The 7 Best Sunscreens For Your Face
It's not exactly groundbreaking news to hear that you should be applying sunscreen before you head outside. But the importance of putting sunscreen on your face every morning — yes, even in the winter — is a little less well known. Since sunlight is the main source of UV rays, and the American Cancer Society notes that exposure to UV radiation increases the risk for developing skin cancer, applying sunscreen to your face daily is a must. Of course, finding the best facial sunscreen can get tricky because there are so many options available, and the skin on your face tends to be more sensitive than the rest of your body.
First things first, it's important to look for a facial sunscreen that says broad spectrum. This is because a broad spectrum SPF protects you from UVB and UVA rays, which both contribute to signs of skin damage such as brown spots, damaging your skin cells' DNA, and an increased risk of skin cancer. You'll also want to look for a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30. Any lower, and you won't be getting enough protection, though SPF numbers higher than 30 don't actually offer that much more protection.
When it comes to effective sunscreen ingredients, ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide are all safe bets. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide typically found in mineral sunscreens, which tend to be preferred by people with sensitive skin because the skin doesn't absorb them. They can sometimes leave a white cast on the skin, though — aka the telltale sign you're wearing sunscreen — which is why some people prefer a chemical sunscreen.
As for application, if you want to save yourself an extra step in the morning, swap out your usual moisturizer for one with an SPF. The American Cancer Society also notes that you should be applying about one ounce of sunscreen to your face (that's why relying solely on a foundation with SPF won't cut it).
Ahead, you'll find some of the best facial sunscreens to get you started — all of which offer broad-spectrum protection.
1. Best Drugstore Sunscreen For Your Face
CeraVe Face Lotion SPF 30
CeraVe Face Lotion SPF 30 is an affordable, mineral-based sunscreen cream that's also dermatologist-approved. Like their regular face moisturizer, this formula also includes hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide to moisturize skin and fortify its natural protective barrier. It dries clearly and is lightweight, water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, and easy to blend and wear under makeup. It gets bonus points for being sensitive skin-friendly, as its formula has been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, and it's oil-, fragrance-, and paraben-free, to boot.
2. Best Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen
Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30
My personal go-to, Paula's Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 offers all-mineral sun protection with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide so it doesn't irritate my sensitive skin. But it's also a great skin care product in general because it combines 12 antioxidants, like resveratrol and kiwi fruit extract, to protect against environmental damage, as well as hydrating and skin-restoring ingredients like glycerin and niacinamide. Basically, any damage the outdoors throw your way, this face moisturizer will protect you from.
3. Best Facial Sunscreen For Acne-Prone Skin
Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion SPF 55
For acne-prone skin, applying sunscreen on your face can seem like a breakout disaster waiting to happen. That's why Neutrogena developed their Clear Face Liquid Lotion. It still provides skin with UVA/UVB protection, but the oil- and fragrance-free formula is non-comedogenic, so it won't clog your pores. Clear Face also boasts a water-light texture that leaves a matte finish that oily skin types will especially love.
One Amazon user writes, "It's perfect to wear under makeup, and it absorbs extremely fast with no oily residue." Another user confirms its clear face claims, writing, "This is the only sunscreen I've found that doesn't make my face break out."
4. Best Facial Sunscreen In Serum Form
La Roche Posay Anthelios AOX Antioxidant Serum SPF 55
Protecting your skin from sun damage while also improving signs of past damage, such as dark spots and uneven texture, is officially a thing thanks to this genius La Roche Posay antioxidant serum. The serum formula means a super lightweight texture that absorbs quickly, and it's dermatologist tested as well as fragrance-, paraben- and oil-free. Basically, this is a sunscreen for people who hate sunscreen, as it feels like nothing on your skin. In addition to being formulated with La Roche Posay's thermal spring water, the formula includes an antioxidant complex of vitamin Cg, baicalin, and vitamin E.
5. Best Tinted Facial Sunscreen
EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 Tinted Facial Sunscreen
If you're looking for a facial sunscreen that offers slight coverage as well as sun protection, EltaMD Tinted Facial Sunscreen gets top marks. Zinc oxide and octinoxate work to reflect and scatter harmful UVA and UVB rays, while hyaluronic acid and vitamin E help keep skin moisturized and smooth. The subtle tint adds a your-skin-but-better finish, and the formula is also fragrance- and paraben-free, if sensitivity is a concern.
6. Best Facial Sunscreen With SPF 50
Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50
While this was developed for babies and children, and it's not specifically labeled as a facial sunscreen, Thinkbaby makes the list because of its mild, mineral-based broad-spectrum formula — after all, it is gentle enough for babies. It's won multiple awards, including Allure's Best of Beauty, and it was the first ever sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements. The best part is, it contains a super high SPF of 50, making it the most protective pick on this list. If you plan on going out directly in the sun, this is the tube to keep in your beach bag.
"I use this for my face before I put on makeup," writes one Amazon user, adding, that it didn't cause any breakouts. In addition to sun protection, Thinkbaby's formula includes ingredients like jojoba oil, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid, so it works to moisturize your skin, too.
7. Best Facial Sunscreen Stick
Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Face Stick
Equal parts adorable and effective, sunscreen sticks are great to keep in your bag for touch-ups throughout the day. They're also perfect for applying to places everyone tends to forget about, like the ears and part line — the latter being especially preferable to cover with a stick formula since it means you don't have to worry about a cream leaving your hair gunky. The Sun Bum Face Stick offers broad-spectrum protection, plus, it contains vitamin E to keep your skin soft. A must-have for travel, keep it in your carry-on bag to apply on the plane and prevent those window-penetrating sun rays from damaging your skin.
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