These Top 10 Powder Sunscreens Are Pretty Much SPF in Incognito Mode


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We all know how important it is to wear SPF every day. Any dermatologist will tell you that slathering on sunscreen before you leave the house in the morning is the number-one best thing you can do to defend against UV damage and the risk of skin cancer. What you may not realize, though, is that that single layer likely isn’t enough to keep your skin protected all day (as a general rule, you should be re-applying every two hours). But when you’re running around, it can be easy to “forget” that midday step… and that goes double when you’re wearing makeup and don’t want to mess up your look by rubbing lotion all over your face. The fix, according to dermatologists? Invest in a powder sunscreen that will keep you covered on the move.


Experts In This Article


“I love to recommend powder sunscreens as an easy way to reapply throughout the day,” says Jessica Dowling, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “They are convenient, portable, and easy to apply on the go without feeling like you have to wash your hands after. What’s more, they also allow you to reapply without feeling like you’re taking off or ruining your makeup.”

Convinced? Keep scrolling to shop our top picks.

The best SPF powder sunscreen, at a glance

The benefits of powder SPFs

1. They’re made with mineral sun blockers

Powder SPFs tend to be made of finely milled mineral particlesโ€”zinc oxide and titanium dioxideโ€”that sit on top of your skin. These ingredients work as physical blockers, deflecting UV rays before they can penetrate your skin and cause damage.

“Most powder sunscreens are made withย zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are natural and mineral-based ingredients,” says Jennifer Kramer, a paramedical esthetician and founder of Corrective Skincare LA. “Used correctly, they create a protective barrier against the sun’s damaging effect, just like gels, creams, and sprays.”

2. They’re great for sensitive and oily complexions

Powder sunscreens have a one-up on their liquid counterparts as they offer mattifying and grease-absorbing benefits that are great for oily skin. Their mineral formulas are generally better than chemical-based formulas for sensitive skin, too.

3. They’re easy to apply over makeup/throughout the day

Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schafer Plastic Surgery in New York City, says it best: “Powder sunscreen sits on top of makeup and eliminates shine. It’s easy to have on hand, so reapplying SPF is not a hassle.” Plus, you don’t have to worry about TSA taking it away when you travel.

4. They can be used to protect the scalp

In addition to being endlessly easy to apply to your face, powder sunscreens can also protect the delicate (and oft-forgotten) skin that’s exposed when you part your hair. “They allow you to apply sunscreen to your scalp without leaving your hair greasy,” says Dr. Dowling. As a bonus, these powder formulas can double as oil-absorbing dry shampoosโ€”as long as you use them properly.ย 

What to look for in a powder sunscreen

1. Mineral blockers

Nearly all powder sunscreens are made with mineral ingredients, so this edict should be fairly easy to follow. Look for formulas that have broad-spectrum UV blockers, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, for maximum protection.

2. SPF 40+

Though dermatologists recommend using at least SPF 30 to ensure your skin is properly protected throughout the day, when it comes to powder, you’ll want to look for a formula with at least SPF 40. “Powder sunscreen tends to be really light and hard to disperse evenly across the skin surface, so people don’t apply enough to warrant maximum protection,” says Azadeh Shirazi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in La Jolla,ย 

3. Skin-friendly ingredients

Thanks to their mattifying, mineral ingredients, powder formulations are generally great for oily and sensitive complexion. If your skin skews dry, though, Dr. Shirazi recommends looking for “hydrating ingredients, such as ceramides and olive glycerides,” which will help counteract some of the drying effects of the sunscreen. Additionally, any formula infused with additional anti-aging ingredientsโ€”like antioxidants, niacinamide, and vitamin Cโ€”will give your skin a little extra midday boost.

Shop the best powder sunscreen

Best overall: Colorescience, Sunforgettableยฎ Total Protectionโ„ข Brush-On Shield SPF 50 โ€” $69.00

SPF: 50

Active ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide

Brushes tend to be the easiest way to apply powder sunscreen, and this one is so fluffy that youโ€™ll genuinely look forward to sweeping it all over your face. Dr. Shirazi loves the matte finish this leaves on skin, which is especially helpful during those extra-oily summer months, and the fact that itโ€™s got SPF 50 will ensure youโ€™re properly protected (that is, as long as youโ€™re applying it properly). One thing we donโ€™t love about this product is that the shade range skews toward lighter complexions, but other options on this list are better suited for darker skin tones.

Size: 0.2 oz.

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection
  • Luxurious application experience
  • Mattifies skin while offering radiance with the inclusion of mica
  • Limited shade range
  • Expensive

Runner up: ISDIN, Isdinceutics Mineral Brush โ€” $60.00

SPF: 50

Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, iron oxides

Dermatologists love this peach-colored powder for a midday re-up thanks to the fact that it works triple duty against UV rays and other environmental stressors. โ€œI like this one because it protects from environmental aggressors as well as blue light,โ€ says Dr. Engelman. It only comes in one shade, but the peach tint *should* blend seamlessly on any complexion. Like all powder SPFs, its got a matte finish, but the formulaโ€™s inclusion of mica will leave you with a nice (grease-free) radiance throughout the day.

Size: 0.14 oz.

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 coverage
  • Easy-to-apply brush format
  • Protects against environmental stressors, including blue light and pollution
  • Mattifies skin while offering radiance with the inclusion of mica
  • Only comes in one shade
  • Expensive

Best for dry skin: Supergoop!, 100% Mineral (Re)setting Powder SPF 35 โ€” $35.00

SPF: 35

Active ingredients: Zinc oxide, ceramides, olive glycerides, coated silica

Not only does this powder SPF feel a whole lot more like makeup than sunscreen, but itโ€™s also infused with ingredients that make it extra-friendly for dry skinโ€”namely the ceramides and olive glycerides that derms recommend seeking out in these types of formulas. It also contains coated silica, which helps enhance skin texture and hydration. The powder comes in four shades ranging from translucent to deep so that every complexion can find its perfect match, and it works just as well as a setting powder over your makeup as it does an SPF on its own.

Size: 0.15 oz.

  • Comes in 4 inclusive shades
  • Contains hydrating ingredients like glycerin and olive glycerides to help dry skin retain moisture
  • Sephora โ€œCleanโ€ rating
  • Affordable
  • SPF 35 is slightly lower than what dermatologists recommend from a powder sunscreen

Best for oily skin: AziMD, UV Clear SPF 40 โ€” $58.00

SPF: 40
Active ingredients:
Zinc oxide, sericite, silica, mica

While all powder sunscreens are great for oily skin thanks to the mattifying effects of the minerals theyโ€™re made with, this one takes things a step further. Itโ€™s made with an ingredient called sericite, which absorbs oil to leave skin looking airbrushed instead of slick. Itโ€™s totally translucent and feels lightweight on the skinโ€”so much so, in fact, that youโ€™ll hardly even realize itโ€™s there.

Size: 0.25 oz.

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 40
  • Developed by a dermatologist
  • Translucent finish
  • Mineral SPF ingredients are paired with other oil absorbers to help mattify slick skin
  • Expensive
  • May be too drying on certain skin types

Best waterproof: Brush on Block, Translucent Mineral Powder Sunscreen SPF 50 โ€” $46.00

SPF: 50

Active ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide

Whether youโ€™re dusting on a layer between meetings or trying to force your kids to re-apply at the beach, this no-frills translucent sunscreen works for everyone. It goes on invisibly, offers solid SPF 50 protection, and is sweat-and-water resistant up to 80 minutes. It also contains calming ingredients like bisabolol and chamomile flower extract, so you can be sure it wonโ€™t irritate even the most sensitive skin.

Size: 0.12. oz.

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 sun protection
  • Translucent finish
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Made with calming ingredients

Best tinted: DRMTLGY, SPF Radiance Powder โ€” $35.00

SPF: 30

Active ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, resveratrol, hyaluronic acid, licorice root, niacinamide

The fact that this powder comes in three inclusive shades (fair, medium, and deep) is just one of the reasons its worth adding to your arsenal. Shade range aside, itโ€™s packed with skin-care ingredients including hydrating hyaluronic acid, brightening licorice root, oil-balancing niacinamide, and antioxidant-rich resveratrol. All of this means that when you apply it, it will match your complexion and keep you protected all day long.

Size: 0.23 oz.

  • Comes in three shades
  • Offers additional hydrating, brighteing, and anti-aging skincare benefits
  • Affordable

Best translucent: Hawaiian Tropic, Mineral Powder Sunscreen Brush SPF 30 โ€” $20.00

SPF: 30

Active ingredients: Zinc oxide, vitamin C

With a $20 price point and more than 2,000 five-star reviews, this drugstore diamond deserves a spot in any bagโ€”beach or otherwise. It goes on totally translucent (with a nice, matte finish thanks to the inclusion of silica) and pairs its sun-protective zinc oxide with the antioxidant powers of vitamin C. One note: It does contain fragrance, which means that if youโ€™ve got sensitive skin, you may want to opt for another powder SPF on this list (Supergoop!โ€™s (Re)Setting Powder has a great translucent option, too!)

Size: 0.15 oz.

  • Affordable
  • Translucent finish
  • Contains vitamin C
  • Only offers SPF 30
  • Contains fragrance

Best for dark skin tones: iS Clinical, PerfecTint Powder SPF 40 โ€” $78.00

SPF: 40

Active ingredients: Zinc oxide, glycerin, lycopodium clavatum, and imperata clyndrica root extract, hydroxyapatite

iS Clincalโ€™s tinted powder comes in four shades, and the โ€œdeepโ€ tone is one of the darkest on the market. In addition to the inclusive shade range, the formula includes a slew of moisture-enhancing ingredientsโ€”like glycerin, lycopodium clavatum, and imperata clyndrica root extractโ€”so you can be sure that it wonโ€™t dry out your skin. It also contains hydroxyapatite, an antioxidant that ups the ante on its defenses against UV rays and other environmental stressors. We also love that the twist-up base allows you to control exactly how much product is dispensed, which means you can go lighter or heavier depending on how much coverage youโ€™re after.

Size: 0.12 oz

  • SPF 40
  • Comes in four shades
  • Offers additional skin benefits
  • Twist-up base allows you to control how much product is dispersed
  • Expensive
  • Some reviewers noted that the packaging contributed to product spillage

Best for sensitive skin: Avรจne, High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50 โ€” $42.00

SPF: 50

Active ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Avรจne thermal spring water, vitamin E

Not only is this one of the best-pressed powder sunscreen options on the market, but it happens to be A++ for sensitive skin. Though you can feel fairly certain that most powder SPFs wonโ€™t cause irritation thanks to the fact that theyโ€™re made with mineral ingredients, this one goes above and beyond to keep skin calm. Like all of Avรจneโ€™s products, the powder contains the brandโ€™s mineral spring water, which contains clinically-tested water contains calcium bicarbonate, magnesium, and silicates, and is celebrated for its ability to quell irritation, reduce inflammation, and promote healing for conditions including eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

Size: 0.35 oz.

  • SPF 50
  • Contains calming ingredients for sensitive skin, including Avรจneโ€™s signature thermal water
  • Travel-friendly compact
  • Only comes in one shade
  • You need to apply with a sponge or use a heavy hand with your brush to get enough product

Best for the scalp: Supergoop!, Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder SPF 35 โ€” $35.00

SPF: 35

Active ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide

Trade your traditional dry shampoo for this SPF-infused option. Itโ€™s specifically designed to be applied to the scalp, and the mineral powders serve double duty in offering protection and whisking away grease from your strands. Pro tip? Hold the bottle 10-15 inches from your scalp and spritz it on (the product gets its โ€œpoofโ€ name from the cloudlike way it comes out of the non-aerosol dispenser) and massage into your skin to get maximum benefits and avoid any annoying white cast.

Size: 0.72 oz.

  • Specifically designed for scalp
  • Peach-tinted powder offers translucent finish
  • Doubles as a dry shampoo

FAQs

Is powder SPF effective?

The answer here is a classic, “Yes, but…” Powder sunscreens do have sun-protective ingredients in them, but you would need to use a lot (meaning an unrealistic amount) to get the type of coverage they promise.

“You would need to apply a great amount of powdered sunscreen to get the same coverage [as other varieties],” says Dr. Engelman.

Because of this, you’ll want to think of your powder sunscreens as layering products to be used in tandem with something elseโ€”like when you need to reapply throughout the day.

How do I use powder sunscreen?

Because powder sunscreen doesn’t penetrate the skin’s barrier, it needs to be applied with careโ€”and, ideally, in the company of another form of SPF.

“I recommend it in conjunction with liquid sunscreen, which is best for initial application,” says Dr. Engelman. Once you’ve created a base layer of your go-to drugstore sunscreen, she says you can keep a powder option in your bag for no-muss, no-fuss reapplication.

With that in mind, your best bet for making re-application as easy as possible is to keep your powder sunscreen within reach.ย  “My favorite tip is to keep the powder sunscreen in your glove compartment and use it on the back of your hands in the car,” says Kramer. “This can help prevent sun spots caused by exposure from holding the steering wheel while driving. Oh and hey, while you’re at it, dust some lightly on your face and chest, too!”


Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.





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