The Absolute Best Sunscreens to Use Every Day, According to Dermatologists
By now, you know the importance of wearing sunscreen everyday. Wearing sunscreen is our number one defense against skin cancer, yes, but it comes with other skin benefits, such as protecting our skin barrier, preventing acne, and reducing fine lines. There's really no reason to skip it. But knowing to use it and liking to use it are two different dilemmas.
Luckily, the sunscreen market has so many options that finding a good one that meets your needs has never been easier. To help you, we tapped dermatologists Dr. Dendy Engelman, Dr. Shereene Idriss, and Dr. Harold Lancer to share their favorites. La Roche Posay Anthelios Melt-in-Milk is our favorite for best overall, because it hydrates as it protects, thanks to its skin-loving ingredients.
See below for more dermatologist recommendations (as well as some of our own) for the best sunscreens to use year round.
- Best Overall: La Roche Posay Anthelios Melt-in-Milk
- Best Value: Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
- Best for Dry Skin: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen SPF 50
- Best for Oily Skin: Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
- Best for Combination Skin: Glo Skin Beauty C-Shield Anti-Pollution Moisture Tint SPF 30+
- Best for Mature Skin: Lancer Skincare Sheer Fluid SPF 30
- Best Moisturizer with SPF: La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair SPF 30
- Best Splurge: Isdin Eryfotona Actinica Daily Mineral Sunscreen
- Best Spray On: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Lightweight Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
Best Overall: La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair SPF 30
Best Value: Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
Best for Sensitive Skin: Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Best for Dry Skin: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen SPF 50
Best for Oily Skin: Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Best for Combination Skin: Glo Skin Beauty C-Shield Anti-Pollution Moisture Tint SPF 30+
Best for Mature Skin: Lancer Skincare Sheer Fluid SPF 30
Best Moisturizer with SPF: La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair SPF 30
Best Splurge: Isdin Eryfotona Actinica Daily Mineral Sunscreen
Best Spray On: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Lightweight Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
Best Lotion for Body: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield Classic SPF 50
Best Compact: Skinbetter Sunbetter Tone Smart SPF 68
Best Smelling: Vacation Classic Lotion SPF 30
Best Water Resistant: EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50
What to Keep in Mind
"The sneaky thing about sun damage is that it accumulates over time, and we may not even notice that our skin has sustained small amounts of damage until it's too late," says Dr. Engelman. "Protecting your skin every day with sunscreen should be an automatic part of everyone's routine."
Best sunscreen practices include wearing it every single day (not just on hot days or at the beach). You'll also want to reapply every two hours to keep skin protected. Most experts recommend looking for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has SPF 30 or higher.
Chemical vs. mineral
Even though both types of sunscreen are safe and have the same rate of effectiveness, which you choose may depend on your skin tone and skin type, says Dr. Idriss.
"Most mineral sunscreens leave a white cast. There's been some innovation in this category, but we still haven't perfected it. So darker skin tones often opt for a chemical sunscreen because it's more cosmetically elegant," says Dr. Idriss. "However, chemical sunscreens are not always great for sensitive or acne-prone skin as they can be irritating especially around the eye area."
Scent and texture
In the end, the best sunscreen is the one that works best for you and your needs. "Your sunscreen use should be dictated by what you're actually going to use, and that's a personal preference," says Dr. Lancer. "Everybody has a different taste for the feel and scent of sunscreen they like; so whatever you're actually going to put on daily, is what you should use." "You'll often hear me say that the best sunscreen formula is the one that you love and will regularly wear," adds Dr. Engelman. "Because when it comes to protecting your skin, that's the most important factor."
Your Questions, Answered
What is the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen?
With so many sunscreens on the market, how do you go about picking the right one for you? First, know the basics. There are two types of sunscreen to choose from: physical (a.k.a. mineral) and chemical. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a chemical sunscreen contains ingredients like avobenzone and octisalate, which absorb UV rays before it damages your skin, while a physical sunscreen contains ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which block and scatter UV rays before it penetrates your skin and is less likely to cause skin irritation.
How much sunscreen should you apply?
SPF is a measurement of how well a sunscreen protects the skin from the sun's rays, not how many minutes you can stay in the sun or how long it takes to get a sunburn, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. A SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 97% of the sun's UVB rays. Higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun's rays, but no sunscreen can block 100%. Most adults need about an ounce of sunscreen—enough to fill one shot glass— to cover their whole body.
How often should you reapply sunscreen throughout the day?
While sunscreen is often the first thing people reach for in terms of protection, remember that covering your skin is even more effective. Protective clothing, like sun hats or UPF clothing, are another tool to keep in your sun safety arsenal. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, but be extra careful during peak sun times—10am to 4pm, depending on the season of the year.
Can you use the same sunscreen for your face and body?
While you can use the same sunscreen for face and body, there may be a case for having separate products. The first being formula type, you may want the blendability and texture of a chemical SPF for your face, but prefer the ingredients of a mineral for your body. Second, consider your skin type. If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, you may want to opt for a mineral formula, or one specifically designed for your skin type. And finally, consider your application method. Do you want a spray to reach your back? A luxurious feeling lotion that hydrates as you apply? Those decisions can guide you to the right SPF for your needs.
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