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Until a year ago, I understood on an intellectual level that going without sunscreen was similar to tossing my skincare products in the trash day after day, but that wasn’t enough to put me on to sunscreens. After all, some sunscreens are notoriously foul-smelling, thick, and heavy on the skin. But, once you find the right sunscreen, you won't look back, especially considering their crucial role in maintaining proper skin health. And the good news is that there are plenty of sunscreens that actually feel good on the skin, so much so that you may forget you're even wearing one at all.
Best Overall: Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50
Ideal for all skin types, this broad-spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen doesn't play around when it comes to sun protection. In addition to protecting the skin against UVA, UVB and IRA rays (which can cause damage in the form of premature signs of aging, sunburn, and even some cancers), the formula also combats dryness and dehydration as a result of prolonged sun exposure. That's thanks to the inclusion of a unique oat beta-glucan that's proven to deliver long-term and deep moisturization.
As a bonus: There's no icky sunscreen smell because it's masked by the delicious scent of natural extracts of lemon, orange, basic and bois de rose. Another plus: It's suitable for use on face and body, eliminating your need to carry around two separate formulas.
Best Budget: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Broad Spectrum SPF 45
If you’d rather not shell out a fortune for sunscreen at the drugstore, this Neutrogena pick saves you some money without sacrificing sun protection. This sheer sunscreen isn’t sticky when you first apply it—a drugstore rarity—and dries down to a wearable matte finish.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun Milk SPF 50+
Thanks to the host of sunscreen ingredients available to them—some of which don’t require additional stabilizers as tagalongs—Korean manufacturers get to produce lovely formulas like this milky Missha sunscreen. It smooths on for a luminous finish and potent sun protection, thanks to a cosmetically elegant formulation that leaves no greasiness or tell-tale sunscreen odor.
This sunscreen doesn’t clog pores and earned a thumbs up from several reviewers with sensitive and acne-prone skin. The lack of a ghoulish white cast makes this a good option for darker skin, and as if you needed any more convincing, the slim, flat packaging and screw-off lid easily withstand long journeys in your bag however crowded.
Best Natural Sunscreen: Cotz UVA/UVB Sunscreen SPF 40
“Natural” lacks a solid definition. With sunscreens, it usually means physical or mineral sunscreens, like this Cotz sunscreen, which uses zinc oxide to block sun rays. The creamy sunscreen is highly emollient, which those with dry skin might like, and isn’t too greasy once it absorbs. There’s no overpowering sunscreen smell, and it even sits well under makeup.
Best for Body: Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
It’s tempting to repurpose a beloved face sunscreen for your body, but it’s a pricy habit. To avoid going through the product twice as fast, try this affordable Sun Bum sunscreen for all-over sun protection.
The bottom line: This sunscreen works. It doesn’t transfer onto clothing, leave a sticky residue or create a white cast. The texture is pleasant and dispensed from a convenient squeeze bottle. Reviewers also raved about how good the sunscreen smells—a “summery” mix of banana and coconut that manages to not be overpowering.
Best Tinted Sunscreen: Elta MD UV Tinted Facial Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 41
The charm of this tinted sunscreen from Elta MD is how it allows you to cram as many steps as possible into one product. The premise is trickier in practice since multi-purpose products tend to compromise on at least one aspect, like hydration or ease of application. If they don’t pill, they sit on top of the skin, and so on. Not this tinted sunscreen. The non-greasy finish blends out for a sheer layer of color to even out skin tone without an SPF-induced pallor.
Best for Babies: Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+
This sunscreen relies on mineral ingredients zinc oxide and titanium oxide to deflect the sun’s rays—as opposed to chemical sunscreens that absorb them—and doesn’t contain oxybenzone. The formula is on the rich side, so you do have to work it in. Once you do, though, it absorbs without leaving a greasy finish and stays on. The sunscreen’s labeled water-resistant and SPF 50+, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security—you should still apply sunscreen every hour or so to ensure proper coverage.