According to a World Health Organization report, up to 90% of visible signs of aging can be attributed to sun exposure. This includes everything from fine lines and freckles to sagging and skin discoloration (brown or white spots). “The sun emits UV rays daily—rain or shine—and UVA rays can penetrate windows,” explains local dermatologist Ivy Lee, MD. “Daily sunscreen use is essential to minimize your skin cancer risk and premature aging and optimize skin health.” She estimates that most of us only use 25% to 50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. “For the face and neck, one-third to one-half a teaspoon of sunscreen is ideal; Most adults should use about 1 oz.—a shot glass—of sunscreen for the entire body,” says the Pasadena native.
That’s why the best sunscreen is essentially the one you’re willing to use. “The most important selection criteria for sunscreen is its ease of use,” Lee adds. “How it feels on the skin. How well it blends into your skin tone.” While the American Academy of Dermatology recommends a sunscreen with SPF 30 or more for daily use, Lee suggests that Southern Californians choose a higher SPF (50+) “to compensate for the reality that most of us do not apply an adequate amount.”
Ready to up your sunscreen game? Here are our favorites:
The A Method Protection Powders ($44–$49): Containing only titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, iron oxide, and mica, these 100% mineral brush-on sunscreens are perfect for scalp shielding and reapplication on the go (especially for kids). “For sensitive skin, babies, or individuals with eczema or rosacea, I recommend mineral formulas because they tend to be less irritating,” says Lee. The A Method’s shades range from Fair to Espresso to cover a variety of skin and hair hues.
Bare Republic Clearscreen SPF 100 body spray, SPF 100 body lotion, SPF 100 face lotion ($13–$15): Slather or spray on an invisible veil of sky-high protection packed with moisturizing seed oils (carrot, raspberry, grape). “Chemical sunscreens function as a sponge and absorb ultraviolet radiation,” explains Lee, who recommends applying sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outside.
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield Glow SPF 50 ($69), Total Protection Brush-On Shield Bronze SPF 50 ($69), and Total Protection Color Balm Endless Sunset Collection ($73): Masquerading as makeup, Colorescience’s high-SPF mineral powders and sticks redefine sun protection. All contain iron oxides, which protect against visible light, says Lee.
Coola Dew Good Illuminating Serum Probiotic Sunscreen ($46): From sunny San Diego comes a nongreasy serum with a luminous finish.
Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 ($39): Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation and always a dermatologist favorite, the No. 1 bestseller on Skinstore.com won’t cause breakouts.
ILIA C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40 ($64): A favorite of makeup artists, the Laguna-based brand’s latest tinted mineral SPF contains niacinamide and encapsulated vitamin C for brightening.
La Roche Posay Anthelios 70 UV Correct ($35): The anti-aging chemical formula has niacinamide to fade sun spots and high SPF to keep them at bay.
Naturally Serious Mineral Sun Defense Moisturizer SPF 30 ($34): Packed with anti-pollution antioxidants such as green tea, pomegranate, and goji berry, this hydrating formula has avocado oil and a universal tint to help with blendability.
Naturopathica Lavender & Turmeric SPF 50 ($68): According to Lee, “zinc oxide blocks the widest range of UV radiation.” Naturopathica combines the micronized mineral with antioxidant golden turmeric for a non-pasty finish.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Serum SPF 60+ ($17.50, at drugstores): Barely there chemical protection is water resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Sisley Sunleÿa SPF 50+ ($325): A longtime editor favorite, this shea butter–based cream contains rhodochrosite—a rare, rose-hued crystal treasured for its healing properties.
Skinceuticals Daily Brightening UV Defense SPF 30 ($56): Proven to reduce discoloration by 24% in 12 weeks, a potent cocktail of niacinamide, tranexamic acid, and phenylethyl resorcinal target discoloration while chemical UV filters prevent future damage.