You know how important sunscreen is. The humble product is a skincare staple because it not only helps combat signs of aging, like dark spots and fine lines, but perhaps more importantly, it can also help prevent skin cancer.
It bears repeating: Everyone needs sunscreen, every single day. Still, according to a recent survey, only 11 percent of people actually wear some form of SPF on a daily basis. We get it—when you're pinched for time, it's hard to find even an extra minute or two to add another product to your routine. Sure, there are plenty of all-in-one products out there—and those are undoubtedly better than nothing—but experts recommend narrowing in on a standalone sunscreen for the most reliable protection against the sun's UV rays. And, yes, even on a cloudy day.
A physical barrier, like a zinc oxide, is ideal, says Debra Ibrahim, DO, the co-owner of Aesthetica Medspa in New Jersey. But these formulas can be very thick and whitening, especially on darker complexions. So, at the very least, look for a broad spectrum lotion, since this type protects against both UVA and UVB rays. And don't skimp on SPF—opt for 30 or above, says Ibrahim.
Here, you'll find dermatologist-approved formulas that not only fit the bill but go above and beyond the call of duty as lightweight and non-greasy products that won't clog pores or leave you with excess shine.
Ask just about any dermatologist what sunscreen they recommend, and chances are this product will be first on the list. Nearly all experts we spoke to praised Elta MD's sunscreen for being highly effective, plus lightweight and non-greasy. It's perfect for layering with makeup, says Ibrahim.
For the sportier of the bunch, the highly popular sunscreen from EltaMD also comes in a water-resistant formula to offer plenty of broad-spectrum protection while you get your sweat on.
Anyone with acne-prone skin will love this powder, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC. It doesn't clog pores or cause breakouts—even in those with super-oily skin, she explains. And, as a nice bonus, it helps curb excess shine.
An impressive 14.5 percent zinc oxide makes this formula highly effective, says Jaliman. It also contains aloe, shea butter, and glycerin to help soothe and moisturize the skin at the same time.
Zinc oxide is preferable, because it blocks a broader range of the sun’s light, but it can be hard to wear—especially for those with darker skins—since it's so whitening, says Meena Singh, MD, a dermatologist at Kansas Medical Clinic. This formula is a departure from the norm, though. It blends right into the skin to protect you without making you look ghostly.
PCA Skin makes another weightless open that's perfect for layering under your makeup, says Ibrahim. In addition to the broad-spectrum sun protection, you'll also get a boost of antioxidants that help protect against free radical damage.
This is a lightweight and oil-free sunscreen that contains both zinc and titanium for ample sun protection, says Corey L. Hartman, MD, the founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama. But that's not all this formula does—it works overtime to hydrate, soothe, and reduce redness, he says.
When you're in a time crunch, reach for this fast-absorbing formula, says Lian Mack, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC. Though ultralight, it offers mineral broad-spectrum sun protection to prevent sun damage. It also includes an ingredient called DNA Repairsomes that works to help repair existing sun damage, she says.
The drugstore favorite brand now has a convenient translucent powder that's great for all skin tones, says Karan Lal, MD, a dermatologist in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The zinc-oxide-based formula blocks UV rays, plus contains a vitamin C derivative to protect against skin-damaging free radicals. And, because it's a powder, it helps combat excess shine all day long.
This liquid sunscreen spray is lightweight and absorbs easily, says board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD. And because it's water-, sweat-, and oil-resistant, this formula will afford you more sun time than other comparable alternatives.
Need a reef-friendly pick for a vacation somewhere like Tulum? Try this chemical- and paraben-free formula. It's great for sensitive skin, says Shari Sperling, DO, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey. A nice extra? When exposed to the sun, the bottle changes color to blue—an alert that you need to use sunscreen.
This hardworking SPF combines zinc and titanium, plus vitamins C and E for a dose of antioxidants, says Hartman. It also contains ceramides to fortify the skin barrier and maximize moisturization.
This mineral-based sunscreen is formulated with a blend of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to form a shield of sorts that works to block the sun's rays and protect against discoloration, especially in those with darker complexions, says Singh.
This mineral sunscreen is made with mineral-rich zinc oxide, hyaluronic acid, botanicals, and antioxidants, says Mack. Because this formula is a physical sunscreen—it physically blocks the rays of the sun—it's great for people who suffer from pigmentary disorders like melasma or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, she explains.
This translucent powder—great for all skin tones—is infused with soothing ingredients like green tea, chamomile, and vitamin E. It's also 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free, recyclable, and wind-energy-certified, says Lal.
This ultra-lightweight sunscreen is oil-free and non-comedogenic, and, although it's super hydrating, it absorbs almost instantly, says Singh.
For an all-in-one product that offers sun protection, plus light matte coverage, try this CC+, says Singh. It's mineral-based, and there are shades to match just about every skin tone.
When it comes to application, it doesn't get much easier than a stick. This physical sunscreen glides on invisible and suits both dry and oily skin, says Hartman.
If your skin skews dry, Singh recommends using a moisturizer packed with broad-spectrum sunscreen. This one is oil- and fragrance-free for sensitive skin, but is formulated with zinc oxide to offer plenty of protection.
This sophisticated formula has it all, says Lal: zinc oxide to offer sun protection, ceramides and olive glycerides to lock in moisture, and coated silica to diffuse light and reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines.