Allow us to say it loud enough for all to hear: Sunscreen is non-negotiable. Whether you’re spending all your days inside or using every hour of daylight to explore the great outdoors, sunscreen is necessary. While many people believe that slathering their skin with an SPF 15-infused CC cream is enough to cut it, we’re here to let you in on a little secret: it’s not.
To fully protect your skin, dermatologists recommend applying strict sunscreen (i.e., not just infused makeup products and creams) with SPF 30 or higher. The only exception is a sunscreen-specific brand in which the product developers work to create formulas with efficacious protection levels. Such is the case of EltaMD: the dermatologist-recommended sunscreen brand that is pretty much the be-all, end-all of clinical suncare.
Keep reading to discover everything there is to know about the brand, including which products are our absolute favorites.
EltaMD Skin Care
Founded: Bill Kling, 1988
Based In: Carrollton, Texas
Pricing: $$—most products are $16 to $40
Best Known For: Providing dermatologist-recommended, fragrance-free sunscreen products for people of all ages
Most Popular Product: UV Clear, UV Clear Tinted, UV Elements Tinted SPF 44
Fun Fact: EltaMD products were originally sold through hospitals and burn care units to heal the most compromised skin. What’s more, 83 percent of the brand’s employees are women.
Other Brands You’ll Love: Embryolisse, Revision Skincare, iS Clinical
Sunscreen is the barrier between you and your best life. After all, without it, the sun can wreak some pretty horrendous havoc on your skin. It’s with this sentiment in mind that EltaMD was created.
“Our core belief is that everybody under the sun deserves to live freely,” says EltaMD Skin Care general manager Penne Thornett. “We are inspired by everyday people who want to live a full life but worry about the damage the environment can cause to the skin.” Because of this, education on sun protection has always been at the forefront of EltaMD’s brand mission. The brand works with a community of physicians to constantly improve their product offerings and educate their shoppers on the undeniable need for sun protection.
Given the dermatologist-backed formulas, EltaMD is often thought to be a skincare brand geared toward mature shoppers. But, as the brand sees it, EltaMD is for everyone.
“We all have skin, and therefore sun protection is a must no matter your skin type, tone, or condition,” she explains, noting that sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UV rays and premature aging, which are skin concerns everyone experiences. “EltaMD has worked hard over the years to create a wide selection of sunscreen products that meet the needs of every skin type, condition, and lifestyle so that everybody can live freely under the sun, worry-free!”
As thoughtful as the brand is and as efficacious as the formulas are, some customers veer away from it due to the clinical appearance of the packaging. Regardless, it provides the ultimate protection. Read on for our favorite EltaMD products.
Recommended by the Skincare Foundation for daily use, this dermatologist-recommended sunscreen (which features SPF 46) is nothing short of a dream for sensitive and acne-prone skin types. The lightweight water-based cream is formulated with zinc oxide, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, niacinamide, and antioxidants, protecting against sun damage and helping to hydrate, plump, and gently exfoliate skin in the process. It works well to address hyperpigmentation and balance symptoms of rosacea.
The product pumps out white, but as soon as you rub it in, it sinks deep into the skin. Never leaving any residue, you can easily layer makeup overtop it.
The beauty of a sunscreen brand creating a tinted formula is that the added color doesn’t take away from the protection's efficacy. So, what we have here is the same beloved UV Clear formula, only the slightest bit less watery and more pigmented with a natural-looking nude hue to make your skin tone look positively glowing. While this product is most effective for sensitive and acne-prone complexions, it’s beneficial for all skin types and tones. This aspect is especially surprising given that it only comes in one color but remember: it’s water-based, so it drenches skin with moisture while imparting the slightest complexion-perfecting color. It’s less about creating a done-up face and more about achieving a radiance. Of course, if you prefer more coverage, you’ll be happy to know that this product, too, can be worn under makeup. In that sense, it can serve as a protective, pore-blurring primer.
If you prefer a bit more coverage but still want all the sun protection, this SPF 44 tinted sunscreen is a shoo-in. It’s universally beneficial and boasts a slightly thicker formula. Despite the denser product, it’s still non-comedogenic, so you don’t have to worry about it clogging your pores. What’s more, it doesn’t leave an unsightly residue capable of pilling, so it, too, can serve as a base beneath your makeup of choice if you so choose.
The difference between Elements and Clear is that where Clear specifically benefits acne-prone skin, hyperpigmentation, and rosacea, Elements is a go-to daily option for anyone post-procedure. What’s more, where Clear is infused with just zinc oxide, Elements has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, offering even more comprehensive protection, despite technically being two degrees lower in SPF.
This SPF 40 sunscreen, while lower in SPF, is the best option for those looking to reverse signs of sun damage drastically. It’s especially beneficial for mature skin types, though it can benefit all complexions. In addition to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, UV Restore is made with herbal extracts, squalane oil, vitamin E, antioxidants, and vitamin C. As a result, the product can protect against sun exposure, as well as diminish dark spots, hydrate, and brighten the complexion overall, effectively reversing signs of sun damage.
The thickest of all the tinted sunscreens, Restore not only provides the same protection and anti-aging benefits of the plain SPF, but it also adds a hint of color to blur fine lines and wrinkles, and even skin tone as a whole. Again, it’s only available in one shade, but its medium tone blends well on light skin.
Designed for all skin types, this water-based moisturizer works to deeply hydrate skin while soothing sensitivity and protecting against free radicals and the sun. Like UV Clear, it bursts into the skin, initially leaving the complexion looking wet. But, rest assured, it sinks in and leaves no residue behind. As a result, it’s a wonderful addition to anyone’s pre-makeup routine.
Hundreds of shoppers swear by this restorative eye gel. Fresh out of the pump tube, the gel is slightly cooling. Upon application, the water-based formula sinks deep into the skin to work its magic. Chock-full of alpha-hydroxy acids, niacinamide, panthenol, peptides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin A, this cream treats the under-eye area from all angles to brighten, plump, and protect the delicate skin.