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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 agree 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 — or make your eyes burn like hell when you sweat. But the worst part? Some sunscreens just don’t get the job done and leave you with a sunburn even though you tried to do everything right.

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 spectrum. 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.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = $15–$30
  • $$$ = over $30

We had a look at 11 face sunscreens that will give you one less thing to worry about on your beach vacation.

Best dermatologist-recommended face sunscreen

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

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 1.7 fl. oz.
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main/active ingredients: zinc oxide, vitamin E
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: up to 40 minutes

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 could be a game-changer for you.

And though it contains vitamin E, this option doesn’t really double as a facial moisturizer — so you might still need a layer of lotion underneath this one.

Reviewers with sensitive skin agree that this is the GOAT of face sunscreens. It spreads easily and is lightweight enough to wear under makeup. And if you want to skip makeup altogether, you can opt for the tinted version for a *chef’s kiss* alternative to foundation.

Pros

  • great for ultra-sensitive skin
  • ultra-light, fluid consistency
  • fragrance- and essential-oil free

Cons

  • expensive and can be hard to wash off
  • still need a daily moisturizer

Best body and face sunscreen

Bare Republic SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray

  • Price: $
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 6 fl. oz.
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main/active ingredients: zinc oxide, glycerin, tocopherol (vitamin E)
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: no

“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.

FYI: Spray sunscreens are convenient, but you still need to rub them in to make sure you’re getting 100 percent covered.

Pros

  • smells nice
  • can be used on your whole body
  • moisturizing ingredients (glycerin and vitamin E)
  • fragrance- and essential-oil free

Cons

  • thick consistency

Best face sunscreen for oily skin

Vichy Laboratoires Capital Soleil SPF 60 Soft Sheer Sunscreen Lotion

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 60
  • Size: 5 fl. oz.
  • Sunscreen type: chemical
  • Main/active ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, glycerin, vitamin E
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: up to 80 minutes

This sheer formula feels ~luxe~. The oil-free lotion absorbs rapidly, providing a dry-touch finish and a thoroughly nonshiny 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, noncomedogenic, and allergy-tested, so it really does work wonders for oily and acne-prone skin. Just remember to reapply regularly, since it’s only water-resistant for up to 80 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 wear makeup when using it.

Pros

  • delivers a matte effect
  • moisturizing ingredients (glycerin and vitamin E)
  • noncomedogenic

Cons

  • can leave a white film behind on darker skin tones
  • contains fragrance and alcohol, which can cause irritation for peeps with sensitive skin

Best face sunscreen for dry skin

La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Facial Moisturizer with SPF

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 2.5 fl. oz.
  • Sunscreen type: chemical
  • Main/active ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene; glycerin, vitamin E, ceramides, niacinamide
  • Broad-spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: no

If you’re constantly trying to choose between adequately moisturized or UV-protected skin, this one’s for you.

This moisturizer/SPF combo is absolutely LOADED with moisturizing ingredients that can help hydrate your skin. In addition to glycerin and vitamin E, it contains ceramides and niacinamide — both of which are excellent moisturizers that help repair your skin’s barrier. Niacinamide is also known for reducing acne, hyperpigmentation, and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Reviewers are obsessed with this stuff, saying they love how well it protects their skin while keeping it moisturized. Reviewers with eczema and rosacea are also big fans.

Pros

  • tons of moisturizing ingredients (glycerin, vitamin E, ceramides, niacinamide)
  • works well for sensitive skin
  • noncomedogenic
  • fragrance- and essential oil-free

Cons

  • not water resistant
  • some reviewers with sensitive skin say chemical sunscreens don’t work well for them

Best drugstore face sunscreen

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Lotion SPF 50

  • Price: $
  • Size: 2 fl. oz.
  • SPF: 50
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main/active ingredients: zinc oxide; glycerin, vitamin E, colloidal oatmeal
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: up to 80 minutes

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 the 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.

Pros

  • affordable
  • moisturizing and anti-inflammatory ingredients (glycerin, vitamin E, oatmeal)
  • good for sensitive skin
  • fragrance- and essential oil-free

Cons

  • leaves an obvious white cast
  • has a sticky consistency
  • contains fragrance

Best face sunscreen for sensitive skin

Cetaphil Daily Face Moisturizer with Sunscreen SPF 50

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 1.7 fl. oz.
  • Sunscreen type: combination
  • Main/active ingredients: octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide; glycerin, vitamin E
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: no

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.

Pros

  • dermatologist-recommended
  • moisturizing ingredients (glycerin and vitamin E)
  • works well under makeup
  • easy-to-use pump bottle
  • fragrance- and essential oil-free

Cons

  • leaves a little bit of sheen behind

Best face sunscreen for under makeup

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Daily Defense

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 3 fl. oz.
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main/active ingredients: titanium dioxide; glycerin, vitamin E, vitamin C, aloe
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: no

This skin-friendly sunscreen contains vitamin C, a hella researched antioxidant that gives your SPF a huge boost in protecting your skin from photo damage.

It also has aloe to add an extra dose of moisture and to help soothe any irritation. The company is 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.

Pros

  • moisturizing (glycerin, vitamin E), soothing (aloe), and antioxidant (vitamin C) ingredients
  • fragrance- and essential oil-free

Cons

  • leaves a white cast
  • not water resistant

Best face sunscreen for acne-prone skin

EltaMD UV Facial Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • SPF: 46
  • Sunscreen type: combination
  • Main/active ingredients: octinoxate, zinc oxide; niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: no

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 is a pretty legit anti-acne ingredient that can also help curb oil production. Plus, it helps lock in hydration. 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.

Pros

  • odorless
  • sheer
  • moisturizing (hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin E) and anti-acne (niacinamide) ingredients
  • fragrance- and essential oil-free

Cons

  • might take some adjusting to get used to the added niacinamide

Best natural face sunscreen

THRIVE Natural Moisturizing Mineral Face Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 2 fl. oz.
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main/active ingredients: zinc oxide; glycerin, rosemary extract
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: no

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 rosemary extract 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. BUT it does contain essential oils, which have the potential to make your skin not so happy if it’s on the sensitive side.

Pros

  • mattifying
  • moisturizing (glycerin) and antioxidant/anti-inflammatory (rosemary extract) ingredients
  • reviewers say it works well on darker skin tones

Cons

  • leaves a white cast
  • contains essential oils which can cause irritation for some peeps
  • mixed reviews on the smell

Best powder face sunscreen

Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 0.21 oz.
  • SPF: 30 to 50
  • Sunscreen type: mineral
  • Main/active ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide; glycerin, hyaluronic acid, green tea extract
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: up to 80 minutes

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 enlarged pores — but some find the applicator annoying to use.

Pros

  • can apply over makeup
  • moisturizing (glycerin, hyaluronic acid) and calming (green tea extract) ingredients
  • hypoallergenic
  • noncomedogenic

Cons

  • applicator needs work

Best “anti-aging” face sunscreen

L’Oreal Paris RevitaliftTriple Power Face Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1.7 fl. oz.
  • SPF: 30
  • Sunscreen type: chemical
  • Main/active ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, retinol, vitamin C
  • Broad spectrum: yes
  • Water resistant: no

Let this ultra-popular “anti-aging” (or as we like to say, pro-aging!) drugstore product serenade your skin without hurting your wallet. The formula contains pro-retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to smooth out fine lines and 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.

Pros

  • nongreasy
  • moisturizing (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide) ingredients
  • helps reduce signs of aging (retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide)

Cons

  • hard to rub into skin

Here are the main things you need to consider when picking a sunscreen for your beautiful face:

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. Chemical sunscreens can cause irritation in people with sensitive skin, atopic dermatitis, and rosacea. They can also sting or burn. :/
  • Mineral sunscreens can leave a white cast. This can be annoying AF for peeps with darker skin tones. Newer formulations (like tinted ones) might be less likely to leave you paper white — but it might take some trial and error to find one that works for you.
  • 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. These are a mix of both and usually less likely to leave a white cast. They’re also not as harsh as 100 percent chemical sunscreens, so they’re more ideal for people with sensitive skin.
  • Not all chemical sunscreens block all types of UVA and UVB rays. Make sure your product is labeled “broad-spectrum” for maximum protection.
  • Your body absorbs chemical sunscreens. Research has found that chemical sunscreens can make their way into your bloodstream. The FDA is currently digging into whether there are any potential health consequences of this — but for now, researchers still encourage people to wear sunscreen (chemical included) for its protective benefits.

Sunscreen type

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

Other ingredients

Most face sunscreen formulas have ingredients other than sunscreen in them.

When it comes to oily, combination, or acne-prone skin, Graf recommends checking the label for products that are noncomedogenic and oil-free. You can also look for formulas that contain niacinamide to help fight off acne and excess oil.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, look for a sunscreen with hydrating ingredients like glycerin, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, or a two-in-one daily moisturizer with SPF.

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

Things to avoid

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 a sunscreen.

If you have a darker skin tone, you might want to avoid mineral (aka physical) sunscreens if you prefer products that don’t leave a white cast. You might be able to find a combination sunscreen (chemical + mineral) or a tinted sunscreen that works for you, though.

Those with sensitive skin, eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea should check for products that are dermatologist-tested and free from fragrance, essential oil, and alcohol. Also avoid mattifying formulas that lack moisture. Dry skin peeps might want to follow this path too.

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, avoid formulas with oil — these are likely to clog your pores and can cause breakouts. Remember: noncomedogenic formulas only.

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.

What is the best sunscreen recommended by dermatologists?

Lots of dermatologists recommend La Roche Posay sunscreens because they have the right amount of SPF and work well for all skin types — including sensitive skin.

If you have particularly sensitive skin, though, it might be a good idea to make an appointment with a derm to get tips for choosing the right kind of sunscreen for you.

How often should I reapply face sunscreen?

At the minimum, you should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours — or after swimming or sweating. But check your product’s bottle to see if the brand recommends reapplying more often.

That can feel like A LOT for your face, especially if you’re wearing makeup. That’s why powder sunscreens are a sweet option. You can just reapply over your makeup every couple of hours without taking all of your makeup off.

What SPF do dermatologists recommend for the face?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30 or higher.

And remember that 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.

How much sunscreen should I use on my face?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using enough sunscreen to fill up an entire shot glass (about 1 oz.) to cover your entire body, but they don’t recommend anything specific for your face.

Plan on using enough to fully cover your face, neck, and ears in an even layer. Start with a squirt the size of a penny and keep increasing until you find the right amount to get you fully covered.

Whether you’re sunbathing or just living your dang life, wearing sunscreen is a necessity. And, as these sunscreens show, you can tackle some other skin concerns at the same time.

Make sure that you’re wearing at least SPF 30 every single day — that means you’ll need to find a product that feels great on your skin and works well with your current routine. Our list is a great place to start. Stay safe out there, hunnies!

Our process and why you should trust us

We consulted with a board certified dermatologist to get tips for choosing the best face sunscreens and dug into the latest research to pick the products above.

Before writing about those products, we put them all through a thorough vetting process that checks for unsupported health claims, shady business practices, and lawsuits concerning a company’s products. We also checked that the main ingredients in each product are evidence-based and actually do what the company says they do.

After wrapping up our recommendations and tips, we sent this entire article to a second medical professional specializing in dermatology (in this case, Clare Wightman MS, PAC) for review.

So basically, you can feel good knowing that we put in WORK to get you these recommendations.