The 13 Best Face Sunscreens of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

We evaluated 32 face sunscreens for lightweight, cast-free consistency, gentle formula and all the broad-spectrum UV protection we could get.

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The Best Face Sunscreens, Tested and Reviewed

InStyle / Alli Waataja

As Icarus learned the hard way according to ancient Greek lore, you should never get too close to the sun. And that could not be more true when it comes to creating a barrier between the sun and your face. No matter the climate, our skin is vulnerable to damage from dangerous UV rays and free radicals emitted by the sun — and the negative effects of unprotected exposure extend far beyond the pink flush of sunburn. Without proper protection, damage can build up over time and compound to cause big problems for your skin–and your general health–later on. 

It’s crucial to develop a well-maintained practice of daily face sunscreen application, but with hundreds of options encased in packaging splashed with various marketing-speak, how will you know which one is right for you?

Well, we took one for the team. We selected 32 of the most popular face sunscreens around and exhaustively tested each one in our Manhattan-based Lab as well as out in the real world. We evaluated every sunscreen for their level of protection (UVA/UVB protection, SPF level), but we even took it a step further by ranking each one against a set of specific criteria, including feel, undesirable transfer from skin to clothes, color and blendability, ease of removal, and water-resistance, all to weed out the noise and provide you with a hand-picked list of the best face sunscreens.

Best Overall

ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica SPF 50+

ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica SPF 50+


What We Love: This face sunscreen performed consistently high across all of our major categories. It’s lightweight and absorbs quickly with no residue making it one of the best options for applying underneath makeup and daily use. 

 What We Don’t Love: This is one of the more expensive face sunscreens out there, but it performed so well and has so many benefits that we think it’s well worth the price tag. The bottle is nearly double the standard size of most face sunscreens, so while you may spend more upfront, you’ll also be reaping the benefits for longer.

The name of our favorite face sunscreen overall might leave you a bit perplexed, but there’s nothing confusing about the way this excellent, high SPF, mineral sunscreen performs for everyday use. 

For folks with combination skin, it can especially be tricky to find the right sunscreen that isn’t too thick or difficult to blend in without leaving a white cast — not true here. Throughout our test, we found that this was one of the fastest absorbing face sunscreens out there. With a super lightweight, almost watery feel, it isn’t greasy at all. In fact, it's so impossibly easy to spread that it won’t slow down your morning makeup routine in the slightest. 

This outstanding face sunscreen stayed with us throughout the day but never in an unappealing way. While it carries a slightly “beachy” scent, we found it to be one of the best smelling sunscreens on this list. After sweaty workouts at the gym, we found that even vigorous perspiration didn’t cause any runs or transfers. 

Price at time of publish: $60 

Type: Mineral | SPF Level: 50+ | Size: 3.4 fl oz | Water-Resistance: Up to 40 minutes

Best Budget

CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen


What We Love: The super creamy texture absorbs well into the skin and plays well with makeup. It’s also great for oilier skin types, generating less residue and transfer. 

What We Don’t Love: The thick consistency means that it can take a bit of extra effort to fully rub it in and eliminate white cast. However, the effort pays off and results in a nicely moisturized visage.

If you’re looking for a face sunscreen that delivers on the features of high-end competitors and was developed in association with licensed dermatologists, look no further than this mineral sunscreen from drugstore staple CeraVe. 

While the thick consistency may take some extra effort to rub in, we all found that the result was worth it. This sunscreen, when given time to settle into skin, left no signs of white cast. Instead, it made our faces feel pleasantly hydrated — an unexpected boost to our normal skincare and makeup routines. 

And with a larger package size and much lower price point than most of the other sunscreens we tried, the performance of this sunscreen is one of the best values out there.  

Our only gripe is that the formula is not water-resistant. If you're headed to the beach, choose a water-resistant option instead.

Price at time of publish: $16  

Type: Mineral | SPF Level: 30 | Size: 2.5 fl oz | Water-Resistance: No

Best Drugstore

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60

La Roche-Posay

What We Love: It’s highly water-resistant, making it a great choice to grab from the drugstore on your way to the pool or beach.  

What We Don’t Love: With a slighter thicker consistency, we found that this sunscreen didn’t perform as well under makeup as others. It’s a better entry for heavy sun exposure days than everyday use.

With a recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation, this paraben- and fragrance-free, non-comedogenic option from La Roche-Posay is an easy favorite to snag almost anywhere. While its consistency is a bit thicker than other sunscreens on this list — it feels more like a body sunscreen — it still absorbs quickly and applies evenly with very minimal streaking. 

That said, we didn’t love it underneath our makeup and we wouldn’t recommend it for daily use. However, given its strong water-resistance, you won’t find a better sunscreen for days when you know you’re going to be sweating, swimming, or sunbathing, and less concerned with how your makeup looks.     

Price at time of publish: $20  

Type: Chemical | SPF Level: 60 | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Water-Resistance: Up to 80 minutes

Best Unscented

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen Face SPF 40


What We Love: This sunscreen lives up to its name as the transparent color, lack of fragrance, and absence of any white cast make it practically invisible. It glides smoothly and makes for a fantastic base under makeup.  

What We Don’t Love: It does not absorb quite as well on oilier T-zones, so we’d encourage people with particularly oily skin to seek out other options, like tktk on this list.

If you’re looking for a sunscreen that is nearly undetectable, Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen is the way to go. It carries hardly any odor and the translucent, bouncy gel gives it a silky smooth feel that glides on easily and functions similarly to a makeup primer. 

Unlike some chemical sunscreens, we didn’t see any white cast on our skin, even after reapplication. During the day, it held up to perspiration without running or streaking. In fact, this sunscreen felt so light and natural on our skin that it was sometimes difficult to tell whether we had fully washed it off! 

Our one caution is that, while the formula is oil-free, it may actually not be the best choice for oilier skin types. When we applied it to our T-zones, it tended not to absorb as well and when we blotted our faces we saw a bit more oil and residue come off than with some other sunscreens on this list. That wouldn’t stop us from using it everyday though. It’s a well-rounded option that provides the UVA/UVB protection you’re looking for with none of the fuss of weight or scent.   

Price at time of publish: $38 

Type: Chemical | SPF Level: 40 | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Water-Resistance: Up to 40 minutes

Best for Under Makeup

Coola Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

Coola Classic Face Organic Fragrance-Free Sunscreen Lotion


What We Love: This face sunscreen leaves a moisturized glow and blends in evenly, providing a radiant, dewy base for makeup. 

What We Don’t Love: Like many chemical sunscreens, it leaves some white cast if you don’t spend the time to properly rub it in, but it absorbs faster and more evenly than most.

Face sunscreen and makeup can be like oil and water, but not with this sheer, lightweight option from Coola. It absorbs evenly and leans more moisturizer than traditional sunscreen, which allows it to sit shockingly well under makeup. We were also impressed at its ability to outlast our eight-hour work day as well as a rather intense cardio bootcamp workout. We came out on the other side looking normal workout dewy, with no streaks or pilling. 

While using this sunscreen, we found that our skin took on a naturally moisturized, dewy tone that, frankly, looked really excellent on Zoom calls. We did have to spend a little extra time rubbing it in to avoid white cast, but the extra effort was compensated by how easy it was to reapply throughout the day. Every time we reapplied we experienced none of the cakiness that can often accompany layering more sunscreen on top of your makeup. 

Price at time of publish: $32   

Type: Chemical | SPF Level: 50 | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Water-Resistance: Up to 80 minutes

Best Mineral

Summer Fridays ShadeDrops Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Milk Sunscreen

Summer Fridays ShadeDrops Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Milk Sunscreen


What We Love: The thin consistency allows this sunscreen to absorb evenly and remarkably fast. We felt more like we were wearing a thin layer of foundation than sunscreen. 

What We Don’t Love: It can transfer to clothes if you’re not careful and it leaves behind more residue than other options, but that is the nature of all mineral sunscreens and the effects are much less with this one.

This excellent mineral sunscreen from Summer Fridays dispels all the stigmas that can give mineral options a bad wrap — huge glops of zinc oxide sitting on top of your nose this is certainly not! 

This sunscreen feels airy with a slightly runny (but not too runny!) consistency that causes it to disappear onto skin almost immediately. It doesn’t leave a residue behind, nor is it sticky or greasy. It feels more like a very thin foundation than a sunscreen. And even better: It’s vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty- and paraben-free. 

Most mineral sunscreens transfer or leave behind at least minor residue, and this one is no exception, but that’s simply the nature of the mineral sunscreen beast, as their active ingredients sit on top of your skin rather than sink into dermis like a chemical sunscreen. 

However, if you’re after a sunscreen that is free of chemicals like oxybenzone and octocrylene, the ShadeDrops Mineral Milk Sunscreen will leave you looking ready for the runway instead of the lifeguard station.   

Price at time of publish: $36  

Type: Mineral | SPF Level: 30 | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Water-Resistance: No

Best for Dark Skin Tones

Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SFP 30

Black Girl Sunscreen


What We Love: This sunscreen is featherlight and rubs in well, leaving your skin with a noticeable healthy glow. 

What We Don’t Love: That same glow can also lean shiny or oily as the day drags on.

For those of us with darker skin tones, white cast is a particular consideration when selecting a sunscreen, but you’ll have no such worries here. This ultra-sheer option rubs in with little effort, leaving the skin with a glow reminiscent of a rejuvenating facial without any signs of white cast. 

While we love the dewy look it provides, that also means skin can progress from radiant glow to oily T-zone throughout the day. 

Price at time of publish: $19 

Type: Chemical | SPF Level: 30 | Size: 3 fl oz | Water-Resistance: Up to 80 minutes

Best for Oily Skin

Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35



What We Love: The silky serum consistency ensures this sunscreen melts into skin without looking cakey or greasy — even for those of us with oily skin. 

What We Don’t Love: It contains orange peel extract, which translates to a slight citrus scent, which we found very appealing, but might not be to everyone’s taste.

If your skin is oily or acne-prone and you find yourself constantly on the prowl for non-comedogenic products that don’t feel like a science project, give this gel-like lotion a whirl. This dermatologist-tested formula is bouncy with an almost serum-like consistency that isn’t cakey, greasy or oily, and is easily absorbed by the skin. 

We found that the very subtle citrus scent — which admittedly might not be to everyone’s taste — continued to delight us throughout the day as we continued to reapply. And reapplication was a breeze, leaving our skin feeling moisturized but never sticky. It felt great underneath our makeup and didn’t feel like it was adding much of an extra layer. 

Price at time of publish: $25  

Type: Water-gel | SPF Level: 35 | Size: 1.6 fl oz | Water-Resistance: No

Best Splurge

Dr. Rossi Derm MD The Day Formula

Dr. Rossi Derm MD The Day Formula

Dr. Rossi Derm MD

What We Love: This sunscreen has a thick, luxurious texture that we found to be especially hydrating. It also receives perfect marks for easy wash-off at the end of the day.

What We Don’t Love: Despite how lightweight it felt on top of our skin, it did leave more of the white cast typical of mineral sunscreens than some of the others we tried. 

If you’re willing to spend extra for a more glamorous experience, Dr. Rossi MD’s The Day Formula felt the most hydrating on our skin. 

Despite the thickness, which gave us pause initially, we were shocked by how well this sunscreen sank into skin. After a few minutes, we didn’t feel it on our skin at all, which is a particularly remarkable achievement for a mineral sunscreen, which, by definition, sits on top of your skin. As a result, it also layered very well with makeup, and the matte finish proved to be a great base for our foundation and bronzer. 

You’ll also never need to worry about it driving up your dry cleaning bills — it not only stayed put, but it also washed off with ease. 

Price at time of publish: $116

Type: Mineral | SPF Level: 30 | Size: 35 ml | Water-Resistance: No

Best for Dry Skin

Cocokind Silk SPF

Cocokind Silk SPF


What We Love: This sunscreen feels and acts like a moisturizer going on and left our faces with a healthy, hydrated glow.

What We Don’t Love: This sunscreen does not claim to be water-resistant and we found that to be true. It’s not advised if you are going to be particularly sweaty or swimming.

This remarkably hydrating face sunscreen offers the feel and benefits of a moisturizer. A hybrid of chemical and mineral ingredients, this sunscreen applied evenly, dried fast, and had a silky finish that left our skin with a noticeable glow. It also performed exceptionally well in our moisture tests, consistently resulting in higher readings on the second test, making it a great option for drier complexions. 

This sunscreen also layers very well with other products and makeup, but we did find that the advice on the box to use another water-resistant sunscreen if you plan to sweat or swim rang true. Under normal exposure to moisture or water, it holds up really well with fairly minimal streaking when we really went for it on a run, the excessive perspiration pushed product into our eyes and it stung. That wouldn’t stop us from using it as a daily sunscreen though! Day after day it left our skin feeling hydrated and looking glowy without any greasy or oily feeling.       

Price at time of publish: $25  

Type: Hybrid (chemical and mineral) | SPF Level: 30 | Size: 1.7 fl oz | Water-resistance: No

Best for Sensitive Skin

Kinship Self Reflect SPF 32 Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen

Kinship Self Reflect SPF 32 Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen


What We Love: This sunscreen is gentle on your skin as well as on the environment. It’s reef safe, cruelty-free and comes in a recycled plastic tube. 

What We Don’t Love: While we find the slight pink tint this sunscreen carries to be very appealing, it is probably better suited for lighter skin tones.

Not only is this sunscreen gentle on sensitive skin, it’s also gentle on the environment — it's reef-safe, cruelty-free and comes in recycled packaging. 

It’s a formula you can feel good about wearing too. It blends right into skin with minimal rubbing, but still manages to hold up exceptionally well underneath skincare and makeup. We also loved that its unusual pink tint gave us a radiant foundation.

Even though this sunscreen doesn’t claim to be waterproof, we put it through the ringer in several Pilates classes and it remained so streak-free that we actually forgot we even had it on. When we showered afterwards, it didn’t immediately run off, but it also didn’t put up a fight when we went through our normal face cleansing routine. But most importantly, it didn’t cause any irritation or breakouts. 

Price at time of publish: $28  

Type: Mineral | SPF Level: 32 | Size: 1.75 fl oz | Water-Resistance: No

Best for Acne-Prone Skin

Hero Cosmetics Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30

Hero Cosmetics Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30


What We Love: The extremely airy formula doesn’t feel greasy at all. In fact, it left our blotting papers free of any residue or oil — a real win in our book! 

What We Don’t Love: The slight green hue meant we had to rub it in a bit more vigorously than others, but once absorbed it resulted in a very appealing, subtle sheen.

If your skin is vulnerable to breakouts of excess oil, finding a sunscreen that won’t exacerbate the problem is almost as hard as quantum physics. Yet, this super lightweight option, as its name implies, slides across skin without a hitch, leaving us blissfully oil-free. 

Unlike some mineral sunscreens, this option never felt as though our skin had a heavy layer on top of it. The green hue of the lotion is maybe a little unusual, and it did seem to take a little longer to settle on our skin, but it provided a subtle sheen that we quite enjoyed. It's not resistant to water or moisture, so it's better for days you're mostly hanging around indoors or only spending short periods of time outside.

Price at time of publish: $20 

Type: Mineral | SPF Level: 30 | Size: 50 ml | Water-Resistance: No

Best Tinted

Iris & Romeo Weekend Skin SPF 50 + Vitamin C + Glow

Iris & Romeo Weekend Skin SPF 50 + Vitamin C + Glow

Iris & Romeo

What We Love: This sunscreen provides all the protective benefits of a mineral sunscreen while still managing to avoid and even counter white cast to create a natural glow.  

What We Don’t Love: Like some mineral sunscreens, it did seem to pull moisture out of our face, but it layered very well with a moisturizer underneath as part of our regular skincare routine.

If you are looking to add a natural luminosity to your face without compromising on protection, this mineral sunscreen offers both. While the active ingredient zinc oxide tends to have a bad rep for sitting on your face and looking slightly white, we experienced none of that with this sunscreen; it truly did give us the look of weekend skin. 

It left our skin feeling light, comfortable, and radiant. Even though it doesn’t claim to be waterproof, we found this sunscreen stood up well to water and light perspiration. We did notice in our moisture test that it had a slight drying effect on our skin, but since it layers so well with other products, we had no problem working it into our regular skincare routine.  

Price at time of publish: $50  

Type: Mineral | SPF Level: 50 | Size: 1.18 fl oz | Water-Resistance: No

Our Testing Process

The InStyle team spent a serious amount of time researching the full range of face sunscreens available on the market. After narrowing our contenders down to 32, the sunscreens were purchased for both our Lab test as well as our real world testing. We took each face sunscreen through its paces, specifically evaluating and rating a number of factors, including the formula’s feel, level of opacity, water-resistance, ease of removal, and even a clinically administered moisture test. Each category was rated on a scale of five. An average was created for each face sunscreen and only the top rated face sunscreens made our final list of the best face sunscreens. 

What to Keep in Mind

SPF Level

While we may take the acronym for granted, a minimum SPF–Sun Protection Factor– is a crucial consideration to ensure that your sunscreen regimen is not being executed in vain. “For daily wear, I recommend a sunscreen with an SPF value of at least 30, but if you plan to be outside and in the sun for long periods of time, I’d recommend upping that to SPF 50,” says Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board certified dermatologist in New York City. “But no matter what SPF you are wearing, always reapply!”

But even when selecting a higher value SPF, it’s crucial to make sure you’re applying enough to your skin to reap the benefits. “Most people under apply,” warns Manhattan-based board certified dermatologist, Dr. Macrene Alexiades, “If you start with an SPF 50 and you apply half of what you should, you really only used SPF 25.”        

Broad-Spectrum Protection

Deeper penetrating UVA rays are undeniably harmful and can permeate our skin even through clouds, fog, and glass, according to Dr. Morgan Rabach, a board certified dermatologist in New York. But that doesn’t mean we should forget about UVB rays. Both can cause damage and premature aging according to Dr. Engelman. That’s why all three of our consulted dermatologists (including Dr. Alexiades) recommended choosing sunscreens labeled “broad-spectrum.” They offer more comprehensive protection against both UVA and UVB.  

The Right Formula for your Skin Type

No two bodies are exactly the same, but some of us do experience similar problems with our skin. Luckily, there is plenty of customization in the range of products that are available on the market to meet any skin condition–if you know what to look for. 

For sensitive skin, Dr. Engelman advises that you stay away from fragrances which can cause excess irritation and inflammation. All three doctors agree that mineral sunscreens (which feature physical blockers like zinc and titanium that sit on top of the skin instead of absorbing into it) are better suited for sensitive skin as well. 

And if your skin is particularly sensitive, Dr. Engleman reminds us, there is no shame in looking for sunscreen products developed specifically for babies. They can be just as effective on adult skin and are made from milder ingredients that are perfect for sensitive skin. 

For oily or acne-prone skin, the last thing you want to use is a product that adds more oil to it. Dr. Engelman recommends seeking out sunscreens that are matte or powder based and can help absorb excess oil rather than adding to it. They can also be easily reapplied throughout the day, not only enhancing your protection against the sun, but reducing shine as well. And Dr. Alexiades notes that creamier sunscreens tend to leave behind more oil and should be avoided as well. 

For dry skin, Dr. Alexiades encourages us to seek out formulas that contain hydrating ingredients like ceramides or hyaluronic acid. And for those worried about showing signs of aging, Dr. Engelman recommends looking for products that contain Vitamin C, which help combat the effects of free radicals and other pollutants. Dr. Engelman also advises that chemical sunscreens tend to be a better option for mature skin. “They absorb into the skin more readily and are less likely to settle into and accentuate fine lines and wrinkles,” she says. 

Your Questions, Answered

Do you put sunscreen on before or after moisturizer?  

Drs. Engelman, Rabach and Alexiades all agree: Sunscreen should always be the last step in your skincare routine, after your moisturizer.  

How often should you apply a face sunscreen? 

“Daily! And with reapplication throughout the day,” says Dr. Engelman. 

Dr. Alexiades is even more specific in her advice; she recommends reapply sunscreen every two hours, but if you are particularly active or swimming, you should even up that timeframe to every 80 minutes. 

Do you look older if you don’t use face sunscreen? 

All three experts agree. Not using sunscreen will likely cause your face to look older faster. Dr. Alexiades explains that, “if you don't apply sunscreen, the UV radiation can damage the collagen and connective tissue in your skin. This, in turn, leads to loss of elasticity in your skin, causing wrinkles, saggy and aged skin to appear in younger people.” 

What sunscreen SPF is best for your face? 

All of our experts insist that their patients use sunscreen products with a minimum SPF of 30, which, according to Dr. Engelman, will help prevent about 97% of UVB rays from reaching your skin. 

Should I use a chemical and mineral sunscreen? 

The answer of whether to use a chemical or mineral sunscreen can largely determined by your personal preference and skin type. “Both can be incredibly effective,” says Dr. Alexiades. “Chemical sunscreens can be somewhat more irritating to sensitive skin. Physical [mineral] sunscreens are a bit more stable but are also a little more occlusive and can trap heat, so they may feel a little heavier on the skin than the chemical sunscreens.” 

Why Shop with Us 

Peter Tittiger is a contributing writer at InStyle as well as Byrdie. He has over ten years of experience researching and producing content programs for top luxury and lifestyle brands including TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Lexus, and Best Made Co. While writing this article he consulted board-certified dermatologists Dr. Dendy Engelman, Dr. Morgan Rabach, and Dr. Macrene Alexiades. He also consulted the team here at InStyle who thoroughly tested and tried every single one of the featured face sunscreens themselves.  

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