When you hit the beach and cover yourself in sunscreen, there’s a good chance you’re applying the same product to both body and face. But considering how much more sensitive and finicky your face is compared to the rest of your body, it’s important to be a little more church-and-state about your face and body — when it comes to cosmetic products.
Just as you separate your facial cleaner from a body wash, and your daily moisturizer from a hand or body cream, you should also distinguish between face and body sunscreens. Facial ones prioritize non-comedogenic ingredients (that is, they won’t clog your pores), and they wear lightweight while still providing the same UV defense.
Some of our favorites double as moisturizers, and some are dedicated sunscreens only. Some utilize physical sunscreen ingredients (like zinc oxide), and others utilize reef-safe chemical shields. Some of the best are top dollar, others thirteen dollars. Our seven favorite facial sunscreens are below, and there’s sure to be something that suits your pretty little mug.
Best Overall Sunscreen for Face: Supergoop City Serum SPF 30
A lightweight lotion (deserving of the term ‘serum’, for that fact), this face sunscreen makes an invisible, breathable shield over top of your moisturizer. It won’t clog your pores, or feel like a big greasy film over top the skin. It’s topped-up with Vitamins E and B5, which together prevent inflammation, soften skin, and keep it hydrated. Don’t mistake this one for a moisturizer per se, though it’s my favorite hydrating SPF for a midday sunny-weather refresh since it packs both nourishing and defensive ingredients.
Best Upgrade Sunscreen for Face: Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF 50
Don’t think of Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Sun Drops as just sun protection. This SPF-loaded liquid is a top-shelf serum in its own right. It contains moisture-magnifying hyaluronic acid, toxic-thwarting green tea extract, and a cell-regenerating complex of Vitamin E, beta-glucan, and cinnamon extract. And on top of that, it’s got SPF 50, to prevent any wrinkling and photoaging of the skin, in addition to all of the corrective and proactive work it’s doing beneath the surface.
Best Budget Sunscreen for Face: Sun Bum Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
The least expensive of the batch is also the best for a sun-beaming beach day. This SPF 50 facial sunscreen is both water and sweat-resistant up to 80 minutes, in addition to being reef-friendly. It will probably feel too heavy for an every-day defense, but that’s not to its detriment. It’s still light enough (and oil-free), great for active, outdoor lifestyles.
Cardon Moisturizer with SPF 30
There’s one distinction you need to make when choosing a face sunscreen: Is it a moisturizer with SPF, or is it a sunscreen for the face? They’re closely related, but not one in the same. A moisturizer’s key goals are to pump a bunch of nutrients into the skin, while preventing moisture loss and any intrusion from pollutants and toxins. So, if it also has SPF, it doubles as a UV shield. A sunscreen, on the other hand, is primarily a UV shield, though many come with nourishing components.
All of that being said, Cardon has one of our favorite moisturizers with SPF, since it incorporates soothing cactus extract and the anti-inflammatory + blemish-brightening powers of turmeric extract. If you want to combine your facial sunscreen into a lightweight daily moisture, rather than utilizing two products at the same time, here’s a cost-effective one that keeps skin hydrated and protected at the same time.
EltaMD Face Sunscreen SPF 46
EltaMD is the easy fan favorite of the flock, famous for its cast-free zinc oxide formula (which also combines chemical-based octinoxate). It cannot go unsaid that this is Amazon.com’s top-selling face sunscreen. The product is lightweight, oil-free, and is particularly loved by acne-prone clients, as well as darker skin tones (again, for its lack of white cast despite a high physical zinc shield).
Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30
A physical-only (zinc oxide) shield, this face sunscreen builds a skin-safe defense over your daytime moisturizer. I love using it for daily indoor wear, too, to defend against all the skin-dulling and -aging blue lights that I absorb from screens. And for a zinc-only defense, it leaves no residue, which is a huge feat.
Ursa Major Force Field Natural Moisturizer SPF 18
Ursa Major adds another facial moisturizer to our list, this one with a physical zinc defense. We already celebrated it among other sunscreens, for its nourishing, proactive, mattifying, and natural recipe. It combines soothing aloe, nourishing shea butter, moisture-boosting floral stem cells, and texture-toning squalane. If this was a roundup of the best moisturizers with SPF, then Ursa would sit atop the list with Cardon.
Dr. Dennis Gross Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF 30
A zinc oxide 16% formula makes a thorough shield in this facial sunscreen. Dr. Dennis Gross has also packed it with lingonberry and sea buckthorn extracts, which promote recovery from UV and free radical damage. And for a zinc formula, the blend is extremely lightweight—you’d think it was a chemical sunscreen for its easy, cast-free blend if you didn’t know better.