September 21, 2023

The best sunscreens dermatologists use

woman with sun cream on the back

These esteemed dermatologists are not about to fool us. After all, they have skin in the game. Her. (Photo: Getty)

Like it or not, applying sunscreen should be part of your daily beauty routine. Not only can using a high-performance SPF cream reduce the chances of developing skin cancer, but it can also help prevent unwanted sun damage and signs of premature aging. To get the scoop on what you need to know about sun protection, we enlisted several dermatologists to find out everything from how often to apply it to how to shop for the best option for your skin.

Quick overview

  • Best high-SPF sunscreen

    Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant Sunscreen

  • Best non-comedogenic sunscreen

    EltaMD UV Sport Body Sunscreen

  • Best for sun damaged skin

    Isdin Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+


    Vanicream Lip Protectant Sunscreen Spf 30 Tube

  • Best Reef Friendly Formula

    Coola Organic Face Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50


    Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Moisturizing facial sunscreen

  • Best hypoallergenic sunscreen

    Derma-E Sun Defense Mineral Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 30 Face

See 2 more

How often should you apply sunscreen?

You’ve heard it before: you should wear sunscreen often, ideally every day. Dermatologists don’t just talk about the importance of wearing sunscreen – they practice what they preach. “I wear it every day, 365 days a year,” Dr. Gary Goldenberg, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, told Yahoo Life. (His top pick for everyday use is EltaMD’s Sunscreen Sport Lotion.) “Even in winter, you still get some UV that can cause skin damage.”

And they make it easy to remember: “I actually incorporate sunscreen into my daily grooming routine and apply it right after shaving,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a New York City-based dermatologist, told Yahoo Life. Even if you diligently apply sunblock every morning, don’t forget to reapply throughout the day, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun.

How do dermatologists shop for sunscreen?

In general, it’s a good idea to look for a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or higher and with the words “broad spectrum” on the label, says Bailey. “Broad spectrum” means it protects you from both UVA rays, which cause premature aging and the development of skin cancer, and UVB rays, which cause sunburn, says Zeichner.

A lot more comes down to personal preference. “Whether it’s a lotion or gel, stick or spray, the best sunscreen is ultimately the one you actually use on your skin,” says Zeichner.

What are the best sunscreens according to dermatologists?

Still not sure where to start? Below, we’ve rounded up the top seven sunscreens that dermatologists recommend — and use them themselves. We’ve got something in the mix for every skin type, whether you’re sensitive, dry, oily, or anything in between.


Most people don’t slather on enough sunblock, so a high SPF can help provide ext
ra coverage. Derms love this lotion for its broad-spectrum protection and fast-absorbing finish.

$10 at Amazon

“This sunscreen has been clinically tested and has been shown to provide better sunburn protection compared to sunscreens with lower SPFs,” says Zeichner. Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen is lightweight, absorbs quickly and has a non-greasy matte finish. Zeichner especially likes the high SPF. “In the real world, consumers don’t apply as much sunscreen as they should, so the level of protection gets diluted,” he explains. “Starting with a higher SPF to begin with works like an insurance policy to give you the best possible level of protection.”


This feather-light formula is all about the finish. It absorbs quickly and gives the perfect dose of moisture. Dermatologists recommend it to patients with acne-prone skin who need good SPF protection but a non-greasy formula.

$30 at Amazon

EltaMD is known for its high-quality sunscreen and Goldenberg is a fan. “This product is non-comedogenic, provides broad spectrum UV protection, and won’t leave your face feeling greasy,” he says. EltaMD’s UV Sport is mineral based and water resistant so it won’t drip into your eyes when you sweat.


Fortified with 11% Zinc Oxide for superior protection, this mineral sunscreen is packed with sun-damaging ingredients to help protect against further damage and help heal from the inside out.

$60 at Amazon

The name may be a mouthful, but Goldenberg swears by this one. He particularly recommends it for patients who have experienced sun damage. Isdin’s Eryfotona Actinica is lightweight, does not leave your skin feeling greasy and has UVA/UVB protection. It also has DNA repair somes and vitamin E to help fight UVA-induced skin damage.


Do your lips feel the burn? Derms recommends this formula formulated specifically for your smackers (i.e., it’s free of sensitizing chemical sunscreens you may not want in your mouth).

$5 at Liorda

Dermatologist dr. Cynthia Bailey, founder of Dr. Bailey Skin Care, tells Yahoo Life that while she relies heavily on her own sunscreen for daily use, she uses it for the lips. Vanicream is SPF 30 and goes on like a lip balm. It is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and is free of chemical sunscreens, dyes, fragrances, lanolin, parabens, formaldehyde, flavourings, oil and gluten, so the chance of an allergic reaction is small. “It also fights chapped lips,” says Bailey.


Packed with zinc oxide for broad-spectrum protection, this water- and sweat-resistant formula wears well under makeup and is reef safe, meaning no harmful chemicals are released into the water as you frolic.

$27 at Amazon

Bailey calls Coola’s Organic Face Sunscreen “a nice zinc oxide product.” This unscented option doubles as a lotion, so you can hydrate and protect in one go. It is easy to wear under makeup and is water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes. A nice feature: Coola’s sunscreen is reef-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about harming ocean life when you go for a swim.


Aside from broad spectrum, SPF 60 protection, this oil-free sunscreen won’t clog pores and contains oatmeal, a nourishing ingredient, that helps repair and hydrate skin’s finicky outer layer.

$11 at Amazon

Zeichner likes Aveeno’s Protect + Hydrate sunscreen for a few reasons. “In addition to providing broad spectrum sun protection, it delivers a little bit of oatmeal to repair and hydrate the outer skin layer,” he says. “We know that UV light can disrupt the outer skin layer, leading to dryness and irritation.” The sunscreen absorbs quickly, is oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores. It is also water resistant for up to 80 minutes.


This unscented formula is safe for sensitive skin – it’s made with fast-absorbing zinc oxide and packed with bonus ingredients like vitamin C and green tea to quell irritation.

$19 at Amazon

Derma-E’s Sun Defense sunscreen is 100% unscented, which Bailey likes. It is also enriched with vitamin C and green tea to help the skin recover after sun exposure and fight the signs of aging. The sunscreen’s zinc oxide provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection and is oil-free, so it won’t clog your pores.

Originally published

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