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Sunscreen protects the skin from UV rays, which can cause sunburn. Overexposure to UV rays can also cause skin cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Skin cancer can develop due to overexposure to UV rays from the sun. Therefore, it is important that people protect themselves from UV rays.

As well as using sunscreen, the CDC recommends that people:

  • stay in the shade
  • wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts, if possible
  • wear a hat, ideally with a brim all the way around
  • wear sunglasses

This article discusses how face sunscreens may be useful. It also explores these products in further detail.

A quick look at the best sunscreens for the face

Dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen to the face 15 minutes before sun exposure. It usually does not matter which order an individual applies products in their usual skin care routine.

To ensure optimum protection, a person should ensure their sunscreen has an SPF of at least 30 and be water-resistant. People may also wish to consider using sunscreen with a higher SPF if they spend extended periods outdoors.

The CDC states that people should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when outside, especially after swimming, using a towel, or after sweating.

Individuals may also wish to consider applying facial sunscreen daily as part of their regular skin care routine for maximum protection.

Learn more about sunscreen.

Tinted sunscreen is often available in a range of shades for different skin tones. It may also protect against visible light, which can damage the skin.

A recent 2021 study suggests that all people of all skin tones may benefit from using tinted sunscreen due to the added protection against visible light. It also found that visible light can be more harmful to those with darker skin, while UV radiation is more harmful to individuals with lighter skin.

The research also found that tinted sunscreen may be useful for those with hyperpigmentation, where patches of skin become darker than surrounding areas, or melasma. This is a pigmentation disorder that causes brown or gray patches to appear on the skin.

Additionally, a 2020 study suggests visible light may create more intense and longer-lasting pigmentation in people with darker skin than UV radiation. Therefore, people with darker skin may wish to consider using tinted sunscreen rather than nontinted sunscreen.

A person should ensure that the face sunscreen they choose has an SPF of at least 30. People should also check that the product is suitable for their skin type.

Individuals may wish to choose a tinted sunscreen if they think this will benefit them — they usually suit those with darker complexions.

Medical News Today’s methodology

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: Products are available for a range of budgets.
  • SPF: Products have an SPF of at least 30, as recommended by dermatologists.
  • Formula: Some products are tinted, while others are nontinted to suit individual preferences.
  • Skin type: Products are suitable for different skin types.
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Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for a variety of skin types: SkinCeuticals Daily Brightening UV Defense Sunscreen

  • Price: $60
  • SPF: 30
  • Type: lotion
  • Volume: 30 milliliters (ml)
  • Advantage: It may be good for sensitive and acne-prone skin.
  • Disadvantage: Some reviews mention the product pills throughout the day.

This lightweight sunscreen has an SPF of 30. It is suitable for normal, oily, dry, or combination skin types.

It contains broad-spectrum UV protection and provides hydration to the skin while brightening and evening the skin tone. It also aims to protect against discoloration.

Its key ingredients include tranexamic acid, niacinamide, and glycerin.

The positive reviews about this product on the SkinCeuticals website mention that it is good for skin, including sensitive and acne-prone skin, and offers good skin protection. Negative reviews mention that the sunscreen pills on the skin throughout the day. Additionally, the brand may test its products on animals.

Best for a reef-safe formula: PCA Skin Weightless Protection

  • Price: $48
  • SPF: 45
  • Type: broad-spectrum lotion
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: It has a reef-safe formula.
  • Disadvantage: The brand recommends people reapply this product every 2 hours.

This fast-absorbing sunscreen contains caffeine to reduce UV-induced free radicals.

It also features zinc oxide and octisalate to absorb, filter, and protect against UV rays.

It has an SPF of 45 and a reef-safe formula.

The company recommends reapplying the product every 2 hours.

Positive reviews on the PCA website mention lightweight texture, quick absorption, and subtle scent. There are various negative reviews on the website that mention a change in formula and allergic reactions.

Best for a vegan reef-safe formula: EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum

  • Price: $50
  • SPF: 35
  • Type: serum
  • Volume: 30 ml
  • Advantage: The product is suitable for people with darker skin tones.
  • Disadvantage: Reviewers mention high price point and a poorly designed applicator

This lightweight mineral serum has an SPF of 35 and is suitable for all skin types.

It has a reef-safe formula containing 25% zinc oxide for protection against UV rays.

It is also suitable for vegans and is fragrance-free.

The company claims a person can apply this sunscreen over moisturizer or under makeup.

This product is available on Amazon for around $50 for 30 ml.

Positive reviews about this product mention that the formula is not greasy, is lightweight, and blends in with darker skin tones. Negative comments touch on the poorly designed applicator and the high price point. Additionally, one reviewer did not like the smell.

Best for a paraben, sulfate, and fragrance-free formula: Versed Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: around $24.99
  • SPF: 35
  • Type: cream
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: The product is affordable, vegan, and cruelty-free.
  • Disadvantage: Some reviews mention the product dried the skin.

This broad-spectrum product contains an SPF of 35 and is suitable for all skin types.

The formula does not contain oil, and the sunscreen reportedly does not leave a tint or white cast on darker skin tones.

It is nontoxic, vegan-friendly, and free from parabens, sulfate, and fragrances.

Positive reviews on the Versed website mention a nice finish, quick absorption, and non-greasy. Some negative reviews state that the product does not work well under makeup due to drying as well an unpleasant smell.

Best for tinted moisturizer and sunscreen: Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer

  • Price: $38
  • SPF: 30
  • Type: cream
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: This product works as a moisturizer and a sunscreen.
  • Disadvantage: The product contains avobenzone, which can be irritating.

With an SPF of 30, this product serves as both a moisturizer and sunscreen.

It features a slight pink tint, so a person with any skin tone can apply this without creating a chalky appearance.

The company claims it is suitable for all skin types.

Fenty Beauty claims this product works well with makeup, provides all-day hydration, and brightens the skin while reducing dark spots.

Its key ingredients include:

Positive reviews on the Fenty website mention a smooth formula, lightweight, and good smell. Some reviewers do not like that the formula contains avobenzone.

Best for a tinted lotion with a matte finish: Peter Thomas Roth Max Mineral Naked Broad Spectrum Lotion

  • Price: around $38
  • SPF: 45
  • Type: lotion
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: The formula contains nutrients to nourish the skin.
  • Disadvantage: May not be suitable for a wide range of skin tones.

This broad-spectrum lotion has an SPF of 45.

The lotion is slightly tinted to suit all skin tones and provide a matte finish.

It contains vitamins A, C, and E and safflower extract to nourish the skin. It also contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The company states this sunscreen can work for dry, sensitive, or red skin.

Positive reviews on the Peter Thomas Roth website mention good coverage and a nice skin glow. Some negative comments mention that it does not cater to lighter or darker skin tones.

Best for water-resistant tinted sunscreen: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen

  • Price: $34.99
  • SPF: 50
  • Type: cream
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: This is a higher SPF option.
  • Disadvantage: Some reviewers state it leaves a white residue on the skin.

This mineral sunscreen features titanium oxide and has an SPF of 50. The formula offers a slight tint with iron oxides, which reportedly makes the skin more radiant.

It contains thermal spring water for soothing and antioxidant properties. The product is also water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.

The company also claims it does not clog pores and is fragrance, oil, and paraben-free.

It is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

Positive reviews on the La Roche-Posay website comment on the lightweight and non-greasy formula plus a good tint. Negative comments discuss the formula not layering on the skin properly and it leaving a white cast. One reviewer states that the formula only contains titanium dioxide, which they claim does not provide enough sun protection.

Best for a high SPF: Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Face Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion

  • Price: around $10.89
  • SPF: 60
  • Type: lotion
  • Volume: 3 ounces (oz)
  • Advantage: The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends this sunscreen as a broad-spectrum option.
  • Disadvantage: Some reviewers did not find the lotion water resistant.

This sweat and water-resistant sunscreen has a high SPF of 60. It features antioxidant oats to nourish and soften the skin.

It is oil-free, fast-absorbing, and does not clog pores.

Aveeno also claims this product comes with recommendations from the Skin Cancer Foundation as an effective broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Some positive customer reviews mention that this formula is lightweight, water-resistant, and goes well underneath makeup. Some negative reviewers comment on the water resistance not working and an oily feel.

Best for a gluten-free formula: Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops

  • Price: around $150
  • SPF: 50
  • Type: Serum
  • Volume: 30 ml
  • Advantage: Some reviewers state the sunscreen works well under makeup.
  • Disadvantage: It is expensive.

This light-textured sunscreen serum has an SPF of 50. It aims to protect against aging and sunburning UV rays.

The product protects primarily against lines and wrinkles, dark spots, and redness.

It features hyaluronic acid for moisture and green tea leaf extract for protection. It also contains:

  • cassia extract
  • vitamin E
  • beta-glucan

It is also gluten-free, cruelty-free, and suitable for people with sensitive skin.

Positive reviews on the Dr. Barbara Sturm website mention its lightweight formula and that it works underneath makeup and provides a skin glow. There are no negative reviews on the company website.

Best for eczema-friendly sunscreen: Avène Solaire UV Mineral Multi-Defense Sunscreen

  • Price: $34
  • SPF: 50
  • Type: cream
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: The National Eczema Association has approved this sunscreen.
  • Disadvantage: Some people found it did not work under makeup and that it left a white residue.

This SPF 50 product is available in either a tinted or nontinted formula. It contains minerals to protect against UV, pollution, and blue light.

Its key ingredients include:

  • zinc oxide
  • niacinamide
  • bisabolol
  • allantoin
  • thermal spring water

According to the company, the product is lightweight, quick absorbing, and leaves no white residue. It is also suitable for sensitive skin.

The company claims this product has approval from the National Eczema Association and is oncology safe.

Positive reviews on the Avene website mention that the formula is non-greasy and lightweight, is suitable for those with sensitive skin, and only a small amount is necessary. Some negative comments say that it did not sit well under makeup and left a white cast on the face.

Best for a morning moisturizing sunscreen: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen

  • Price: around $19.99
  • SPF: 30
  • Type: lotion
  • Volume: 89 ml
  • Advantage: Widely available in stores such as Walmart and Target and on Amazon.
  • Disadvantage: The company recommends reapplying this sunscreen every 2 hours.

This broad-spectrum morning formula has an SPF of 30. It is a moisturizer as well as a sunscreen.

The active ingredients include:

  • homosalate
  • meradimate
  • octinoxate
  • octocrylene
  • zinc oxide

CeraVe claims this formula does not clog pores and does not cause acne flare ups. It is suitable for all skin types.

Positive reviews on the company website praise the lightweight formula and state it is good under makeup. However, some negative comments mention experiencing bad skin reactions and that the product does not absorb properly and leaves a white cast on the face.

The company may also test its products on animals.

Best for a lightweight formula: Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen

  • Price: around $38
  • SPF: 40
  • Type: cream
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: The formula is lightweight and suitable for all skin types.
  • Disadvantage: The formula contains avobenzone, which can be an irritant.

Supergoop claims this sunscreen is invisible, weightless, and scentless with a velvety finish. It has an SPF of 40.

The formula does not contain oil, and Supergoop states it is rich in antioxidants, including:

  • red algae
  • frankincense
  • complex derived from meadowfoam oil

The company states a person can also use this as a primer underneath makeup.

It is suitable for all skin types and is reef friendly.

Positive reviews on the Supergoop website mention its lightweight and non-greasy formula and that it is good for sensitive skin. Negative comments touch on having a bad skin reaction and not liking the smell.

Best for a water-based formula: InnisFree Daily UV Defense Sunscreen

  • Price: around $16
  • SPF: 36
  • Type: lotion
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: It is a very affordable option that does not contain oil.
  • Disadvantage: The company recommends a person reapplies this product every 2 hours, which may be inconvenient.

This water-based formula has an SPF of 36. InnisFree states the formula is invisible, lightweight, and does not cause a white cast on the face.

It contains the following:

  • green tea for hydration
  • cica for reducing irritation
  • sunflower seed oil for moisturizing

It does not contain parabens, animal products, or any artificial colors. It is a very affordable product and will suit those working with a smaller budget.

InnisFree recommends that this sunscreen needs reapplying every 2 hours. The company does not feature reviews on its website, meaning there is no information on user experiences.

Best for a hypoallergenic formula: SunBum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Lotion

  • Price: $15.49
  • SPF: 50
  • Type: lotion
  • Volume: 88 ml
  • Advantage: It has a high SPF rating and is suitable for vegans.
  • Disadvantage: Several buyers said the sunscreen irritated their eyes.

This sunscreen has an SPF of 50, and the company claims it is weightless and absorbs quickly. SunBum also says it has a matte finish. This sunscreen is another affordable option for those with lower budgets.

According to the online product listing, the formula is:

  • hypoallergenic
  • cruelty-free
  • vegan
  • free from oil, parabens, gluten, and fragrance
  • water-resistant
  • Hawaii act 104 reef compliant

Positive reviews on the SunBum website mention that the product lasted for a long time and has a non-greasy feel. Several reviewers have commented that this product stung their eyes.

Best for a pro-aging support formula: Dr. Brandt Liquid Sun Shield

  • Price: around $28.75
  • SPF: 50
  • Type: liquid sunscreen
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: It may protect against pollution, infrared radiation, and dark spots.
  • Disadvantage: Several reviewers mentioned they had difficulty getting the product out of the dropper.

This 100% mineral product from Dr. Brandt has an SPF of 50. The company claims it protects against discoloration, damage, and photoaging.

The company states it is suitable for all skin types. It is also vegan and free from:

  • synthetic fragrance
  • parabens
  • phthalates
  • sulfates

The Dr. Brandt brand also states this product protects the skin against infrared radiation, pollution, and dark spots.

Positive reviews on the company website mention that the product gives users a glowing complexion, absorbs quickly, and has a pleasant smell. Negative comments mention difficulty getting the product out of the dropper.

Best for a lightly tinted formula:Tizo AM Replenish Lightly Tinted SPF 40

  • Price: $48
  • SPF: 40
  • Type: cream
  • Volume: 50 ml
  • Advantage: It does not contain chemical filters, dyes, fragrances, oils, or preservatives.
  • Disadvantage: The tint may not work for everyone.

This lightly tinted formula has a broad-spectrum SPF of 40. Tizo says this formula sits well underneath makeup.

Ingredients include:

  • zinc oxides
  • ceramides
  • vitamins C and E

It is reef friendly and does not contain chemical filters, dyes, fragrances, oils, or preservatives.

There are only four reviews on the Tizo website for this product, all of which are positive. These reviews comment on the soft feel and that it works well underneath makeup.

Best for sensitive skin: Blue Lizard Sensitive Face Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: $17.99
  • SPF: 30+
  • Type: cream
  • Volume: 48 grams (g)
  • Advantage: This sunscreen is free from irritants, including chemicals, fragrances, and parabens.
  • Disadvantage: Some buyers claim it did not provide adequate protection.

This mineral product has an SPF of 30+, and the company designed the formula for sensitive skin. Blue Lizard says it is oil-free, so it will not clog pores. It also does not contain any skin irritants, including chemicals, fragrances, or parabens.

The packaging features smart technology whereby the cap turns blue when exposed to harmful UV light.

The company also offers a 30-day guarantee. If a person does not like the product after 30 days, the company will offer a return or replacement.

The positive reviews on the Blue Lizard website mention the affordable price and that the product does not irritate skin and has a neutral scent. Negative reviews claim that the product did not provide adequate protection and left a white film on the face.

Best for a hemp-containing formula: Andalou Naturals Cannacell Sun Buddy

  • Price: $15.99
  • SPF: 30
  • Type: cream
  • Volume: 80 ml
  • Advantage: It is an affordable option containing a range of natural ingredients.
  • Disadvantage: Some buyers found the scent too strong, and it left a white cast on the face.

This product contains organic hemp seed oil and hemp stem cells. It also contains plant essential oils, such as aloe leaf juice. It has an SPF of 30.

The formula uses bioavailable, vegan ingredients. Andalou Naturals says the formula is also gluten-free, cruelty-free, and 99% derived from nature.

It is suitable for all skin types.

Positive reviews on the website mention that the product rubs in well, does not cause breakouts, and is lightweight. However, some buyers claimed it left a white cast on the face and had an unpleasant, strong odor.

Below is a comparison table featuring all of the above sunscreens for the face.

SkinCeuticals$6030lotion30 ml
PCA Skin$4845lotion50 ml
EleVen by Venus Williams$5035serum30 ml
Versedaround $24.9935cream50 ml
Fenty$3830cream50 ml
Peter Thomas Rotharound $3845lotion50 ml
La Roche- Posay$34.9950cream50 ml
Aveeno$10.8960lotion3 oz
Dr. Barbara Sturmaround $15050serum30 ml
Avène$3450cream50 ml
CeraVearound $19.9930lotion89 ml
Supergooparound $3840cream50 ml
InnisFree$1636lotion50 ml
SunBum$15.4950lotion88 ml
Dr. Brandtaround $28.7550liquid sunscreen50 ml
Tizoaround $4840cream50 ml
Blue Lizardaround $16.9930+cream48 g
Andalou Naturals$15.9930cream80 ml

Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about sunscreens for the face.

What SPF do dermatologists recommend for the face?

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends individuals use an SPF of at least 30 as this blocks 97% of harmful UV rays.

What is the most effective sunscreen for the face?

Any sunscreen which has an SPF of 30 or higher is effective for the face.

What is the healthiest sunscreen for your face?

A sunscreen free from the following ingredients may be healthiest for the face:

  • harsh chemicals, including oxybenzone
  • oil
  • parabens
  • artificial fragrances

What is the best sunscreen recommended by dermatologists?

The AAD states that the best sunscreen a person can use would offer broad-spectrum protection, have an SPF of 30 or higher, and be water resistant.

Dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen to the face daily, especially if going outdoors. These facial sunscreens should have an SPF of at least 30.

People with darker skin tones also may wish to consider a tinted sunscreen to protect against visible light.