fun in the sun and damage underwater life. 🙁

Sun Bum’s sunscreen is reef-friendly and vegan. It’s also free of perfumes and fragrances so it’s A-OK for sensitive skin. Oh, and the tint makes it great for wearing without makeup.

It’s nongreasy, but some reviewers find it too drying for parched skin — especially if wearing it daily under makeup. Good news, though. It doesn’t leave a white cast. But… the tint is slightly more on the orange side, some say.

Best natural face sunscreen

THRIVE Natural Moisturizing Mineral Face Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main active ingredients: zinc oxide
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: mattifying, chemical-free
  • Cons: leaves a white cast, mixed reviews on the smell

If you’re searching for a sunscreen with natural ingredients, check out this plant-derived formula from THRIVE Natural. The mineral sunscreen is vegan and made in the USA. It’s also made especially to layer with other skin care products.

Plant-based ingredients like wakame seaweed help calm irritated skin and deliver a blast of nutrient-filled antioxidants that help slow UV-induced skin aging.

Customers like that it goes on matte and has natural, skin-happy ingredients. The scent kinda leaves something to be desired, though, say some reviewers.

Best powder face sunscreen

Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 30 to 50
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main active ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide
  • Broad spectrum: Yes
  • Pros: nongreasy, can use it alone or with makeup
  • Cons: applicator needs work

Looking for a different kinda sunscreen? This brush-on powder is the perfect sunblock to layer over makeup. Or you can wear it solo — it comes in four shades.

It’s hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic, and easy to apply. It’s a good choice if you hate the feel of reg sunscreen and want something lighter to reapply throughout the day after you’ve already put on your full face of makeup.

People like how it hides imperfections — bye-bye giant pores — but some find the applicator annoying to use.

Best anti-aging face sunscreen

L’Oreal Paris RevitaliftTriple Power Face Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: chemical
  • Main active ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Pros: nongreasy, contains “anti-aging” ingredients
  • Cons: hard to rub into skin

Let this ultra-popular drugstore product serenade your skin without hurting your wallet. The “anti-aging” (or as we like to say, “pro-aging”) formula contains pro-retinol, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid to curb wrinkles and leave you glowing.

It’s meant to replace your daily moisturizer, so you can wear it under makeup thanks to its quick-absorbing formula.

Reviewers say it leaves their face feeling fresh as a daisy and seriously gets rid of wrinkles. Some complain that it’s too thick, though.

Skin type

If you’re blessed with nonreactive skin, your face will probably be fine with any facial sunscreen. But people with combination, oily, dry, and sensitive skin should be a little more discerning when picking sunscreen.

When it comes to oily or acne-prone skin, Graf recommends checking the label for products that are noncomedogenic and oil-free. “There are also different ways to apply sunscreen, such as wipes and gels, that may be less oily,” she says. People with an oily T-zone (hi, combo skinned peeps) will also want to avoid heavy formulas full of oil.

Those with sensitive skin should check for products that are dermatologist-tested. And if you have a skin condition like eczema, ask a derm for recs.

If your skin is dry as the desert, stay away from mattifying formulas because they can leave your skin even drier than before. Go with sunscreens that contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid instead or a two-in-one daily moisturizer with SPF.

Skin tone

If you have a darker skin tone, chemical sunscreens are the best option if you want to avoid a product that leaves behind a white cast. You might be able to find a combination sunscreen (chemical + mineral) that works for you, too.

If you have any skin concerns you want to cover up — like redness or uneven texture — you can go for a sunscreen with a slight tint. Just beware that some formulas leave behind an orange hue.

SPF level

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30 or higher. That’s it. That’s the tweet.

BUT an extra FYI: A higher SPF doesn’t mean it lasts longer. So even if you’re wearing SPF 100, you still need to reapply every 2 hours.

Chemical vs. physical

Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays while mineral ones block them from getting to your skin. They both get the job done, but there are some nuances that might make you prefer one over the other:

  • Mineral formulas are better for people with sensitive skin, but they can make your face paper white. And because they’re harder to rub in, they may not sit well under makeup. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find one that works well — it might just take a little trial and error.
  • Chemical sunscreens shouldn’t leave a white cast, so they’re typically a good option for people with darker skin tones.
  • Chemical sunscreens aren’t reef friendly. If you want to protect the fishies, go mineral. (Sadly, it’s not easy to protect the fishies and avoid a white cast. Ugh.).
  • You can get a combo sunscreen that is a mix of both. These are usually less likely to leave a white cast and ideal for people with sensitive skin.

Sunscreen type

Whatever format you choose — spray, lotion, stick, cream — just make sure the product is made to use on your face.

You must reapply sunscreen every 2 hours (or 40 to 80 minutes if you’re planning on having a dip in a body of water), regardless of the SPF you’re using.

If you’re layering sunscreen with makeup, apply it before makeup but after your serums and other skin care goodies. The only exception is powder sunscreens — you can apply those bad boys right over your makeup.

And yes, you do have to reapply SPF when wearing makeup to actually get the sun protection benefits all day long.

You can still tan while keeping the risk of skin cancer all the way over there, thank you very much. And, as these sunscreens show, you can tackle some other skin concerns at the same time.

But still, staying in the sun for too long isn’t always the best idea, even if you’re reapplying sunscreen at the right intervals. Head into the shade and take breaks. The sun feels great but carries with it the risk of skin damage or skin cancer.

Stay hydrated and cool and get ready to chill out in the sun worry-free. Or push your cousin into the swimming pool immediately. It makes no difference to us, as long as your skin is safe.