If you don’t know a lot about a product category, you want someone in the know doing the figuring out for you. Choosy people. Picky people. Discerning people. And in the world of skincare, no one has more to say on sunscreens than the people who hate sunscreens most. Last week, ITG took to Instagram to ask our pickiest followers which SPFs they use. Below, their recommendations:
__ For pale skin prone to redness and sensitivity__
Some people seem to get a sunburn by just thinking about the sun. And in a cruel twist of fate, pale, reactive, redness-prone folks are also the most likely to experience irritation from sunscreen ingredients. But have no fear, EltaMD UV Clear, our poll landslide winner, is here. EltaMD also happens to be a derm favorite, and this formula in particular is a winner for acne and rosacea-prone faces. It’s a combo mineral-chemical SPF—and while chemical UV filters often get a bad rep for sensitive skin, octinoxate, the one used here, has shown great results in both allergy and irritation tests. There’s no fragrance, plant extracts, added color, or oils to trigger a bad reaction either, and if you’re already dealing with a breakout or flare up, the niacinamide and zinc will soothe while you protect. Honorable mention in this category goes to La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid, which is more accessible both price and stockist-wise. It’s similarly oil and fragrance-free, and you can find it at most drugstores.
For dark skin that struggles with SPF whitecast
SPF whitecast is the enemy of melanin-rich skin. So it’s not very surprising that a sunscreen called Unseen got top marks from our readers with dark complexions. The formula’s combination of chemical filters in a clear base leaves no white cast, but the other thing that makes it really special is the velvety matte, non-greasy finish. [One note: while Sephora lists this stuff as oil-free, it does have shea butter and jojoba esters.] Another option is Black Girl Sunscreen, which is also a chemical sunscreen that’s white in the tube but rubs in leaving no cast behind. BGS is cheaper per ounce, and finishes dewy, instead of matte.
For full face makeup wearers
Only wear makeup for nighttime soirees? Keep on scrolling. But if you like to wear a full beat during the day, you’re going to need a sunscreen that sits nicely under makeup and won’t pill. The sunscreens most often recommended for this task were EltaMD’s UV Clear](https://shop-links.co/1741184617336203785), Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen, Glossier Invisible Sheid, and a bevy of watery Asian gel sunscreens (Thank You Farmer Sun Project Water Sun Cream, Biore UV Aqua Rich, Shiseido Anessa Gel). To figure out which one’s best for you, look at both your sunscreen and foundation ingredient lists. High quantities of silicones (particularly dimethicone) is the number one cause of pilling, so if most of your makeup has a dimethicone base, balance it out with a more watery sunscreen.
For heavy sweaters
Sweat happens! In your armpits, on your back, the palms of your hands… but the most annoying place to sweat is probably the forehead, because those drips take a direct route to your eyes and sting. Constant sweating means you’re going to want to look for a product with waterproofing claims. Coola’s water resistant facial sunscreen came up a bunch here, as did Shiseido’s Sport Sunscreen. EltaMD Sport is another sunscreen that heavy sweaters are partial towards (anyone else noticing a trend here?).
For babies (or the parent of a baby)
Survey says the best sunscreen for babies comes from Thinkbaby. This stuff is fragrance and common irritant-free, and uses a whopping 20-percent non-nano zinc instead of chemical filters for broad spectrum protection. It’s easy to rub in thanks to a super creamy (and frankly, adult-sounding) base of aloe, glycerin, sunflower, jojoba, and olive oils. The second most recommended sunscreen was from Babyganics, which is good if your baby’s a squirmer. It’s a hybrid mineral-chemical for a quicker rub-in, and it even comes in a spray. Luckily, babies are small—less surface area to cover, you know?
For pregnant women or breastfeeding moms
Pregnancy comes with lots of cool changes. But melasma, a form of sun-induced hyperpigmentation you’re more susceptible to because of hormonal fluctuations, is not one of them. During pregnancy, you’re going to want to be extra diligent about sun protection to prevent a flare-up, because it’s tricky to fade once it happens. For unrelated reasons, lots of people choose to switch from chemical sun filters to mineral ones while they’re carrying and breastfeeding. (But talk to your doctor about it! They’ll help you figure out your best course of action.) To be honest, there wasn’t a super clear consensus about which mineral sunscreen was most beloved, but a few recommendations came up a handful of times: a mineral sunscreen from EltaMD UV Elements, which you’re probably sick of hearing about by now. (The one linked is slightly tinted.) Coola’s mineral sunscreen was next on the list, followed by Supergoop’s zinc-based ones and Skinceuticals’ Physical Fusion.
Photo via ITG