6 award-winning and expert-recommended sunscreens for face and body
Using sunscreen every day is important to help prevent skin cancer, and yes, we mean every single day. Before we get further into it, let’s talk about the two types of ultraviolet (UV) light: UVB and UVA. UVB rays are what cause sunburns and are the main source of skin cancer, whereas UVA light penetrates deeper layers of the skin and accelerates photoaging (think blue light from your laptop and phone screens).
Now, let’s talk about two types of sunscreen: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens go into the top layers of the skin and absorb UV rays; once they’ve absorbed those rays, they create a chemical reaction that turns the rays into heat that is then released from the skin. Mineral sunscreens, meanwhile, absorb into the surface layers of the skin and reflect UV rays off of it. In recent years, mineral sunscreens have become increasingly popular, as ingredients commonly found in chemical sunscreens, like oxybenzone, have been said by some scientists to be hormone disruptors (the FDA is currently reviewing its sunscreen regulations but hasn’t determined anything as of yet).
Sunscreens are obviously important, which is why tested nearly 100 different formulas for the 2020 Beauty Crush Awards. We ranked them on how easy they were to apply, how well they absorbed into the skin, how they looked on different skin tones (no chalky residues, thank you), and, of course, how effective they were. After months of testing, we finally found the best ones. See below for the six best sunscreens for the face and body.
Best Drugstore Facial Sunscreen: La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen
This mineral sunscreen is oil-free (aka non-comedogenic), non-greasy, and able to easily blend into all skin shades without leaving a white cast. If you’re a minimalist who prefers multi-purpose products, this SPF 50 made for face and body should be your go-to. It’s TSA-approved, too, so you can throw it into your carry-on next time you travel to the beach.
Best Luxury Facial Sunscreen: Coola Mineral Sun Silk Crème SPF 30
The silky texture this mineral sunscreen leaves on the skin will make you feel like a million bucks. Yet while we like having a chinchilla-soft face, what we love most about this sunscreen is its formula. It has UVA and UVB protection, which means that it will help protect your skin from both the sun’s harmful rays and also from the blue light emitted from your smartphone and laptop.
Expert-Recommended Facial Sunscreen: Paula’s Choice On-The-Go Shielding Powder SPF 30
Dermatologists recommend reapplying your sunscreen every two hours, but, realistically, not too many of us are down for applying lotion over our makeup throughout the day. That’s why this powder formula is so great: It comes in what looks like a makeup brush, and all you have to do is swipe it across your face to achieve your recommended SPF dose. Plus, it gets rid of excess shine, says Ursula Carranza, the beauty director of HelloGiggles’ sister publication People en Español.
Best Drugstore Body Sunscreen: CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 50
This lightweight and non-greasy mineral sunscreen contains hyaluronic acid and three hydrating ceramides that fortify the skin’s barrier and help lock in moisture. Even better? It has a seal of approval from both the National Eczema Association and the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Best Luxury Body Sunscreen: Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Sol Oil SPF 30
The lively spirit of Brazil is encapsulated in this fun, oil-based SPF. The easy-to-spread formula contains SPF 30 and skin-friendly ingredients like açai oil (a powerful Brazilian antioxidant) and moisturizing coconut oil. Also, if you look closely at the bottle, you’ll see a tiny surfboard riding the waves of your SPF—super cute.
Expert-Recommended Body Sunscreen: Banana Boat Ultra Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Spray
“Look, I know spray sunscreen isn’t the same as an actual lotion, but a product isn’t good if you don’t use it [at all],” says Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., a dermatologist in West Islip, New York. “What I like about this is that it isn’t tacky on the skin and the spray makes reapplication a breeze.” Spray formulas are great for active people who need to reapply sunscreen on a whim, and this formula is both sweat- and water-resistant. Just note that you shouldn’t use sprays around people with lung illnesses or asthma as they could accidentally inhale some product and experience respiratory problems.