We've all heard time and time again that wearing sunscreen is essential—it helps protect your skin against sun damage which can cause skin cancer, as well as signs of premature aging like wrinkles or brown spots. When choosing a formula, “you want to make sure the sunscreen you pick is at least SPF 30,” says board-certified dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD. He also encourages choosing a broad-spectrum formula, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Byrdie Tested & Approved
Our best overall pick is Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30, which has a creamy texture that blends well into the skin, is water and transfer-resistant, and does not leave a white cast behind. This product, which earned perfect ratings from our testers, has a silky smooth finish.
After consulting dermatologists for their top picks, we spent hours in The Lab testing sunscreens. Our product testers had a range of skin tones, sensitivities, and concerns, and evaluated each product on its feel, transfer, opacity, and water resistance
Ahead, find the results of our tests and our picks for the best sunscreens to wear every day.
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
No white cast
Makes skin glow
Sunscreen comes out easily
An editor favorite for a reason, this formula scored perfect ratings across the board with our tester. We love the consistency, made richer by the inclusion of botanic oils in the formula, but the way this product practically melts into the skin is what makes it stand out. Our tester noted that she loved how well it stayed put—even when exposed to water, and that it left her skin looking “refreshed.” In other words, no white cast at all.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: 3% avobenzone, 5% octisalate, 10% homosalate, 2.75% octocrylene, carrot seed oil, sunflower seed oil | SPF: 30 | Size: 3 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“This sunscreen did not leave a white undertone or make my skin look dull. It added glow and radiance to my skin and it looks very refreshed.” —Chantia Murphy, Product Tester
Banana Boat Light As Air Faces
Lightweight formula doesn’t clog pores
Very easy to blend
Made without oxybenzone or octinoxate and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, this classic formula will give you all the nostalgic feels—once you catch a whiff of the banana fragrance. Our testers loved its nearly weightless skin feel and noted it was a breeze to blend for comprehensive coverage.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: 9% zinc oxide, 7.5% octinoxate, niacinamide | SPF: 50 | Size: 3 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
“Water beaded on top of the product and it did not run or transfer.” —Sara Bautista-Ramos, Product Tester
Live Tinted Hueguard 3-in-1 Broad Spectrum Mineral SPF 30 Primer
Does not leave white cast
Tint came out orange and needed extra blending
This ultra-lightweight tinted primer uses nano-technology to deliver protection against UVA and UVB rays, as well as from blue light (so it’s perfect for when you’re working indoors, as well). Our tester, who has an olive complexion, loved the coverage and noted that the orange undertone did diminish to a subtle glow as she blended but it might not work as well on other skin tones.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: 9% zinc oxide, 7.5% octinoxate, beta- carotene | SPF: 46 | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Bare Republic Clearscreen Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
Uses antioxidants and fruit botanicals
Chemical formula may be off-putting
Our tester loved the lightweight formula of this spray, she said she “couldn’t tell she was wearing sunscreen at all.” The chemical formula is oxybenzone free, though it does contain avobenzone and octocrylene. The addition of antioxidant botanicals gives the spray additional softening qualities, and our tester said she enjoyed the scent, but that it wasn’t overwhelming.
Type: Spray | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, octocrylene | SPF: 50 | Size: 6 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Body Lotion SPF 50
Some transfer occurred
We love this clean and reef-safe mineral formula for its creamy, lightweight texture that sinks into the skin. Our tester noted that it blends well but did transfer onto her t-shirt, especially when the product was exposed to water. Overall, however, the formula left no white cast but did leave an enticing vanilla aroma with subtle notes of coconut that our tester enjoyed.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 2.9%, Zinc Oxide 7.8% | SPF: 46 | Size: 5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer
Brightens dark spots
Adds radiant glow
Gentle, pleasant fragrance
Chemical formula might be off-putting
This non-greasy formula is packed with vitamin C to help the skin achieve a brightening effect. Our tester noted that it blended in easily and stayed put without any transfer. She also loved how quickly it absorbed into her skin. Because of the extra brightening ingredients, our tester noted she’d feel more comfortable using it on her face, neck, and decolletage as opposed to all over.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: 15% homosalate, 3% avobenzone, 5% octisalate, 2.7% octocrylene, shea butter, squalane | SPF: 30 | Size: 2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Sensitive Skin
Cetaphil Sheer Mineral Face Sunscreen SPF 50 for Sensitive Skin
Easy to blend
Great for travel
Our tester loved how this drugstore and a derm-recommended classic was completely non-greasy for an easy finish. It stayed put with no transfer and did not leave a white cast behind. She was also impressed with the fragrance-free formula, easy applicator, on-the-go size, and with the fact that a little goes a long way.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: 12% zinc oxide| SPF: 50 | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
COOLA Organic Sunscreen Body Lotion SPF 70
Formula melts into skin
Chemical formula might be off-putting
When it comes to lightweight, no one does it quite like this brand. The formula has an airy texture that blends incredibly well, although our tester noted it did leave a slightly greasy feeling behind. Still, we think the consistency is amazing and leaves the skin with a silky feel.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3.0%, octisalate 4.9%, octocrylene 7.5%, homosalate 5.0% | SPF: 46 | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Testers Say
“Blended extremely well into my skin.” —Jeanie Voltsinis, Product Tester
Best For Face
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Derms love this formula for its powerful blend of hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid to soothe skin. It’s also oil-free and won’t clog pores. Our tester noted how well it blended into her skin and stayed put throughout the day, included after exposure to water.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: 9% zinc oxide, 7.5% octinoxate, niacinamide | SPF: 46 | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean:No
What Our Testers Say
"This is easily the most non-irritating, absorbent, and low-maintenance facial sunscreen I’ve come across; it’s essentially a nice mid-range moisturizer that happens to have SPF 46." —Kelsey Clark, Product Tester
Best Water-Based Formula
Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35
Almost too watery
If you’re looking for a water-based formula that feels more like a serum than sunscreen, this is a great choice. Our tester noted how well it blended into her skin, while still staying put, even after exposure to water. She loved the pleasant citrus scent without being overpowering.
Type: Gel | Active Ingredients: 3% avobenzone, 6% homosalate, 5% octisalate, orange peel oil | SPF: 35 | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best For Oily Skin
Murad Oil and Pore Control Mattifier SPF 45
Hydrating to skin
We love that this formula for oily skin isn’t over-drying. In fact, our tester noted that the formula felt dewy on her skin, while also staying put and resisting water. It blended easily after a couple of gentle rubs into the skin and did not feel greasy as the day went on.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: 3% avobenzone, 10% homosalate, 5% octisalate, 5% octocrylene, vitamin A, urea | SPF: 45 | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for On-The-Go
Supergoop! Glow Screen Sunscreen SPF 40
Makes skin glow
Is there anyone who doesn’t love this sunscreen? It’s a cult fave for a reason: its texture is divine, and this formula in particular really sinks into the skin leaving you with a glowy, radiant finish. The addition of hyaluronic acid helps nourish the skin, leaving it soft and touchable. We only wish the tube included more product.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: 3% avobenzone, 5% octisalate, 10% octocrylene, hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 | SPF: 40 | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"From my very first time using Supergoop's Glow Screen I noticed how nicely it absorbed into my skin and created an instant glow." —Nicole Kliest, Product Tester
“This blended well with my skin. I'm usually worried about trying new sunscreens as a darker-skinned person because there always a white ghost-like look left but this highlighted my skin rather than making it look dull.” —Chantia Murphy, Product Tester
Our best overall pick is Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30, which not only leaves no white cast behind, it imparts a radiant glow. The water and transfer-resistant formula is packed with nourishing ingredients and it sinks easily into your skin. For a more affordable pick, consider Banana Boat Light As Air Faces, a drugstore classic updated with an ultra-lightweight formula specifically for facial skin.
How We Researched & Tested
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours testing the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, texture, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and makeup artists. Our team also incorporated their own personal experiences testing products in their own lives. We then used these insights from our research and testing to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Other Options We Tested
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen is a popular drugstore pick that has a formula people know and derms trust. While our tester loved how well this product blended, for a formula touted as “non-greasy,” she actually felt it had a slightly slick feeling after applying, and also it gave a slight transfer.
Glo Skin Beauty C-Shield Anti-Pollution Moisture Tint SPF 30+
Editors love this brand, and for good reason—they’ve got the clinicals to back up the results. Our tester did note there were some opacity issues, but it’s quite possible she was using the wrong shade. It comes in 10 shades to accommodate most skin tones.
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery 50 g Sunscreen SPF 50 +
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery 50 g Sunscreen SPF 50 + has probably popped up in your social feed, as its watery texture is unlike anything else on the market. Out tester remarked that it “blended with my skin so well. It felt translucent.” However, after checking out more third-party reviews, we found a couple of complaints about the product burning people’s skin.
CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 | Body Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide for Sensitive Skin
The popular drugstore pick CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 | Body Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide for Sensitive Skin is a great choice for a sunscreen that doesn’t budge. But our testers noted that the formula was seriously chalky and that it’s probably best suited for a day outdoors hiking, as opposed to at the beach or for everyday use.
Meet the Expert
- Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder and director of The Dermatology and Laser Group.
- Marisa K. Garshick, MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist practicing at MDCS Dermatology in New York; she is also an assistant professor of dermatology at Cornell—New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
What to Look For in a Sunscreen
Adequate SPF Protection
According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa K. Garshick, the first thing to look for in a sunscreen is that it provides adequate SPF protection. “In general, I recommend SPF 30 or higher,” she says. Of course, reapplying your SPF is just as important as applying it in the first place. “I recommend reapplying every two hours, or sooner if swimming or sweating,” she says.
Dr. Garshick also says it’s key to make sure your sunscreen offers broad-spectrum coverage, which means it will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. In addition, she says that some tinted sunscreens also contain iron oxide, which may also help protect against blue light.
Chemical vs. Mineral Formulas
“Depending on your skin type and sensitivity, it’s important to know the key ingredients in your sunscreen,” says Dr. Garshick. “Mineral sunscreens, containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are commonly recommended for those with sensitive skin and children. I often recommend my pregnant patients opt for mineral sunscreens as well.” If you don’t fall into any of these categories, you can generally get away with using either type of formula.
Which sunscreen is best for daily use?
In general, pick a sunscreen with benefits based on your skin concerns and one that is lightweight and non-greasy.
What sunscreen do dermatologists recommend?
While each derm has their own personal preference as far as individual products go, in general, the recommendation is that everyone should wear at least SPF 30 every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. Broad-spectrum sunscreen that is water-resistant is also recommended.
How do I keep sunscreen from clogging my pores?
If your skin is oily and acne-prone, you should pick an oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreen. You could also apply a thin layer of a toner, like one containing witch hazel, before applying sunscreen to help treat the skin and absorb oil. We like our Best Pick for Oily Skin, Murad's Oil and Pore Control Mattifier SPF 45 because it reduces shine and is meant to reduce the appearance of large pores. In general, look for a lightweight sunscreen that doesn't feel greasy or heavy on the skin.
Why Trust Byrdie
Jill Di Donato is a Senior Commerce Editor for Byrdie and has over a decade of experience as a beauty editor, writing for some of the best magazines out there. She’s a sunscreen fanatic, and carries several bottles with her wherever she goes. Her all time favorite formulas from this roundup include Supergoop!, Elta, and COOLA.
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