15 Sunscreens That Actually Deliver on Their Promises

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It’s no secret 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. 

However, not all sunscreens are created equal—and with hundreds of options on the market, it can be tough to narrow it down. However, there are a few things you should always be on the lookout for when weighing your options. “You want to make sure the sunscreen you pick is at least SPF 30,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Arash Akhavan. He also encourages choosing a broad-spectrum formula, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Whether you have oily, sensitive, or acne-prone skin—or you’re just looking for a sunscreen that layers beautifully under makeup—we've rounded up the best options, from chemical to mineral, below.

Best Overall: Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray SPF 50+ Sunscreen

We’ll say it—this easy-to-use spray sunscreen from Japanese beauty staple Shiseido has it all. Its lightweight non-comedogenic formula is versatile—it’s meant for your face and body—and its texture doesn’t leave you feeling greasy or sticky. Plus, it has broad-spectrum SPF 50+ protection and it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, so it’s perfect for a day at the beach—just don’t forget to reapply every few hours.

Best Budget: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 50

A great sunscreen doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg—especially since we want you to be using lots of it. We especially love this affordable mineral option from Neutrogena. Its broad-spectrum formula incorporates zinc oxide to shield you from UV rays, as well as antioxidants to prevent free radical damage. Also, the brand’s Dry-Touch formula gives it a non-greasy, matte finish. Lastly, it’s super gentle on the skin—it’s free of fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and dyes, and it was awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, meaning it’s a go-to for those with sensitive skin conditions.

Best Drugstore: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60

Here at Byrdie HQ, we’ve been a fan of this French pharmacy mainstay for some time now—it was even one of our top beauty products of 2019. This brand’s Cell-Ox Shield technology—a combo of broad-spectrum SPF 60 protection and antioxidants—means you can rely on this sunscreen to protect and replenish your skin. It’s also totally free of oils, fragrances, and parabens—not to mention it’s available in almost every drugstore around the world.

Best Splurge: Clé de Peau Beauté UV Protective Cream SPF 50+

We know—the price of this sunscreen might seem a little over the top. But here’s why it’s worth it: It does much more than shield you from the sun’s rays. Formulated with mangosteen, Asian ginseng, wild thyme, hyaluronic acid, and scutellaria baicalensis extract (a traditional Japanese herb that supports skin health), this cream smooths and moisturizes skin while protecting it from pollution. It also incorporates the brand’s Illuminating Complex EX, which uses precious platinum golden silk and pearl elements to help retexturize skin and lessen the appearance of damage.

Best Sheer: Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

There's a reason why this best selling sunscreen keeps flying off the shelves. Made with people of color in mind, this sunscreen goes on completely sheer so that you can say goodbye to chalky residue. People of all shades can enjoy the benefits of avocado and jojoba oil, and it also plays nice under makeup.

Best for Face: Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35

Transparent straight out of the bottle, Glossier’s Invisible Shield feels more like a serum than a heavy-duty sunscreen. Its water-gel formula contains a mix of vitamin E, vitamin P, broccoli, and aloe leaf extract to help neutralize free radicals. It’s also paraben-free and non-comedogenic so you won’t have to worry about it clogging your pores. An added bonus is its mild but lovely scent—sweet orange peel oil—and since it’s totally clear, you don’t have to worry about it leaving any white residue on your face. Warning, though: This sunscreen is not water-resistant, so while it’s great for daily use, having a water-resistant sunscreen on-hand is helpful, especially if you plan on taking any impromptu dips in the water.

Best Mineral: C'est Moi Sunshine Mineral Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Water Resistant

This lightweight mineral sunscreen contains all of the ingredients you want and none of the ones you don't. It delivers broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection (thanks, zinc oxide), and nourishes the skin with organic aloe and shea butter, plus strawberry, apple, and kiwi extracts. Need more reasons to get on board? This sunscreen made the EWG's best-of list in 2020 for the third year in a row—meaning it's free of potentially harmful ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, avobenzone, parabens, and phthalates. 

Best for Body: MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50

If you’re looking for ultimate protection for your whole body, reach for this mineral sunscreen from MDSolarSciences. Formulated with antioxidants, ceramides, and humectants, this product will keep your skin moisturized, while its broad-spectrum SPF 50 coverage shields you from UVA and UVB rays. Need more convincing? The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends this formula, so you know that it’ll protect your body from sunspots and more severe skin conditions like skin cancer.

Best for Oily Skin: Murad Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45

There’s no getting around it—finding the right sunscreen when you have oily skin can be tough. But this Murad formula was made with the struggles of a greasy forehead and enlarged pores in mind: It’s oil-free, mattifying, and contains avocado and African yellow wood bark extracts—which, together, work to visibly reduce pore size over time without drying or clogging up the skin.

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

If you have acne-prone skin, look no further than this broad-spectrum formula from EltaMD. It’s packed with skin-perfecting ingredients—like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid—to help protect and smooth the skin, and it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic so it won’t clog your pores. Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, this sunscreen also comes in either a clear or tinted version.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Face Sunscreen Lotion

Formulated with colloidal oatmeal—an ingredient known for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties—this Aveeno sunscreen offers broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection with a good dose of hydration. Especially if you have sensitive skin, this sunscreen is sure to leave your skin feeling softer and more nourished.

Best Spray: Sun Bum Sunscreen Spray SPF 50

If you’re craving an extra-easy application, spray sunscreen is your best bet. This SunBum staple has been tested and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, so you know it does the job. Its broad-spectrum formula also contains vitamin E and antioxidants, so not only does it protect your skin from harmful rays, but it also helps to neutralize free radicals and prevents signs of aging. Lastly, it’s particularly great for beach days—it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Best Tinted: SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50

SkinCeuticals is known and loved for its powerhouse skincare products, and this tinted mineral sunscreen is no exception. It’s formulated with zinc oxide to protect you from the UV rays, while ingredients like artemia salina, a plankton extract, increase your skin’s resistance to environmental stressors. It also goes on smoothly and provides just enough tint to brighten and even out your skin without leaving a white cast. This non-comedogenic formula is free of fragrances and parabens and is suitable for all skin types.

Best Under Makeup: Supergoop! Glow Screen

This primer-like sunscreen gives skin an instant glow and is the perfect first step in your makeup routine. In addition to the SPF 40 protection, this formula also contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to moisturize skin and cocoa peptides that guard against blue light. It’s no wonder the launch of this product made such a splash at Byrdie HQ.

Best Vitamin C: Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturize

A sunscreen that can provide SPF protection while evening skin tone sounds like the perfect addition to any beauty regimen. The formula is packed with Vitamin C to boost's skin's natural sun protection, refine skin texture, and fade dark marks and sun spots. You'll also be happy to learn that it dries sheer and works well as a moisturizing primer.

Final Verdict

It’s no secret that wearing sunscreen is essential, however, not all sunscreens are created equal—and with hundreds of options on the market, it can be tough to narrow it down. Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray 50+ Sunscreen (see at Sephora) made the top of our list for being easy to use and versatile. Its lightweight non-comedogenic formula is meant for your face and body. Plus, it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. If you're looking for a sunscreen that plays nice under makeup, try SuperGoop Glow Screen (see at Sephora). In addition to the SPF 40 protection, this formula also contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to moisturize skin and cocoa peptides that guard against blue light.

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