A No-Nonsense Guide to the Best Face Sunscreen

·7 min read

No matter your age or level of interest in beauty, sunscreen is one of three things (along with cleanser and moisturizer) that everyone can benefit from using. It is the single most effective product you can use to prevent premature aging and, vanity aside, it protects against sunburn and skin cancer.

When choosing a face sunscreen, consider a product that will match your skin type. For example, pick a lighter, oil-free formula if you have oily skin and a more hydrating solution for dry skin. Above that, two keywords to look for on your SPF labels are "broad spectrum" (which indicates protection against UVA rays that trigger premature aging and UVB rays that cause sunburn) and "non-comedogenic" (which means it won't clog your pores).

And hey, we'll do you one better: Since the sunscreen aisle is a crowded one, we narrowed it down to 15 of our favorites for you ahead.

RELATED: We Asked a Derm: What Are the Most Important Skin-Care Tips for Women in Their 30s?

1. Elta MD UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40

Best Overall

We were first introduced to this brand by a dermatologist years ago, who highly recommended it for acne-prone skin. It’s non-comedogenic (read: it won’t clog your pores), has niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) and lactic acid to help clear up and calm your skin, and a subtle tint that softly blurs any redness on your face. As far as the user experience goes, it’s creamy to the touch, blends easily and has no trace of fragrance. This is why, eight years later, it’s still in our medicine cabinet. (Note: It also comes in a non-tinted version that blends better on darker skin.)

$30 at Amazon

2. Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+

Best Texture

If you don’t know, now you know. This Japanese import has a loyal following thanks to its lightweight, damn-near invisible texture. Seriously, it feels more like a serum (or perhaps a watery essence?) than a sunscreen because it quickly melts into your skin without leaving behind any greasy residue or chalky cast. The scent is vaguely citrusy and fresh and the price point is just right (considering how quickly we go through a tube).

$17 at Amazon

3. Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Best for Oily Skin

If you have oilier skin and fear #shinyface, this gel formula is a solid choice. It’s a staff favorite thanks to the way it glides onto your skin, leaving behind a matte, yet somehow never flat finish. The translucent formula requires zero rubbing to blend in, making it a top pick for deeper skin tones, and is a makeup lover’s dream because it wears well underneath any base or color. In fact, it performs quite like a primer and actually helps your makeup stay put longer.

Buy it ($34)

4. Neogen Demalogy Day-Light Protection Sunscreen SPF 50/PA+++

Best for Dry Skin

For our friends with dry skin (or for colder, less humid months), this K-beauty bestseller is a bit more emollient than the others on the list. A closer look at the ingredients and you’ll see ingredients like rose and raspberry extracts for added hydration and beta-glucan—which is a lesser-known but possibly better humectant than hyaluronic acid—to lock moisture in. We subtracted a couple points from the total score because it requires a bit more blending to get it to absorb properly and it has a more, shall we say, noticeable (though not unpleasant) scent.

Buy it ($32)

5. Eleven by Venus Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35

Cleanest Formula

Earlier this year, tennis star Venus Williams partnered with clean beauty leaders Credo Beauty to create two mineral sunscreens that could withstand the elements. We were particularly impressed by the “sun serum” here because of its sheer texture and elegant application. The dropper top dispenses a silky fluid that sinks into your skin nicely, leaving a semi-matte finish. The only knock we have on it is the steep price tag ($50 for one ounce) though it does look and feel more luxe than most SPFs we’ve tried.

Buy it ($50)

RELATED: Which Facial Sunscreen Offers the Best Coverage? We Put 6 to the Test

6. Neutrogena Sport Face Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 70+

Best for Sports

If you're looking for a sunscreen that will hold up to a game of beach volleyball (or two), this cult classic is a safe bet. With an oil-free formula that won't clog pores and a hydrating electrolyte complex that balances your skin, it's built to last for up to 80 minutes without causing irritation.

$17 at Amazon

7. Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin SPF 50

Best for Sensitive Skin

From the sensitive skin experts comes this lightweight, hypoallergenic cream made with oat extract, known to soothe and nourish irritated skin. It’s also oil-free and fragrance-free, meaning you can slather it on without worrying about breakouts or smelling like you’ve spent the day at the pool.

$10 at Amazon

8. Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 30

Best Budget

This drugstore pick features UVA/UVB protection and a mixture of mango fruit extracts to produce a non-greasy shield for your skin. This weightless texture absorbs quickly and smells like a tropical treat thanks to notes of passionflower, guava, coconut and plumeria in the formula. (Plus, it has a stamp of approval from the Skin Cancer Foundation.)

$9 at Amazon

9. Versed Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35

The Editor Pick

Calling all skincare obsessives: Think of this formula as a three-for-one. It protects against the sun, environmental pollution and blue light. Even better, the mineral formula absorbs quickly and actually feels refreshing on the skin—all without a chalky finish.

Buy it ($22)

10. Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Lotion

Best Vegan Formula

For our animal lovers, it doesn't get much better than this silky sunscreen. Enriched with vitamin E to nourish and neutralize harmful free radicals, it's also oxybenzone- and octinoxate-free, smells delightfully of coconuts and offers a lot of value given the generously sized 3-ounce tube.

$13 at Amazon

11. Supergoop! Invincible Setting Powder

Best for Reapplication

This convenient powder makes it easy to keep your SPF intact, thanks to its retractable brush that dispenses sheer mineral sunscreen onto your skin in a few passes. Plus, it’s exceptionally lightweight. Formulated with silica, ceramides and olive glycerides, it also helps set your makeup and reduce shine.

Buy it ($30)

12. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50

Honorable Mention

Another popular pick among many of the derms we've spoken to throughout the years is this matte, mineral sunscreen that features a non-chalky tint. The featherweight formula is not in the least bit greasy and sinks into your skin pretty much the minute you apply it. With the brand's signature Cell-Ox shield technology that combines broad-spectrum protection with antioxidants, it prevents free radicals from damaging your skin, while titanium dioxide reflects and blocks UV rays.

Buy it ($37)

13. Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 30

Best Stick

The minute it’s safe to travel again, you bet we’ll be booking a tropical vacation for at least two weeks. And when that time comes, we’ll be tucking this solid mineral sunscreen stick from Beautycounter in our suitcase. It’s TSA-friendly, reef-friendly, ultra-hydrating (thanks to cocoa butter) and super sheer, so it won’t leave behind a chalky residue.

Buy it ($21)

14. Heimish Artless Glow Base, SPF 50+ PA+++

Best Under Makeup

Calling all glass skin fans: This protective base delivers ample UVA and UVB coverage, while brightening up your complexion with botanical extracts and a pearly, light-reflective shimmer that makes your face look downright luminous. It wears nicely on its own but is especially flattering underneath any makeup, as it acts almost like a highlighter.

$22 at Amazon

15. ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40

Best SPF-Makeup Hybrid

If you like a product that works as both daily SPF and makeup, look no further than this super-popular skin tint from Ilia. It features zinc oxide sunscreen, light to medium coverage and a whole slew of beneficial skincare ingredients (think: hyaluronic acid, plant-based Squalane and Niacinamide). Plus, it leaves a dewy finish, for the best version of your natural skin.

Buy it ($48)

RELATED: ILIA’s Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 Really Is As Good As Everyone Says (and It's on Sale for 20 Percent Off!)