My Favorite Sunscreens

I’m not going to lecture you on the importance of wearing facial sunscreen, buuuut not wearing one is probably the quickest to looking weathered before your time. The sun is your face’s #1 enemy in terms of staying youthful-looking and radiant, but finding a good sunscreen is hard, trust me, I know.

Y’all, I’ve tried a lot. A LOT. And the majority have been either too greasy, too oily, too shiny, too white, too pasty, too drying, too stinky, too shimmery, too sticky, too thick, too thin, too heavy, or bad under makeup.

I’m like Goldilocks on steroids over here.

But! I’ve found some winners and I’m ready to share them with you!

My Top Sunscreen Picks

Blissoma Photonic Light-Shifting Solution SPF 25

Blissoma Photonic SPF 25 is amazing. Perfection. Full stop.

I recently was chatting with my friend Jeannie from Beauty Heroes and she was adamant that I try this sunscreen. She told me it ticked all of my boxes – SPF + moisturizer in one, great under makeup, no pilling, and gives the slightest, most minimal sheen on the face…where you look healthy but not glowy-greasy. Listen, I love that glowy/shiny look on others, but not me. I don’t want to look shiny. But I also don’t want to look completely matte. Are some of you all feeling me on this?

Well, she was right. This product is incredible and somehow manages to make my skin look better, even as the day goes on. It’s elegant…yes, that’s the word. Elegant. It’s tinted translucent pink from astaxanthin, a red algae ingredient with a super-high ORAC level, but that tint disappears on the face. Photonic is a light, barely-there moisturizing emulsion with an SPF 25 from micronized non-nano zinc oxide for lasting mineral protection from the sun. Run, don’t walk.

Active Ingredients: 12.5% Micronized Zinc Oxide

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, $36

I have been so impressed with the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46! First things first, this sunscreen has both physical and chemical blocks. In fact, both of the EltaMD products mentioned in today’s post contain Octinoxate, so if you are wanting a physical sunscreen only, they aren’t for you. More info on Octinoxate can be found here.

Oil-free EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 helps calm and protect sensitive skin types prone to discoloration and breakouts associated with acne and rosacea. It contains 5% high-purity niacinamide (vitamin B3) to help reduce the appearance of blemishes, discoloration, and photodamage. (Niacinamide’s management of acne is well-documented in many studies.)

This formula is super lightweight and silky and doesn’t feel drying or tacky at all. Most importantly, it disappears on the skin and works very well alone or under makeup. I have used this on my bare face, over serum, over oils, under makeup…no matter what, this sunscreen seems to play well with everything. No greasiness, no white cast…it really doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything. #praisebe

EltaMD UV Clear is fragrance-free, oil-free, paraben-free, sensitivity-free, and noncomedogenic. It comes in untinted and tinted versions.

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 9%, Octinoxate 7.5%

Use WHOORLXELTA for a fantastic discount + free shipping on EltaMD products!

Kinship Self Reflect SPF 32, $25/$42

Ohhh, this is such a fantastic 100% mineral sunscreen! Kinship Self Reflect SPF 32 is a lightweight, sheer, moisturizing sunscreen with SPF 32 protection that is good for all skin types, especially blemish-prone skin.

The non-nano zinc oxide formula is gentle on the skin while providing UVA/UVB protection and contains Kinship’s plant-based probiotic that supports a strong skin barrier + clear, glowing skin.

This tinted sunscreen blends flawlessly on my face (the tint doesn’t really deposit any color…it’s meant to counteract any white cast) and leaves it looking healthy and glowing. It’s so easy to blend, totally non-irritating, non-greasy, and sheer.

Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 22.4%

Honua Malu Protecting Day Cream SPF 30, $42

Honua Malu Day Cream SPF 30 is another lovely 100% mineral sunscreen that I’ve used for years. Containing 12% zinc oxide, this day cream is a full-on moisturizer and sunscreen in one, which is great.

This formulation gives me a great glow, so much so that the SPF really is almost an afterthought. I would use this as my facial day cream regardless, but it’s a true win-win in terms of SPF. The cream is very hydrating and illuminating, yet never greasy or oily.

I enjoy this sunscreen during differing seasons, but it might be too hydrating for oily skin types or in the heat of the summer. Also, while I adore the scent of jasmine, if you don’t, this is not for you. The scent is distinctly gorgeous and jasmine, so clearly not fragrance-free. However, as a lady with sensitive skin that reacts to many fragrances, I do just fine with this one. Malu is cruelty-free, palm-free, and Vegan.

Also, a percentage of proceeds from MALU benefits Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, a non-profit that educates and keeps our oceans clean.

Active Ingredients: 12% Zinc Oxide

Use code WHOORL10 for 10% off your order!

EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40, $30

The EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 is a great facial sunscreen for all skin types, but especially dry or post-procedure skin.

I find this sunscreen to be a little more moisturizing than the EltaMD UV Clear, so if you have dry skin, this might be right up your alley. EltaMD UV Daily has hyaluronic acid to boost moisture retention and diminish fine lines but is still lightweight.

Like the UV Clear, this sunscreen plays well with other skincare, looks good under makeup, and virtually disappears on the skin.

EltaMD Daily is fragrance-free, paraben-free, sensitivity-free, and noncomedogenic. It comes in untinted and tinted versions.

Active Ingredients: 9.0% Zinc Oxide, 7.5% Octinoxate

Use WHOORLXELTA for a fantastic discount + free shipping on EltaMD products!

Aveeno Protect and Hydrate Face Lotion SPF 60, $10

The Aveeno Protect and Hydrate Face Lotion is my budget pick. I found this chemical sunscreen to be very gentle on my skin.  I have had run-ins with Avobenzone in the past and this doesn’t make my sensitive skin reactive at all.

I am pleasantly surprised at the feel of this sunscreen! It feels moisturizing yet leaves no residue on my face nor feels heavy or suffocating. (You know that feeling when you put sunscreen on, head outside, and feel like an occlusive mask is sitting on your skin, trapping your sweat? Yeah, no thank you.)

Active Ingredients: 3% Avobenzone, 13.5% Homosalate, 5% Octisalate, 10% Octocrylene

Honorable Mention

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, $17/$34

When I put a call out on Instagram to share your favorite sunscreen, tons of you mentioned Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40. This totally invisible, weightless, scentless sunscreen with SPF 40 is super popular with many!

It didn’t work for me due to the velvety finish. If you love primers, especially silicone ones (think Smashbox), you will LOVE this sunscreen. It really does feel invisible upon contact…it’s just I prefer my sunscreens to feel more like a lotion/cream.

If weightless, velvety primer is your thing, look no further!

Active Ingredients: 3% Avobenzone, 8% Homosalate, 5% Octisalate, 4% Octocrylene

My Favorite Sunscreen for Body

I love love love Supergoop PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 50 (I buy the big ol’ bottle) for my body on pool days and long days in the sun. I also use it on both of my kids, as well as the PLAY Antioxidant Body Mist SPF 50. We all are very happy with PLAY! (And my son is very sensitive to sunscreens.)

My Favorite Sun Hats

I always wear a hat during my daily dog walks – this woven fedora has an adjustable velcro tab in the back for sizing and space to pull your ponytail through, which is key on long, hot walks. I love it and am constantly asked about it!

Are visors your thing? I love this visor for so many reasons – it provides great shade, has a sweatband, rolls up easily for packing, and it looks great on. It’s my poolside staple, for sure.

Finding the right sunscreen for your needs can be daunting, but hopefully, this post will put you on the right track! As always, feel free to leave any comments/questions here.


Showdown: Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF40 vs Kosas Tinted Face Oil

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  1. Meg

    April 8, 2021 at 4:26 am

    Thanks so much for this sunscreen post! This is just what I needed to prep for the warmer days ahead. I’ve been eyeing that Kinship one, so good to know it is one worth trying!

  2. Angel Reuther

    April 8, 2021 at 8:22 am

    Thank you for this! I was going to ask a few weeks ago if you had finished your research. I ended up trying the ulta MD because so many people swear by it but I was also torn because of the chemical Sunscreen…. It really does perform though. I don’t have a budget to try many products so I really search for recommendations from others – thank you for your work!

  3. Claire Powers

    April 14, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    Ah! Your description of Goop Unseen is so illuminating! I only use mineral sunscreen on my face (sensitive skin!) but I needed to use some of my friends on an outing. It was Goop Unseen and I loved the feel of it. Are there any “velvety, primer-like” mineral sunscreens?I don’t like most sunscreens that are moist because it usually feels sticky to me. Can’t wait to wash it off.

  4. Shokufeh

    April 29, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Thanks for this post. For your Black and Brown readers (like me), I do feel compelled to say that I got the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 and there is definitely a white cast. Subtle, but there.

  5. Shokufeh

    April 29, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    For my fellow Black and Brown readers, I feel compelled to share that the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum does indeed have a white cast. It’s subtle, but it’s there for those of us with darker skin.