Best Face Sunscreen 2023 | Well+Good

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Your face sunscreen should excite you. As far as dermatologists are concerned, it’s the most necessary (and most effective) skin-care product out there. So if you’re not ending your routine with a layer of the good stuff, the rest of your serums and potions are essentially a waste.

To get you jazzed about putting sunscreen on your face—or, at the very least, compliant to the habit—we covered our own faces in hundreds of different products to find the most elegant and enticing formulas. But first things first, there are a few things you should know so you’re getting the most out of your new favorite skin-care product.

Mineral SPF: Otherwise known as “physical” sunscreen, mineral formulas reflect (aka physically block) visible light from penetrating the skin and causing damage. These types of blockers show up on labels as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and they sit on top of your skin to bounce UV rays off its surface. By nature, mineral formulas are more likely to leave a white cast because their active ingredients are inherently white (so while all of the products on this list work for all skin tones, some may appear ashy on deeper complexions). Sensitive skin generally tolerates mineral sunscreen better than alternatives.

The difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen

Chemical SPF: “Chemical sunscreens are made up of chemicals that are absorbed into the skin, where they can absorb the UV rays and create a chemical reaction that changes the UV rays into heat and the heat is then released from the skin,” says New York City board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD. You’ll know you have a chemical blocker if the active ingredients are some combination of avobenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, or homosalate. These formulas are your best bet for avoiding a white cast, but may be irritating on sensitive skin.

How much face sunscreen to apply

  • To properly cover your face, you need to apply about 0.4 ounces of sunscreen.
  • If you make a peace sign with your index and middle fingers, and draw two thick lines of sunscreen down each finger, that should be about 0.4 ounces.

How to properly apply face sunscreen

  • Apply the recommended amount of sunscreen to dry skin as the final layer of your skin-care routine before makeup.
  • If using a spray, dermatologists recommend holding down the nozzle until your skin glistens.
  • If using a stick, dermatologists recommend doing four passes back and forth.
  • Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure.
  • When exposed to sunlight, reapply according to the directions on the bottle (typically every two hours).

Shop award-winning face sunscreens

Hawaiian Tropic, Sheer Touch Sunscreen Face Serum SPF 30 — $12

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Best drugstore chemical face lotion

One thing about this sunscreen is that you’d never guess it only cost $12—the texture, scent, and finish all make it feel a whole lot more expensive than that. It’s infused with hyaluronic acid to give skin a hefty dose of hydration while also protecting against UV damage.  

What dermatologists say

“Great formula. I love the shea butter, which helps with feel and application. ” —Dhaval Bhanusali, MD  

What testers say

“For the price, it’s like a luxury skin care dupe. It smells so good, like a tropical vacation, and goes on clear and even—no pilling, no white cast, no clogged pores. I love the pump. It makes it really easy to get out the right amount without overdoing it or making a mess. And it’s $12! Can’t beat that.” — Amelia McBride, editorial essistant

Active Ingredients

Avobenzone, Homosolate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Hyaluronic acid

Naturium, UV Reflect Antioxidant SPF 50—$26

Best luxury chemical face lotion

Chemical filters join forces with antioxidant-rich vitamin E, squalene, and fruit extracts to provide protection from UV rays, pollution, blue light, and infrared. It goes on sheer and has a velvety, soft-focus finish, so it’s a great base for makeup but it also looks great (read: invisible) on its own.

What testers say

“I’d heard a lot about this SPF from my fellow beauty editor friends, and (unsurprisingly) it lives up to the hype. It leaves behind the most perfect dewy finish, and I love the way it looks—and feels—on my skin.” —Zoë Weiner, senior beauty editor

Active Ingredients

Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Vitamin E, Squalene

La Roche-Posay, Anthelios Gentle Lotion Mineral Sunscreen — $26

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Best drugstore mineral face lotion

Dermatologists are constantly singing the praises of this formula for sensitive skin, and if it’s good enough for those who are prone to irritation, we say it’s good enough for everyone. The all-mineral formula feels far more elegant than the drugstore price would imply, and you can be sure that this stuff is giving you solid sun protection without any potential irritants.

What dermatologists say

“This all-mineral sunscreen not only protects, but soothes the skin with vitamin E and a proprietary antioxidant blend. Plus silica in the formula helps absorb excess oil and sweat that build up on the skin on those hot, summer days.” —Joshua Zeichner, MD

What testers say

“I joke that I’m doing the PR for this product, because I recommend it to everyone. I not only love it for my own dry complexion, but I also feel confident that it’s gentle enough for all skin types to benefit from.” — Weiner

Active Ingredients

Zinc oxide, Titanium dioxide, Silica

Skinbetter Science, Sunbetter Advanced Mineral Protection Tone Smart — $75

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Best luxury mineral face lotion

Get protection from UV rays, blue light, pollution, and infrared radiation with this sunscreen. It has a mild tint to help the mineral sun-blockers blend into your skin. Plus, it has a host of restorative ingredients to soothe.

What dermatologists say

“This creamy mineral lotion provides both UV protection and cosmetic coverage with a light coverage universal tint. It can be worn on its own, or acts as a primer under your makeup.” — Dr. Zeichner

What testers say

“This was the highest SPF (75!) out of all the products I tested, which was great! The packaging is lovely and super easy to get product out. At first I was nervous for the thickness, but after blending it, it stayed on my face nicely.” — Celine Cortes, associate director, audience development

Active Ingredients

Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide, Bisabolol, Niacinamide

Neutrogena, Purescreen+ Mineral UV Tint Face Liquid Sunscreen — $14

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Best drugstore tinted mineral lotion

Layer this SPF under makeup or let the tint serve as your only complexion product. It blends SPF with antioxidant-rich vitamin E to protect your skin from environmental aggressors.

What dermatologists say

“This is an excellent tinted mineral sunscreen. It has zinc and titanium as the only actives, it rubs in well, is not greasy, and absorbs quickly.” —Amy Wechsler, MD

What testers say

“This is the best facial sunscreen I have used! I love that it’s tinted—doubling as a light foundation without feeling like heavy makeup. It was so moisturizing and made my face look dewy (not greasy at all) and sun-kissed!” — Natalie Carroll, digital designer

Active Ingredients

Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide, Vitamin E

Clinique, Pep Start — $23

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Best luxury tinted mineral lotion

Prime your skin for makeup or wear this SPF on its own. It’s a mineral sunscreen with a tint to help mask the inherent white cast. It’s super lightweight and melts into your skin.

What dermatologists say

“This lightweight sunscreen uses 100 percent mineral filters to protect against UVA and UVB while also offering a universal tint to provide just enough coverage even without any makeup. It’s oil-free and won’t clog the pores.” —Marisa Garshick, MD

What testers say

“I really loved this product and loved that it was SPF 50. It was tinted perfectly, and I felt like I could pass it to any of my friends who do not have the same tones as I do and it still would have worked perfectly for them. I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup, but I truly felt like I didn’t need it after putting this on. It was super lightweight, and really felt like no-makeup makeup.” — Jen Snyder, former senior director of experiential + brand projects

Active Ingredients

Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide

Summer Fridays, Shade Drops — $36

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Best mineral fluid

It’s not easy to formulate a lightweight mineral sunscreen that goes on invisibly, but Summer Fridays has managed to do it. And don’t let the barely-there feel trick you—this stuff offers legit protection thanks to a hefty dose of zinc oxide (bonus: it’s got squalane for hydration and an antioxidant complex to defend against free-radical damage). The creamy fluid glides easily onto skin, and will leave your complexion looking just the right amount of dewy.

What dermatologists say

“One of my favorites. It applies light, absorbs incredibly well, and provides great coverage. This is a patient favorite and something I personally use often.” — Dr. Bhanusali

What testers say

“I will definitely be re-purchasing this product! It’s a mineral sunscreen, which is great, and it notably blends in so well with zero white cast. It’s light and almost feels like another serum I’m using in my skin-care routine. It definitely doesn’t feel like I’m putting on sunscreen with this product.” — Cortes

Active Ingredients

Zinc oxide, Squalane, Vitamin E

L’Oréal Paris, Revitalift Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Invisible UV Fluid — $26

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Best chemical fluid

Shield your skin from the sun with this sunscreen that blends UVA and UVB filters with antioxidant-rich vitamins C and E. The antioxidants help protect your skin from environmental aggressors that can lead to premature signs of aging like wrinkles, dark spots, and dullness. It has a lightweight formula that melts into skin without leaving behind any white cast. Designed with sensitive skin in mind, this formula is free of potential irritants like fragrance, parabens, dye, and mineral oil.

What dermatologists say

“This is a nice formulation that offers SPF 50 broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation, as well as moisturizing ingredients and antioxidants that can help to reduce damage from free radicals.” — Dr. King

What testers say

“I was pleasantly surprised at how great this product was. It’s a sunscreen serum and goes on smooth, blends easily, doesn’t pill at all underneath makeup. Also doesn’t leave my face greasy—if anything, it gives me a hydrated dewy look that makes it look like I just chugged 40 ounces of water.” — Susan Turner, public relations director

Active Ingredients

Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Vitamin C

Supergoop, Glowscreen — $38

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Best glowscreen

When Supergoop launched Glowscreen in 2020, it was one of the pioneers of the “highlighter sunscreen” category, and really kicked off the “funification” of SPF that we’ve seen happening across beauty in recent years. After testing all of the glow-inducing alternatives, we can say with full confidence that this stuff is the best of the best. It brings more to the table than just sun-protection and dewy skin, though: It’s got hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin B5 to hydrate and strengthen the skin, and it comes in four shades so that everyone can find their perfect, radiant match.

What dermatologists say

“A patient favorite, and a great example of fashion and function. It applies well, has a nice, broad-spectrum formula and provides a nice glow.” — Dr. Bhanusali

What testers say

“This was the first ever product that actually got me—a beauty editor!—excited about wearing sunscreen every day. It leaves skin looking even and radiant, but not sparkly or shiny, and makes me feel like I’m wearing makeup even when I’m not.” —Weiner

Active Ingredients

Avobenzone, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Hyaluronic acid, Vitamin B5, Niacinamide, Sea lavender, Cocoa peptide

Paula’s Choice, Healthy Glow Invisible Sunscreen Oil SPF 30 — $29

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Best SPF facial oil

This lightweight oil uses chemical filters and antioxidants to protect skin from UV rays, blue light, and free radicals. It’s totally sheer and leaves skin looking dewy.

What testers say

“I love wrapping my nighttime skin-care routine with a facial oil, and now I can do the same with my morning skin-care routine. It leaves my skin moisturized and glowing.” — Kara Jillian Brown, beauty writer

Active Ingredients

Avobenzone⁠, Octinoxate⁠, Ethyl ferulate⁠, Sunflower seed oil⁠, Rosemary leaf extract⁠

Wear SPF, Sunscreen Sport Stick — $11

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Best chemical stick

Super-portable and easy to reapply, this SPF stick protects skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Of all the SPF sticks we tried, this one was the most pleasant to apply. It has a simple, to-the-point formula that glides on with ease. If you haven’t tried sticks, this one will make you a convert.

What dermatologists say

“This stick sunscreen is great for on-the-go and can be used on the face, ears, lips, back of your neck and more. It is especially good for reapplication.” — Dr. Garshick

What testers say

“I fell in love with this sunscreen at first swipe. It’s incredible moisturizing, sheer, and easy to apply. I love the way it feels on my skin and that I can reapply it without getting any on my hands. TBH, it’s the only sunscreen that I’ve actually reapplied when I’m not at the beach.” — Brown

Active Ingredients

Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene

Neutrogena, Ultra Sheer Mineral Stick — $14

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Best mineral stick

Get strong protection right where you need it with this mineral stick from Neutrogena. It’s enhanced with vitamin E to provide antioxidant protection from environmental aggressors. Plus, it’s free of potential irritants like fragrances, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and mineral oil, making it great for sensitive skin.

What dermatologists say

“This all-mineral zinc stick leaves the skin with a matte appearance. It can be fully rubbed in, avoiding a white cast on the skin. Vitamin E in the product helps protect the skin from free radicals, while offering emollient effects.” — Dr. Zeichner

What testers say

“I was nervous to try this one because mineral sticks tend to be super concentrated, and I was terrified it would leave me looking like a ghost. I applied two swipes all over and saw a bit of a film, but then I used my hands to work the product into my brown skin and it nearly disappeared.” — Brown

Active Ingredients

Zinc oxide, Vitamin E

Glossier, Invisible Shield — $25

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Best drugstore gel

Designed for people who hate sunscreen, this water-gel SPF serum goes on smooth and dries fast so you forget its even on. It’s a chemical sunscreen, so you don’t have to worry about any white cast. Plus, it has antioxidants to protect against environmental aggressors like pollution.

What dermatologists say

“This is a nice formulation that is very lightweight, offers SPF 35 broad spectrum protection from UV radiation, and also contains antioxidants to help reduce damage from free radicals.” — Dr. King

What testers say

“I’ve been using this Glossier sunscreen daily for a couple of years now. It gives me such a beautiful glow that on many days, I feel like I can nix foundation all together and just use this as my makeup base. And on days when I do wear a full face of makeup, I love that I don’t have to worry about pilling when I apply other products on top. I also love how it’s “invisible,” so you never have to worry about any white cast being left on your face. It’s so easy to rub in, and leaves my face hydrated and glowing.” — Maeve McCormick, assistant branded content editor

Active Ingredients

Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Aloe leaf extract

ZO Skin Health, Gel Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum — $70

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Best luxury gel

Sunscreen deniers, rejoice: This lightweight, gel-textured formula will make you feel like you’re wearing nothing at all. It’s totally clear, melts seamlessly into all skin tones, and will leave your complexion looking smooth and mattified. Plus, it’s infused with plant cells and an antioxidant complex that work together to defend against free-radical damage for up to 12 hours.

What dermatologists say

“Gel formulations are a great option in the warm, humid months since they tend to have a light consistency while offering hydration. The sunscreen feels weightless on the skin and provides broad spectrum UV protection. Plus the formula contains a blend of antioxidants and plant stem cells to provide protection against blue light and infrared energy.” — Dr. Zeichner

What testers say

“This SPF is truly invisible, which is no easy feat. The gel texture leaves behind a smooth, matte finish that blurs pores in the same way my favorite Photoshop-esque primers do.” —Weiner

Active Ingredients

Avobenzone, Octisalate, Octocrylene

Cerave, Hydrating Sheer Sunscreen — $14

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Best for combination skin

For skin that oscillates between oily and dry (depending on the day, location, and maybe mood), Cerave’s Hydrating Sheer Sunscreen is your best bet—and it’s only $14 for a large tube that will last you all summer and beyond. This formula is true to its word: It applies smoothly and thoroughly without leaving a white cast, protecting skin without making it feel weighed down.

What dermatologists say

“The Cerave hydrating is a perfect product to provide SPF coverage and a little bit of hydration without causing breakouts. Great for all skin types.” — Diane Madfes, MD

What testers say

“After testing this for a couple weeks, I can confirm it didn’t break me out, which is a huge win in my book because so many SPFs do!” — Gina Vaynshteyn, commerce director

Active Ingredients

Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Zinc oxide

Isdin, Eryfotona Ageless — $60

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Best for mature skin

Not only does Miranda Kerr swear by this product, but our testers did, too. It’s made with photolyase enzymes derived from plankton that have been shown to help repair damage caused by the sun and peptides to help keep skin cells healthy, fight the early signs of photoaging, support collagen, and improve elasticity to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. “Ageless,” indeed.

What dermatologists say

“The Isdin product is wonderful, as its texture spreads evenly while providing excellent UV protection.” — Dr. Madfes

What testers say

“I love how easily this stuff blends into the skin—I actually had to triple-check that it’s a physical formula because of how lightweight it feels.” — Weiner

Active Ingredients

Zinc oxide

Relevant: Your Skin Seen, One & Done — $38

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Best for sensitive skin

Those with sensitive skin know that less is truly more when it comes to your routine. And what better way to pare things down than with an a.m. product that does it all? The One & Done SPF wraps your serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen into one seamless step. Plus, it’s made with soothing superstar oat extract to calm any inflammation, leaving your skin stress-free and protected.

What dermatologists say

“This moisturizer with sunscreen hydrates and protects with squalane, hyaluronic acid and oats. The all-mineral SPF protection is ultra-gentle, even for sensitive skin, and fully rubs in so it can be used across all skin tones.” —Dr. Zeichner

What testers say

“When I’m in a pinch and need to run out the door, I reach for this sunscreen as my one and only skin-care step. It’s lightweight yet moisturizing and I know I’m hitting all of my bases.” — Brown

Active Ingredients

Zinc oxide, Titanium dioxide, Squalane, Hyaluronic acid, Oat extract

Aveeno, Protect+Hydrate SPF 60 — $11

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Best for dry skin

If you deal with dry skin, consider Aveeno’s Protect and Hydrate SPF 60. Formulated with derm-beloved glycerin and oats, this sunscreen helps your skin retain moisture while quenching parched skin cells. Clocking in at SPF 60, Aveeno’s sunscreen helps to protect against UV rays and is water resistant up to 80 minutes. What’s more, it’s oil-, dye-, and oxybenzone-free.

What dermatologists say

“This all mineral sunscreen comes in two tints for sheer coverage or a glowing complexion. The formula also delivers stabilized vitamin C and niacinamide to brighten and even skin tone.” —Dr. Zeichner

What testers say

“Love the 80-minute sweat and water resistance and how it made my skin feel. Absolutely no white cast! Made skin feel glowy and firm.” — Amelia McBride, Editorial Assistant

Active Ingredients

Zinc oxide, Titanium dioxide, Oat kernel extract

Glow Recipe, Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen — $35

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Best for oily skin

Niacinamide is known for its ability to help curb sebum production, which is why its inclusion in this formula makes it so great for oily skin. It’s got a beautiful, radiant finish that leaves skin perfectly glow-y, never greasy

What dermatologists say

“This is a thinner formulation that works easily into the skin leaving a glowy finish with no sticky residue. The niacinamide included in the formulation will also help regulate oil production.” — Carmen Castilla, MD

Active Ingredients

Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Zinc Oxide

Dr. Dennis Gross, All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 — $42

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Best for anti-aging

Many folks don’t think of “mineral sunscreen” and “sheer” in the same sentence, but Dr. Dennis Gross’s lightweight sun fluid proves otherwise. This ultra-hydrating lotion is fueled entirely by zinc oxide, but you’d never know it—it’s airy, blendable, and totally melts into skin without leaving you feeling tacky or gunked up. It also works double-duty against pollution, blue light, and all the other junk in the air that can damage and wrinkle skin, so you can spread it on before you start your day and know you’re protected wherever you roam.

What dermatologists say

“The formulation has a high level of zinc oxide, which provides ideal broad spectrum UVA and UVB coverage. It also has a strong antioxidant profile, which helps protect against free radical damage from UVA/UVB and pollution.” — Dr. Castilla

What testers say

“This formula smells fantastic—so much so that it makes me feel like I can skip perfume. The texture is super thin, but not watery. Though it does have a white cast that needs to be rubbed in, it blends well and is super-lightweight feeling on the skin—I forgot it was even applied after 20 seconds.” — Alexis Berger, deputy editor

Active Ingredients

Zinc oxide, Sea buckthorn, Lingonberry





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