Sunscreen isn't what it used to be, and trust us, that's a good thing. We no longer have to pay a price for sun protection. We don't have to put up with greasy lotions, chalky residue, and sullen, gray complexions like we did in the past. No, today's SPF products are effective, lightweight, and barely detectable on the skin. What's more is that they come in almost every form imaginable, from sprays and mists to oils, highlighters, eyeshadows, and beyond. It's official: the new wave of sunscreen is here, and it's about time.
So, of course, we researched the products that go beyond the standard lotion and spray delivery method to revolutionize the way you protect your skin.
From SPF-infused eyeshadows to sunscreen drops and highlighter hybrids, these are the most innovative SPF products on the market.
Supergoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder SPF 35
Have you ever been sunburnt on your scalp? It's not pleasant. That's what this product aims to prevent. It's a 100% mineral sunscreen powder (SPF 45) that you spray onto your scalp just like dry shampoo, and it keeps any exposed skin protected from harmful UVA and UVB rays. It also absorbs excess oil (so it really is just like dry shampoo) and volumizes the hair while it's at it. This is one of the only hair products you need to tote to the beach with you.
Price at time of publish: $34
Coola Organic Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30
Here's another scalp-protecting product from Coola. This one protects the scalp and hair from heat, UV rays, and color fading with an antioxidant-rich SPF 30 formula that includes chemical sunscreen blockers as well as pro-vitamin B5 and monoi oil. It's vegan, cruelty-free, and 70% organic.
Price at time of publish: $28
SACHAJUAN Hair In The Sun
This UV-filtering product is a mix between a hair masque and a styling cream. It protects your hair and your hair color from damaging sun rays. It's also formulated with algae-based minerals and proteins, and it promises to help smooth and strengthen your hair.
Price at time of publish: $35
Coola Full Spectrum 360° Sun Silk Drops
Coola's organic sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB light, as well as HEV (or high energy visible) light. That means it protects the skin from sun damage and electronic light damage. Each morning, add a few drops into your palm, press your hands together, and apply it onto the face and neck in upward strokes. It's quick and easy, and your future self will thank you for it.
Price at time of publish: $48
Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops
Dr. Barbara Sturm has created one of team Byrdie's favorite skincare lines. Her namesake Sun Drops are lightweight, hydrating, and provide SPF 50. Use the dropper to deposit a few drops of the lightweight liquid into your palms and press them into the skin. Or you can add a few droplets to your favorite moisturizer or foundation.
Price at time of publish: $150
Tarte Tarteguard Mineral Powder Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Here's the problem with traditional SPF. You apply it in the morning and then you apply your makeup. Once your makeup is on, you don't want to re-apply a wet sunscreen because it will mess up your makeup. The solution is to use a powdered SPF that you can brush on over the top of your makeup. It's brilliant, right? This one from Tarte offers full-spectrum SPF 30 UVA and UVB protection.
Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral Powder
This brush-on powder SPF from Colorescience is something of a fan favorite. It provides protection from UVA and UVB light, pollution, blue light, and infrared radiation, all at once.
Price at time of publish: $69
Paula's Choice On-the-Go-Shielding Powder SPF 30
This brush-on powder SPF from Paula's Choice is formulated with vitamin A, E, and C, as well as ceramides, and zinc oxide, so it treats the skin while protecting it with SPF 30.
ILIA Beauty Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20
Natural cosmetics brand Ilia also has a brush-on SPF powder, which is cruelty-free and vegan. What makes this one stand apart from the rest is its micro-fine pearl pigments, which reflect light for a glowy finish. However, since this product isn't SPF 30, it should be layered with other SPF to ensure you get enough sun protection.
Price at time of publish: $28
Supergoop! Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50
Imagine a facial oil, a highlighter, and a sunscreen all-in-one. That's exactly what this glow-boosting product is. It hydrates the skin with a combination of moisturizing oils, protects the skin with SPF 50, and imparts a shimmer-free dewiness wherever it's applied. Seriously, swipe it over your cheekbones before heading out in the sun to achieve the dewiness of your dreams.
Price at time of publish: $26
What Our Testers Say
“Supergoop’s Glow Stick doubles as a sunscreen and highlighter to leave your skin bright and dewy. If you're looking for a lightweight, multitasking SPF that’s perfect for everyday wear, this is for you.” — Melony Forcier, Product Tester
Petiue SPF HIghlighter
If you prefer your highlighter to be less oily, and more shimmery, try this sunscreen-highlighter hybrid product. Swipe it on the high points of your face (including your cheekbones, brow bones, and cupid's bow) for extra radiance and SPF 45 sun protection. We like its subtle peppermint scent, which is especially refreshing on meltingly hot summer days. Just make sure to apply other SPF to the places on your face where you're not using this product.
Supergoop! Shimmershade Illuminating Cream Eyeshadow SPF 30
Another SPF-infused eyeshadow comes courtesy of Supergoop!. This cream eyeshadow comes packaged in a travel-friendly pot and is easy to apply using only your fingers. It awakens the eye area with a sheer wash of color and an illuminating shimmer finish. It's formulated with rose, Roman chamomile, jasmine, and sunflower extracts, and it also provides the delicate eye area with antioxidant benefits.
Price at time of publish: $24
Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF 50 Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray
An easy way to add an extra layer of sun protection after applying your skincare and makeup products is to finish up with a spritz of an SPF setting spray. This one from Kate Somerville offers SPF 50, as well as a soft-focus matte finish (which makes it great for people with oily skin).
Price at time of publish: $44
Soleil Toujours Organic Set + Protect Micro Mist SPF 30
This setting mist from Soleil Toujours offers SPF 30, as well. It's formulated with aloe vera, vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea, so it soothes and smoothes the skin, too.
Kaplan MD Perfect Pout Lipstick SPF 30
Dr. Kaplan is a dermatologist who practices out of Beverly Hills. His namesake skincare line is full of noteworthy products, and this SPF lipstick is one of them. Apply one layer for a semi-sheer wash of color or multiple layers for an opaque finish. We like how it feels so creamy and hydrating on the lips while keeping them protected from the sun.
Price at time of publish: $30
EltaMD UV Lip Balm Sunscreen
EltaMD is one of our favorite sun care brands, thanks to its lightweight, non-greasy products. We like this hydrating SPF 31 lip balm. Unlike so many others on the market, this one is completely water-resistant.
Price at time of publish: $14
What to Look for in an Innovative SPF Product
What It Protects Against
When shopping for an SPF product, look at what it claims to protect against. Generally, sunscreens will give you UVB protection but not every sunscreen will protect you against UVA rays. To ensure that you're protected from UVA rays, look for SPF products that are labeled broad-spectrum. This means that they have a variety of sunscreen filters to cover a broad range of UV rays.
Dermatologists recommend wearing SPF 30 or higher. SPF 30 blocks about 97% of UV rays, which is considered adequate, while SPF 15 only blocks 93%. No SPF level will block out 100% of UVB rays, so you should combine your SPF product with sun protective clothing, too.
Although sunscreen can never be fully waterproof, some sunscreens are water-resistant. This refers to the sunscreen's ability to remain on the skin while you're in the water. Generally, water-resistant sunscreens are effective between 40 to 80 minutes. You'll have to check with the specific product you're using to make sure you know when to reapply.
How often should you reapply an innovative SPF product?
Just like any other sunscreen product, you will need to reapply at least every two hours, and if you've been excessively sweating or have been in the water, you should apply more frequently. The good news is these products have made it easier to reapply without disturbing your hair, makeup, and more.
When should you use an innovative SPF product?
Typically you should use an SPF product every day. The sun never takes a day off. In fact, 80% of the sun's rays can still peek through clouds on particularly dreary days.
Should an innovative SPF product replace your actual sunscreen?
It depends on the product and how you use it. For example, if you have an SPF eyeshadow or highlighter, you will still need sunscreen for the rest of your face, so you're fully protected. However, something like a sunscreen stick or SPF powder can be used all over the face in lieu of your regular bottle of sunscreen—just make sure you're using enough.
How to Decode Sunscreen Labels. American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen/understand-sunscreen-labels.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/media/stats-sunscreen.