Sign up here to get our free newsletter

Sign up here to get our free newsletter

The best facial sunscreens to protect you from UV rays

Bottle of sunscreen cream or lotion with sun toy flat lay on the blue and yellow background with copy space. Spf summer skin, uv protect top view
Photo credit: Photographer/Getty Images
Last updated:

Summer is upon us, and it’s time to grab your favorite swimwear, fill your closet with the most killer sandals you can find, and grab a bottle of rosé. There is, however, one other thing that you can’t forget as the temperatures rise, and that’s sunscreen. Yeah, sure. I sound like your mom. But there’s a reason everyone (and their mothers) in the skin care world is basically screaming at you through a megaphone to wear sunscreen.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, sunscreen is the key to helping prevent skin cancer, and everyone should be using it regardless of age, race or gender. In fact, the academy reports that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer. Plus, according to Huffington Post, facial sunscreens have more benefits than just preventing skin cancer. They can help protect your skin against premature aging and wrinkles, dark spots and hyperpigmentation. If you’ve been trying to get your skin in tip-top shape, going without good sunscreen may be holding you back from skin that glows like Beyoncé’s.

Thankfully, there’s not exactly a shortage of facial sunscreens on the market. That’s kind of an issue in its own way, though. With so many options, things can get a little (and by “a little,” I mean a lot) confusing. That’s why I reached out to Dr. Kenneth Mark, one of the most accomplished and respected dermatologists in the country, who broke down what makes a sunscreen good and helped us figure out which sunscreen brands are best.

Buy broad spectrum

It should always be broad spectrum. Don’t know what that means? “It is critical that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB,” he says, “and hence, be broad spectrum.”

MORE: The top U.S. trends that changed fashion history as we know it

That’s not all, though. Dr. Mark also says that SPF should be 30 for the face, and that, “the simplest thing to look for is the ingredient zinc oxide, as it blocks out the full spectrum of UVA and UVB.”

Don’t forget about your makeup

It’s not just about plain old sunscreens, though. Dr. Mark also says that many makeup products also contain sun-blocking ingredients. He explains that these products do count toward your sun protection, but he’d still recommend a facial sunscreen underneath. I also spoke with cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Deanne Robinson, and she agreed with Dr. Mark that makeup as sunscreen can be perfectly fine as well. She says, “Look for a broad spectrum SPF with a rating of 30 or above; mineral-based sunscreens reflect the UV radiation back off of our skin and offer great protection.”

Now, that you’re armed with all of this sun-protecting knowledge, it’s time to do a bit of shopping, right? You can’t possibly ignore the advice of two dermatologists and me, can you?

Here are some good places to start shopping for your new must-have skin care item.

Supergoop! Everyday Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50

supergoop-everyday-sunscreen-spf50
Photo credit: Sephora

This sunscreen from Supergoop! (a brand that’s actually all about sun protection) is a broad spectrum champ, and its SPF 50 will keep your skin safe from the sun. As a bonus, it’s waterproof — i.e. perfect for your next beach or pool day.

The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30

the-ordinary-mineral-uv-filter-sunscreen
Photo credit: Sephora

The Ordinary is a name you may recognize, thanks to its gloriously affordable price tags. The brand’s sunscreen is no different. Its mineral sunscreen features micro-ionized zinc oxide that won’t leave that pesky white cast all over your skin.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Face Sunscreen SPF 60

larocheposay-broad-spectrum-sunscreen-ultra-light
Photo credit: Target

La Roche-Posay’s sunscreen is unique in that it’s both a chemical and physical formula. Dr. Mark explains the differences, saying, “The pros of using a physical blocker, such as zinc oxide, is that you do not have to worry about any other ingredients, and you have full spectrum UVA and UVB protection. One of the main cons is that, until recently, these types of products left a white film on your skin, but more recently they come in micro-ionized formulations where they can rub in. The pros of the chemical-based ones are that they tend to be somewhat lighter in texture, but the cons are that there is a percentage of people who are allergic and/or sensitive to the various chemical ingredients.” La Roche-Posay uses both a chemical and a physical formula to minimize sensitivity and that white film while still giving major sun protection.

NARS Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30

nars-tinted-moisturizer-spf30-sunscreen
Photo credit: Sephora

NARS’s tinted moisturizer is one of the most well-known and loved products on the market. It’s got an amazing 4.4 stars on Sephora and provides some great coverage. Keep in mind, however, that while NARS’s formula does include sun-blocking agents, it doesn’t contain actives like zinc oxide. If you burn like marshmallow over a fire, maybe add a sunblock underneath as well.

Krave Beauty The Beet Shield

the-beet-shield-face-sunscreen
Photo credit: Krave Beauty

If you can’t get enough skin care in your life or just love trying something different, Krave’s The Beet Shield is for you. Owner Liah Yoo explains in a YouTube video that the USFDA has only approved 16 different UV filters with which you can formulate sunscreen. According to Yoo, these regulations were made in the 1990s and are outdated compared with other countries’ standards. Krave Beauty, as a Korean-based brand, uses these more modern filters to create The Beet Shield. While it can’t be named a sunscreen in the United States, it is a sun-blocker, and if you love trying something new, The Beet Shield could be your new go-to facial sunscreen.

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30

complexionrescue-bare-minerals-facial-sunscreen
Photo credit: Sephora

While Complexion Rescue doesn’t contain zinc oxide, it does contain the active ingredient titanium dioxide, which also helps to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Plus, this tinted moisturizer will help to keep your oils at bay while also giving you a bit of coverage when you’re out and about. Basically, it’s the best of all worlds.

Green Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen

green-defence-farmacy-beauty-sunscreen
Photo credit: Farmacy Beauty

Not to sound biased, but this is my current everyday sunscreen. Given my permanently ghost-like complexion, I can attest to its efficacy. So can the ingredients. Green Defense doesn’t just use zinc oxide but also titanium oxide for the double whammy of sun protection. Plus, it’s good for your skin, with the inclusion of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties as well.

MORE: 16 beauty products men want but won’t ask for

Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit

sephora-favorites-sun-safety-kit-sunscreen
Photo credit: Sephora

Finally, if you’re looking for the perfect sunscreen, a great thing to do is try several, and Sephora has the perfect kit for it. Each of the sunscreens in the Sun Safety Kit has a different formulated sunscreen. While you’re testing them, limit your sun exposure to only an hour or two. After all, you don’t want to use a sunscreen that doesn’t suit your skin and come back burned. Find a favorite and boom! Instant summer skin protection.

Join the party

Celebrate the everyday with vibrant and purposeful content – like new recipes, DIY ideas, wellness tips & beyond – for a happier, healthier and bolder life.

Subscribe now to get

our free newsletter