A woman applying face sunscreen

A woman applying face sunscreen (Photo by PeopleImages.com - Yuri A on Shutterstock)

Although sunscreen is an important tool to protect the skin on your body from harmful UV rays, your face is arguably the most crucial. While a little sun can be healthy for vitamin D production and absorption, extended exposure to the sun can cause premature aging and increase your risk for skin cancer. The best way to protect yourself is to wear SPF every day. Yes, we mean every single day. Even on days you think it isn’t “sunny” outside, you still need protection. The best face sunscreen is one that you can stick to every day to create a healthy daily habit without worrying about breaking out or other skin problems as a result.

There are a number of factors that go into choosing a great daily sunscreen. The two main types of sunscreens are chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens use ingredients that are absorbed and react with UV rays to convert them into heat and release them from the body so they don’t harm the skin. Physical sunscreens contain minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that simply block UV rays. The right fit will depend on how your skin reacts and your personal preference for texture and absorption. StudyFinds found the best face sunscreens based on the consensus among 14 expert sources. Did we miss your favorite product? Let us know in the comments below!

The List: Best Face Sunscreens to Protect Your Skin

1. Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

The Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen might feel a little expensive, but it’s raved about all over social media for a reason. As a chemical sunscreen that’s a clear gel, Wirecutter says it spreads easily and layers well with makeup. For those that layer multiple products on their face and are worried about a white cast or pilling, the Supergoop sunscreen eliminates all these woes.

Cosmopolitan even goes as far to say it doubles as a makeup primer, with a skin-blurring effect and a base for makeup to stick to. With SPF 40, be aware it doesn’t give the highest amount of protection on the market and might be hard to re-apply throughout the day if you’ve already layered makeup over it. Some of the key ingredients include dimethicone, meadowfoam seed oil, and shea butter.

The formula is oil-free and gel-based, which is what sets it apart in application. Other sunscreens or creams feel heavy on the skin or leave a film. Luckily, The Strategist says Supergoop sunscreen dries clear and quickly, absorbs easily, and doesn’t just come off if someone has oily skin. Some users find it even leaves their skin with a bit of a glow.

2. Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 Facial Sunscreen

Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 Facial Sunscreen
Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 Facial Sunscreen

Elta MD products are great for those with sensitive skin and often recommended by dermatologists. CNET explains that this sunscreen was designed for those with skin concerns like rosacea or sensitivity, as all of the brand’s sun care products are paraben-free, fragrance-free, vegan, non-comedogenic, sensitivity-free, and oil-free. That’s quite the resume!

Real Simple explains that this sunscreen is often raved about due to its lightweight formula that leaves no white cast and won’t cause breakouts. With hyaluronic acid and other vitamins that smooth the skin and prevent fine lines, this sunscreen gives the wearer a healthy glow without being too heavy or greasy. Wear it alone or under makeup without worrying about breakouts or irritation.

This sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen and the main power ingredient is zinc oxide, which reflects UVA and UVB rays. Harper’s Bazaar notes powerful ingredients like niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate, and tocopheryl acetate work together on your skin to increase moisture while soothing irritation and providing anti-aging benefits.

3. Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Matte Sunscreen SPF 45

Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Matte Sunscreen SPF 45
Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Matte Sunscreen SPF 45 (ulta.com)

The Black Girl Make It Matte Sunscreen comes in a bottle with a pump and is not white and creamy like other sunscreens usually are. The gel formula was created specifically for people of color as a sunscreen option that leaves no white cast. Elle says this matte version of their original sunscreen product tones down the radiance and gives skin a natural finish without compromising on protection.

Consumer Reports says the Black Girl Make It Matte Sunscreen has essential moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil that’s ideal for people with dry skin. It also offers SPF 45 protection.

It’s no surprise then that this formula won Allure’s 2021 Best of Beauty Award. The publication raves that this sunscreen’s barely-there formula “glides onto the skin like silk,” but isn’t drying and doesn’t crease, due to the large amount of moisturizing ingredients the sunscreen is packed with.

4. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 50

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 50
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 50

According to Glamour, La Roche Posay has great products that combine affordability with formulas that actually work. Their tinted face sunscreen provides both sun protection, hydration, and a little bit of a tint to even out skin tone in a lightweight formula. Wear it on its own for natural skin or layer it under makeup.

This sunscreen won Allure’s 2023 Best of Beauty Award and is full of ingredients that nourish and protect the skin. Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals for anti-aging, silica absorbs extra oil for a non-greasy application, and La Roche Posay’s signature thermal spring water soothes the skin.

The formula is a mineral sunscreen for those who are sensitive to chemical sunscreens, with titanium dioxide being the main UV ray blocker. Elle says this is a great higher-end drugstore sunscreen that’s easy to rub in and use as a base for makeup. Using this sunscreen will result in a matte finish with a light tint that can be used on almost all skin tones.

5. Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 42

Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 42
Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 42

If you live in an urban environment, your skin is exposed to all sorts of pollutants and free radicals that can cause premature aging or other skin conditions. A sunscreen that addresses more than just UV ray protection can be beneficial in the long run. According to Vogue, Shiseido’s sunscreen is full of antioxidants to protect the skin from pollutants.

Elle notes that it also contains hyaluronic acid for moisture and spirulina for extra nourishment and a soothing effect. The formula absorbs well and doesn’t pill, so it can be used on its own or underneath makeup as a primer.

Reviewers at Allure love that this mineral sunscreen is an oil-absorbing formula, so it will help to prevent new breakouts from happening. The Shiseido sunscreen minimizes shine and improves hydration and has a chemical sunscreen counterpart if you prefer a dewy finish.

6. Summer Fridays ShadeDrops Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Milk Sunscreen

Summer Fridays Shadedrops Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Milk Sunscreen
Summer Fridays ShadeDrops Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Milk Sunscreen

Searching for the perfect sunscreen for summer? The Summer Fridays Mineral Milk is a serum-like formula that protects without adding an oily layer to your face and will even give you a tinted glow! A reviewer at The Cut notes that skin usually gets oiler in hotter weather, but this formula is milky and light without being heavy.

Forbes says this is probably the lightest mineral formula you’ll be able to find, and it absorbs well into the skin without being chalky or streaky. The sunscreen comes out a pearly yellow color and is a little sticky at first but absorbs and dries almost instantly without leaving any tackiness or greasiness behind.

The tint to this formula helps to avoid a white cast and cancels out some redness on the face while giving you a slight glow. People magazine reviewers tested this sunscreen to see how well it held up under water, and while it wasn’t runny there was some streaking. It isn’t necessarily water resistant but should hold up well under makeup and some sweat.

7. COOLA Organic Classic Face Sunscreen SPF 50

COOLA Organic Classic Face Sunscreen SPF 50
COOLA Organic Classic Face Sunscreen SPF 50

Forbes recommends this simple sunscreen as their top pick, with five out of six of their testers loving this lightweight, fragrance-free formula. It is a chemical sunscreen, but it contains no fragrance or other irritating ingredients. Testers noted it was easy to squeeze out an accurate amount from the tube and it went on flawlessly without feeling gloopy.

According to CNET, this sunscreen is also water resistant up to 80 minutes, so it might be a great option to wear to the beach even if you’ll need to reapply. Other water-resistant options often feel thick and heavy. The formula is also reef-safe, which is important if traveling to regions like Hawaii in order to preserve local wildlife.

The Strategist loves that the COOLA sunscreen also contains antioxidants like aloe juice and grape-seed oil that will protect and hydrate the skin, helping to repair the barrier. The consistency is comparable to a light lotion or other skincare product that absorbs nicely and only leaves a sheer layer.

Sources:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Elsa Lee

Elsa is a freelance journalist, copywriter, and marketer based out of the Los Angeles area. She has been writing for 7 years.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor