The 12 Best Face Sunscreens of 2022

Our top pick is the EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40, which offers broad-spectrum protection in a lightweight, non-greasy formula.

In This Article

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We've said it numerous times, and we'll continue to say it on repeat: Face sunscreen is a non-negotiable element of your daily skincare routine. Beyond protecting against sunburn, face sunscreen also helps prevent skin damage and premature aging. 

To find the best face sunscreens, we spent hours researching the various options on the market. While curating the list, we considered factors like sun protection factor (SPF), ingredients, and type (like mineral or chemical). We also spoke with Rebecca Marcus, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Maei MD, and Marisa Garshick, MD, board-certified dermatologist of MDCS Dermatology, for expert advice on how to choose the best face sunscreen for you.

"I recommend a minimum of SPF 30, as this offers 97 percent protection against UVB rays, as opposed to SPF 15, which blocks 93 percent of UVB rays,” Dr. Garshick says. Our other expert, Dr. Marcus, recommends choosing a sunscreen with "hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid."

Our top pick, the EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40, checks all the boxes: It has a lightweight, non-greasy formula that feels more like a moisturizer than a face sunscreen.

Here are the best face sunscreens.

Best Overall Face Sunscreen

EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40

EltaMD UV Daily Broad Spectrum SPF 40 Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for a face sunscreen with a lightweight, comfortable texture.

Who it isn’t for: People looking for a water-resistant formula for the beach or pool.

We think the best face sunscreen for most people is the EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40. The sheer formula boasts a lightweight, non-greasy, and fast-absorbing texture that feels more like a moisturizer than a traditional sunscreen. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. Since it contains zinc oxide and octinoxate, this formula uses both mineral and chemical active ingredients. Just take note that this is not a water-resistant sunscreen, so it’s not the best choice for days you’ll be sweating a lot or swimming.

In addition to protecting your skin from UVA and UVB rays, this face sunscreen also contains a lineup of skin-boosting ingredients, including hyaluronic acid to boost your skin's moisture retention. It also contains the antioxidant tocopheryl acetate, a form of vitamin E, to reduce visible signs of aging and lactic acid to gently exfoliate. EltaMD offers this face sunscreen in a tinted version for those looking for an option that'll subtly even out your complexion. 

Product Details:  

  • Type: Mineral and chemical
  • Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide and octinoxate
  • SPF: 40
  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Water Resistant: No

Price at time of publish: $33

Best Budget Face Sunscreen

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Oil-Free Face Serum With Vitamin E SPF 60+

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Oil-Free Face Serum With Vitamin E SPF 60+

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for a drugstore-priced formula.

Who it isn’t for: Those prone to irritation around the sensitive eye area. 

This drugstore face sunscreen from Neutrogena is our best budget pick because it’s nearly half the price of our best overall recommendation. The serum-like formula is unscented and non-comedogenic, and it absorbs into the skin quickly and easily thanks to its silky, weightless texture. Another bonus is that this face sunscreen is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, so it’ll stay on for that long despite sweating and swimming.

Similar to the EltaMD sunscreen above, this Neutrogena face sunscreen also contains tocopheryl acetate, an antioxidant that protects against free radical damage. That, teamed with glycerin (a natural moisturizer that'll boost your skin's hydration), will help improve your skin's appearance over time. Because the SPF is a bit higher, don’t forget that you’ll still need to apply this face sunscreen regularly to stay protected. 

Product Details:  

  • Type: Chemical
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene 
  • SPF: 60
  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Water Resistant: Yes

Price at time of publish: $14

Best Splurge Face Sunscreen

ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica SPF 50+

4.9
ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica

Amazon

Who it’s for: People willing to spend more on sunscreen that repairs sun-induced skin damage.

Who it isn’t for: People looking for a chemical-based formula.

If you're willing to shell out some extra bucks, the Isdin Eryfotona Actinica is a power-packed face sunscreen you won't regret splurging on. What separates this one from the hundreds of options on the market is that it not only offers broad-spectrum protection, but also repairs existing sun damage. To do that, it utilizes photolyase—a repairing enzyme derived from plankton, which has shown great promise in DNA repair and protecting DNA from further UV-mediated damage. 

The 100-percent mineral sunscreen utilizes zinc oxide as its active ingredient and has an SPF of 50. It’s also water-resistant for up to 40 minutes. Even though it’s more expensive than the other face sunscreens on our list, we think the Isdin Eryfotona Actinica is a great option for people who want a formula that helps protect and repair their skin from sun damage. 

Product Details:  

  • Type: Mineral
  • Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 3.4 ounces
  • Water Resistant: Yes

Price at time of publish: $60

Best Mineral Face Sunscreen

Supergoop! Mineral Sheerscreen SPF 30

Mineral Sheerscreen SPF 30

Supergoop

Who it’s for: People looking for a mineral face sunscreen with a satin finish.

Who it isn’t for: People looking for a tinted face sunscreen.

Supergoop! sunscreens are undeniably playful, but they’re also SPF standouts for other reasons, too. This formula, for example, contains non-nano zinc oxide that quickly blends down to a smooth, satin finish that pairs beautifully under makeup but looks equally as flawless on its own. This SPF 30 cream formula contains bush clover extract, an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals and oxidative stress from blue light, aloe leaf juice for moisture and smoothing benefits, and squalane to leave your skin soft. 

If you like the sound of this face sunscreen but would prefer a different finish, there are three other options to choose from: Unseen Sunscreen for a natural finish, Mattescreen for a matte finish, and Glowscreen for a dewy finish.

Product Details:  

  • Type: Mineral
  • Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 0.68 and 1.5 ounces
  • Water Resistant: No

Price at time of publish: From $20

Best Reef-Safe Face Sunscreen

Raw Elements Face + Body Sunscreen Tin SPF 30

Raw Elements Face + Body Sunscreen SPF 30

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for an EWG-verified, alcohol-free face sunscreen.

Who it isn’t for: Those looking for a lightweight face sunscreen.

While “reef-safe” isn’t a regulated term, sunscreens that contain mineral active ingredients rather than chemicals are believed to be safer for reefs. Founded by an ocean lifeguard, Raw Elements is designed to be as safe for the environment as it is for your skin. The brand’s Face and Body Tin has a 1 rating from the EWG, which means it’s considered to be low-hazard, and it uses non-nano zinc oxide (a mineral) to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Beyond offering UVA and UVB protection, this reef-safe face sunscreen contains antioxidant-rich ingredients like organic green tea, natural mango butter, and emollients, including organic hemp seed oil and organic beeswax. And it’s free of oxybenzone and octanoate, two ingredients responsible for damaging our coral reefs. As for the packaging, it's 100 percent plastic-free, housed in an aluminum tin that you can either reuse or recycle. 

Product Details:  

  • Type: Mineral
  • Active Ingredients: Non-nano zinc oxide
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 3 ounces
  • Water Resistant: Yes

Price at time of publish: $17

Best Tinted Face Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen for Face SPF 50

4.8
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50

Ulta

Who it’s for: People looking for a face sunscreen that doubles as light makeup.

Who it isn’t for: Those who aren’t looking for a liquid face sunscreen. 

If you're looking for an oil-free face sunscreen that doubles as light makeup, the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen is a great option. The liquid texture resembles an ultra-lightweight foundation that absorbs quickly and delivers a natural matte finish. Its versatile tint helps even out your skin tone, so you might not even feel the need to wear foundation on top. 

This formula consists of UVA and UVB filters for broad-spectrum protection and senna alata, a tropical leaf extract that defends skin cells against free-radical damage from the sun. The tinted face sunscreen has SPF 50 protection and is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.

Product Details:  

  • Type: Mineral 
  • Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Water Resistant: Yes

Price at time of publish: $35

Best Sport Face Sunscreen

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Stick

 BLUE LIZARD Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Stick with Zinc Oxide, SPF 50+

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for a water-resistant face sunscreen that can handle sweat.

Who it isn’t for: People looking for an everyday sunscreen that blends easily. 

The Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Stick has your back during even the most intense sweat sessions. The sweat- and water-resistant formula stays on for up to 80 minutes, but perhaps the best part is that it comes in an ultra-compact and lightweight stick that you can keep with you while you bike or run. 

This formula isn’t easy to rub in, but if you’re wearing this while working out, you likely won’t have a problem with some zinc being visible on your face. For this reason, the sunscreen stick probably isn’t your best bet for everyday use. 

Product Details:  

  • Type: Mineral
  • Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide
  • SPF: 50
  • Size: 0.5 ounces
  • Water Resistant: Yes

Price at time of publish: $9

Best Face Sunscreen for Dark Skin

Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

5
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

Ulta

Who it’s for: People looking for a face sunscreen designed to leave no visible residue behind on dark skin. 

Who it isn’t for: People who are looking for a mineral face sunscreen.

The Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 is our top pick for dark skin because it was formulated by women of color, for people of color—so you can rest assured that it won't leave behind a white cast (or any visible residue, for that matter). The SPF 30 sunscreen is broad-spectrum, so it protects against UVA and UVB rays. 

It uses a variety of chemical active ingredients, including avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene. We also like that it’s infused with natural moisturizing ingredients, like jojoba, cacao, and avocado.

Product Details:  

  • Type: Chemical
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene 
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 3 ounces
  • Water Resistant: Yes

Price at time of publish: $16

Best Face Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

Vanicream Facial Moisturizer Broad-Spectrum SPF 30

 Vanicream Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30

Amazon

Who it’s for: People with sensitive skin looking for face sunscreen that’s free of potential irritants. 

Who it isn’t for: People who need a water-resistant formula. 

The Vanicream Facial Moisturizer Broad-Spectrum SPF 30 was created especially for people with sensitive skin. It's non-comedogenic and free of dyes, fragrances, parabens, and more. It’s formulated with a single mineral filter, non-nano zinc oxide, to avoid potential irritation that sometimes comes with chemical sunscreens. 

One of the major draws of this face sunscreen is its formulation, which stars ceramides to help hydrate and retain your skin's moisture. Since ceramides occur naturally in the skin, they’re well-tolerated by sensitive skin and can help strengthen your skin barrier and boost hydration. The only downside to this face sunscreen for sensitive skin is that it’s not water-resistant.

Product Details:  

  • Type: Mineral
  • Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 2.5 ounces
  • Water Resistant: No

Price at time of publish: $15

Best Moisturizing Face Sunscreen

Innisfree Daily UV Defense Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 36

Innisfree Daily UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 36

Sephora 

Who it’s for: People looking for a face sunscreen that hydrates dry skin.

Who it isn’t for: People who would rather avoid synthetic fragrances.

If you have dry skin year-round, then you need a moisturizing face sunscreen that’s packed with hydrating ingredients, like the Innisfree Daily UV Defense Sunscreen. This lightweight, water-based face sunscreen contains a blend of green tea, cica, and sunflower seed oil that will hydrate and soothe your complexion while imparting your skin with a dewy glow. 

This SPF 36 face sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun with three chemical actives (avobenzone, homosalate, and octisalate). It's free of parabens, sulfates, and silicones and feels more like a light moisturizer than a sunscreen. Another thing to keep in mind is that this formula is not water-resistant.

Product Details:  

  • Type: Chemical
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, and octisalate
  • SPF: 36
  • Size: 1.69 ounces
  • Water Resistant: No

Price at time of publish: $15

Best Face Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

Hero Cosmetics Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30

Hero Cosmetics Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30

Who it’s for: People with acne-prone skin looking for a face sunscreen that offsets redness.

Who it isn’t for: People who are looking for a water-resistant formula.

The Hero Cosmetics Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30 is a brilliant option for people with acne-prone skin because it contains a sheer green tint, which is powered by botanical extracts, that quickly disappears into the skin but helps offset redness. 

The non-comedogenic formula works well on its own, but it can also transition seamlessly into your makeup routine because it doubles as a lightweight primer. The mineral face sunscreen is broad-spectrum SPF 30, and it contains zinc oxide as its active ingredient.

Product Details:  

  • Type: Mineral
  • Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide 
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 1.59 ounces
  • Water Resistant: No

Price at time of publish: $20

Best Face Sunscreen for Oily Skin

Dermalogica Oil-Free Matte SPF 30

Dermalogica Oil Free Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Dermstore

Who it’s for: People with oily skin looking for a mattifying sunscreen for the face.

Who it isn’t for: People who are looking for a mineral face sunscreen.

The Dermalogica Oil-Free Matte SPF 30 is a great option for those with oily skin. The chemical sunscreen delivers broad-spectrum protection and, above all, a matte finish that’s ideal for oily skin. It contains oil-regulating ingredients, including Enantia Chlorantha Bark Extract, niacinamide, horse chestnut extract, and caffeine. These ingredients work together to deliver a matte finish that lasts.

Because it’s not water-resistant, we think this formula is best for everyday use rather than days when you’re exercising or swimming. It’s also one of the pricier face sunscreens on our list, so people without very oily skin would likely be better off with another formula.

Product Details:  

  • Type: Chemical
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and oxybenzone 
  • SPF: 30
  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Water Resistant: No

Price at time of publish: $55

Final Verdict

Overall, we recommend the EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40. This face sunscreen stands out for its comfortable texture, ability to protect against UVA and UVB rays, and hydrating ingredients.

But if you're looking for a more affordable alternative, consider this drugstore pick: the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Oil-Free Face Serum With Vitamin E SPF 60+, a fast-absorbing serum that doubles as a makeup primer.

How to Shop for Face Sunscreen Like a Pro

Type

According to Dr. Marcus, face sunscreens (like body sunscreens) come in two different types: chemical and physical. “Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV radiation, and physical sunscreens function as a shield that physically blocks UV radiation from reaching the skin.” 

Both types of sunscreens have their pros and cons, so it’s important to consider what factors are most important to you. Chemical sunscreens are typically more lightweight, and they tend to work better under makeup. However, some people prefer to avoid chemical sunscreens because there’s more risk of irritation. Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, are often better for the environment (as well as sensitive and acne-prone skin), but they tend to leave behind a white cast on dark skin. 

Ingredients

Depending on whether you choose a physical or chemical face sunscreen, you’ll typically find a different set of active ingredients. “Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and iron oxide are three active ingredients found in physical sunscreens,” says Dr. Marcus. “Since sunscreen can be drying, I recommend a formula that combines these ingredients with hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid."

"On the other hand, chemical sunscreens contain avobenzone, octisalate, octinoxate, and octocrylene,” says Garshick. These ingredients "convert UV rays into heat and then release the heat from the skin."

SPF 

SPF stands for sun protection factor, and Dr. Garshick says it’s “a measure of the time it takes to make the skin red when wearing sunscreen compared to the amount of time required to develop a sunburn without sunscreen.” 

Dr. Garshick recommends at least SPF 30, but notes that a bit more protection doesn’t hurt: “There is some added benefit to SPF 50 as SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UVB rays.” However, she says it’s important to note that SPF specifically refers to protection against UVB radiation, which is often what’s responsible for sunburn—not UVA. 

But don’t be fooled by face sunscreens that advertise a super high SPF, which can be misleading. "Products with a high SPF may offer a false sense of security," says Dr. Garshick. “It may cause people to believe they can stay in the sun longer and not reapply as often or not necessarily commit to other sun protection strategies like seeking shade, which may, in turn, lead to a potential risk of sunburn."

Broad-Spectrum Protection 

Broad-spectrum coverage indicates that an SPF protects against both types of UV rays. “This is important because both UVA and UVB can contribute to skin cancer and signs of skin aging,” says Dr. Garshick. “While UVB rays may be more likely to cause sunburns and UVA rays to cause tanning, both can be involved in contributing to skin signs of sun damage.”

“While higher SPF sunscreens may offer greater protection against UVB, they may not necessarily provide as good protection against UVA rays, which can also contribute to skin cancer and signs of skin aging,” Dr. Garshick adds. “For this reason, it is important that any product with a higher SPF is also broad-spectrum to ensure adequate coverage against both UVA and UVB.”

Questions You Might Ask

How does sunscreen work?

“Sunscreen works by blocking UV rays from causing damage to the skin,” says Dr. Garshick. “This can be done by physically blocking the UV rays from penetrating the skin, as is the case with mineral or physical blockers (aka mineral sunscreen), or by absorbing the UV rays, converting them to heat, and then releasing them from the skin (aka chemical sunscreen).”

Does sunscreen expire?

Yes, sunscreen can expire, and the expiration date is usually listed on the tube or box, says Dr. Garshick. If it isn't labeled, that's because "stability testing conducted by the manufacturer has shown that the product will remain stable for at least three years," per the FDA

Dr. Garshick advises against using expired sunscreen "because it is unlikely to offer the same amount of protection as indicated on the label and [could] no longer be effective, which can increase the chance of developing a sunburn or sun damage. Additionally, some active ingredients may be degraded and more likely to contribute to skin irritation or sensitivity."

If you’re not sure how long that bottle of face sunscreen has been sitting on your vanity, here are some tips on how to tell if your sunscreen is expired.

Do you need sunscreen if you wear foundation with SPF?

The short answer is yes, you should still apply sunscreen underneath foundation with SPF. “The issue with sunscreen in makeup is that most people are not going to apply the quantity of product that would be required to get the full SPF effect that is indicated by the number on the bottle,” says Dr. Marcus. 

While “foundation with SPF is better than nothing,” Dr. Garshick says it’s “always best to apply sunscreen first and then layer a foundation on top.”

What’s the best way to apply face sunscreen? 

To achieve the SPF labeled on a face sunscreen bottle, you need to properly apply your sunscreen—and that means using a nickel- or quarter-sized dollop for the face. Some people prefer to use the two-finger rule, which refers to applying sunscreen along the length of two fingers, the index and middle finger, the equivalent of 1/2 a teaspoon to apply to the face and neck combined. 

Sunscreen should be the last step of your skincare routine before makeup application. It is important to remember hard-to-reach and often-forgotten areas like the scalp, ears, back of the neck, hands, and feet—and don’t forget to fully rub in the product until you can’t see it. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or sooner if swimming or sweating.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Marisa Petrarca, a freelance writer specializing in beauty and lifestyle content. She has over five years of editorial experience, and her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, POPSUGAR, SELF, and more. To write this article on the best face sunscreens, she considered the ingredients and formulations of dozens of products to come up with the best options. She also spoke to Rebecca Marcus, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Maei MD, and Marisa Garshick, MD, board-certified dermatologist of MDCS Dermatology, for expert advice on how to choose a face sunscreen.

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