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When it comes to sunscreen shopping, there are a few non-negotiable boxes that have to be checked. One, making sure it’s a broad-spectrum formula (AKA that it shields your skin from both UVA and UVB rays). Two, it should (ideally) have at least an SPF 30, the minimum protection level recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.
But after that, the choices are pretty much up to you. Do you want physical or chemical protection? As a quick reminder, the former uses minerals that sit on top of your skin to deflect rays; the latter penetrate into your skin to prevent UV rays from damaging the skin cells. Lotion, powder, or stick? There’s also the question of tinted or not.
Again, it’s totally your call, but allow us to sing the praises of tinted sunscreens for a minute. A little bit of tint helps counteract any chalky residue, ensuring you don’t look end up looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost (this is especially important for mineral formulas, which often look very white on the skin). Not to mention that tinted formulas are ideal for daily use, providing that oh-so-important sun protection, while also evening out your skin tone and camouflaging imperfections in one fell swoop.
Convinced you should try one? Check out the best tinted sunscreens below.
Best Overall: SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
Ideal for all skin types, even the sensitive set, this mineral block is paraben- and fragrance-free, as well as non-comedogenic. Translucent color spheres give it a subtle tint that’s just enough to even out your complexion, and because it’s water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, it’s one of our go-to's for outdoor workouts or beach days. Also worth noting: It contains a plankton extract that increases your skin’s resistance to UV- and heat-induced stress. Yes, please.
Best With Zinc Oxide: Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Sunscreen SPF 30
Clean beauty buffs will appreciate that this formula is free of fragrances, dyes, parabens, and silicones (just to name a few). What it does contain: A powerful 20 percent concentration of zinc oxide to block out the sun, plus two potent antioxidants for a second level of protection against damaging free radicals. It only comes in one shade, but it does work well on a wide array of skin tones.
Best for Fair Skin: Peter Thomas Roth Mineral Naked Broad Spectrum SPF 45
This all-mineral option shields your skin with a combo of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, then ups the ante with antioxidants vitamins A, C, & E for extra protection. Though it only comes in one shade, it blends well with most light to medium skin tones. And we’re especially big fans of the subtle luminosity it imparts, thanks to the addition of diamond (yes, diamond) powder.
Best for Medium Skin: Suntegrity 5-in-1 Tinted Moisturizing Sunscreen
Taking the antioxidant and hydration game to a new level, certified organic aloe vera, jojoba, sunflower, pomegranate, cucumber, and green tea extract come to play in this natural mineral formula. Creamy and smooth, it glides on seamlessly and it comes in four shades, though it’s worth noting they do skew towards lighter and medium skin tones.
Best for Dark Skin: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
Proven to hydrate skin for up to 12 hours (thank you, hyaluronic acid), and with radiant, buildable coverage, this is a top-notch tinted moisturizer in and of itself. Added SPF protection is just the cherry on top, coupled with the fact that there are also nine colors, the most of any product in this round-up.
Best for Oily Skin: Supergoop 100% Mineral Smooth & Poreless Matte Screen SPF 40
Up your foundation’s staying power by layering this under makeup, or use it on its own to even out your complexion and tamp down unwanted shine. Either way, you’ll reap the sun-protective and hydrating benefits. Plus, it contains butterfly bush extract, an ingredient that guards your skin against the damaging blue light emitted by your phone and computer screens. With the amount of time we spend on our devices, we’re not going to say no to that.
Best for Large Pores: Dermaflash Dermaprotect Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50+
With its airy and whipped texture, this multi-tasker is easy and enjoyable to swipe on. Along with that oh-so-important SPF, it also touts antioxidants, keeps excess oil at bay all day, and blurs imperfections. It works especially well as a primer, though the coverage it delivers (there’s one universal shade) is great for makeup-free days.
Best Powder: Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Shield SPF 50
Breaking news: You really should be re-applying sunscreen every two hours. It’s an admittedly lofty goal, but pick up this guy and trust us, you can do it. One of our all-time faves, it’s easy to quickly brush-on this block wherever, whenever. Because it’s a powder, it won’t mess up your makeup, and it also comes in four shades. And let’s not forget to mention that it protects against UV rays, pollution, radiation, and blue light.
Best Spray: BeautyCounter CounterSun Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30
Tinted sunscreens aren’t just for your face. For the skin below your chin, reach for this spray. A new iteration of the brand’s best-seller, it now comes in two shades, light-medium and medium-dark, that even out skin and leave behind just a touch of color. Basically, you can go ahead and skip that pre-vacation spray tan. FYI though, it can transfer onto clothing, so just be careful as you spray.
Best for Dry Skin: Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36
Sure, there are plenty of moisturizing sunscreens out there, but this one delivers what we deem the perfect amount of hydration—creamy enough that you can skip moisturizer if you’re in a rush, but still lightweight enough that it never feels heavy or greasy. It blends in beautifully and the universal tint delivers a surprising amount of coverage, not to mention works well on most skin tones. Bonus points for the radiant finish.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Avène High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50
This mineral protector is ideal for even super sensitive skin types and offers a non-greasy matte finish, which is choice if you skew oily. The cream-to-powder packs buildable coverage, too, and there are shades for both lighter and darker complexions. Toss it in your purse for easy reapplication throughout the day.
Best Sheer Coverage: Naturally Serious Mineral Sun Defense Moisturizer Sunscreen SPF 30
The color in this option is super sheer, better for imparting just a little bit of a glow rather than coverage (but because it's so feather-light, it works even on darker skin). A trio of antioxidants bolster the SPF protection, and it also contains squalane, a choice hydrating ingredient for softening skin without ever looking or feeling greasy.
Best Splurge: Sisley Paris Tinted Sunscreen Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Shea butter oil and glycerin give this a thick and rich texture, definitely a true cream formula. While it does require a bit more effort to blend in, the hydration is worth it, as well as the fuller coverage, ideal for foundation fans. It comes in two shades and smells fresh and herbal, thanks to sage and marjoram essential oils.
Best for City Dwellers: Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution Broad-Spectrum SPF 50
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the sun isn’t the only skin saboteur out there—pollution can wreak havoc on your complexion, too. Happily, this all-purpose protector has got you covered against both, a choice pick for city-dwellers in particular. The oil-free formula relies on a blend of both mineral and chemical sunscreens and comes in light, medium, and dark shades.