Best SPF Moisturizers to Protect Yourself From Harmful UV Rays
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Even if you have your daily skincare routine down to a science, you may still be overlooking a key aspect: sun protection. Even if you don’t spend your 9 to 5 under the sun, it’s still important to incorporate SPF to defend your skin from harmful sun rays, which can help prevent further damage to your skin.
Dr. Shawn Allen, M.D., a spokesperson from The Skin Cancer Foundation, says there are two different types of ultraviolet waves to remember. “UVA rays have a longer wavelength and are associated with skin aging, while UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and are more closely associated with burning. While these rays differ in how they affect the skin, they are both harmful and damage the DNA in skin cells, which can lead to skin cancer.”
In addition to skin cancer, extended exposure to sun rays can cause other health problems like premature aging, skin wrinkles, sun spots and more. It's important to wear sunscreen every day, and an SPF moisturizer can help.
Best SPF Moisturizers
What to Consider
There is a difference between physical and chemical sun protection products. “Physical ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on top of the skin and block UV rays before they can penetrate. Chemical ingredients, including avobenzone and octisalate, absorb UV rays and convert them to heat energy before they can cause damage. You can think of chemical filters as ingredients that transform the sun’s rays into heat and through a chemical reaction to reduce the damage the rays cause,” says Allen.
Sunscreen products should be applied as the last step of your skincare routine, but before applying makeup. Moisturizers with SPF can be lightweight, hydrating, and a great way to seal the deal on your skincare barrier. While looking for a moisturizer with SPF means putting sun protection at the forefront, that doesn’t mean it has to omit nourishment, coverage, and other skincare benefits. These tips can help you find the right SPF moisturizer that’s right for you.
Dr. Shawn suggests looking for some standout ingredients with certain properties to address general skin concerns. “An oil-free or mattifying moisturizer might be better for humid summer days or those with oily skin. Many moisturizing sunscreens on the market today include different combinations of skincare ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides and peptides. Depending on your skincare concerns, you can choose a moisturizer that will address both sun protection and issues like uneven skin tone or acne,” he says.
Other more natural ingredients, like oat and tea extracts, can also help to soothe irritated skin and cut down on inflammation. Think about the skin issues you're trying to target on top of getting broad-spectrum SPF. Many products can relieve everyday skin struggles, too.
SPF 15 should be the minimum for your moisturizing sunscreen. “Using a combination moisturizer and sunscreen can provide sufficient sun protection, so long as you choose a product that is broad spectrum (meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays) and ideally it has an SPF of 30 or higher,” Dr. Shawn says. If your SPF moisturizer will be your main source of sun protection for your face, opt for a level that’s on the higher end. You can layer your moisturizer over other sunscreen products, but one with broad-spectrum coverage will help you cut down on the amount of products you’re layering.
If you have problem skin, or skin that is easily irritated by topical products, look for an SPF moisturizer that is specifically designed for sensitive skin. It will typically be non-comedogenic, so it won't further clog your pores. Bonus points if it's paraben-free, unscented, and nixes other harsh ingredients that can exacerbate problem areas.
How We Selected
We did an internet deep-dive and looked for SPF moisturizers with specific hydrating ingredients, ranges in formula, and designed for different skin types. We kept in mind the tips from our sources, considering products that have broad-spectrum SPF to account for both UVA and UVB rays, and hydrating properties to replenish your skin. We’ve settled on the following list of the best SPF moisturizers to protect you from sun damage that can lead to skin cancer, while also being a beneficial addition to your skincare routine.
Toleriane Double Repair UV SPF Moisturizer
If you have dry skin or problem areas, SPF moisturizers with certain key ingredients will perform double-duty by rehydrating while providing UV protection. Depending on your skin type and the time of year, Dr. Allen suggests considering a moisturizing sunscreen with ingredients like lanolin or glycerin to combat dryness.
The Toleriane moisturizer from La-Roche Posay contains prebiotic thermal water (a topical probiotic and prebiotic ingredient that helps restore balance of skin microbiota and reduce inflammation), niacinamide, and glycerin for hydration. It's lightweight, absorbs easily, and can be used by those with sensitive skin, too.
Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF Moisturizer
Using sunscreen and products with SPF also means helping to prevent early and long-term signs of sun damage. This moisturizing fluid has 50 broad-spectrum protection, as well as antioxidants and plant extracts like oat and green tea to reduce redness and calm the skin.
The formula has a matte finish, so you can wear it underneath makeup without adding oil.
Protect + Hydrate Moisturizing SPF Face Sunscreen
When you’re layering on multiple skincare products, a lightweight moisturizer will still provide hydration without feeling heavy. This sunscreen from Aveeno is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores.
It’s also hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and oil-free, and works well for sensitive skin types. It’s sweat and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, so you can spend time at the beach or at the pool worry-free.
Pro tip from Allen: When you’re going to be spending time outdoors, apply sunscreen to your entire body, and remember to cover often-missed spots like the tops of the ears, hands, and back of the neck.
CC Screen Tinted SPF Moisturizer
A tinted moisturizer with SPF can be a great addition to your skincare routine during the summer if you prefer to wear less makeup during the warmer months. This CC-cream has SPF 50 protection, and comes in 15 different shades.
Ingredients like apple and moss extract provide a luminous finish and help blur visible skin imperfections. When shopping for the right color to match your skin, know your undertone. Each shade of the tinted moisturizer is coded with an N, C, or W for neutral, cool, or warm undertones to help you find the right fit for you.
Sun Protection SPF Mineral Powder
If you've already applied your makeup and still want a layer of protection from harmful UV rays, a powder sunscreen can help. This mineral power is 100% translucent, mattifying, and oil-free—so you can dust it on your skin over your makeup.
It will protect against both UVA and UVB rays, and you can reapply every two to three hours if outdoors. Vitamin E will provide moisture and help improve the overall appearance of your skin, and chamomile flower will soothe and calm skin that's exposed to the sun.
UV Clear SPF Moisturizing Sunscreen
Your skin experiences a lot throughout the day, from UV rays to the blue light rays from your computer screen. Incorporating an SPF moisturizer into your skincare routine can protect against further damage.
The UV Clear from EltaMD applies sheer, has niacinamide for hydration, and is very lightweight. If you have sensitive skin or are more prone to breakouts, this SPF moisturizer won't further irritate your problem areas.
Anthelio Ultra-Light SPF Moisturizing Sunscreen
Another selection from La Roche-Posay, this is a moisturizing mineral sunscreen with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for broad-spectrum SPF 50.
The thermal spring water will help reduce inflammation, and it has a matte finish and is non-whitening, so it won’t leave that noticeable cast on your skin. It’s also unscented, so it can work will all skin types.
Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
A reliable moisturizer with SPF doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. This lotion comes in under $20, and is designed to be applied in the morning as a part of your daily skincare routine. It's oil-free and non-comedogenic so it won't clog your pores or add excess shine.
If you have very dry skin or problem patches, ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and essential ceramides will noirish, replenish, and protect your skin barrier. It can be layered overtop of other creams and serums, too.
Oil-Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30
Some SPF moisturizers can add another layer of unwanted shine to skin that is normally more oily. This moisturizer with a micropearl formula will help to absorb excess oils for a mattifying finish, without plugging up the pores on your skin.
It uses a lower concentration of sunscreen filters, so it'll still hydrate without causing irritation. Ingredients like avobenzone, octocrylene, and octisalate all work together to protect against those pesky UVA and UVB rays.
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