Screen Direction — The Top Sunscreens To Get You Through Summer!
Without a doubt, the beauty essential that should top your list all summer long doesn’t involve a mascara wand, a tube of neon bright nail polish, or a crayon-like lip pencil. It may sound boring but the one product you need to employ throughout this season is a strong and non-comedogenic sunscreen — after all, sunburns aren’t just painful and unattractive but they can lead to serious problems (melanoma, for one) and can accelerate the skin aging process, leaving your once-supple skin saggy, leathery, and riddled with spots and wrinkles.
But, as we all know, finding the perfect sunscreen can be a tricky undertaking since there are so many considerations. Which will work under makeup? Which will appear completely sheer, leaving behind no ghost-like cast or embarrassing streaks? Which will leave skin matte instead of greasy-looking? Will it smell rancid and unpleasant? Can it hold up when playing outdoors sports and sweating profusely?
Below, you’ll find a list of my favorite sunscreens with details about what makes each so special and what activities and scenarios that particularly product is best suited for. Time to find your go-to product!
Sunday Riley Cashmere SPF 30 Advanced Sun Defense, $125. Available at Sephora.com
Though this is probably the most expensive sunscreen I’ve ever tested, it also provides the most indulgent experience, making applying sunscreen feel pleasurable as opposed to being yet another odious but necessary chore. The silky formula is virtually weightless, and it’s infused with anti-aging and detoxifying ingredients to keep pores unclogged and skin radiant. First, it contains wheatgrass powder, which helps to prevent acne breakouts by gently detoxifying the skin and removing dead cells on the skin’s uppermost layers, thereby promoting natural exfoliation. Next, it contains stoneroot, an herb commonly used to treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids due to its ability to improve blood circulation. A natural astringent, it also helps to fight bacteria and keep skin matte and debris-free. Other ingredients include pomegranate, which is loaded with antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage, and ginseng, which promotes blood circulation and makes skin appear more vibrant, while reducing puffiness and delivering a brighter skin tone (hence why it’s such an important part of the Origins GinZing line of de-puffing and brightening eye and facial care products). The 100% mineral formula also contains cashmere proteins that infuse the skin with moisture and create a protective barrier along the skin that prevents moisture loss, thereby keeping skin feeling hydrated and looking supple all day long. This ingredient is also largely responsible for the decadent texture, virtual weightlessness, and silky yet non-greasy feel of the product. Unlike so many sunscreens, this one feels like a serum and it’s equally sheer, leaving behind no greasiness and making you even forget that you applied sunscreen — just the way I like it!
Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Ultra Radiance SPF 30, $9.99. Available at drugstores.
This is one of my favorite sunscreens for the body since, in addition to shielding the skin from UVA and UVB rays through a combination of chemical sunscreens (Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, and Octocrylene), it moisturizes it thanks to the shea butter, mango seed butter, aloe juice, and papaya extract in the formula. But what makes it even more special is that it’s infused with tiny mica particles that make skin glisten in the sun but do so in a way that’s subtle (not that over-the-top stripper-y shimmer).
Aveeno Active Naturals Protect + Hydrate Lotion For Face SPF 50, $8.99. Available at Target stores.
Need a great sunscreen to apply when you’re going for a run outside, playing tennis, or shooting hoops? Then this one will prove rather handy since, unlike so many other formulas, it’s sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes. I’ve personally used it while playing outdoors with my sun (throwing frisbees in the park, playing paddleball, and so forth), and I was delighted that the formula didn’t melt off and wind up in my eyes since, as anyone who has ever experienced that can attest to, such a mishap can be extremely painful and lead to temporary vision impairment issues. Featuring chemical sunscreens like Avobenzone, Octosalate, Octocrylene, and Oxybenzone, this sunscreen delivers UVA and UVB protection while also soothing and hydrating the skin thanks to Aveeno’s trademark oat-based formula, which includes colloidal oatmeal, oat kernel extract, and hydrolyzed oat protein.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 60, $29.99. Available at Ulta.com
This sunscreen has won a number of beauty awards and, once you try it, you’ll see why it’s so popular among beauty bloggers and editors, consumers, and dermatologists alike. This is one of the most lightweight sunscreens you’ll ever try, almost milky in its consistency, and it’s absorbed in the blink of an eye, so that skin isn’t left feeling balmy or greasy. Another bonus: because it’s fragrance-free, you won’t have to grapple with that icky scent associated with typical sunscreens. In terms of its efficacy, this is one of the most advanced sunscreens on the market, formulated with La Roche-Posay’s highly lauded Cell-Ox Shield, which combines several chemical sunscreens — Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, and Oxybenzone — with Senna Alata, also known as Candle bush, which is rich in antioxidants that help battle the free radical damage that often accompanies sun exposure, thereby working synergistically with the aforementioned sunscreens. Though it’s recommended for all skin types, it’s particularly useful for women with normal, combination, and oily skin but should be married with a moisturizer when used by women with ultra dry skin since it doesn’t contain the hydrating ingredients found in other formulas (such as the aforementioned Sunday Riley Cashmere SPF 30). Still, its fluid formula is virtually unmatched and the price – although higher than many drugstore brands — is completely reasonable.
Borghese Age Defying Cellular Complex Protect Moisture Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 15, $22. Available at Target.com
If you’re planning on spending hours outside at the beach, pool, park, or backyard, then you’ll probably need a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher but, for every day use under makeup, this product will more than do the trick, The Borghese Age Defying Cellular Complex Protect Moisture Lotion SPF 15 protects the skin from UV rays via a combination of Avobenzone, Homosalate, and Oxybenzone, while hydrating your visage and strenghening the skin’s natural moisture barrier and improving its defense mechanisms. Grape seed extract acts as an alpha-hydroxy acid, fortifying collagen and elastin structures and making skin appear more taut and smooth, promoting natural exfoliation and sloughing off dead skin cells, as well as reinforcing the skin’s moisture barrier so as to prevent moisture loss. Resveratrol, an ultra powerful anti-oxidant employed in many an anti-aging cream,neutralizes free radicals that can harm the skin and lead to premature aging, inhibiting UVB-induced oxidative stress and preventing UVA damage at the cellular level. Soybean sterols, meanwhile, act as an emollient, leaving skin soft to the touch. If your favorite daytime moisturizer doesn’t contain any sunscreens, simply apply this Borghese sunscreen atop of it and you’ll be good to go all summer long.
Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Barrier Stick, $9.99. Available at mass food and drug stores; visit Ulta.com
Not only is this sunscreen stick ultra portable, but it’s ideal for tricky areas that often get neglected during the sunscreen application process: elbows, tips of ears, ankle bones and so forth. Since it’s in a stick form all you have to do is roll it over the desired area and the product will glide right onto the skin, so you don’t even need to get your fingers dirty in the process.
Coppertone Clearly Sheer For Beach & Pool, $9.99. Available at food, drug, and mass market retailers.
If you’ve ever had to practically chase your child around the beach in order to apply sunscreen on him or her, then you’ll be delighted by the convenience of this spray-on formula since it makes the application process quick and painless for all involved. You can literally spritz the lightweight, almost mist-like formula onto limbs, tummies, and backs, then quickly rub it in to ensure the product was evenly distributed and, just like that, the kids (and you) can be off to splash around in the water, build sand forts, and look for pretty seashells. Though you’ll initially see the white-ish sunscreen, it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave behind any streaky, chalky mess — even after you’ve gone in for a swim and thoroughly immersed your face and body in water. The formula is water resistant (though, let’s be clear, you’d still be wise to reapply after a dip in the pool or ocean) and it has an SPF factor of 50, making it great for the intense rays you’ll face during your beach or poolside outing.
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ For Face and Body, $39.99. Available at Sephora.com
This water-resistant sunscreen formula combines chemical and physical sunscreens (Octinoxate and Ensulizole pertaining to the former category and Zinc Oxide to the latter) and it blends these with moisturizing ingredients like dimethicone and xylitol, as well as antioxidants like apple leaf extract, which protects the skin against the UV-caused damage that leads to premature skin aging. Because it’s readily absorbed by skin, this formula can be worn under makeup with ease. But the reason why I personally adore this product is its smell. The aroma isn’t overly chemical nor is it a fake coconut or mango scent that feels unauthentic and, well, cheap. Instead, this sunscreen has a floral aroma that’s as pleasant as that of any scented moisturizer.
L’Oréal Paris Advanced Suncare Silky Sheer BB Face Lotion SPF 30, $10.99. Available at Drugstore.com
Though it’s not as richly tinted as some BB creams, this lotion does contain a hint of pigment to help even and brighten the skin tone. It has a matte finish on the skin, so it can easily be applied under makeup. Oftentimes, when sunscreens aren’t fully absorbed by the skin or leave a shiny, greasy residue, it can impede the makeup application process so that powders and blushes can appear patchy or slide right off the skin as if melting. Fortunately, this one won’t interfere with your cosmetics routine, which is a huge relief. And, if you have a low-maintenance beauty day and don’t want to wear tons of makeup, you can simply apply this product and enjoy UVA and UVB protection with a hint of coverage. And, as with most BB creams that are meant to make the skin appear more supple and plump, this one accomplishes the feat via a mixture of white grape seed oil and vitamin E.
MD Complete by Dr. Brian Selckson Skin Clearing Clear Skin Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 29, $29.99. Available at Target.com
Designed for blemish-prone skin, this sunscreen offers UVA and UVB protection while working double-time to ensure pores remain unclogged and that skin can breathe with ease. It accomplishes this mission by incorporating cinnamon bark and Alpine willow extracts to inhibit sebum production; Oat kernel extract, ginger root, pomegranate and bisabolol to reduce irritation and redness; and black raspberry, cranberry and pomegranate extracts that support the skin’s natural barrier functions and support its innate repair processes. This clever combination of ingredients means that, not only will this sunscreen not cause breakouts, but it will treat any existing acne flare-ups and reduce any accompanying redness.