Sunscreen, often the unsung hero of a daily skincare routine, is crucial in safeguarding your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Not only is it instrumental in preventing skin cancer, it also plays a key role in warding off signs of premature aging such as fine lines, loss of elasticity, and dark spots. But sunscreen isn’t just about protection—it’s about enhancing the health and vitality of your skin.
Whether you prefer mineral, chemical, or hybrid formulas, the sunscreen market offers a plethora of options, with SPF ratings ranging from 15 to a broad-spectrum 50. Remember, the formula should offer an SPF of at least 30 to provide sufficient protection, as recommended by leading dermatology associations.
While the benefits are many, the experience of using it may have been less than ideal for some. The common complaints? A chalky white cast or an oily residue that feels heavy on the skin. The good news is that sunscreen formulations have come a long way, and many modern offerings address these issues, providing a comfortable, invisible shield of protection.
We’ve combed through countless sunscreens, scrutinizing ingredients, coverage, finish, and user reviews. On top of that, we also sought the expert opinions of board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons to bring you a curated list of the best offerings on the market. So, whether you’re seeking a multitasking all-in-one product or aiming to up your SPF game, sunscreens are your new best friend.
1. Murad Acne Control Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45
The perfect SPF moisturizer for your pores.
The formula contains avocado and African yellow wood bark extracts that visibly reduce pore size, so you can feel confident wearing it all day. The moisturizer also contains a chemical sunscreen agent to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Unlike other moisturizers that give off a bit of a white cast and feel heavy on your skin, this one goes on light, absorbs quickly, and doesn’t leave any residue behind—even if you have oily skin!
“I have super oily skin and this product helps to keep the oil to a minimum after a long day and helps minimize the appearance of my pores. Works great under makeup too,” stated one reviewer.
2. Paula’s Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50
When you need sun protection that’s lightweight and won’t leave your skin feeling greasy, Paula’s Choice has the answer. The label’s Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50 is a great way to protect your skin while you’re out in the sun.
This formula offers broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection, so it will help prevent sun damage and keep your skin looking young and healthy. It’s also antioxidant-rich, so it helps fight free radicals that can cause premature aging.
The silky texture is weightless on your skin, leaving you with a smooth matte finish—great for sports and outdoor activities!
According to shoppers, “The great formula and high SPF made re-application easy and pleasant. Took this to a beach vacation in Mexico and reached for this more than any other sunscreen we brought along.”
3. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is the perfect way to protect your skin while still maintaining a natural, radiant glow. The formula is packed with antioxidant-rich ingredients like red algae and meadowfoam oil, which help increase skin moisture and protect against all visible light.
The sunscreen glides onto the skin to provide broad-spectrum UVA/UVB and infrared protection, so you can feel confident about going out into the sun. The scentless formula also doubles as a primer for makeup application, meaning you can apply your makeup in the morning and go straight from there to the pool or beach without having to worry about reapplying in between.
It’s full of skin-loving ingredients that make it not just a sun cream, but also an anti-aging treatment!
4. COOLA Organic Classic Face Sunscreen SPF 50
COOLA’s Classic Face Sunscreen SPF 50 is another great product for long days spent in the sun.
It’s formulated with organic ingredients like prickly pear extract and red raspberry seed oil, so you can rest assured that your skin is being treated with the best possible components. The product also provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, so you can be sure that your skin will be protected from all angles.
Its 80-minute water resistance means that it’ll stay on through activities like swimming or surfing without coming off prematurely. The cream is even designed to layer perfectly under makeup, so you don’t have to worry about smearing your face when it comes time to wear your favorite foundation or BB cream.
“It’s very lite and does not sting your eyes when you sweat. My husband used some on a trip and asked me to get in one for his hygiene kit,” stated a reviewer.
5. Banana Boat Light As Air Broad Spectrum SPF 50
Banana Boat’s cult-favorite sunscreen lotion is formulated to provide safe and effective broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, so you can have peace of mind that your skin is protected from the sun’s harmful rays while you enjoy the outdoors.
It’s also affordable, fast-absorbing, and rubs in clear, so there’s no white residue left on your skin. Plus, it’s made especially for your face—so you don’t have to worry about over-exfoliating or irritation!
While other products lean more into skincare, this is a great pick for those who want an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice quality or safety.
6. CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen Face Sheer Tint SPF 30
Make your skin feel like a glowing goddess with this lightweight, non-greasy lotion from CeraVe.
This oil-free face lotion is loaded with mineral sunscreen filters that form a protective barrier on the skin to help reflect UVA and UVB rays. SPF 30 protection with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide gives you a natural-looking finish, while also protecting your skin from sun damage.
It also features a universal tint that blends seamlessly with all skin tones, making it perfect for both daytime wear and nighttime use. Like several other products on this list, it’s s non-greasy and lightweight, making it the perfect base for makeup or to use alone when you’re headed out for the day.
7. Summer Fridays ShadeDrops Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Milk Sunscreen
Protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays with this SPF 30 mineral sunscreen from Summer Fridays.
Enriched with vitamins, antioxidants, and soothing chamomile, this formula helps shield skin from the sun’s damaging rays while leaving it soft to the touch. The natural tint blends in seamlessly for a flawless look that lasts all day.
An antioxidant complex made of vitamin E and ethyl ferulate also helps prevent premature aging of the skin by keeping it healthy and hydrated.
This SPF is great for my oily, acne-prone skin and looks great under my makeup. I would rate it a 5-star but it is on the pricier side,” shared one user.
8. The INKEY List Dewy Sunscreen SPF 30
If you’re looking for a sunscreen that’s got the power to protect your skin and keep it soft, The INKEY List’s Dewy Sunscreen SPF 30 is another affordable pick.
It’s enriched with vitamins, antioxidants, and soothing chamomile to help shield your skin from harmful UV rays. It leaves your skin feeling soft to the touch, and its natural tint blends in so you can wear it alone or under makeup.
Even better? The antioxidant complex made of vitamin E and ethyl ferulate helps protect your skin against damaging free radicals.
9. Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+
Shiseido’s sunscreen stick is a more convenient way to protect your skin from UV damage.
It’s invisible, lightweight, and protects you from the sun’s harmful rays in an innovative way—it becomes more effective when it comes in contact with water.
The formula is water-friendly, so you can keep on swimming, surfing, or sweating without worrying about burning your skin or losing your SPF protection. Pus, it goes on clear and leaves no white residue behind.
10. Tatcha The Silk Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf
Meet Tatcha’s The Silk Sunscreen—your new best friend in the sun.
It’s a hydrating mineral sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection from UVA/UVB rays, so you can be confident that your skin is protected no matter where the day takes you. It also works to visibly even out skin tone, so you’ll always look your best.
And it’s sheer, fragrance-free, and easy to apply! Just use it after a moisturizer and you’re ready to go. It’s a little on the pricier side, but if you’re looking for something that will keep your skin looking great while also protecting it from the aging effects of the sun? This is it.
According to reviews, “Probably the most expensive sunscreen I’ve purchased which I did so because of the clean ingredients. I work out daily and I find this is one of the best sunscreens I’ve tried!”
11. Sun Bum Original Glow SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion
Sun Bum’s Original Glow SPF 30 Sunscreen Face Lotion: It’s what your skin has been waiting for.
This lotion is made with antioxidant-rich Kakadu Plum, which helps boost our skin’s natural luminosity. It creates a dewy, radiant glow that helps combat free radicals and gives you the look of a flawless complexion.
Apply right before makeup—you’ll be ready to take on the day in no time!
How to Choose the Perfect Sunscreen
Broad-spectrum coverage is a term you’ll encounter often when browsing sun protection options. The reason it’s so important is because the sun emits harmful ultraviolet rays in two forms: UVA and UVB. While UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburns, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, causing premature aging and potentially leading to skin cancer. Broad-spectrum products shield your skin from both types, offering comprehensive protection. It’s essential to look for this term on the label to ensure you’re getting the maximum defense against the sun’s harmful rays.
Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, signifies the level of protection a product provides against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. SPF 30, the most common level, blocks approximately 97% of UVB rays when applied correctly. SPF 50, on the other hand, blocks around 98%. It’s a common misconception that the protection level doubles with the SPF number; in reality, the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is a mere 1%. If you’re particularly fair-skinned, prone to burning, or have a family history of skin cancer, opting for a higher SPF could be beneficial.
The formulation of your sun protection can impact how comfortably it sits on your skin, how easily it’s applied, and even how effectively it performs in different scenarios. Creams and lotions are usually more moisturizing and great for dry skin, while gels might be more comfortable for application on hairy areas, such as the scalp or male torso. Sprays are convenient for quick application or for those hard-to-reach spots, but they need to be rubbed in to ensure even coverage. Consider your skin type, the areas you’ll be applying the product to, and your personal preference when choosing the formulation.
For those beach days, pool parties, or sweaty outdoor activities, water resistance is a must-have feature. While no sun protection is completely water ‘proof’, products labeled as ‘water-resistant’ are designed to maintain their SPF level for a certain period of time while in water or while sweating. This can be either 40 minutes or 80 minutes, depending on the product. Always reapply after swimming, towel drying, or sweating heavily, even if the product is labeled as ‘water-resistant’. This ensures your skin remains protected throughout your activities.