Walking down the sunscreen aisle of your neighborhood drugstore in the spring and summer can be a bit daunting. Your eyes will probably glaze over by the time you choose a bottle and you may end up not getting the coverage you need. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing sunscreen, from the SPF level to how pore-clogging it can be. We dove into a couple of suggestions of how to best shop for sunscreen this summer, starting first with what to look for on the bottle (and what’s in it).
The biggest thing to look out for is the type of protection you’re getting. Don’t skimp on reading the labels, because not all sunscreens are the same, even if they have the same SPF number. According to the American Cancer Society’s website, you should “choose a sunscreen with ‘broad spectrum’ protection. Sunscreens with this label protect against both UVA and UVB rays.” The site explains that while all sunscreens protect against sunburn and skin cancer-causing UVB rays, only broad-spectrum ones protect against UVA, which can contribute to skin cancer risk and premature aging.
When it comes to that SPF number, it isn’t just arbitrary. “The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays,” according to the site. But that doesn’t mean that 100+ is always the answer, even if it has the highest number. “Higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes,” the ACS site warns. For context, the site explains that SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 about 97%, SPF 50 about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%, warning that “no sunscreen protects you completely.”
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen
If you’re looking for something to wear under makeup during the summer, the Unseen Sunscreen is your best bet. It has a matte finish and feels more like a silicone-based primer than a sunscreen. It’s smooth and non-greasy and definitely doesn’t leave a white cast. It also has little-to-no smell, so you won’t be a walking billboard for sun protection as you go out into the world.
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
When it comes to your face, sunscreen that has been specially made to be non-comedogenic (non-pore-clogging) is good for sensitive skin. The EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen has a 4.3-star rating with over 3,500 reviews and is also derived from a mineral-based formula with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and lactic acid added to keep your skin happy.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Mist Sunscreen Spray SPF 55
This sheer, lightweight spray sunscreen applies easily and is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes. It’s perfect to keep in your bag and easily reapply without slathering on lotion without a mirror.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen
If you tend to have breakouts, opt for this oil-free sunscreen. It’s formulated to protect your skin from UVA and UVB exposure, plus it’s packed with antioxidants.
There’s something so satisfying about a sunscreen that smells really freakin’ good. That’s the gist of Vacation, created with an Australian sensibility. It keeps you protected while you’re lounging in the sun or hitting the waves. It comes in a classic formula or a mineral (reef-safe) option. They also have an oil that feels like a tanning oil, but is actually packed with SPF.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen
One of the biggest complaints about body sunscreen is that it can be greasy and thick. The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen is both water-resistant (for up to 80 minutes) and non-greasy. With broad spectrum SPF 100+, you’re protected from every level of UV exposure. Over 1,000 reviews leave it with a 4.5-star rating.
Supergoop! Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil SPF 50
Supergoop! Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil SPF 50, $38: This sunscreen oil protects your skin while giving it a healthy glow. It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and has antioxidant-rich ingredients like marigold, meadowfoam, & grape seed extracts.
Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion
Sun Bum is a classic. This one is vegan and reef-friendly, so you can feel good about applying it. It’s moisturizing and will last up to 80 minutes.
Supergoop! Fusion Lip Balm SPF 30
Most SPF makeup doesn’t do a great job at protecting us, but one of those exceptions is SPF lip balm. Before it’s a lip balm, the Supergood! Fusion Lip Balm offers broad spectrum SPF 30 protection for some of your most vulnerable and sensitive skin. With a 4.4-star rating from 220 reviews, this balm pairs sun protection with moisturizing shea butter, sunflower oil, and honey to keep your lips moisturized.
Sun Bum Lip Balm, SPF 30
This three-pack features coconut, banana, and watermelon lip balm. It has vitamin E and aloe for moisture plus SPF 30 for sun protection.
Aquaphor Lip Protectant and Sunscreen Ointment
Mix Aquaphor’s nourishing vitamins and shea butter with SPF 30 and you have a lip balm that does more than just moisturize.
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