How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for your Skin Type

I scream, you scream, we all scream for…SUNSCREEN?

By now we all know (or SHOULD know) that wearing SPF year round is non-negotiable. However when the summer weather kicks in we all go scrambling to find the best sunscreen! Add to the mix more and more brands launching with different claims (just what DOES “reef-safe” even mean) and newer and newer studies about what type of sunscreen really is the most effective and it’s enough to make anyone run for cover!

Fear not! Below I’m going to break down the best sunscreens on the market for every skin type. We’re also going to take deeper look at the age old debate of mineral vs. chemical sunscreens. Which one REALLY is the best for you? Whether you’re looking for your everyday body SPF (yes you should really be wearing this EVERY DAY) or a non sticky solution for the beach, I’ve got you covered!

Physical Sunblocks vs. Chemical Sunscreens- which should you be using?

Let’s start with a quick run down of the most common active ingredients in both types of SPF and how they work.

Chemical Sunscreens

First up are chemical sunscreens. These ingredients (most commonly avobezone, oxybezone & octinoxate) quite literally “screen” or filter the sun’s UVB rays, letting some, but not all in to the epidermis. Here is where a chemical chain reaction occurs. The active ingredient then absorbs the ray, breaks down and releases as heat energy in the skin.

Pros of chemical sunscreens:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to blend into most skin tones

Cons of chemical sunscreens:

  • Can be irritating for sensitive skin types
  • Some concern of the chemical reaction in the body (link to an article in the Washington Post regarding FDA studies on concerns of chemical sunscreens)
  • American Academy of Pediatrics says to avoid oxybenzone for children
  • Oxybenzone has been detected in blood levels as well as breastmilk
  • Oxybenzone & Octinoxate have been banned for sale by the state of Hawaii, Aruba, US Virgin Islands & Key West due to concerns for coral reef life
  • The ban of Avobenzone has been introduced in a bill by the state of Hawaii to take place 1/1/23

Mineral Sunblocks

Let’s take a look at mineral sunblocks. These actually BLOCK the UVB rays from ever entering the skin with active ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc.

Pros:

  • less irritating for the skin / great for sensitive skin
  • Recommended by the National Eczema Society
  • Considered safe for the entire family
  • not shown to be harmful to aquatic life

Cons:

  • can feel heavy on the skin
  • some formulas can leave a white cast on the skin
  • some may not be as effective as chemical sunscreen

Top Sunscreen Picks

Oily Skin

If you have oily or combination skin the idea of applying a heavy feeling sunscreen can be enough to keep you away from the beach all summer.

Budget Pick

Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Tinted SPF 30 Natural Glow packs amazing antioxidants and skin soothing ingredients into a surprisingly lightweight combination of zinc & titanium dioxide. The slight tint disappears on contact making it truly universal. I was shocked that for under $17 it contains hydrating hyaluronic acid, moisturizing superfood sea buckthorn oil, vitamin c rich rosehip PLUS argan oil. Retail price $16.95

Splurge Pick

The Honua Malu SPF 30 is lightweight AND soothing. This naturally tropical scented face sunscreen from the Hawaiian based Honua skincare is my number 1 pick for oily or combo skincare. It has oat bran extract to absorb any excess shine as well as hyaluronic acid to gently hydrate. The silky texture and intoxicating scent makes you actually look forward to applying sunscreen daily! Retail price $42

Dry Skin

Dry skin still needs extra hydration even in the summer! The sun, sea, and sand strips skin of it’s natural moisture and can cause normal skin too feel irritated and dehydrated. Look for facial sunscreens with hydrating oils or butters such as Shea Butter, Mango Butter and doses of aloe and hyaluronic acid.

Budget Pick

Raw Elements Tinted Daily Face Moisturizer uses sunflower seed oil and cocoa seed butter to deeply hydrate in this SPF 30. The addition of organic hemp seed oil makes it a homer for irritated or sensitive skin as well. It has a slight tint to it that disappears as it’s applied helping to make it suitable for all skin tones. Retail price $16.95

Splurge Pick

Solara Glow Getter Illuminating Sunscreen is technically for the body but it’s phenomenal as a facial sunscreen as well! Shea Butter & Coconut Oil hydrate even the driest skin types while coffee extract improves circulation. It also has ashwagandha root to balance hormonal skin irritations and a touch of mica to blur imperfections. This can also double as a makeup primer, it’s so beautiful on the skin! The scent is lovely with Tahitian gardenia, lavender and vanilla, making it a treat to use in your routine. Retail price $32 (*note the size is 3 oz since it’s marketed for the body so you get a LOT for your spend-most facial sunscreens are 1 oz or 1.7 oz)

All Over Body SPF

Budget Pick

Australian Gold Botanical Mineral Sunscreen is my go to for people that HATE applying sunscreen. This feels and smells like a regular body lotion and is ideal for applying all over before getting dressed for the day. It also has vitamin C rich Kakdu Plum and soothing Red Sea Algae for treating and protecting your skin. Note: this does contain artificial fragrance so it’s not completely “clean” but if the scent of a yummy smelling lotion is the only way you will protect yourself daily then it’s worth the trade off! Retail prince $9.49

Splurge

Solara Clean Freak Nutrient Boosted Sunscreen is so moisturizing with Shea Butter and Tahitian Oil plus it’s packed with antioxidant rich extracts such a raspberry seed oil, Kakadu Plum and Ashwagandha. This is such a treat to apply ! Retail price $28

For the Beach

Have you ever tried to reapply a lotion or cream based sunscreen while at the beach? Sand gets EVERYWHERE and it’s NO FUN! Spray sunscreens are by far the easiest for a trip to the beach. Babo Botanicals Continuous Spray SPF 50 is great for the entire family! This spray contains aloe to soothe sensitive skin, coconut oil to hydrate, and calendula to calm and protect. Retail price $21.95

For Children

Babo Botanicals wins this category as it’s gentle for even the most sensitive skin and super water resistant so baby’s protected all day long. My favorite is the Sheer Mineral SPF 50 , but the entire line is wonderful!

PRO TIP! Keeping a hat on a toddler can be next to impossible, try a brush on powder SPF like this one from Ilia to protect babies sensitive scalp and ears!

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Glowing Skin over 40

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