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The Sunscreens Top Dermatologists Really Use Every Day

With lockdown measures slowly easing and social bubbles expand, spending more time outside this summer seems likely. The temperature is set to rise in the next few weeks and while it can be tempting to top up our tans after four months inside, it’s important that we err on the side of caution.

Of all the skincare products we use, sunscreen is the most important and powerful — and perhaps the most scrutinised. To pass the basic buy test, it must be broad spectrum, SPF 30 or higher, and absorb without feeling greasy. One must decide between physical and mineral options and think about water resistance, too. And those considerations are just the start — after all, sunscreen is one of the only shields we have against premature ageing from sun damage and skin cancer. But there’s one thing that even the most discerning of beauty nerds don’t know about SPF: which formulas the top dermatologists use on their own complexions.

So we polled a few of our favourites, and we were surprised by what we found. For one, the priciest sunscreen isn’t necessarily the best sunscreen. In fact, a few of our pros swear by easy-to-find high street brands. Another big reveal? Derms are just like us — they want tinted, quick-to-absorb formulas that look and feel as good as they perform. See their favourite picks, along with a few of our own, ahead.

“Believe it or not, my favourite sunscreen is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 55,” says Jessica Krant, MD, dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. “The texture is rich enough that it keeps my skin moisturised but dry enough that it applies with a matte, almost foundation-like finish. I can use it alone without additional moisturiser or makeup, and it has Neutrogena’s high-quality, stable Helioplex formula that I trust.”

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen, $, available at iHerb

“I use EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. “It is lightly tinted, contains antioxidants, and has a high concentration of zinc oxide (9.0%). Plus, it’s water resistant for up to 40 minutes.”

Elta MD UV Physical Water-Resistant Facial Sunscreen, $, available at Strawberry Net

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“Due to my acne-prone skin, I need an SPF that’s lightweight and doesn’t clog my pores,” says Audrey Noble, Refinery29’s associate beauty editor of brand experiences. “This lotion hydrates my skin without making it oily, which is a huge win in my book.”

Burt’s Bees Skin Nourishment Day Lotion SPF 15, $12.89, available at Target.

Beauty writer Mi-Anne Chan likes this

“I like this fella from Dr.Jart+,” says Mi-Anne Chan, Refinery29 beauty writer. “It’s oxybenzone-free (meaning it won’t contribute to the downfall of our coral reefs) and protects with an SPF of 50. The best part? Most sunscreens feel like, well, sunscreen (read: greasy, thick, and generally unappealing), but this one feels like moisturizer and sinks in super fast.”

Dr.Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $34.00, available at Sephora.

“I love that this is a high-SPF physical blocker that gives you the heavy-duty protection [you need] daily, yet at the same time is so lightweight you hardly notice it’s on,” says dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD. She also notes that the formula absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a white cast or residue. “Unlike chemical blockers, it doesn’t aggravate and irritate your skin (always a plus),” she says. “Finally, it comes with just enough tint to help even out my complexion while giving me a hint of radiance. It’s just enough for me to start my day without a drop of makeup.”

SkinCeuticals SkinCeuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defense, $, available at Look Fantastic

“This is my personal favourite because of the combination of UVA/UVB protection, infrared defence, antioxidants, and tint,” says Marina Peredo, MD, dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

SkinMedica SkinMedica Total Defense and Repair SPF 50, $, available at Skin Store

“I hate the smell of sunscreen so much that I avoided it like it was a cruise line virus when I was younger,” says Kelsey Castañon, Refinery29 beauty news editor. “A few years (and a lot of sunburns) later, I’ve finally landed on a few that keep my skin protected without the chemical scent. But this one from Clarins is my absolute favorite. It has the slightest floral scent and happens to be packed with antioxidants (like tea and blackcurrant extracts) to protect my skin from free-radical damage. Plus, it’s oil-free, meaning it never clogs my pores. Win-win-win.”
David Bank, MD, dermatologist and author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age, likes any sunscreen from EltaMD because it uses finely micronised zinc oxide, which he calls “the best sun-blocking ingredient.” He also gives the brand props for creating formulas that don’t look white and pasty. His favourite of the bunch? This formula, geared toward sensitive or acneic skin. “It’s oil-free and has hyaluronic acid to moisturise.”

Elta MD UV Daily Moisturising Facial Sunscreen, $, available at Strawberry Net

Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., turns to a powdered sunscreen when protecting her own skin, calling this one “the absolute purest form of powder sunscreen with colours that blend with all skin tones.” Why powder over lotion? “The powder locks makeup in place, cuts down on facial oil on a humid day, and provides excellent sun protection,” she says. “It can be applied several times a day to maintain protection and never messes up makeup.”
“I talk about this face SPF to anyone who will listen — and everyone else, too,” says senior beauty editor Lexy Lebsack. “It’s incredibly light and soaks in immediately, but it’s also hydrating enough to take the place of my morning moisturiser. It never makes me break out, plays well under makeup, and feels amazing. I kid you not, it’s the one SPF that has made me wear protection every single day — and my skin has never looked better for it.”

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Fluid Sun Cream, $, available at Superdrug

If wearing protection every day is an issue for you, too, this versatile face and body stick couldn’t possibly make it any easier. Equipped with SPF 70, no-mess application, and a non-greasy finish, it’s sunscreen for the person who makes every excuse not to wear sunscreen.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face & Body Stick Sunscreen Broad Spectrum, $, available at Amazon

This NeoCutis SPF is a favourite of S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, cosmetic dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “It carries a very light tint that is compatible with all skin types, including darker skin like mine. It doesn’t have a white-ish sheen that many of the micronised zinc or titanium broad-spectrum sunscreens have,” she says. Because it contains a “proven patented growth factor complex, I know that it’s helping to minimise fine lines as it protects my skin from UV damage,” she adds. Oh, and it gets high marks for its pleasant scent, too.

Neocutis Bio-Restorative Day Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $, available at SkinStore

“The SPF 50 is unbeatable, and the hydrating formula goes on smooth and feels lightweight, with no shine or slick feel,” says senior beauty writer Rachel Krause. “It has a barely perceptible blurring quality that makes skin look better and brighter without face makeup, which is not a thing you want to be wearing when it’s 110 degrees. I caught my boyfriend slathering it all over his arms one morning and told him, in a voice as calm as I could muster, that it was a little too expensive for his purposes. ‘How much could it be?’ he wanted to know. ‘£40?’ If only.”

La Prairie La Prairie Cellular Swiss UV Protection Veil, $, available at John Lewis

“But if I were, for some sick reason, forced to only purchase sun protection under £20, I’d come to bat for this one every time,” Krause says. “It might not include the fancy shit I usually go for, like rose oil and the fresh blood of seven virgins, but it’s waterproof, weightless, won’t clog pores, and looks lovely under makeup. You just can’t have everything, I guess.”

Neutrogena Liquid Daily Facial Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum, $, available at Amazon

Foregoing makeup altogether is easier when your sunscreen leaves your complexion dewy, not sticky. But besides its broad-spectrum protection, the formula is also just as hydrating as your richest night cream, so you’ll actually want to slather it on.

Thank You Farmer Sun Project Water Sun Cream SPF 50, $35.99, available at Jet.

“I love this sunscreen because it’s super lightweight, moisturising, and doesn’t have that fragrance-y sunscreen smell,” says beauty assistant Megan Decker. “I know that we all need to wear sunscreen every single day, but I hate making it a separate step in my routine because so often it leaves a white cast that takes forever to rub into my complexion. Luckily, I can wear this serum, and just this serum, and it makes my skin look brighter and more hydrated, no rubbing or waiting required.”

Supergoop! Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum, $, available at Revolve

“Not sure why it took so long for the industry to come out with a quality sunscreen specifically for the melanin-blessed crew, but I’m glad that it happened. Bolden’s formula is in a small tube, but I’ve been using it for around three months now and still should have enough to last me until Thanksgiving,” beauty writer Khalea Underwood says. “Two pumps is really all you need when properly layered. If your skin-care routine already encompasses other moisturising elements (like serums and face oils), then a dab of this sheer formula can go right on top of your heavier moisturiser. It’s so light that I usually forget I have it on.”

Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer, $28.00, available at Bolden.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at NYU Dr. Shari Marchbein says this is her go-to for sun protection. Not only does it provide great coverage, “it has the added benefit of being an anti-pollutant,” says Marchbein, meaning it protects against skin dulling pollutants.

Elizabeth Arden, Prevage City Smart Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Hydrating Shield, $68.00, available at Elizabeth Arden.

Like this post? There’s more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we’ll see you there!

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Credit: Original article published here.

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