Choosing a sunscreen that works best for your skin and lifestyle can be daunting with the countless products available on the market. Consistently applying sunscreen reduces premature signs of aging — like dark spots or wrinkles — while protecting you from sunburns and the risk of skin cancer. However, depending on your skin, the wrong type of sunscreen could cause problems such as clogged pores or dryness.
When choosing between sunscreens, experts advise looking at a few key characteristics to understand what you’re buying and if it is right for you. Crucially, the SPF value should be at least 30, as that blocks 97 percent of UVB rays. Chemical formulas protect you when absorbed into the skin, while mineral formulas sit on top — meaning sensitive or reactive skin types would be better off with mineral sunscreens. Finally, lotions are best for providing even coverage but can be too thick for use on the face.
Best for Sensitive Skin – Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 30+
Blue Lizard sunscreen is a natural mineral lotion, highly acclaimed for its gentle effect on the skin. Winner of Allure’s Best of Beauty Award for three years, the paraben- and fragrance-free formula provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. The lotion absorbs quickly and nourishes the skin with hyaluronic acid and antioxidants from green tea and caffeine. The bottle cap also has the unique feature of turning blue when exposed to UV rays, reminding users when to apply the sunscreen.
Best for Water Resistance – Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen
Shiseido sunscreen is a strong and sustainable option for athletes. The lotion’s patented WetForce and HeatForce Technology strengthens its efficacy when exposed to sweat, water, and heat. The chemical formula is considered reef-safe and usable on face and body. It goes on clear and is lightweight, providing high SPF protection without clogging pores or showing a white cast. This revolutionary product won Allure’s Best of Beauty Award in 2020.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin – EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
EltaMD sunscreen garnered plenty of attention over the past four years by winning 10 awards, including the 2022 InStyle Best Beauty Buys and Best SPF in Cosmopolitan’s 2021 Holy Grail Acne Awards. The lightweight lotion includes chemical and physical blockers that help heal acne scars and sun damage, while keeping skin moisturized. It can also reduce free radicals, which cause visible aging. With high SPF protection, it is a safe and sound option for anyone, especially those with dry, mature, or acne-prone skin.
Best for Dark Skin Tones – Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 for Face & Body
Black Girl Sunscreen is a Black-owned and -operated brand made specifically for women of colour. The lotion dries clear to protect melanated skin without leaving a white cast. It boasts of being vegan, fragrance-free, and full of natural, moisturizing avocado, jojoba, and sunflower oils. Additionally, the formula helps reduce signs of aging, treats sunburns, prevents acne, relieves inflammation, and evens out complexion. Allure’s 2022 list of Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones includes Black Girl Sunscreen, and as a relatively inexpensive option, it is a sensible choice for women and men.
Vanessa Huasasquiche | Contributing Writer