The Summer Product That Can Make or Break Your Complexion

Updated 06/14/17
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When it comes to wearing a daily sunscreen for your face, many skip it. But whether you like it or not (and I know many sit in the latter camp), SPF is a crucial part of your daily regimen, and it will pay off if you stick with it. Not only does it shield your skin from the kind of rays that accelerate wrinkles and lead to dark spots, it can also protect you from UV radiation, which has been linked to skin cancer.

Now, I know what you’re thinking because I’ve thought it too: Sunscreen is greasy. It makes me break out, it ruins my makeup, my skin doesn’t like it, yadda yadda yadda. But that’s just not true anymore. These days, there are myriad SPF formulations out there that can cater to your exact skin concerns, and they feel a lot lighter than they once did too.

Best sunscreen for face: woman getting out of a swimming pool
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Combine that with the fact that summer equals more UV exposure, and I can’t think of a better time to shop for a sunscreen that you actually like putting on. So I spoke to skincare expert Debbie Thomas and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone to ask them how to match your SPF to your skin type.

Keep scrolling for the experts’ advice and what kind of sunscreen suits you.

Best sunscreen for face: dry skin

“Just because you have dry skin doesn’t mean thick and greasy screens are best,” says Debbie. “Instead, opt for one that contains water-based, hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and a nourishing antioxidant like vitamin E.”

Try: Dermalogica's Pure Light SPF 50, which tops up skin’s water stores with moisture magnet hyaluronic acid, so your skin isn’t left feeling tight and parched. 

Best sunscreen for face: Dermalogica Pure Light SPF 50
Dermalogica Pure Light SPF 50 $55
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Best sunscreen for face: oily skin

First things first, the formula should be oil-free and mattifying. “A lot of the mineral SPFs are good at reducing shine, but they can also come up chalky,” says Debbie. Her recommendation? “Stick with mineral, but try a few to get a good formulation.” If you ask at a beauty counter, an advisor should be able to offer you samples.

Try: Heliocare 360 Mineral SPF 50, a light fluid that’s matte yet light-reflective, means shiny T-zones are replaced with silky skin that subtly glows.

Best sunscreen for face: Heliocare 360 Mineral SPF 50
Heliocare 360 Mineral SPF 50 $22
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Best sunscreen for face: Combination skin

It’s tough to strike the right balance with combination skin and sunscreen, but Debbie suggests that some simple mixing and matching will keep things calm and smooth. “Use the same screen as those with oily skin to ensure the T-zone is matte,” she says. “But add a hydrating serum on drier patches like cheeks to deal with flakiness.” 

Try: Niod Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex on dry patches over the top of an SPF suggested for oily skin. 

Best sunscreen for face: Niod Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex
Niod Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex $25
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Best sunscreen for face: spot-prone skin

You want to avoid anything that’s going to irritate your skin, so Dr. Perricone recommends nonchemical screens, which are less likely to cause bad reactions. “Screens that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are good choices because they’re not able to penetrate the skin but rather stay on the surface and physically block the sun's rays from entering.”

Try: Eau Thermale Avene Very High Protection SPF 50+, which contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and is also oil-free, so it won’t make acneic skin feel suffocated.

Best sunscreen for face: Eau Thermale Avène Cleanance Sunscreen SPF50+
Eau Thermale Avène Cleanance Sunscreen SPF50+ $16
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Best sunscreen for face: Mature skin

“Several companies have incorporated high SPFs into their day creams, so you can get effective anti-ageing ingredients and protection in one product,” says Debbie. However, she warns that while they’re ideal for daily use when you don’t spend much time outside, a dedicated SPF (like those for dry skin) is best for a holiday.

Try: Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield SPF 30. It's a velvety, gel-like lotion that takes on the roles of a SPF, an anti-ageing serum and a soft-focus primer for makeup.

Best sunscreen for face: Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 $55
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Best sunscreen for face: Sensitive skin

As Dr. Perricone stated, chemical sunscreens can irritate skin, so apply the same rules of skin protection for acneic pores to complexions that are prone to flare-ups. Stick to mineral SPFs and, if you suffer from rosacea, go oil-free, as well. “Oils can aggravate rosacea by over stimulating skin,” warns Debbie.

Try: SkinCeuticals Mineral Radiance UV Defense SPF 50 is an oil-free, high-protection lotion that leaves out all the unnecessaries. It also boasts a very subtle tint, which will veil over redness during flare-ups.

Best sunscreen for face: SkinCeuticals Mineral Radiance UV Defense SPF50
SkinCeuticals Mineral Radiance UV Defense SPF50 $30
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Best sunscreen for face: Medium to dark skin

If you have a medium to dark skin tone, you may find sunscreens look too ashy. But don’t let that put you off, as a new, tinted texture is making them easier to blend. Debbie says that the fresh raft of “tinted gel formulations are best, as they don’t leave that chalky residue.” 

Try: BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30. It provides sheer, protective coverage in 10 shades, which will expand to 16 shades in July.

Best sunscreen for face: Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream
Bare inerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream $27
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Next up: 10 brilliant fake tans that look so real.

Opening Image: Free People

 

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