While you should wear SPF year-round (yes, even in the winter), you’d be wise to be extra thoughtful about skin protection during the summer. “It is important to wear sunscreen to protect the skin against the harmful effect of ultraviolet rays that we know cause skin cancer and contribute to accelerated aging,” says Brooke Rothstein, MD, board certified dermatologist and member of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Any sunscreen is better than none, but Dr. Rothstein generally recommends mineral sunscreens—those containing zinc or titanium. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which can take 15 to 20 minutes to start working, mineral sunscreens work immediately after applying, she says. Plus, mineral sunscreens are tolerated better by people with sensitive skin, per Dr. Rothstein. Below, her answers to your sunscreen FAQs and her top sunscreen picks.
If you’re shopping for sunscreen at the drugstore, know that Paceline Card members get up to 5% cash back on drugstore purchases, including sunscreens1.
Q: How often should I reapply my sunscreen?
A: Every two hours, Dr. Rothstein says. “You should apply before swimming or sweating and then re-apply immediately after, or if it’s been 80 minutes and you’re using a water-resistant sunscreen.” Pro tip: Dr. Rothstein suggests putting sunscreen in all the different bags you use for daily activities so you’re never without protection.
Q: Do I need different sunscreens for my face and body?
A: “I often recommend a separate facial sunscreen that people can remember to incorporate into their daily routine,” Dr. Rothstein advises. She also recommends wearing a tinted sunscreen on the face, which can come with additional benefits.
Q: Is spray or lotion better?
A: “I tend to recommend using lotions, as I find people do not apply sprays correctly,” Dr. Rothstein explains. But if you do go for a spray, she advises applying it close to the skin, in a straight line, and then rubbing in like you would a lotion. When applied correctly, sprays can be just as effective as lotions, Dr. Rothstein says.
Now, there are plenty of sunscreens available for purchase. To help you out, here are five options recommended by Dr. Rothstein, plus a bonus Paceline pick, that we think are well worth your money.
- EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
“This is my all-time favorite sunscreen that I wear on my face,” Dr. Rothstein says, adding that it’s lightweight, mineral-based, goes on “clear,” and is great for daily use. While it is pricier—a 1.7-ounce bottle costs about $40—Dr. Rothstein notes that EltaMD UV Clear contains niacinamide, which helps diminish redness and inflammation in people with rosacea or acne-prone skin. The broad-spectrum SPF is also oil-free and comes in both tinted and non-tinted formulas.
- Revision Skincare Intellishade TruPhysical
Yes, $80 for sunscreen might seem like a lot, but this tinted mineral option is packed with antioxidants and moisturizers to help with anti-aging and skin barrier protection, according to Dr. Rothstein. “I love that it contains iron oxide, which means it protects better against light-induced hyperpigmentation, making it a great sunscreen for people concerned about pigmentation or who have melasma,” she says. Plus, the heavier formula can help conceal blemishes and dark spots.
- PCAskin Active Protection Body Broad Spectrum SPF 30
“This is the sunscreen I recommend for people with all skin types who prefer a spray application,” says Dr. Rothstein. The $44 SPF is water-resistant, zinc-based, and is purported to help with anti-aging. Dr. Rothstein also notes that the product goes on white to ensure proper application, but will dry clear.
- Vanicream Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50+
“This 100% mineral sunscreen is formulated specifically for people with contact allergies or sensitive skin,” says Dr. Rothstein. It’s hypoallergenic, meaning it doesn’t contain fragrances, botanical extracts, or other potentially sensitizing ingredients, she explains. The non-irritating formula is also easily applied and designed to not clog your pores—worth the $18, if you ask us.
- Blue Lizard Active Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+
This mineral-based, reef-friendly, Australian brand is popular among adults and children alike, says Dr. Rothstein. And this $20 pick is fragrance-free, making it a potentially good option for sensitive skin. Fun fact: The cap changes color when exposed to UV rays to remind you to put on that ‘screen!
- Paceline’s Bonus Pick: Oars & Alps Everyday Sunscreen
This $16 pick is designed to protect and hydrate your skin, and the squalane in the formula is meant to help calm redness and inflammation. Plus, it’s vegan and cruelty-free. Pacers can get a free tube with their $20 Oars & Alps purchase when they hit their streak!
Moral of the story? Sunscreen is a must (Every! Single! Day!), so you’ll want to find one that best suits your skin and your wallet.