Sunscreen can help protect your skin from sunburn, wrinkles, and even cancer, but not all sunscreens are created equal. If you want to choose the best sunscreen for your skin type and activity level, check out this guide on how to choose sunscreen according to skin type! We’ll cover everything from finding the right SPF to knowing how much you should be applying. Your skin will thank you!
The best time to wear sunscreen is before you have any skin damage. And, given that we all see different types of sun damage throughout our lives, it’s probably a good idea for everyone – regardless of your skin type – to protect yourself from harmful UV rays each and every day. But if you want to know what kind of sunscreen is best for your specific skin type, keep reading.
Apply an SPF 15 or 20 sunscreen daily, preferably one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Don’t skip it in favor of makeup with SPF – sunscreens work more effectively on skin not covered with powder and foundation. If you have oily skin, also avoid moisturizers with SPF as they can make your face shiny. Be careful around heat sources; avoid sweating (from exercise or high temperatures) and stay out of direct sunlight if possible.
If you have dry skin, a physical sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is best. These sunscreens deflect UV rays and don’t absorb into your skin, meaning they aren’t at risk of clogging pores or causing irritation. Look for zinc oxide with added ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture from your environment and keeps it locked in. Products containing oil can feel heavy on already-dry skin; we like La Roche-Posey Anthelion 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk ($35), which goes on light but protects for up to 80 minutes without leaving a sticky residue behind.
A combination skin type generally refers to skin that tends toward dry patches in some areas and is oily in others. People with a combination skin type are therefore more prone to acne, large pores, and fine lines than people with oily or dry skin types. Here’s how you can choose a sunscreen that works for your unique facial needs: Try an oil-free lotion containing zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789), oxybenzone, ecamsule (also known as Mexoryl SX), and/or Mexoryl XL.
If you have sensitive skin, you know how important it is to use a product that doesn’t irritate. You probably already know that going outside without sunscreen is a bad idea, but even worse than sunburns are skin irritations like redness and rashes. Moisturizing before and after going in direct sunlight can help your sensitive skin stay cool, calm, and comfortable all summer long. And when buying sunscreen for your face or body look for an option that contains ingredients like shea butter or other natural extracts. Look at labels carefully; some brands will say hypoallergenic right on their bottles!
No Sunscreen Needed?
Contrary to popular belief, not all sunscreens are created equal. So although there are plenty of situations in which a formula with an SPF over 30 is unnecessary, there are some cases when it’s necessary, especially if you’re fair-skinned or have sensitive skin. Look for a sunscreen labeled as broad-spectrum (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) and always use enough. The FDA recommends a shot glass worth per application: 1 oz. for your face, 11⁄2 oz. for your neck and chest, 11⁄4 oz. for each arm, 1⁄2 oz. each leg/thigh and 3/4oz for each arm/leg – and that includes under your clothing!