We've all been spending more time indoors, which might have left you asking yourself: should I still be applying sunscreen? Spoiler alert: yes, you definitely should. Sunlight can still impact skin through windows, plus the added screen time that's come with staying home (whether it's extra hours at work or watching a few too many TikToks) has also brought up conversations around blue light and the damage it can cause to our skin and eyes.
So even if you're slathering your faces in zinc, take note of your hands—are they being protected as well? The truth is, covering them up with a good SPF is just as important as doing this for the rest of your body.
"Our hands are a telling marker of sun damage that often takes a backseat in anti-aging regimens. While there's a lot of focus on SPF for the face and neck, our hands also get a lot of sun through day-to-day activities such as driving and walking outside," explains Dr. Christina Weng. "This cumulative sun damage is reflected in the development of dark spots and textural changes on our hands, especially on the back where the skin is thinner. In addition, the back of the hands is a common location for skin cancers, so it's doubly important to use SPF there."
Meet the Expert
Dr. Christina Weng is a Harvard-trained dermatologist and the co-founder of Mymiel Skincare, a brand that uses the power of honey to create products that nurture and protect skin.
Dr. Rita Linkner is a board-certified dermatologist, cosmetics media expert, and the founder of RVL Skincare, a line of daily toner pads and lip plumpers customized to your skin's demands. She is based in New York City.
The Best Types of SPF for Hands
Before you run out and grab whichever sunscreen looks good, there are several factors to consider first. Dr. Weng recommends broad spectrum SPF that protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, which contribute to dark spots, crepe-y texture, and skin cancer. And one that doesn't feel greasy is always an added bonus.
"Also, something to keep in mind is that while it may initially make sense to look for a water-resistant product, the testing protocols for water resistance usually involve only immersion in water, not lathering with soap or vigorous drying with a towel," says Dr. Weng. "So I don't think that label is critical when looking for a hand SPF—there's no substitute for re-application of sunscreen after washing and before going outside. At the end of the day, the best sunscreen is the one you will wear."
The only thing she says to be wary of is making sure you don't accidentally select a tinted sunscreen, explaining that while they're great for your face, using one on your hands could result in color rubbing off on your clothing, papers, and keyboard.
What SPF Number Do My Hands Need?
Rita Linkner, MD, FAAD says that an SPF of around 50 should be your goal: "It's very negligible how much more UVB light is blocked above an SPF 50 level and those formulations tend to be difficult to rub in, so stick with a SPF 50." She also says not to stress over sunscreens that advertise fancy additives or ingredients that are already in your skincare. "Sunscreen should be an independent product," she explains. "No need to complicate this most important step in your morning routine by adding in actives like vitamin A or vitamin C."
Check out the below sunscreens to keep your hands protected from now on.
Best SPF for Hands with Deeper Skin Tones
If we had to come to a consensus of the #1 drawback of using a daily SPF, it would likely be the white cast that many of them leave, which is especially frustrating for people who have deeper skin tones. Given SPF is such a necessity, you deserve to expect more from your protective products, and Black Girl Sunscreen has your back with a sheer formula that keeps you safe without making you look like a ghost.
Best Double-Duty SPF for Face and Hands
This sunscreen isn't greasy in the slightest and massages beautifully into the face and hands. Although the formula is initially white, it leaves no trace after you apply it, and a little goes a long way (though be sure you're applying the correct amount).
Best SPF for Working from Home
A recommendation from Linkner, this sunscreen is both water- and sweat-resistant and defends against UVA and UVB rays. While the SPF 50 is key, what really makes this product stand out according to Linkner is that it’s an "oil-free but glycerin-packed formulation that seamlessly rubs into the back of your hands." That means no oily, pasty hands slipping around your keyboard while you're trying to get work done.
Best SPF to Nourish Hands
Supergoop! is an SPF powerhouse, providing a whole range of innovative sunscreens for face, hands, and body. We love Glowscreen for the face, but when it comes to your hands, this sea buckthorn-infused formula is all you'll need. It nourishes and moisturizes parched skin, but soaks in quickly and avoids any greasy finish.
Best SPF for Dry Hands
Physical sunscreen ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide allow this hand cream to serve as protection from UV rays. But this goes beyond a basic SPF to cater to dry hands. Thanks to aloe vera, shea butter, and coconut oil, you're not only deflecting rays—you'll nourish hands that may be in need of more moisture than usual.
Best Budget SPF for Hands
Moisturizer meets SPF in this formula, which provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection that doesn't feel like a traditional chalky sunscreen. It's emollient but light, so you can reapply it after washing hands without feeling like you're going through a slimy cycle of lotion application, wash, and repeat. It's a budget-friendly option to keep on hand, which is great for a product you're likely to slather on several times a day.