We should all know by now that sunscreen is a daily must, whether or not we're basking on the beach. But what is the optimal SPF number we should be reaching for? Does it actually matter or is it just peace of mind?
If you compare the consistency of SPF 30 and SPF 70, the lower number always goes on smoother and is generally easier to rub in. And intuitively, it would seem like it doesn't give as much protection as a higher SPF. But what if we told you the number sort of doesn't matter above a certain threshold? We're no dermatologists, so we tapped Board-Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Stacy Chimento, MD, of Riverchase Dermatology in Miami Beach, FL to set the record straight, once and for all.
"There are multiple factors that affect the efficacy of sunscreen, not just the SPF. However, in simplest terms, SPF 30 is the standard, as it protects against 97 percent of the sun's UVB rays," says Dr. Chimento. "Many experts recommend starting out at SPF 50 or 70, but they really only offer one to two percent more protection than SPF 30," she adds. However, Dr. Chimento warns that anything under SPF 30 doesn't provide enough protection, while anything over that threshold won't cause any harm. It's also important to mention that with any number SPF, you should still be reapplying throughout the day. You heard the woman: SPF 30 or bust.
We took Dr. Chimento's advice and rounded up five of our favorite sunscreens—from SPF 30 to SPF 46—below. All you have to do? Add them to cart and remember to reapply often.
1. EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
This award-winning SPF is made with a revolutionary form of zinc oxide that goes on completely clear, so you never have to worry about it leaving a white cast. It's the number one dermatologist recommended face sunscreen, so you know it offers optimal protection.
2. TATCHA Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 PA+++
Like everything Tatcha makes, this sunscreen is clean, non-toxic and complexion perfecting. It truly feels like a skincare product, rather than a chalky SPF, thanks to silk extract and Japanese wild rose, which help soften the skin and blur pores.
3. DRUNK ELEPHANT Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
This clean SPF formula is made with 20 percent zinc oxide to physically block the sun's rays from penetrating the skin. Plus, it's great for sensitive skin, because it's free of essential oils, fragrance and silicone and packed with hydrating ingredients like algae extract.
4. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
If you really don't want to risk looking like Mark Zuckerberg surfing in Hawaii, this clear, oil-free SPF is your best bet. It's literally undetectable on skin and provides a blurring, mattifying effect, with or without makeup.
5. SHISEIDO Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen SPF 42
Another mattifying option, this ultra-light, oil-free fluid SPF from Shiseido absorbs excess sebum for a flawless finish, even after a few hours in the sun. It has over 1,000 positive reviews on Sephora, like this one from retro66, "I’ve always had issues with finding sunscreen for my face that wouldn’t give me breakouts or leave me feeling greasy. This right here, is magical! [It] has a matte finish and gives me the protection I need on my already sun-damaged face."
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