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We know, we know: There's little to get excited over when applying sunscreen. But when you think about the benefits it provides, applying sunscreen day in and day out suddenly starts to feel less like a mandatory chore and more like a deliberate choice.
"Sunscreen, when properly applied, provides protection against sunburn and skin cancer, as well as cosmetic damage from ultraviolet light such as brown spots, wrinkles, and broken blood vessels," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Arash Akhavan. Pair that with an SPF formula that leaves your skin feeling comfortable and silky, rather than heavy and ashen, and you're pretty much golden.
However, finding just the right formula for your skin can be tricky. Some sunscreens feel sticky, cause breakouts, or leave skin feeling greasy. It's a simple fact that when you don’t like how sunscreen feels, you’re less likely to wear it. That’s why we rounded up the top face sunscreens for every skin type.
Discover our top face sunscreen picks you'll actually look forward to wearing every single day.
La Roche-Posay calls this their best sunscreen for face and body, and we wholeheartedly agree. In fact, we think it's one of the best ones out there—period. We wouldn't be alone in that sentiment either, considering the broad-spectrum SPF 60 formula has earned a perfect score from Consumer Reports for multiple years in a row, and it's also recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
A 2019 Byrdie Skincare Award Winner, this uber-popular sunscreen is beloved for its velvety texture. As its name suggests, the formula melts into the skin quickly without leaving behind a white cast or greasy residue, making it a great pick for all skin types and tones. We love it for both face and body, so if you're not looking to invest in two different SPF formulas for each area, this one is a great multitasker to go with.
Don't let the name fool you, this sunscreen isn't just for black girls, but it is perfect for anyone tired of chalky residues left from their SPF. This sunscreen dries completely clear, making it ideal for your face, especially if you have darker skin. We love that it's super moisturizing with avocado and jojoba oil, and users say that it works great under makeup.
Sephora announced that this lightweight SPF formula by Korean brand Innisfree is their top-seller, an impressive feat when you factor in just how many sunscreens the retailer has available for purchase. In addition to broad-spectrum sun protection, this formula boasts soothing aloe and cica, as well as vitamin E from sunflower seed oil for antioxidant protection.
Want to give it a try? More good news: You won't have to shell out a ton of money to do so. It's also been deemed Sephora's most affordable full-sized sunscreen at just $15. A beloved formula at a great price? Yes and yes.
Byrdie senior editor Hallie says she fell in love with Tatcha's Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen the first time she tried it. "It's shockingly smoothing, hydrating, and comfortable," she says. "Essentially, it's everything most traditional sunscreens are not."
The formula has an SPF of 35, which means you can opt to wear it on its own or layer underneath makeup that also offers some UV protection. "It's made with zinc oxide (for physical, broad-spectrum sun protection), octisalate (an emollient that keeps skin soft and prevents the formula from degrading), and Japanese wild rose (which supports natural circulation and diminishes the look of pores), as well as green tea, rice, and algae for visible radiance," Hallie adds. "Plus, I find it doubles as a great primer as it nixes shine, blurs pores, and allows for a smooth canvas ahead of your makeup application." Best of all? No chalky residue, no greasy mess.
"It's expensive, so there's that," says Hallie. "But in my opinion, it works triple-duty on your skin—so it's worth it."
Affordable sunscreens are a dime a dozen, but this one is one of our faves for your face. It's a broad-spectrum zinc oxide formula and includes soothing aloe and antioxidant vitamin E to help neutralize free radical damage. "Zinc oxide is usually a necessary ingredient to adequately protect against UVA damage," Dr. Akhavan says.
Other perks include a paraben-, oil-, gluten-, and oxybenzone-free formula, as well as a quick absorption time, so you can get on with your life without worrying about what your sunscreen is making your face look like.
Dr. Barbara Sturm products may not be known for their affordability, but they are certainly known for their effectiveness. If you've got a bigger budget and don't mind spending it, reach for this popular sunscreen serum to protect against premature signs of aging, sunburn and more. Along with the key players in sun protection, there's also trusty hyaluronic acid to deliver moisture, green tea leaf extract for free radical protection, as well as a blend of cassia extract, vitamin E and beta-glucan to boost skin regeneration.
And because it's a serum, you can count on it being lightweight. We've never met anyone who would prefer their sunscreen to feel heavy on their skin, so we rest our case.
For sensitive skin types, we recommend natural mineral sunscreens like this one to protect against harmful UV rays without any added irritation. It's formulated specifically with sensitive and reactive skin in mind, which is why you'll find the brand's exclusive complex of oat and botanical actives to keep discomfort at bay.
Sweep it onto your face and watch the sheer formula melt into your skin, immediately getting to work to hydrate and protect.
Sunscreen is important, we all know that, but we'd be lying if we said that some of them have a tendency to clog pores. That's enough to make anyone want to forgo sunscreen altogether, especially acne-prone skin types who deal with blemishes regularly. That said, there are a handful of sunscreens that don't do that (like the ones on this list), including this crowd-pleaser by EltaMD.
"This is the only sunscreen I've ever used that hasn't caused breakouts on my extremely acne-prone skin," says Byrdie senior social media editor Kelly. "I swear by it. I've used the clear and the tinted and both work equally as well."
Kelly's favorite part about it is that it's not too thick and absorbs easily. Oh, and no white residue or greasy film left behind either. "I'll opt for the tinted one if I'm in a hurry and don't want to put additional makeup on," she adds. "I find that it helps calm down some of the redness in my face."
You know that greasy film we keep talking about? It's part of what gives traditional sunscreens a bad rap. It's a concern for everyone, but perhaps the most so for oily skin types that deal with excess grease on the reg. If that sounds like you, a mattifying sunscreen should be your go-to. This one nixes shine while it protects, which is why it's a great pick for combination to oily skin. As a bonus, the formula smooths the look of imperfections and can double as a makeup primer.
Best for Combination Skin: Paula's Choice Skincare Skin Balancing Ultra-Sheer Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF30
"Most sunscreens tend to sit on my face and give me that oh-so unwanted greasy forehead glow," says Byrdie commerce production assistant Agne. "This Paula’s Choice sunscreen is the only one that protects my face without causing shininess or breakouts."
Agne particularly loves how sheer it is, gliding onto the skin with ease. "It’s hydrating and leaves my skin with a matte finish which allows me to do my makeup as I normally would," she adds.
As we all know, some of the very best skincare formulas come out of the Korean beauty sphere. We can go ahead and add this sunscreen to that list because it's a true gift to any complexion.
It protects with SPF 50, but it also hydrates, thanks to the inclusion of rose and raspberry extracts. Dry skin types can wear it over a moisturizer for added hydration, while combination to oily skin types may choose to wear it on its own as a moisturizer with SPF. Either way, you can count on it to protect the skin without feeling heavy, or leaving behind any of those telltale sunscreen signs.
Byrdie associate editor Holly admits that sunscreen isn't the easiest product in her stash to shop for. "I'm extremely fair-skinned and have had multiple pre-cancerous moles removed from my face, shoulders, and hands," she says. "My skin is also very sensitive, so my dermatologist has always recommended that I use physical blockers instead of clear, chemical sunscreens."
Holly continues, "For years I just dealt with the thick, chalky residue that comes with using a zinc-based formula until at last, I discovered this broad-spectrum holy grail. My dermatologist approves of the physical blocker: Micronized zinc oxide. Meanwhile, the smooth, genuinely weightless formula gets a gold star from me. I wear it every single day under makeup and it never pills, slides around or makes my face feel greasy. It truly feels like you don't have anything on."
Neutrogena is beloved for a wide range of beauty products, including sunscreen. This one is a sheer mist that feels super lightweight, and since it's oil-free and non-comedogenic, you can feel confident that it won't clog your pores or leave your skin feeling weighed down.
Pro tip: Instead of spraying your face directly (with your eyes closed, of course) which can up your chances of missing a spot, spray some of it into cupped hands first and then go ahead and gently apply it to your face.
There is no sunscreen out there that's a one-and-done kind of deal. No matter which formula you use, you will have to reapply at least every two hours (if not sooner) for the best line of protection.
So, why not make reapplications easy with this sunscreen stick that can be carried with you anywhere and everywhere? We especially love that the formula can be worn over makeup, so you don't have to remove your foundation or blush just to keep your skin protected. It can also be worn under makeup or on its own—the choice is totally yours.
This sun shielding moisturizer has everything that you want in a brightening Vitamin C serum with everything that you need in an SPF. Thanks to antioxidants that help restore hydration, you can count on this formula for skin that is more even while being protected against harmful UV damage.
Another great option for reapplying sunscreen in the middle of the day is a powder formula. "Adding a sunscreen to your morning skincare routine is a great start, but don't forget that you're supposed to reapply—typically every two hours as a general rule of thumb," says Holly. "My Irish heritage means I especially have to adhere to this rule (as should everyone), which is why I love this powder formula from Supergoop."
Holly admits that, like most of us, the last thing she wants to do is ruin her makeup look with a fresh layer of SPF every two hours. "Instead, I dust on this formula (which looks, feels, and functions as a setting powder) as a mid-day SPF touch-up."
This guy's a favorite of Byrdie general manager/VP Leah, and she'll be the first to tell you that it's completely worth it—that is if you don't already hear it from your dermatologist first. There's a lot to love about the formula, including the fact that it pulls triple duty as a moisturizer, makeup primer and sunscreen, and the fact that it's laced with antioxidants to protect against pesky free radicals that can bring on premature aging. And last but not least, the formula is natural and clean, so you can feel really good about wearing it.
We know that sunscreen is good for your complexion in the long run, but this mineral sunscreen gives your skin a boost right away. From light and freckled to olive or deep, this all-natural face sunscreen works as a primer and a color corrector. It's great to wear alone or under makeup, and users rave that it doesn't leave a ghostly residue.
Sunscreen is a product you need to apply day in and day out, so it's important to find a formula you won't dread using. The best sunscreen is La Roche Posay's Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60 (view at Amazon); it's earned a perfect score from Consumer Reports for multiple years in a row, and it's also recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Worried about a sunscreen-induced breakout? Elta MD's UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 (view at Dermstore) won't weigh the skin down or clog pores, making it a great pick for those with skin that's prone to pimples.