What is the Best Sunscreen For My Skin? (2024)

Our resident derm on what to look out for when choosing the ideal sun protection for your skin.


Sunshine might work wonders for the soul, but can be harsh on the skin. So, how do you get your glow on and keep yourself protected? Dr. Renée is back with the guidance you need to preserve your skin and love for the sun, all year-round. Our board certified dermatologist is giving you the rundown on all things SPF— including what it does and how to choose the protection that’s right for you.


Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays that reach the earth: UVA and UVB rays. Overexposure to either can lead to skin cancer. Each of these rays have different behavior in terms of skin health: UVA rays or the “aging rays” can prematurely age your skin, cause wrinkles and age spots, plus it can pass through window glass. In the United States, the incidence of skin cancer is higher on the left side of the face due to the UVA penetration through the driver’s side car window. UVB rays are considered the “burning rays” and are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.

Proper protection from the sun will make the greatest difference in how someone ages and looks in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and beyond. This is the best advice I give out of all the skin care advice I hash out daily: try to avoid or limit sun exposure to UV light or UV radiation since this is the primary cause of skin cancer, exterior skin aging, uneven pigmentation, and wrinkling of the skin. Seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, a wide brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection as well as applying sunscreen are all important behaviors to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen products are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, and scientific evidence supports the benefits of using sunscreen to minimize short-term and long-term damage to the skin from the sun’s rays.


Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least a 30, which blocks 97% of the sun’s UVB rays. Higher number SPF blocks slightly more of the sun’s rays, but no sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s UVB rays.

A high number SPF lasts the same amount of time as a low number SPF product. (Translation? A high number SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without re-application). Sunscreen should be reapplied approximately every 80 minutes to two hours when outdoors, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.


The kind of sunscreen you use is a matter of personal choice and may vary depending on the area of the body you want to protect. Creams are best for dry skin and for the face. Gels are good for hairy areas such as the scalp or male chest. Sticks are good to use around the eyes. Sprays are sometimes preferred by parents as they are easy to apply to children. If you have acne prone skin, you may want to use an oil free sunscreen. Some people prefer to use chemical sunscreens and some prefer mineral sunscreens. The best type of sunscreen is the one you will use again and again. Just make sure it offers broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, has an SPF of 30 or higher, and is water resistant. There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen.


No! Even in overcast conditions, 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can still get through. UVA are the longer, stronger “aging rays” of the sun and can make it to your skin on cloudy days. UVB rays that burn the skin tend to vary in intensity depending on the season and are greater on sunny days.


SPF moisturizers are not the same thing as sunscreen. If you have dry skin and need hydration, providing moisture while protecting it from sun rays will help keep your skin barrier healthy. The combination, while convenient, still has to be reapplied every two hours, especially when you are outdoors. A SPF moisturizer works as long as it contains broad spectrum coverage, meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. SPF itself only relates to blocking UVB rays.


Sunscreens are formulated with protective ingredients and are intended to be placed last in your regimen, after your moisturizer. Trying to DIY a sunscreen-moisturizer combination on your own risks inactivating ingredients in both products and this can lead to sun damage. There are two types of agents that go into a sunscreen: a chemical sunscreen, such as avobenzone, absorbs the sun’s rays and releases it in the form of heat. (They act like a sponge.) The other components are physical sunscreens, like zinc oxide. (These work like a shield and create a barrier on your skin to block the sun.) Following an ordered ritual to keep these agents active and your skin protected. My recommended ritual:

  • Cleanse with our Golden Face Cleanser
  • Tone and hydrate the skin with our Reviving Aura Mist or Tranquil Essence
  • Apply a nourishing eye cream like our Radiant Revitalizing Eye Cream
  • Moisturize with our Promise Facial Serum for a skin-brightening boost of zinc and niacinamide
  • Layer on sunscreen with broad spectrum protection to shield your skin against UVA and UVB

Related Articles: Ask Dr. Renee: Sunshine and Skincare

What’s your favorite way to enjoy the sun (safely)? Drop your sunny day rituals in the comments!

What is the Best Sunscreen For My Skin? (2024)


How do I choose the right sunscreen for my skin? ›

First of all, you should choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. If you want the highest protection, choose SPF 50+. If you're happy with a lower protection, use SPF30+. Don't forget to choose a sunscreen that's water resistant if you'll be swimming.

What sunscreen do dermatologists recommend? ›

Dermatologists recommend physical sunscreens, also called mineral sunscreens, for people with sensitive skin. If your sunscreen doesn't contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, you have a chemical sunscreen.

Which brand of sunscreen is the most effective? ›

List of 10 best sunscreens for normal skin that provide maximum protection from sun damage:
NameAmazon Rating
Bioderma Photoderm Creme SPF 50+ Sunscreen4.2/5
Dr. Sheth's Ceramide & Vitamin C Sunscreen4.2/5
The Derma Co 1% Hyaluronic Sunscreen4.3/5
FIXDERMA Shadow Sunscreen4.3/5
6 more rows
Apr 21, 2024

What is the number one sunscreen? ›

A GH Beauty Lab's face sunscreen test winner, Vichy came out on top in almost every category. It earned the best score for being easy to apply, making skin feel hydrated and not leaving a white cast, being sticky, causing breakouts or irritation or interfering with makeup.

Is SPF 30 or 50 better? ›

We recommend using any sunscreen that is labelled broad spectrum, water-resistant and SPF30 or above. Interestingly, SPF50 offers only marginally better protection from UV radiation than SPF30 filtering out 98 per cent of UV radiation compared to 96.7 per cent blocked by SPF30.

Does it matter what brand of sunscreen you use? ›

What type of sunscreen is best? It doesn't really matter which brand of sunscreen you use as long as it contains the right ingredients. Sunscreen has two main types of ingredients: physical blockers (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) and chemical blockers (avobenzone, oxybenzone and others).

Is 50 or 70 SPF sunscreen better? ›

SPF 50 sunscreens block about 98% of UVB rays, while SPF 70 blocks approximately 98.6%. This slight difference may not be as important for those with darker skin tones who have a lower risk of sunburn than those with fair skin.

Which is better, sunscreen or sunblock? ›

Sunscreen and sunblock can protect you from the sun, but they are not the same. Sunscreen absorbs UV rays before they hit your skin, while sunblock prevents them from reaching you. If you have sensitive skin, you may tolerate sunblock better than sunscreen. American Academy of Dermatology Association.

Is CeraVe a good sunscreen? ›

I recommend mineral sunscreens like the CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen line, as they are safe for all skin types. CeraVe sunscreens have a blend of ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated and protected.

What sunscreen does the FDA recommend? ›

The FDA recommends that you use broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, even on cloudy days. Not all sunscreens have been shown to protect against skin cancer, so it is important to look for a sunscreen that is labeled as broad spectrum and SPF 15 or higher.

What is the best sunscreen and moisturizer for face? ›

Best Overall

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer with SPF is the overall best moisturizer with SPF for multiple reasons. We loved how quickly and easily this moisturizer soaked and blended into the skin. It feels lightweight—more like a moisturizer than a sunscreen, which can oftentimes feel too thick.

What is the highest grade of sunscreen? ›

The SPF rating only refers to UVB rays. An SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of UVB radiation, and SPF 30 blocks 97%. After that, the difference in protection is small. SPF 50 blocks 98%, and SPF 100 stops 99% of UVB rays from reaching your skin.

What type of sunscreen is recommended for daily use? ›

What sunscreen should I buy? For day-to-day use, pick a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If you spend time outdoors, choose a product with SPF 60 or greater. In reality, most people do not use as much sunscreen as they should, and this higher SPF helps compensate for the reduced application.

Does 70 SPF actually work? ›

Conclusion: Sunscreens with SPF 70 and above add additional clinical benefits when applied by consumers at typically used amounts, by delivering an actual SPF that meets the minimum SPF levels recommended for skin cancer and photodamage prevention.


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