Meet the Facial Sunscreens That Won Well+Good’s 2024 SPF Award


Most dermatologists would agree that sunscreen is The Most Important product in your bathroom cabinet, far outweighing your cleanser, treatment serums, or face masks. Yet, for many people, sunscreen is still the one product that can feel like pulling teeth to apply. Which makes sense: Face sunscreens have historically had less-than-stellar formulations, from greasy formulas to white-cast finishesโ€”so why would anyone want to use a product that leaves them oily and chalky?

But in the last few years, sunscreen innovation has come a long way. And thatโ€™s a good thing, considering sunscreen is your best line of defense against cancer-causing UVB rays and damage-causing UVA rays. Still, the best face sunscreen is the one that youโ€™ll slather on every single dayโ€”which is why Well+Good did the work of testing dozens of facial sunscreens, from the top-selling to the lesser-known, to find the best formulas, below. Not sure where to start or which one to try first? Try following these expert-approved tips:

How to choose the best face sunscreen

Picking the best sunscreen for your skin type boils down to finding one you’ll use daily. So, it’s important to consider a few different factors like your skin type, lifestyle, and formulation to lock down one that fits into your routine.ย 

โ˜€๏ธ Look for an SPF rating of 30 or more

First things first: Always pick a sunscreen with at least an SPF 30โ€”which, FYI, all of our 2024 SPF Award Winners have. A sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) measures how well it will protect your skin from sunburn, says Karan Lal, DO, a board-certified dermatologist at Affiliated Dermatology in Scottsdale, AZ. The kicker is, to get the most protection from your sunscreen, you also need to ensure that you’re applying enough (two finger-lengths of sunscreen for your face) and reapplying appropriately every few hours, especially if you’re sweating or swimming. So, even the fanciest SPF 60 cream on the market isn’t doing you justice if you only apply a pea-size amount once in a while.ย 

โ˜€๏ธ Pick a formula youโ€™ll actually enjoy using

To get the most protection from your sunscreen, you also need to ensure that you’re applying enough. โ€œWhen it comes to sunscreen, most people only apply 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount,โ€ says Sara L. Allen, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Charleston, NC, and founder of Skin Clique. โ€œOn your face, a good rule of thumb is one teaspoon of sunscreen to get adequate sun protection.โ€

Not only that, but youโ€™ll need to ensure youโ€™re wearing it every single dayโ€”not just when the vibe strikes.ย โ€œA 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology1 looked at patients who wore sunscreen every day versus those who only wore it when they felt like it,โ€ says Dr. Allen. โ€œNot surprisingly, those who were in the latter category had double the chance of developing melanoma relative to those who wore it every day.โ€

โ˜€๏ธ Try a formula based on your skin type

Is your skin oily and you want a sunscreen that mattifies? Or is your skin dry and you prefer something with a dewy finish? Knowing your skin type will help you pick between formulas that promise hydration versus shine control. Youโ€™ll also want to think about the type of sunscreen you wantโ€”e.g., chemical, mineral, or hybrid. Mineral sunscreens utilize zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to create a physical barrier on your skin that blocks UV rays, while chemical sunscreens utilize chemical filters (like oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and avobenzone) to help absorb and disperse the sunโ€™s rays.

Hybrid sunscreens formulas, as you can guess, combine the best of both worlds with chemical and mineral filters. Each has their potential pros and cons: Mineral sunscreens are gentlest on sensitive skin, but have a higher chance of leaving a white cast; chemical sunscreens are typically easiest to โ€œwearโ€ across all skin tones, but can potentially irritate sensitive skin types.

Whatever you decide, picking a formula you’ll commit to is the most important thing. Dr. Allen encourages her patients to keep their SPF at their bathroom sink to remember to reach for it every morning. “One of my favorite tricks for application is putting my SPF next to my toothpaste, which is found to increase your regular daily SPF use2,” she says. “The moral of the story is to find the highest SPF product that you will use daily.” Got that? Now let’s dive into the winners.

Shop our award-winning face sunscreen picks

La Roche-Posay Anthelios UV Hydra Sunscreen SPF 50โ€”$40

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Best drugstore face sunscreen

โ€œIf you hate sunscreen, you need to try this sunscreen. It looks, feels, and applies so much like a face lotion that I had to double-check the bottle to make sure it was, in fact, a โ€˜realโ€™ sunscreen. The consistency is lightweight and milky, making it easy to massage in, and the hyaluronic acid-spiked formula leaves your skin looking dewy and glowy, without any irritating fragrance. And unlike so many drugstore sunscreens that are basically white casts in a bottle, this one dries down totally clear on all skin tones, according to testers.โ€ โ€” Chloe Metzger, deputy editor

Chemical or mineral:

Chemical

Sunscreen filters:

Homosalate, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene

Lion Pose Ghost-Buster 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 42โ€”$46

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Best mineral face sunscreen

โ€œI am legitimately afraid of mineral sunscreen, because every time I give one a chance, my skin is left looking like a gray, ashy mess. Iโ€™ve just never found a mineral SPF that actually looks good on brown skin. But this formulaโ€”designed by two brilliant women of colorโ€”might have just restored my hope. Despite it being a mineral sunscreen, I donโ€™t have to spend forever massaging it in. Instead, itโ€™s easy to apply and leaves behind a hydrated, satin-y finish, making it a great option to wear before putting on makeup. It also has cucumber extract that gives a nice cooling effect when you rub it on. Most importantly, though? No ghostly white castโ€”hence its name. Get it?โ€ โ€” Aimee Simeon, senior beauty editor

Chemical or Mineral:

Mineral

Sunscreen filters:

Zinc oxide

Tula Skincare Protect + Glow Daily Sunscreen Gel Broadโ€”$38

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Best for dry skin

โ€œIf your skin is dry, youโ€™re in for a treat with this sunscreen, which is basically a glass of fruit-infused water for your face. The hydrating formula gives my skin a dewy sheen without feeling greasy or sticky. And, despite its lightweight gel texture, it manages to keep my skin moisturized throughout the day without drying me out. I also love that itโ€™s loaded with almost a dozen fruit extractsโ€”including pineapple, papaya, and appleโ€”that help my dull skin look a bit glowier over time.โ€ โ€”Francesca Krempa, commerce editor ย 

Chemical or mineral:

Chemical

Sunscreen filters:

Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46โ€”$43

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Best for sensitive skin

โ€œMy dermatologist recommended this sunscreen to me when I was on the hunt for a formula that wasnโ€™t greasy and wouldnโ€™t irritate my already-sensitive skin. Iโ€™ve been using it for awhile now, and I havenโ€™t looked back. I love that itโ€™s a no-frills formula that doesnโ€™t have a white cast, greasy feel, or irritating fragrance. Itโ€™s also formulated with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin Eโ€”a gentle, skin-soothing trio that helps calm my reactive skin. I honestly get why itโ€™s every dermโ€™s go-to sunscreen.โ€ โ€” Jessica Campbell-Salley, associate fitness director

Chemical or mineral:

Hybrid

Sunscreen filters:

Zinc oxide, octinoxate

Naturium Dew-Glow Moisturizer SPF 50โ€”$22

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Best chemical face sunscreen

โ€œWhen it comes to facial sunscreens, I always look for a hydrating formula that makes my skin glowy and plump. This moisturizing one from Naturium fits the bill, living up to its Dew Glow name. Itโ€™s formulated with niacinamide to help soothe irritation and fade dark spots, along with vitamin C to help brighten hyperpigmtation and protect against environmental damage. Each time I use it, my skin looks more luminous and hydrated, so I actually want to apply it every morning. And, as an added bonus, the packaging is super cool: The top of the cap has a deep indent in it thatโ€”when pumped full with sunscreenโ€”equals one-quarter teaspoon, which is the recommended amount of sunscreen needed for your face. I just pump it in, scoop it out with my pinky, and apply it. Super easy and very smart.โ€ โ€”AS

Chemical or Mineral:

Chemical

Sunscreen filters:

Homosalate, octisalate, avobenzone

Blue Lizard Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+โ€”$16

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Best waterproof face sunscreen

โ€œIโ€™m not too proud to admit Iโ€™m a mineral-sunscreen skeptic. Iโ€™ve simply been done dirty too many time in the past by chalky formulas with major white cast, so I approach every mineral formula with a side eye until proven wrong. This one proved me wrong. Itโ€™s completely sheer, super hydrating, and highly water resistant. I used this all over my face (and even on my body, tbh) during my last vacation and was super impressed at how undetectable it looked and felt on my skin.โ€ โ€”AS

Chemical or Mineral:

Mineral

Sunscreen filters:

Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide

Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun:Rice + Probiotics SPF 50โ€”$18

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Best Korean sunscreen

โ€œIf you know meโ€”honestly, even if you donโ€™t know meโ€”youโ€™ve probably heard me wax poetic about the magic of this Korean sunscreen. Sunscreens made and sold in Korea are typically lighter, sheerer, more protective, and more comfortable to wear than sunscreens made in the U.S. Why? Because the FDA classifies American sunscreens as medical drugs, resulting in an intensely slow approval process for new sunscreen filters (like avobenzone or titanium dioxide). But other countries, including Korea, classify sunscreens as cosmetics, so new sunscreen filters are continually innovated and tested, resulting in only the best of the best formulas making it to market, like this one from Beauty of Joseon. This fragrance-free sunscreen has a lightweight, serum-like texture that looks shiny when you first apply it, but dries down to a satiny sheen after 15 seconds. And yes, thatโ€™s still true when you apply the recommended amountโ€”i.e., the length of two fingers, or one-quarter teaspoon. Itโ€™s easily one of the best sunscreens Iโ€™ve ever used in career, and thatโ€™s saying something.โ€ โ€” CM

Chemical or mineral:

Chemical

Sunscreen filters:

Iscotrizinol, Tinosorb M, Uvinul T 150, Uvinul A Plus

Hero Force Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30โ€”$20

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Best for oily skin

โ€œIf your skin is oily, you know that some SPF formulas can turn greasy fast. Thatโ€™s why I keep this formula in my toolkit when I need a matte base that doesnโ€™t suck the life out of my face. It has a velvety, satin finish that makes your skin feel smooth but not stripped, and it also doesnโ€™t pill under my makeupโ€”which is one of my biggest gripes with some mattifying formulas. And, despite being a mineral formula, itโ€™s totally clear and super lightweight; I almost always forget Iโ€™m wearing sunscreen when I have it on.โ€ โ€”AS ย 

Chemical or mineral:

Mineral

Sunscreen filters:

Zinc oxide

Dermalogica Powerbright Moisturizer SPF 50โ€”$79

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Best for acne-prone skin

โ€œI have acne-prone skin and hyperpigmentation, so sunscreen is crucial for keeping my acne marks and dark spots from worsening. This one from Dermaologica not only has an SPF rating of 50, but also contains niacinamide and licorice rootโ€”two anti-inflammatory and brightening ingredients that work double-duty on my breakouts and scars. Just remember: Consistency is key. The more you use it, the better your skin will lookโ€”though consistency is pretty easy when you have a formula that smells this good and applies this well.โ€ โ€”AS

Chemical or mineral:

Chemical

Sunscreen filters:

Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate

Elemis Marine Cream SPF 30โ€”$140

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Best for fine lines

โ€œI recently survived my first year as a parent to an infant. Needless to say, life is catching up with me, and before more fine lines start creeping in, Iโ€™m trying to future-proof my skincare routine. Enter: this Elemis SPF. I love how it hydrates my skin instantly with collagen and glycerin, and Iโ€™ve also noticed that itโ€™s made my face feel tighter and firmer over the last few months, without any irritation that I get from typical line-smoothing ingredients. I literally always forget Iโ€™m technically applying sunscreen when Iโ€™m using this day cream.โ€ โ€” AS

Chemical or mineral:

Chemical

Sunscreen filters:

Avobenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene

Bask Daily Invisible Gel Sunscreen SPF 40โ€”$28

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Best totally clear

โ€œIf you canโ€™t help but eye-roll when you see a product claiming to be โ€˜invisible,โ€™ I get itโ€”itโ€™s often B.S. However, I can 10/10 confirm that Baskโ€™s Invisible Gel is completely clear and undetectable on your face, regardless of how melanated your skin is. And even though it has a gel consistencyโ€”which can often feel sticky on your skinโ€”this one dries down to a non-shiny, velvet finish, so itโ€™s perfect for layering under makeup when you want a smooth base on a hot day.โ€ โ€”AS ย 

Chemical or mineral:

Chemical

Sunscreen filters:

Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene

Avรจne Mineral Sunscreen Balm Stick SPF 50โ€”$24

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Best stick

โ€œI got a sneak-peek of this mineral sunscreen before it hit shelves, and itโ€™s been a staple in my house since. Since the weatherโ€™s been warming up, Iโ€™ve been going out for daily walks with my infant daughter; I keep this in our stroller so we can both reapply while outdoors. Itโ€™s safe for little ones over six months, so I also have peace of mind knowing I can protect her skin while Iโ€™m protecting mine. It also checks all the important boxes: no ashy cast, no greasy feel, and no leaks or spillsโ€”all wins! Just remember that stick sunscreens are best for touch-ups rather than as your one-and-only SPF, since itโ€™s impossible to get the adequate amount of coverage from a stick that youโ€™d need to be fully protected.โ€ โ€”AS

Chemical or mineral:

Mineral

Sunscreen filters:

Zinc oxide


Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.


  1. Gimotty, Phyllis A., and Karen Glanz. โ€œSunscreen and Melanoma: What Is the Evidence?โ€ย Journal of Clinical Oncology, vol. 29, no. 3, 20 Jan. 2011, pp. 249โ€“250, https://doi.org/10.1200/jco.2010.31.7529. Accessed 8 Apr. 2022.

  2. Wang, Steven Q et al. โ€œImproving compliance of daily sunscreen application by changing accessibility.โ€ย Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicineย vol. 33,2 (2017): 112-113. doi:10.1111/phpp.12292






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