14 best facial sunscreens for different skin types (2023)

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If you’re planning a sizzling summer in the sun, make sure your beauty regime includes an SPF moisturiser that will protect your skin from harmful rays every day.

In fact Dr Ross Perry, skin cancer expert and medical director of CosmedicsUK, advises: “I would recommend you wear a facial sunscreen 365 days a year, not just in summer. Bare skin should always be protected.”

“If you’re outdoors at all, sunscreen really is an absolute must. The job of sunscreen is to filter out harmful UVA/UVB rays, which are the main cause of skin cancer, as well as premature ageing. Even in winter, the sun can still penetrate. So although the sun is further away than in summer, get into the habit of wearing a high SPF sunscreen all year round – even on dull days.”

UV rays: UVA and UVB – what’s the difference?

The sun emits UV rays and overexposure can damage the DNA in skin. There are two types that reach the earth’s surface, UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB and are responsible for premature ageing, causing lines and wrinkles.

UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and play a greater role in causing skin cancer, although UVA rays do also play a part.

What is SPF?

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of how long a sun cream will protect you from UVB rays. No sun cream can block out all UVB rays but different SPF factors allow you to be in the sun for a certain length of time without burning, compared to if you weren’t using any sun cream at all.

For example, SPF 15 means that you can be out in the sun 15 times longer than it would normally take for your skin to burn. For example, if you can sit in the sun for 20 minutes before your skin starts to go red, then applying SPF 15 would mean you could stay out in the sun for 5 hours without burning. So for SPF 25, it’s 25 times longer; SPF 30, 30 times longer and so on.

In summer, you should use a facial sun cream with a minimum SPF of 30 and in winter this can be reduced to SPF 15. Whichever cream you decide to use, you should always make sure that it protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays (look for a broad spectrum sunscreen) and always re-apply regularly.

Dr Perry suggests using a non-greasy formulation, which feels nice and sits well under makeup. Take a look at our tried-and-tested picks below to find the best one for you.

Sunscreens listed in price order.

Nivea Sun UV Face Suncream

£8, Boots
Best for: A holiday

Key specs – Volume 75ml; SPF: 50; How to use: Apply generously before sun exposure (enough to give a visible layer before rubbing in), let it dry then re-apply to ensure adequate coverage

This has the classic Nivea scent, which is somewhat reassuring, especially in a sunscreen product. The mousse comes in a can and we overestimated the initial amount to use – one big squirt was enough for two faces, so this could be quite an economical product.

It rubs in easily and although there were no white marks, there was a bit of an oily sheen left on the skin, leaving it feeling a little greasy. It would be a good product for a holiday rather than everyday use.

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Cetaphil Daily Defence Moisturiser

£8.68 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Sensitive skin

Key specs – Volume 50g; SPF: 50; How to use: Apply daily to cleansed skin on face and neck

Read more

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This unperfumed cream smells like an everyday lotion but it’s quite thick and heavy with a mousse-like texture. It does absorb quickly though, without feeling overly greasy and there was no sticky residue after application.

This moisturiser left skin feeling smooth and silky, and there were no visible white marks on the skin, which can often be the case with such a high SPF cream. It feels like a thick barrier to the sun’s rays too – our skin didn’t redden in the heat. We think this is a good option if you’re out and about in the sun every day.

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Bioderma Photoderm MAX Cream

£14.80, Escentual
Best for: Fair skin with freckles

Key specs – Volume 40ml; SPF: 50+; How to use: Apply evenly and generously before exposure to the sun

This unfragranced cream is thin and runny, meaning a little goes a long way. And considering its high SPF, it absorbs into skin easily without leaving any white film or greasy residue.

We found it was super easy to apply too, and left a beautiful matt finish that left skin feeling smooth and soft. It’s also waterproof (although we would still recommend reapplying after being in water), so it would be a good option for those who like to spend time in the sea or swimming pool.

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La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Anti-Shine Dry Touch Gel-Cream

£17, Escentual
Best for: Oily skin

Key specs – Volume 50ml; SPF: 50+; How to use: Apply just before sun exposure and re-apply often to maintain protection

This gel-like cream comes in a pump-action tube and is rather runny in consistency. It needed a good three pumps to get enough coverage for the entire face, too.

It’s unscented – although we felt it had an underlying sun cream smell – and it absorbed quickly, while also reducing any oily patches on the skin. We found it helped even out skin tone, too.

The high SPF makes it a good everyday cream to use.

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Green People Scent Free Facial Sun Cream

£18, Green People
Best for: Dry skin

Key specs – Volume: 50ml; SPF: 30; How to use: Apply a generous amount to the face 20 minutes before exposure to the sun

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What’s particularly appealing about Green People’s products are that they were originally created for allergy-prone skin and contain all natural and organic ingredients. This sunscreen comes in an easy-to-use pump dispenser and is light yellow in colour with a rather nutty aroma and mousse-like texture.

Straight after applying to the face, skin had a white sheen and it took a bit of effort to rub in. This also meant makeup was a little tricky to apply straight away, but it did leave our skin feeling instantly hydrated and plump.

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Korres Natural Yoghurt Face and Body Sunscreen

£15 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Fair skin

Key specs – Volume: 150ml; SPF: 20; How to use: Shake well and apply evenly onto face at least 30 minutes before exposure to the sun

This smells like summer holidays and transported us to a sun-drenched beach. The fragrance is sweet and fresh, and Greek brand Korres is known for using natural ingredients in its products.

It’s a spray cream, which comes out as a white liquid and is rather runny, so you have to be quick to apply it or risk it dripping down your hands. A little squirt certainly goes a long way though and it gives good coverage.

We found this sunscreen rubbed in easily too, and skin felt soft and smooth without any stickiness or oily residue.

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Oriflame Sweden Optimals Even Out Protecting Day Lotion

£16, Oriflame Sweden
Best for: All skin types

Key specs – Volume: 50ml; SPF: 35; How to use: Apply every morning to cleansed skin, avoiding the eye area

This Swedish skincare brand has been around for more than 50 years, so we were keen to see what sun protection it could offer.

Its day lotion is quite a thick cream and we had to use a generous amount on the face and neck to achieve decent coverage. There was also a very subtle scent of cranberry and gooseberry (two of its ingredients), but we didn’t find this too overpowering.

It felt more like a sunscreen than a daily moisturiser, but it also kept our skin well hydrated. Absorption was quick, despite feeling thick, and there was no oily residue remaining. Skin felt matte after application, which meant applying makeup was easy, too. In fact, it was quite a good base as it helped to brighten overall complexion.

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Ecooking Sunscreen

£16.50, Cult Beauty
Best for: Combination skin

Key specs – Volume: 200ml; SPF: 30; How to use: Apply one teaspoon to the face, neck and ears. Apply 10 to 15 minutes before going out in the sun

We love this Danish brand’s quirky, minimalist packaging, while the thick cream can be used on the face, neck, body and hands.

Ecooking says it’s a waterproof, non-greasy product and we did find that it rubbed in easily despite its thick consistency and left a lovely matt sheen on the skin. There’s no obvious fragrance either, which is appealing.

(Video) BEST FACE SUNSCREEN FOR ALL SKIN TYPES

Overall, we think it would make a great addition to your daily beauty routine.

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Sunsense Sensitive

£16.99, John Lewis & Partners
Best for: Extremely delicate skin

Key specs – Volume: 100ml; SPF: 50; How to use: Apply liberally to clean, dry skin at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure

This is a concentrated and gloopy cream that has the texture of a standard sunscreen. It took quite a while to absorb into the skin and for a short time our tester looked like Queen Elizabeth I, with a rather white face. It also left a slight slick of oily residue and a bit of sheen on the face, and you’ll need to use quite a lot to get full coverage.

That said, it did leave skin feeling silky soft and smooth, and helped even out red patches. This would be a great cream to use if you’re out in the sunshine frequently and have skin that is prone to burning, as you feel like you’re getting a good level of protection.

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Evy Daily UV Face Mousse

£18.95 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Sensitive skin

Key specs – Volume: 75ml; SPF: 30; How to use: Spray a golf ball-sized amount to hands and work into a liquid consistency before applying to face and neck

This is a lovely light mousse by Swedish brand Evy. It’s easy to use and comes in a handy little bottle, which is a handbag-friendly size.

It’s so light and absorbs into skin well, leaving no trace behind other than clear matte skin, so it could easily replace your usual moisturiser. It’s also perfume free, so it’s ideal if you’re not keen on heavily scented products. Containing vitamins C and E, collagen and silk extracts, plus hyaluronic acid, skin had a definite glow after use.

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Kalme Day Defence

£19.95, Skin Shop
Best for: Reducing redness

Key specs – Volume: 50ml; SPF: 25; How to use: Apply to entire face after cleansing and before any other products

Kalme offers a range of skincare products with the aim of reducing redness – mission accomplished on our tester’s skin.

This cream smells earthy and wholesome with the scent lingering on the skin. It absorbs easily and we only needed a pea-sized amount to smooth over the face and neck.

It felt a little sticky immediately after application but this soon disappeared after a few minutes. Makeup was easy to apply over the top and we found it also reduced blotchy patches and evened out our skin tone. This would be great for combination skin.

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SKN Rehab Filter Daily

£30, SKN Rehab
Best for: Mature skin

(Video) Dermatologist Recommended Sunscreens | Sunscreens for all skin types | Ask The Dermatologist

Key specs – Volume: 50ml; SPF: 30; How to use: Apply daily to a cleansed face and neck

The green and purple packaging for this cream looks rather posh and certainly looked good in our bathroom cabinet – SKN Rehab products are used by Harley Street doctors. So, as one of the more expensive products tested, how did it compare?

The cream is quite heavy and thick, which makes it feel like you’re applying sun cream – although a little more difficult to rub in. The pump action did make it easier to dispense though, and meant you wasted less product.

We found it looked very white on the skin after initial application but quickly absorbed, leaving skin feeling smooth and soft to the touch. Applying makeup was easily done straight away, too.

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iS Clinical Extreme Protect

£57, Skin City
Best for: Hydration

Key specs – Volume: 100ml; SPF: 30; How to use: Apply liberally to clean dry skin on the face and neck at least 15 minutes before sun exposure

This brand is, apparently, loved by celebrities including Kelly Rowland and Lea Michelle. The sunscreen is pale yellow in colour and has a rather chemical odour – a bit like glue – and lingered on skin after application, too.

The pump-action tube, however, made it easy to dispense and left no mess. The cream was rubbed in easily and quickly evened out our skin tone by eliminating red patches, while the aloe vera helped to hydrate and soothe skin. It also contains extremozyme antioxidants, which protect and repair collagen and cell DNA.

It’s one to invest in if you’re looking for a more luxury specialist product.

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QMS MediCosmetics Cellular Sun Protection

£69, Liberty London
Best for: Anti-ageing

Key specs – Volume: 30ml; SPF: 50; How to use: Apply before going out in the sun, repeat often for secure sun protection

The packaging for this product looks like something you would find in a spa, and it also comes with a spa-like price tag. But the brand was founded by a specialist skincare doctor, so we expected good results.

This cream has the added bonus of protecting against premature ageing with its broad spectrum protection. It’s also lightly perfumed with a subtle sweet and fresh citrus scent, but there’s an underlying chemical odour to it too.

It didn’t rub in too easily but left no residue after application. We think this would be a good option to put in your handbag when you’re heading out into intense sun.

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This article has been updated. It was originally published in April 2019.

FAQs

Which is the No 1 sunscreen in the world? ›

Disaar World's No1 Sunscreen with max SPF 90 & PA+++ : Waterproof, Long Lasting (10hr) - SPF 90 PA+++ (40 g) The refreshing formula has a lightweight,thin and natural texture that can be rapidly absorbed by skin without pore blockage.

What sunscreen do dermatologists recommend for face? ›

One of the best mineral sunscreens, according to dermatologists, is this CeraVe hydrating sunscreen. It contains three essential ceramides that assist in restoring your skin's natural barrier and locking in moisture, and has no trace amounts of oxybenzone, avobenzone, or benzene.

What face sunscreen do celebrities use? ›

Case in point, so many stars have recommended the EltaMD UV Sunscreen, including Khloe Kardashian, Emma Stone, Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Sydney Sweeney, Kourtney Kardashian, Addison Rae, Maddie Ziegler, Kyle Richards, Lisa Rinna, Rachael Kirkconnell, Hailee Steinfeld, Amelia Hamlin, Emma Chamberlain, Nicola Peltz, ...

How do I choose a good SPF for my face? ›

Go for an SPF 30 or Higher

When choosing the best sunscreen for face, opt for a high SPF of 30 or higher which easily absorbs into the skin such as sunscreen gel SPF 50 especially for oily skin. No matter your skin tone, you should always stay protected from harmful UV rays.

What is the number 1 dermatologist recommended skin care brand? ›

Neutrogena. The brand: You don't need to spend tons of money for effective products that derms love; Neutrogena is touted as the number one dermatologist-recommend skincare product and you can find it at the drugstore.

What is the safest most effective sunscreen? ›

Mineral-based sunscreens considered safest

For now, if you are concerned about health effects, the safest choice is a so-called “mineral” or “physical” sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, dermatologists say.

What are the healthiest sunscreens? ›

8 Clean Sunscreens
  • Unsun Hydrating Full Coverage Body Lotion SPF 30. ...
  • Grown Alchemist Natural Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30. ...
  • Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen. ...
  • Saie Sunvisor. ...
  • The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 50. ...
  • MARA Algae + Zinc Sea Kale Sunscreen Serum. ...
  • Supergoop Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40.
30 Aug 2022

Which goes on first moisturizer or sunscreen? ›

If you're using a chemical sunscreen, it needs to be applied first. This is because chemical sunscreen needs to penetrate the skin in order to provide protection. However, if you're using a physical sunscreen (also known as mineral sunscreen), sunscreen should be applied after moisturizer.

What strength SPF is best for face? ›

Ideally, look for SPF 30 or higher. Know your skin type: If you have dry skin, choose a face sunscreen with hydrating ingredients, says Dr. Zeichner, like hyaluronic acid or ceramides. If you're oily, look for sunscreens made for acne-prone skin,which tend to have a matte finish.

What are the safest sunscreens to use in 2022? ›

  • Best Natural Sunscreens of 2022.
  • Banana Boat Sport Mineral Lotion SPF 50+
  • Banana Boat Sensitive 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 50+
  • Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50.
  • Banana Boat Kids Mineral Lotion SPF 50+
  • Blue Lizard Sport Mineral Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+
25 Oct 2022

What sunscreen has been recalled 2022? ›

Three batches of a Banana Boat sunscreen have been voluntarily recalled because they contain trace levels of a carcinogen called benzene, according to a statement from Edgewell Personal Care, the makers of Banana Boat products.

What sunscreen does Meghan Markle use? ›

It's just perfect.” If you want the Markle Sparkle with a bonus of sun protection, then try The Silk Sunscreen from Tatcha today!

What SPF does Kim Kardashian use? ›

For face sunscreen, I have two. One is La Mer's The Broad Spectrum SPF 50 UV Protecting Fluid. They make the best sunscreen because it's really thick and not white.

What face sunscreen does Kourtney Kardashian use? ›

One of her must-haves is the EltaMD UV Replenish Broad-Spectrum SPF 44.

Is SPF 50 too strong for face? ›

Experts also worry that high SPF products might make people spend more time in the sun because they think they're getting extra protection. You should choose a sunscreen with an SPF between 15 and 50. The EWG recommends choosing sunscreens within the SPF 15–50 range.

Should I use SPF 30 or 50 on my face? ›

While wearing sunscreen is better than not wearing any, if you have a choice, it's best to choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum UV protection of at least SPF 30. These recommendations apply to people of all skin tones. Ideally, you should also apply sunscreen to your skin 30 minutes before going out into the sun.

Is SPF 30 or 50 better for daily use? ›

Dermatologists recommend using an SPF of at least 30, which Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a dermatologist practicing in New York, calls "the magic number". SPF 15 blocks about 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks about 97 percent of UVB rays. The ADA recommends an SPF of 30 or higher.

What are the 3 most important skin care products? ›

Three Essential Elements in a Basic Skincare Routine
  1. Step 1: Cleanser. Choosing a cleanser that's specifically formulated for the face (rather than the body) is the first essential step in a basic skincare routine. ...
  2. Step 2: Moisturizer. ...
  3. Step 3: Sunscreen. ...
  4. 3 (or 5) simple steps to beautiful skin.

What is the world's best skin care? ›

23 Of The Best Skincare Brands To Know In 2022
  • SkinCeuticals. SkinCeuticals has been a leader in skin care for over two decades thanks to its science-backed approach. ...
  • Emma Lewisham. ...
  • The Secret. ...
  • CeraVe. ...
  • esmi Skin Minerals. ...
  • La Roche Posay. ...
  • Kiehl's. ...
  • The Ordinary.

What is the best skin care routine for 60 year old woman? ›

Here's what you can do: Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free, moisturizing bar soap, cleanser, or body wash. Doing so will help soothe rather than dry your skin. Moisturizing ingredients that can help reduce dryness include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and lanolin.

What is the best sunscreen for daily use? ›

  • Best Overall: EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Tinted Face Sunscreen. ...
  • Best Value: Banana Boat Light As Air Faces. ...
  • Best Spray: COOLA Organic Sunscreen SPF 30 Sunblock Spray. ...
  • Best Lotion: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Lotion Spray SPF 60. ...
  • Best Mineral: SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50.
29 Aug 2022

What is the oldest brand of sunscreen? ›

Late 1920s — A South-Australian chemist by the name of H. A Milton Blake starts playing around with a sun-blocking cream. It's not very good, but it's a start. (After years of experimenting in his kitchen, he finally invents a sunscreen that works, and is still sold under the name Hamilton Sun and Skin).

What sunscreen helps with wrinkles? ›

According to Yale Medicine, one way to prevent wrinkles and other symptoms of photoaging—when your skin prematurely ages due to increased sun exposure—is to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

Is there something better than sunscreen? ›

She recommends sunblock for people with sensitive skin or skin conditions, because some of the ingredients in chemical sunscreen might cause irritation or an allergic reaction. But ultimately, the best sun protection product is the one you like to use and works for your needs. Dr.

Which sunscreens really work? ›

Sunscreens that met claims
  • Cetaphil Sun Kids Liposomal Lotion SPF50+
  • Eau Thermale Avene Face & Body Lotion SPF50+
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Lotion Sunscreen SPF50+
  • UV Guard Max Sunscreen SPF50+
  • Cancer Society Kids Pure Sun Lotion SPF50.
  • Reef Coconut Sunscreen Dry-Touch Lotion SPF50.
  • Skinnies Sungel SPF30.

Is sunscreen same for all skin types? ›

3. Consider Your Skin Type. If your skin is sensitive and prone to irritation, avoid products with alcohol, preservatives, fragrances, and oxybenzone. For darker skin tones who tan easily and rarely burn may feel they do not need to use sunscreen.

Is 50 SPF or 100% sunscreen better? ›

After that, the difference in protection is small. SPF 50 blocks 98%, and SPF 100 stops 99% of UVB rays from reaching your skin.

Does sunscreen work on all skin types? ›

Damaging UV rays can penetrate all types of skin, regardless of your ethnicity, so even people with dark skin need sunscreen.

How do I choose sunscreen for my skin type? ›

If you have dry skin, look for sunscreen with a moisturiser or sunscreens that contain hydrating ingredients (ceramides or hyaluronic acid). If you have an oily skin type, creamy sunscreens can usually feel sticky and heavy.

How do I tell what my skin type is? ›

If your skin appears shiny throughout, you likely have oily skin. If it feels tight and is flaky or scaly, you likely have dry skin. If the shine is only in your T-zone, you probably have combination skin. If your skin feels hydrated and comfortable, but not oily, you likely have normal skin.

What sunscreen should I use daily? ›

For day-to-day use, pick a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If you spend time outdoors, choose a product with SPF 60 or greater. In reality, most people do not use as much sunscreen as they should, and this higher SPF helps compensate for the reduced application.

At what SPF does it not matter? ›

But the extra protection is negligible. Properly applied SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of UVB rays; SPF 100 blocks 99 percent. When used correctly, sunscreen with SPF values between 30 and 50 offers adequate sunburn protection, even for people most sensitive to sunburn.

What are the 2 main types of sunscreen? ›

There are two different types of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens use up to a dozen ingredients that, when applied, are absorbed in the top layer of skin. They react with the skin to absorb UV rays and convert them into energy before they can harm the skin.

Can I just wear sunscreen instead of moisturizer? ›

While some sunscreens do have hydrating properties, they usually aren't considered a substitute for a moisturizer, especially in the dryer months. Same goes for moisturizer with SPF.

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