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Editor’s Picks: Sunscreen for Your Face

striped outdoor lounge chair next to a pool

If you're not serious about sunscreen, you should be. Check out our picks.

Every derm under the sun will tell you reapplying is a must every two hours.

To be clear, sunscreen season is year-round. But for obvious reasons, the beginning of the summer is when most people get really serious about sun care.

According to Jeremy Brauer, M.D. a board-certified dermatologist at Spectrum Skin and Laser in Westchester, New York, you should apply UVA/UVB protective broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, which shields against rays that cause burning and also lasting damage. And for women past 40, Dr. Brauer suggests factoring in additional ingredients that address the conditions of peri, post, and menopausal skin, like a weaker moisture barrier, dryness, lower collagen production and increased laxity.

Luckily, there are so many multi-tasking, science-back options these days that work hard on those issues to give you more radiance, and fewer wrinkles and redness—the stuff midlife skin needs most. Read on, we’ve got you covered.

view of a woman's shoulders and hair
Photo by Rachel Claire via Pexels
SkinBetter Science SunBetter Tone Smart SPF 68 Sunscreen Compact

Among the many good perks this high-level sunscreen gives you, one of the biggest is what it doesn’t give you: an excuse not to reapply, which every derm under the sun will tell you is a must every two hours.

The compact can be tossed in your bag with no worries of spills so it’s at the ready anytime, anywhere; it doesn’t mess up your makeup or even require using your hands. You simply use the included sponge to glide the silky balm over your face under or over makeup, or as your makeup—the formula adapts to your tone to provide a hint of natural color. The broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect against UVA, UVB, blue light, plus pollution and infrared radiation.

ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Daily Mineral SPF 50+ Sunscreen

This screen feels made for women in midlife. It’s super light, broad-spectrum, and packed with reef-safe mineral filters, peptides, and antioxidants—ingredients that go to work on dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles. But here’s the magic: the formula contains DNA Repairsomes that actually repair existing sun damage. And they have clinical studies to prove it.

The potion has a nice texture due to vitamin E that helps it absorb like a moisturizer, and comes in a tinted option that gives you a glowy hint of color, and a sheer version.

Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30

Because it’s oil-free, this super light and delicate formula doesn’t clog your pores, but still gives your skin the hydration it needs at this life stage. All-mineral filters and no-fragrance make it friendly to even super sensitive skin, plus, antioxidants like bearberry, sea buckthorn, lingonberry, and ferulic acid protect you from damaging free radicals, UVA/UVB rays and blue light and also help out with fine lines and wrinkles.

This stuff is great on its own, but also acts nicely as a primer—the sheer, weightless and non-greasy texture sinks right in to all skin types, so whatever makeup you’re wearing on top goes on smoothly.

Kinship Self Reflect Sport SPF 60

Consider this a sunscreen and skincare packed into one tube, which makes a busy morning routine a wee bit less so. The waterless, super-moisturizing lotion doesn’t just protect with non-nano (meaning it doesn’t get absorbed) zinc oxide, it actually makes your skin look plumper and bouncier due to multiple ceramides that help you retain hydration even when you sweat, which is a summer situation no matter how active you are.

What’s more, Acerola cherry, a postbiotic that’s high in vitamin C, keeps your skin barrier strong and able to fend off environmental stressors, like rays, pollution, and harsh weather.

EltaMD UV Glow Broad-Spectrum SPF 36

The brand has garnered a huge fanbase with its UV Clear, and now there’s this newer winner that feels so right for older skin. There’s lot going on in here to live up to the promise in its name, and indeed, this screen will make you glow by way of keeping your skin well-moisturized and healthy.

There are powerful antioxidants to fight skin damage, including niacinamide, which also tones down redness and helps balance out discoloration in general; hyaluronic acid to draw in moisture and keep it there; aloe to make you softer and smoother; and mica, tiny particles that reflect the light and give you a hit of radiance.

Glo C-Shield Anti-Pollution Moisture Tint SPF 30

Moisturizing, silky, and lightweight, Glo sunscreen is ideal makeup, sun protection and skincare all delivered in a couple of pumps. For starters, the finish is sheer, but with a hint of tint (it comes in 10 shades) to even skin tone, while also adding some luster, thanks to the mineral pigments and hydrators, like squalene.

At the same time, soothing elements, like chamomile, feed your skin nutrients and help to calm down any irritation. Of course, the hero ingredient here is vitamin C, so you can count on hardcore defense against UV rays, blue light, pollution, and free radicals. A big plus: It doesn’t pill over other skincare.

Wander Pack Up & Glow Priming SPF 40+

It comes out of the tube looking peachy, but smooth the satiny lotion in and not only does it disappear without a white caste, but you get a lovely luminous base that acts as a primer to help your makeup go on seamlessly, or just a really nice naked-skin finish.

The mineral protection has antioxidants and vitamin D, an anti-inflammatory, to safeguard from all the things that go on the attack, like UVA/UVB rays, free radicals, blue light, and pollution. There’s also squalene and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and fortify your skin’s moisture barrier. Plus, it packs ingredients to sooth irritation and even out blotchiness—how great is that?

Supergoop! Every. Single. Face. Watery Lotion SPF 50

This beauty is universal—for all skin types and people—and undetectable. Boasting a refreshing, cooling feel (ideal for those of us predisposed to overheat), the formula offers a high SPF and some skin-friendly ingredients including Cress Sprout Extract to help the skin retain water, and Wild Butterfly Ginger Root Extract, an antioxidant.

Watery Lotion can be added to your pre-existing skincare routine or used on its own to help protect against a whole host of skin aggressors, including UV rays, blue light, pollution, and infrared radiation. When layering, apply it after you’ve finished your skincare routine and before using makeup.

SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair Broad Spectrum SPF 34/PA ++++ Sunscreen

Consider this pick a “superscreen,” with mega-protection from aging UVA rays (the four plus signs signify Japan’s highest level of UVA protection a product can receive) and burning UVB rays. A plethora of antioxidants, including green tea leaf extract, plus two forms of vitamin E, make the formula a powerful anti-ager, too, helping to give skin a rejuvenated look and diminish the visual impact of wrinkles and dark spots.

Odacité SPF 50 Sheer Sunscreen Mineral Drops

Made from a lightweight, non-mask-y mineral (as in, free of chemical sunblock) formula, these subtly coconut-scented drops spread easily across skin. We like that the packaging is extra-inclusive, and "suitable for all skin types, including sensitive, oily and combination and particularly mature skin." (There's actually a shoutout on the box!)

In addition to providing protection against UVA and UVB rays and blue light from your screens, the blend offers an antioxidant boost courtesy of green tea and the moisture-retaining perks of niacinamide.

Phenology Editors
Why should you trust Phenology's editors? They have years of beauty editorial experience, deep connections to top health and wellness experts, and they're fellow Gen Xers. They know you, they are you, and they are curious, confident and culturally in the know.

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