Sun's out, buns out: 18 dermatologist-approved sunscreens for all skin types

May 24 2022, 4:47 pm

May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month in Canada. According to the World Health Organization, skin cancers are on the rise, with approximately two to three million cases occurring globally every year. 

This is in part due to climate change. The ozone layer acts as a natural filter, protecting us from the sun’s UV rays. A recent study found that with ozone depletion, “melanoma rates are increasing by 4% to 5% annually.” 

In 2020, more than 80,000 Canadians were diagnosed with skin cancers, and 1,300 lost their lives to melanoma. Another study showed that one in four Canadians were unaware that spending more time in the sun increased their risk of skin cancer.

In light of these statistics, we connected with Double Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Monica Li who shared her expert insight and sunscreen recommendations. 

“Sunscreen of your preference should be applied daily – with the appropriate, adequate amount — to provide you with a longer period of time when skin cells can still be protected despite direct sun exposure.” Li recommends sunscreen products with at least an SPF of 30 or higher and a broad spectrum of UVA and UVB protection.

“SPF needs to be reapplied every two hours if an individual is spending time outdoors for a prolonged period. If engaging in water sports, then a water-resistant SPF should be used.”

Li, also a Clinical Instructor of the Department of Dermatology and Skin Science at UBC mentioned that “using SPF is [just] one part of a comprehensive strategy.” Folks should also seek shade, wear hats and wraparound sunglasses, and avoid direct sun exposure between 11 am and 3 pm. 

These are 18 of Dr. Li’s approved sunscreens for all skin types.

Mineral Sunscreens for Sensitive, Reactive, and Dry Skin

Supergoop! Mineral Sheer Screen SPF30

Supergoop! has been in the sunscreen game for almost 20 years. This broad-spectrum SPF helps filter blue light, which, surprisingly, can be comparable to the sun. It’s packed with powerful ingredients like aloe leaf juice to moisturize and squalane, which leaves skin feeling soft. 

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 PA+++

An all-around lightweight product that also tackles normal, dry, combination, and oily skin. This sunscreen is also vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and packaged sustainably. We love a sunscreen that blends in fast, and this does the trick while hydrating and calming sun-stressed skin. 

Vichy Aqualia Thermal UV SPF 30 Daily Sunscreen Moisturizer

Providing up to 48 hours of hydration, this moisturizing option is formulated with niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3 that provides a wide range of benefits, including improving skin texture. Along with protecting against the sun’s UV rays, it helps reduce moisture loss and dehydration.

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50

This tinted sunscreen was formulated specifically for post-procedure, sensitive, dry skin. Ingredients include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (both protect from the sun’s UV rays). The higher SPF provides increased coverage.

Even Skin Tone

Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40 PA+++

An affordable sunscreen with a blend of hyaluronic acid (added moisturizing properties) and Vitamin B5. This multitasking hydrating option also includes sea lavender, which can help with skin protection and prevent skin damage.

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Color Correcting Treatment SPF30

It’s hard to beat dermatologist-founded Korean skin care brand Dr. Jart +. Although on the pricier side, this product addresses a range of skincare concerns, including dryness and redness. It works by evening the appearance of skin tone and gives a natural-looking finish. In a clinical study of 105 people, 92% of folks said their skin looked even after using.

Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF47 Protect and Perfect

Lightly tinted and infused with miracle ingredient argan oil, which hydrates and moisturizes the skin. Josie Maran’s sunscreen includes green tea-leaf extract, known for skincare benefits, like decreasing puffiness, evening out discoloration, and improving skin smoothness.

La Roche Posay Anthelios Mineral One SPF 50+ Tinted Facial Sunscreen 

As a leader in the field, you can always count on La Roche-Posay. Available in five shades, this broad-spectrum option offers 24-hour daily hydration. The product is hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic (meaning it doesn’t clog the pores). We love the matte look this sunscreen provides. Apply as the last step in your skincare routine, and reapply every two hours if outdoors.

Acne-Prone & Oily Skin

La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50+ Sun Cream

This quick-absorbing sunscreen provides high protection and is fragrance and paraben-free. It’s also water-resistant — which means you can take a dip in the pool. It’s not waterproof, though, so after 80 minutes in the water, you should hop out and apply another coat. 

Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Aqua Gel SPF50

There’s nothing worse than waiting for a lotion to dry in when you’re pining to get out in the sun. This Kiehl’s option is super lightweight and absorbs quickly. It’s formulated without parabens, mineral oil, dye, and oil. Even better, it’s packaged sustainably in an FSC-certified paper carton.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50 

This SPF option is the only powder sunscreen recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation for Active use and was recommended by Dr. Li. Available in four shades for various skin tones, this cruelty-free option is water-resistant for 80 minutes. Apply as the last step in your skincare routine, and re-apply every two hours.

Non-White Cast/Invisible SPF

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++

Invisible, weightless, and scentless — one of our favourite options from Supergoop! This option is formulated with unique ingredients like frankincense, which strengthens and calms the skin. It can be used as a primer under makeup or on its own for a natural look.

Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30

If you’re looking for an option that provides optimal coverage and smells great, look no further. This refillable two-in-one sunscreen and moisturizer are rich in antioxidants, oil-free, and non-comedogenic. It’s also gluten-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and sustainably packaged.

Lancome UV Expert Aquagel Defense Sunscreen, Primer & Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF50

This broad-spectrum UV sunscreen boasts an array of unique ingredients targeting various areas of the skin. Edelweiss extract strengthens the skin’s barrier from stress markers, while mint and rose extracts reduce the appearance of brown spots and soothe and calm sensitive skin. It can be used as a daily moisturizer or under foundation as a primer.

La Roche Posay Anthelios Targeted Protection Stick SPF 60

We love the convenience of this product, with its easy roll-on application, especially for sensitive areas like the eyes, nose, and lips. Another great water-resistant sunscreen on the list protects for up to 80 minutes in the water. It’s formulated with patented Mexoryl, an organic carbon-based sun filter.

Sunscreens with Skincare Benefits

Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF42

An ultra-light protective option that doubles as a primer. Shiseido’s oil-free sunscreen is great for reducing the appearance of pores. Water and sweat-resistant, this dermatologist and ophthalmologist-tested product leaves a matte finish.

CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

With the low price point and high benefits, CeraVe’s SPF is one of our favourite products on the list. This non-greasy moisturizing sunscreen includes three ceramides (fats or lipids found in skin cells – products with these elements help restore and maintain the skin barrier). It’s oil and fragrance-free and leaves the skin with a nice matte finish.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair moisturizer with SPF 30

Another great recommendation from Dr. Li, this tops the charts for the best sunscreen with anti-aging properties on our list. While providing all-round protection, it’s also proven to help improve the appearance of wrinkles, smooth fine lines and brighten skin tone.

Sean LoughranSean Loughran

+ Curated