There are certain pieces of skincare advice we never get tired of sharing or receiving. “Drink more water” and “wash your makeup brushes” immediately come to mind. However, neither feel as important or as easy as “don’t forget to apply your sunscreen.” One reason alone can’t explain the enthusiasm behind this universally accepted standard. For one, climate change is having an impact on the environmental factors that help regulate our exposure to sunlight. Exfoliation has also become increasingly popular, a technique that carries a multitude of benefits, but can also thin out the skin barrier and make it more vulnerable to sun damage. Even if you don’t swear by retinol and wear hats everywhere you go, even minimal sun and heat exposure can leave the skin feeling dry or irritated. This is where sunscreen swoops in—or should we say, swipes in—to save the day. Facial sunscreen is an especially important essential, as it protects the most exposed part of our body.
Still, we get it—sun exposure sometimes isn’t enough motivation to consistently use SPF. Sometimes, it takes a standout formula or affordable price tag to do the trick. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best facial sunscreens to help you narrow down your choices, and the best part is that all of these can layer comfortably with makeup.
How We Found The Best Facial Sunscreens
Our list was created with the help of an ultra-smart and unbiased algorithm. This proprietary tool identifies products by analyzing data from a variety of sources, including beauty editor recommendations, expert product reviews, and social media buzz. Check out the results below.
Next up, check out the 10 Best Sunscreens For Acne-Prone Skin. Opening image: @supergoop
Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.
Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Black Girl Sunscreen is a top-notch option for people of every shade, though its formula is especially appealing to those with brown skin because it doesn’t leave behind the dreaded white cast often created by zinc oxide. Its trifecta of ultra-moisturizing ingredients also gives it the luxurious consistency of a rich cream, and you can use it on your whole body.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW: This versatile, reef-safe formula also targets hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Lotion
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: For those seeking a lightweight formula that won’t leave the face greasy and breakout-prone, this one has a thinner consistency and quickly absorbs into the skin. Its star ingredient, vitamin E, is also known for its ability to target aging skin.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW: This formula is a godsend for sensitive skin types—it's fragrance-free, gluten-free, and vegan.
Elemis Daily Defence Shield SPF 30
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: One of the more innovative formulas on this list is Elemis’s Daily Defence Shield, which not only protects against sun exposure but blue light as well. Otherwise known as "high energy visible light" from phone and computer screens, it can cause just as much damage when exposure lasts for prolonged periods of time.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW: This formula is rich enough to use alone but lightweight enough to use over your daily moisturizer.
Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: A favorite of many celebs, this Supergoop! standout is celebrated for its luminous, pearlescent finish and skin-enhancing ingredients. They include ample amounts of hyaluronic acid, sea lavender for antioxidant protection, and cocoa peptides for blue light damage prevention.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW: This doubles as a moisturizer and makeup primer that will grip your skin coverage without causing a greasy buildup.
SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical Uv Defense SPF 50
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: If you’re someone who doesn’t love the luminous finish of most sunscreens, SkinCeuticals’s sunscreen will be extra appealing. Its formula—a multilayer mix of physical sun filters—dries down to a non-drying matte finish.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW: In addition to the usual suspects—titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—a third, lesser-known ingredient called artemia salina specifically protects collagen from UV damage.
BeautyCounter Countersun Daily Sheer Defense For Face SPF 25
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Dry skin types obsess over this sunscreen-moisturizer, which prioritizes drawing moisture into the skin (squalane), keeping it there (chicory root extract), and warding off environmental stressors (vitamin E). The form of zinc oxide used for sun protection, “non-nano” oxide, is used because its particles don’t penetrate the skin.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW: Other ingredients left out of the formula are octinoxate and oxybenzone, both of which contribute to coral reef damage.
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Whereas most sunscreens, even water-resistant ones, tend to become less effective over time and need frequent reapplication, Shiseido’s cult-favorite SPF is enriched with two technologies that form a stronger barrier when exposed to heat and water. Still, it’s lightweight and suitable for all skin types.
USER REVIEW: “Cannot speak well enough of this product! It goes on in a primer-feel texture with absolutely no white cast. As I have gone through Accutane, my face is fairly sensitive to the sun. I was preparing for a week in Mexico and needed a good sunscreen to last me, took a chance on this, and LOVED IT. I recommended it to my family and will only buy this moving forward.”
Tula Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Consider this one a sunscreen and an acne treatment. In addition to SPF protection against sunlight and blue light, it's also enriched with all-natural ingredients that improve skin texture. Papaya and pineapple are on the gentler end of the exfoliation spectrum with enzymes that slough away dead skin cells, while probiotic extracts strengthen the skin barrier.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW: Wild butterfly ginger root, an ingredient you never knew you needed, also provides extra sun protection.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Cream-based sunscreens can feel heavy, which is why shoppers go crazy for this oil-free gel formula. The addition of red algae helps protect the skin from blue light exposure, and frankincense, like its more popular counterpart aloe vera, is an underrated skin soother.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW: This formula is fragrance-free and light enough to use underneath your makeup.
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: The Internet has spoken, and no other sunscreen is praised more than EltaMD’s cult-favorite, fragrance-free sunscreen. While it isn’t water-resistant, acne-prone and sensitive skin types love the lactic acid-rich formula that tackles a host of common skin concerns at once, including breakouts, rosacea, and dryness.
USER REVIEW: “I love this sunscreen! It's so smooth. I look forward to putting it on every morning, and it's the first one I haven't disliked reapplying throughout the day. I have a long family history of melanoma and Elta MD was recommended to me by my dermatologist during an annual skin cancer check. This is the best sunscreen I've used.”