This is what I’ve learned over twenty years of using skincare products: finding a favorite everyday sunscreen isn’t easy. It can be even more elusive than pinning any favorite serum, cleanser or eye cream. It’s the most difficult. Luckily, the sunscreen category has evolved remarkably over the past decade and has introduced me to a number of formulas that have exceeded my (very high) expectations. This year alone, a few launches have completely blown me away. Below is a round up of my all time favorite daily sunscreens that are so good I look forward to using them. This is a newfound love affair. Prior to very recently, I dreaded applying SPF.
About my skin & SPF preferences
- Combination, non-sensitive skin.
- My skin does well with both chemical and mineral filters.
- Loathe the white cast or purple sheen some formulas leave behind.
- Cannot do an aggressive flat, matte finish.
- If it pills, we’re done.
- Have yet to find a brush-on sunscreen I can’t live without.
- Often prefer lightly tinted sunscreens with light coverage and semi-dewy finish.
- Not a fan of excessive blending. I want to be able to apply it in the dark or without a mirror.
- Swatches of every product’s texture at the bottom of the post.
La Roche Posay Toleraine Double Repair Moisturizer SPF 30
ACTIVE: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 5%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 7%
Never did I think I’d discover one of the most perfect SPF formulas at none other than my local CVS. And it’s just under $20. The creamy texture deserves a shout-out as it melts into the skin and disappears in seconds. It’s an oil-free, lightweight moisturizer that layers great over my daytime serums. Part of the Toleraine range, it keeps the microbiome layer of the skin healthy and undisturbed while serving anti-aging perks via ingredients such as Ceramides and Niacinamide. $19.99 (75ml) laroche-posay.com
Anessa Whitening UV Sunscreen Gel SPF 50
ACTIVES: Octinoxate, Tinosorb S, Uvinul A Plus & Uvinul T 150 (not yet FDA-approved in the US)
I first discovered Anessa on a trip to Japan three years ago. After coming home with two different formulas (emulsion and essence), I realized I liked them a lot but wasn’t falling in love with either. Recently, I ordered a tube of the Whitening UV Gel and am shooketh. The silky lotion does indeed feel like a gel and absorbs phenomenally well (it’s a chemical sunscreen and does include alcohol for those wondering). It’s also infused with Tranexamic Acid, an ingredient that has become popular of late because of its skin brightening powers. The user experience is superb — very J-Beauty. Anessa is sadly not sold retail in the US so tracking down a tube may take some sleuthing. $33 or so either on amazon.com or yesstyle.com
Versed Guard Up SPF 35
ACTIVE: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide 15.2%
The Versed sunscreen feels almost whipped as you squeeze the adorable and travel-friendly tube. It appears as though it may be tinted but the pigment disappears into the skin completely and leaves behind the subtlest of glows. The natural-looking finish actually makes me look rested. Since it’s a mineral only sunscreen, I’ve learned that it applies best over a lightweight moisturizer or a richer serum. Otherwise, it’s been hit or miss for me. I either see uneven patches of Zinc Oxide on my skin or it starts to flake off my midday. The Versed formula won’t leave any white cast behind and looks great all day long. $21.99 (50ml) versedskin.com
Dr. Loretta Urban Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF 40
ACTIVE: 8% Homosalate, 5% Octisalate, 5% Octocrylene, 8% Zinc Oxide
Dr. Loretta’s sunscreen makes the top of my list because of its innovative approach to preventing UV damage. The lightweight lotion is packed with powerful antioxidants to counteract the harmful effects of free radicals and UV radiation, including HEV light emitted by the sun and electronic devices. You will notice there’s a slight pink shade to it but that blends into the skin seamlessly. The touch of Mica results in a subtle and natural looking light reflecting effect. Very much impressed party of one. $50 (50ml) dermstore.com
Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30
ACTIVE: 12% Non-Nano, Uncoated, Micronized Zinc Oxide
Those familiar with the Josh Roesbrook line will agree that each one of his products is not only formulated just exquisitely, but made even more sumptuous by its gorgeous packaging. And, the user experience is as impressive as the results. The Nutrient Day Cream is hands down the most luxurious, green, non-toxic facial sunscreen I have come across. It also comes in clear (my preference) and tinted (which is beautiful but a tad light so I save it for colder, gloomier months). This gorgeous blend of nutrient oils (Borage, Jojoba, Evening Primrose, Hemp, Avocado) and plant extracts (Calendula, Neem, Nettle, Green Tea, Ginkgo, Chamomile) feels so weightless, I’m almost in disbelief every time I put it on. P.S. This one is a splurge. $85 (60ml) beauty-heroes.com, aillea.com
EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Tinted
ACTIVE: 9.0% Transparent Zinc Oxide, 7.5% Octinoxate
Of the EltaMD sunscreens I have tried, I confidently recommend the UV Clear formula to anyone who asks about my favorite daily SPF. The tinted version is superb, and while the coverage is very sheer, the oil-free lotion has my skin aglow like no other. It also contains skin repairing ingredients such as Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, and Lactic Acid, which at forty matters a great deal. On many mornings, this is my singular one step go-to product that addresses existing damage and prevents future anti-aging concerns. I can’t emphasize enough the user friendliness of this tinted sunscreen—it results in a flawless application every time. $38 (50ml) dermstore.com
Dr.Ceuracle Cica Regen Anti-Dust Sun Gel SPF 50 PA++++
ACTIVE: Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate and Ethylhexyl Triazone
After having tried dozens and finding a handful of great Korean sunscreens, I finally discovered the perfect one for my combination skin. And I owe this recommendation to a very helpful instagram follower from Ireland. The Dr.Ceuracle SPF50 is extremely lightweight and prides itself on morphing essence, sunscreen, and moisturizer into a single step. In addition to UV filters, the silky formula highlights Kiwi, Lotus, and Hibiscus Extracts as well as Tiger Grass (Cica plant) making it a great pick even for those with sensitive skin types. This one is topping my best K-beauty discoveries of the year. $20 or just under (50ml) yesstyle.com, amazon.com
ISDIN Eryfotona Ageless & Fusion Water SPF 50 Formulas
ACTIVE: Zinc Oxide 10.7%
Discovering the ISDIN range at an Italian pharmacy last year, was the beauty highlight of a most relaxing Euro trip. Sadly, I didn’t stock up on the light-as-air Fusion Water SPF50 facial sunscreen, which isn’t available Stateside. Side note: if you have a friend or relative in the EU, ask them to pick up a tube for you. If you’re in the US and enjoy tinted, 100% mineral sunscreens, I predict you’ll love the Eryfotona Ageless Ultralight Emulsion. The very thin liquid has a perfectly medium hue to it and provides sheer coverage with a satin finish. Do blend it well because the pigment is quite visible initially before it settles on the skin and delivers a flawlessly radiant glow. I’m going through mine at record speed. It’s fantastic. $66 (100m) amazon.com
Jaxon Lane Rain or Shine SPF 50
ACTIVE: 7% Octinoxate, 3% Homosalate, 3% Octisalate, 1.5% Titanium Dioxide
What started with a Bro Mask has now evolved to a fully comprehensive yet perfect for every minimalist 3-step daytime routine. Jaxon Lane is an indie brand that brings us innovative and elegant skincare formulas, using the latest in K-Beauty technology. Their Rain or Shine daily sunscreen is no exception. It’s very lightweight, smells great, and tends to UV compromised skin with Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, Green Tea, Ginseng, and Licorice Extracts. All this helps deliver completely non-greasy and borderline invisible SPF protection. If you enjoy Korean sunscreens, definitely give it a try. $32 (50ml) mrporter.com
Alastin Hydrating Pro Mineral Sunscreen SPF 36
ACTIVE: Titanium Dioxide 8.9%, Zinc Oxide 3.4%
Alastin makes one of my favorite Retinol formulas so I’ve been wanting to try their sunscreen for a while. Here’s the thing: the Pro Mineral Sunscreen SPF 36 is the most pigmented in my stash and one that most closely resembles an actual tinted moisturizer. This is my skincare and makeup hybrid on days I need it all but only have half the time. While very hydrating, the Alastin tinted SPF may cling to your brows or hairline so be sure to blend it in well with your fingers or a makeup sponge. As with any universal tint, this one-shade-fits-all won’t work for everyone but it’s adaptable enough to look natural on most skin tones (probably with the exception of very fair). $55 (50ml) alastin.com
Farmacy Green Defense SPF 30
ACTIVE: Titanium Dioxide 2.4%, Zinc Oxide 5.82%
If you’re looking for a clean and accessible mineral sunscreen, the Farmacy Green Defense checks off all the boxes. The lotion texture is very lightweight and disappears into my skin in seconds leaving behind a non-sticky dry touch finish. True to the brand’s core ingredient philosophy, the formula is infused with Echinacea as well as Chokeberry and Marigold Extracts and deep seawater ferment. This way, your skin is protected against UV damage but is not deprived of the nutrients necessary to look its best. Little known fact: it’s actually a Korean made product. $36 (50ml) sephora.com, farmacybeauty.com
Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF 50
ACTIVE: Avobenzone 3%, Octinoxate 7.5%
After having tried every dermalogica sunscreen with the exception of the latest mineral only formula, I keep returning to my trusted bottle of Solar Defense Booster SPF 50. This has been happening for at least five years. At first, the texture may look like a rich lotion but it melts into the skin and becomes invisible in seconds. It’s technically a ‘booster,’ which means you can mix it with your foundation or moisturizer to boost whatever you’re using with added UV protection. Its perfect consistency works as a moisturizer on my skin, especially during the summer. Extra points for including some of my favorite botanicals such as Echinacea, Green Tea, Lemon Balm, and Tiger Grass Extracts. $55 (50ml) skinstore.com
- Check the expiration date (while I take other skincare products’ best by dates as guidelines, I actually firmly stick to those on sunscreens)
- Shake before every use (mineral formulas especially can separate so give your tube or bottle a shake)
- Protect your SPF from extreme heat (Check out the Wellinsulated bags and travel cases. I’m completely obsessed.)
- Wear a hat.