Sunscreen for Face: 7 Protective Sunscreens for Your Face

Remember how your mom told you to put on sunscreen before you went to play outside as a kid? Well, it turns out she was onto something. 

While the thought of the warm summer sunshine on your skin might sound like a great feeling, in reality, it’s a lot less fun. Too much sun exposure can cause some serious problems for your skin. 

From a new patch of freckles on your nose to a pesky sunburn on your shoulders to developing skin cancer, the UV radiation found in sunlight can harm your skin in many ways. That’s why it’s absolutely essential for your skin. 

To avoid these unwanted skin concerns and avoid sun damage, you need to wear sunscreen every day. Dermatologists recommend adding it to your morning skincare routine so that you never go a day without it. 

However, that raises another all-important question: Which sunscreen should you use?

There are thousands of different options when it comes to sun care, which can make narrowing down the choices difficult. Today, we’ll explain everything you need to know about picking the best daily sunscreen for your skin and even give you some recommendations for which products to start with. 

Why Is Sunscreen Important for Your Skin?

Before we dive into the nitty and the gritty of sunscreen, it’s important to know why exactly you need it. Yes, you wear sunscreen to prevent your skin from developing a sunburn — but there’s a lot more to it than just that. 

The sun is so dangerous to your skin because it’s made up of invisible light waves. Ultraviolet waves, to be specific. UV light waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation that can actually penetrate the barrier of your skin — meaning it can damage the inside of your body. “There are two types of UV rays as well — UVA and UVB — which are different, but equally damaging,” notes Melinda Hany, Registered Nurse.

If this radiation enters your body, it can lead to serious health issues , so protecting yourself from it is vital. 

What Are the Signs of Sun Damage on Your Skin?

If UV radiation does penetrate your skin, it can cause sun damage. Thankfully, most signs of sun damage are easily spotted. 

Dark Spots

When exposed to the sun, skin naturally reacts to protect itself by increasing the production of melanin. Melanin — a type of amino acid responsible for the color of skin — not only provides pigment but also absorbs UV radiation . As your skin produces more melanin to soak up the extra sun exposure, it leaves behind dark spots on the skin.  

Uneven Skin Tone

The melanin your skin makes in response to UV light can come in one of two forms: either concentrated dark spots or wider-spread hyperpigmentation. This hyperpigmentation (which literally means more color) can throw off the consistency of your skin tone and leave you with an uneven complexion. 

Redness

Sun exposure can also cause your skin to turn red . Different from a regular sunburn, this redness is caused by blood vessels bursting underneath the surface of your skin when struck by UV radiation. 

Don’t worry, though: these are only small capillaries, so the damage isn’t major. Though you’ll see the color stain your face, you likely won’t feel any pain. 

What Are the Best Protective Sunscreens for Your Face?

If you want to avoid this kind of sun damage, sunscreen is the best thing you can do for your skin. And for the best protection, you need the best sunscreens. 

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite best seller face sunscreens that are packed full of active ingredients to protect your skin from harmful UV radiation. We’ve made sure to include a wide variety of formulas — from chemical sunscreens to mineral ones — so that you can find the right fit for your skin type. 

1. Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50

While we’ll always have a special place in our hearts for that goopy sunblock our moms made us wear that always left a white cast, even if you washed it off as soon as she smeared it on, we have to admit: traditional sunscreen lotions are a little outdated. 

So, swap your old bottles of sunblock for sunscreen drops. 

Dr. Barbara Sturm's Sun Drops Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50 uses innovative skincare technology that delivers the same benefits as other lotion-based facial sunscreens but in the form of a serum. Sun Drops are made with hyaluronic acid and antioxidant green tea leaf extract, so they hydrate and protect your skin all at once. 

2. Chantecaille SeaScreen SPF 30

If you’re looking for an elevated sunscreen with all the same comforts as your childhood, we have the perfect product for you. 

The SeaScreen SPF 30 , made by Chantecaille, comes in a traditional spray bottle (minus the aerosol), making it easy to apply in seconds. But more than that, this sunscreen is designed to be both water-resistant and reef-safe. 

Reef-safe sunscreens are a type of mineral or physical sunscreen that are made with non-nano particles that are too large for coral to ingest if they seep into the water. This is really important to supporting biodiversity in our oceans and local reefs in our communities. 

But don’t think that the use of larger particles diminishes the effectiveness of the sunscreen. SeaScreen uses zinc oxide as its active ingredient at a powerhouse level of 15.2%. Zinc oxide blocks both UVA rays and UVB rays, giving you as much sun protection as possible so you can enjoy your time in the coral reef. 

3. EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+

Everybody loves the feeling of a good facial, so why not choose a sunscreen that delivers that same level of elegance and sophistication? 

Even if you don’t use EltaMD’s UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen directly after getting a facial, you may feel like you have. Made with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and zinc oxide, this sunscreen packs a punch while remaining smooth. 

With a silky texture, the UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ also works to moisturize your face as it protects you from the sun, making it a great option for those with dry skin, or those looking for a little extra hydration. 

4. Sisley-Paris Sunleÿa SPF 50+

While sunscreen is a great way to protect against skin-deep sun damage, it also has cosmetic benefits. Many people look for a sunscreen that works to prevent and protect against signs of photoaging. 

Photoaging describes skin that, after too much sun exposure, has started to age prematurely. Your skin might begin to sag or darken in places. Photoaging is also linked to more intense types of sun damage that can result in skin cancer — so protecting against this is essential for your skin health. 

The Sunleÿa SPF 50+ , made by Sisley-Paris, is specifically designed to reduce visible signs of photoaging on your skin. With ingredients like vitamin E, antioxidants, and shea butter, this sunscreen is one of the strongest sunscreen creams out there. 

5. Supergoop! Daily Dose Hydra-Ceramide Boost SPF 40

If hydration is your priority, you’ll want a moisturizing sunscreen that will give you the glowy look of your dreams without leaving behind oily skin. 

The Supergoop! Daily Dose Hydra-Ceramide Boost SPF 40 sunscreen is one of the most protective suncare (or even just general skincare) products out there. Made with a trio of powerful ingredients — ceramides, squalene, and hyaluronic acid — this sun protectant provides broad-spectrum UV protection while nourishing your skin in the process. 

6. Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Primer SPF 45

You might be more interested in the potential anti-aging effects of various sunscreens. If you want to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, you want a sunscreen that is powerful enough to protect against the sun but gentle enough to be used every day. 

And Chantecaille’s Ultra Sun Protection Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Primer SPF 45 is just that sunscreen. 

Created in Japan with the best botanicals in the industry, this sunscreen primer is lightweight, oil-free, and mattifying, meaning it won’t weigh down your skin and contribute to signs of skin aging. Instead, its long-lasting formula delivers all-day protection — so you don’t have to reapply as often, but will still see all the same benefits of a traditional lotion SPF. 

7. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50

The last sunscreen on our list is certainly not the least. If you’re looking for tinted sunscreen that feels absolutely weightless on your skin, you have to give Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 by SkinCeuticals a try. 

This physical sunscreen is not only filled with all the right ingredients but made without all the wrong ones: it’s paraben-free, fragrance-free, and it’s even non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. Whether you have acne-prone skin or struggle with dryness, this sunscreen is a great option for all skin types. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the best face sunscreen, or even the best body sunscreen, it all comes down to the quality of ingredients. Whether you prefer a sunscreen stick or a daily moisturizer formulated with SPF , it’s important to look for products that are made with your skin in mind. 

The right sunscreen for you will protect your face from UV rays while remaining gentle on even the most sensitive skin. Remember that to avoid serious sun damage on your skin, prevention is key. 

Sources:

Sunscreen and Your Morning Routine | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Sun care market in the U.S. - statistics & facts | Statista

Ultraviolet Radiation | CDC

Biochemistry, Melanin - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf | National Library of Medicine

Hyperpigmentation: Age Spots, Sun Spots & Liver Spots | Cleveland Clinic

Solar Purpura: What Is It, Appearance, Causes, and More | Osmosis

Reef-Friendly Sun Protection | U.S. National Park Service

Everything you want to know about zinc oxide | Project Sunscreen

Photoaging (Sun Damage) | Yale Medicine