The Best Sunscreens of 2019, According to Dermatologists

The Best Sunscreens of 2019, According to Dermatologists

Whether it’s cold or hot, sunny or rainy, sunscreen is the one step you should never skip before heading outdoors for the day. Applying (and reapplying!) SPF protects your skin from the sun’s powerful UV rays, minimizing your risk of painful sunburns, skin cancer, and premature signs of aging, such as sun spots and wrinkles.

How to choose (and use) the best sunscreen for your skin?

  • Look for broad spectrum on the label: This ensures your SPF protects against both harmful UVA and UVB rays. (UVA rays prematurely age skin and UVB rays burn; both can cause skin cancer.) Our experts recommend choosing SPF 30 or higher for daily use.
  • Go for water-resistant options: Even if you won’t be jumping in for a swim, a water-resistant sunscreen will stay on longer while you’re sweating. If you are doing extensive outdoor activity, choose an SPF of 50 or higher to ensure you stay protected.
  • When in doubt, choose lotions: They’re easy to apply generously and evenly—which is key in order for them to work effectively. Sprays are inconsistent; Wipes don’t typically provide even, adequate coverage and stick sunscreens require at least four swipes on each area of the skin to get the job done.
  • Formula matters: Physical or mineral sunscreens (made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) sit on top of the skin and deflect UV rays, while chemical sunscreens (made with ingredients like oxybenzone or avobenzone) work by absorbing them. 

Too much to remember? American Academy of Dermatology did the work for you and rounded up the best sunscreens of 2019 like below:

EltaMD UV Daily Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 for Dry Skin, Dermatologist-Recommended Mineral-Based Zinc Oxide Formula, 1. 7 oz

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EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Facial Sunscreen


Recommended by several dermatologists we spoke to, this fragrance- and paraben-free lotion feels lightweight on the skin and won’t clog pores, making it a top choice for anyone with acne-prone skin, says board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Joel Schlessinger, MD, president of What’s more, it’s formulated with hyaluronic acid (a humectant that pulls water to the skin) for an extra dose of hydration. “Ninety-nine percent of patients I recommend it to say it’s the best sunscreen they have ever used,” adds Dr. Markus.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+, 3 fl. oz

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Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 100+


In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers found that, in real-world conditions (rather than a lab), SPF 100+ sunscreen was significantly more effective in protecting against sunburn than SPF 50+ sunscreen. “I tell patients to choose a product with the highest SPF possible,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “In the real world, we do not apply as much sunscreen as we should. Starting out with a higher SPF acts as an insurance policy to give the highest level of protection for the longest period of time.” This non-greasy, fast-absorbing option from Neutrogena will get the job done during those long beach days

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Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive SPF 30+


This mineral sunscreen from Blue Lizard is super gentle since it’s free of potentially irritating chemicals, parabens, and fragrances. “My patients with the most sensitive skin are able to tolerate this,” Dr. Ploch says. “Plus, the bottle turns blue when there is UV exposure, so it’s a great reminder to reapply.” Water resistant for up to 40 minutes, it soaks in quickly and doesn’t have a strong sunscreen smell.

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Revision Skincare Intellishade SPF 45


This tinted moisturizer with SPF protects the skin while perfecting it. “It is the first of its kind to be formulated with all mineral sunscreen ingredients while providing anti-aging and hydration benefits to the skin,” says Dr. Schlessinger. Broad spectrum protection teams up with peptides (which stimulate collagen production) and antioxidants (like vitamin C) to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while brightening the skin.

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Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen With SPF 70


Dr. Feely likes this chemical sunscreen from Aveeno because it’s oil-free and noncomedogenic, so you won’t have to worry about it clogging your pores. What’s more, the super-hydrating lotion keeps skin smooth and soft without feeling heavy. “This sunscreen is enriched with colloidal oatmeal to help hydrate and protect the skin barrier. It can be used by anyone, including people who have dry skin or eczema,” adds Dr. Zeichner.

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MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen


This broad spectrum mineral sunscreen contains antioxidants (such as vitamin C and green tea) to provide an extra dose of protection against skin-damaging free radicals. The oil- and fragrance- free lotion also works wonders on dry skin, thanks to a pro blend of moisturizing humectants (which attract water to the skin) and ceramides (natural fats that help form the skin barrier and retain moisture). Noncomedogenic, ultra-gentle, and water resistant for up to 80 minutes, it’s also a safe sunscreen for kids.


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SkinMedica Essential Defense Everyday Clear SPF 47


If you have combination skin and can’t stand the greasy feeling of some sunscreens (but don’t want a completely matte finish) this option from SkinMedica will be your new go-to. The lightweight, noncomedogenic formula absorbs into the skin with ease, won’t spur breakouts, and offers additional antioxidant protection. What’s more, it contains both chemical and mineral active ingredients. “I tell my patients to look for products that have multiple filters, both mineral and chemical, as there is a synergistic effect between them,” says Adam Friedman, MD, professor of dermatology and residency program director at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

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Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 30


Named one of our top sunscreens for your face, this brush-on formula comes in handy when you need to reapply or mattify any midday shine, according to Heidi Waldorf, MD, founder of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics. The lightweight, mineral powder sunscreen offers a lightweight layer of sheer coverage, won’t irritate sensitive or acne-prone skin, and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. It also comes in a range of shades, from fair to deep.


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