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What’s worse than hitting the beach with goopy white stuff all over your face? Dealing with zits after slathering that goopy white stuff all over your face. Also, getting sand in your pants. And stepping on jellyfish. And sharks.
(OK, there are many things worse than sunscreen-induced zits. But do you want any part in them regardless? We thought not.)
Here’s the thing: It’s summer! Shouldn’t you be outside having fun? It doesn’t have to be a choice between preventing acne and avoiding wrinkles. You’ve got more important things to focus on, like which Instagram filter best complements your beach look.
Thankfully, sunscreen has come a long way since the greasy formulas of the past. Grease is no longer the word, and our chills are no longer multiplyin’.
To give your skin some summer lovin’ (we promise we’ll stop now), we got some tips from Jeannette Graf, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
“I recommend checking the label for products that are ‘non-comedogenic’ and ‘oil-free,'” says Graf. “There are also different ways to apply sunscreen, such as wipes and gels, that may be less oily.”
Before we get into the sunscreens themselves, Graf has a few important rules to remember when it comes to sun protection factor (SPF) and applying the cream:
- Sunscreen must be broad spectrum, meaning it filters out both UVA and UVB rays.
- You must reapply sunscreen every 2 hours (or 40 to 80 minutes if you’re planning on having a dip in some water), regardless of the SPF you’re using.
- An SPF of 30 filters 97 percent of the sun’s rays. During the winter, SPF 15 to 30 is fine. During the summer, it’s safest to go for an SPF between 30 and 50 (or higher).
Now that you understand how to get the most out of that squeezy bottle of protective magic, check out these eight sunscreens that won’t cause breakouts or leave your face looking like a hot mess.
(They’re not just for summer, either. It’s important to wear sunscreen throughout the year.)
The only time you’ll even need to think about pores is as part of this sentence: “Pore me another margarita, please.” (Just this once, we’ll forgo accurate spelling in the name of above-average wordplay… OK, average wordplay.)
Most of these sunscreens are specifically designed to protect your face, but some also work for your whole body — because, honestly, who even has time for back pimples anymore?
We did the digging so you don’t have to.
We had a look at eight sunscreens that will give you one less thing to worry about on your beach vacation.
“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.
And the smell of coconuts is unbeatable. Their oil can be pretty healthy too.
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, non-comedogenic, 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.
Pesky blackheads can also pop up from time to time during adult life. Here’s how to treat them.
Dermatologists have been recommending this skinprotectyboi 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.
Here are some more dermatologist-approved methods for eradicating adult acne.
Talk about a cult favorite: People go bonkers for this Sun Bum OG sunscreen.
This tiny company out of Cocoa Beach, Florida, launched just 6 years ago, but the line has quickly stolen the hearts (and skin) of beach bums everywhere. (That sounded a little more sinister than expected, but you know what we mean.)
While you can use this sheer, oil-free formula on your face, it’s also perfect for your body, especially if you get acne on your chest or back.
Sunscreen isn’t the only cause of adult acne. We examined what else can cause acne in your 20s and 30s.
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 disappears 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.
Sometimes, your body doesn’t have enough zinc. Here’s how to recognize and treat a zinc deficiency.
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.
If you want cute freckles without the sun damage, we explored how to bring them out the safe way.
For when whipped cream is so much more fun than normal cream, which is always.
This new “whipped” product is light and airy, like a foam, so it doesn’t feel heavy and oily when you smooth it on.
But don’t be fooled by its fluffy exterior: It still offers hefty sun protection while helping you avoid breakouts.
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 non-greasy 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.
We also looked into other moisturizers for dry skin.
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 don’t have to give yourself pimples in the process.
However, 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.
Why not whip up one of these mezcal cocktails to make your summer just a little bit sweeter?