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.
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+
BEST FOR LIPS
Vanicream Lip Protectant Sunscreen Spf 30 Tube
Best Reef Friendly Formula
Coola Organic Face Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50
BEST FOR SKIN RECOVERY
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.