10 SPF Must-Haves We’ll Be Applying Nonstop This Summer  

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According to the National Cancer Institute, the rate of new melanoma cases among American adults has tripled since the 1970s — and were not surprised. You would think with more research and more available sunblock products on the market, there would be fewer cases, but it turns out its the opposite. 

So whats up with this surplus of skin cancer scares? Risk factors can include everything from ultraviolet radiation and the rise of indoor tanning booths to genetics (think: fair skin, freckles, moles, etc). The most worrisome of all these causes is one thats somewhat avoidable, however, and thats severe sunburns.  

If youre still living your life without sunscreen, youre not living it right. Why chance getting one of the most common cancers and unwanted wrinkles, just for a bit of a glow? If this sounds like you, you should read our tips on the best ways to fake a tan (safely!), then immediately stock up on these expert-approved SPFs below.  

Whats the Difference Between Mineral, Chemical & Physical SPF? 

According to Dr. Gerald Imber, NYC-based plastic surgeon, and director of the Youth Corridor Clinic, sun protection comes in two forms: those that absorb or filter the sun, and those that physically block the sun. Chemical, or mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide, actually block the suns rays,” explains Imber. In a perfect world, one would use only a physical sunblock, but in high enough concentrations they are unaesthetic, messy, and unpleasant, so people tend not to use them.” The best compromise? Imber prefers a physical (mineral) sunblock combined with chemical sunscreens in order to protect in a more pleasant form. 

What Should You Look For When Buying Sunscreen? 

When it comes to the most hard-working SPF products, Founder of Black-owned, inclusive skincare brand AbsoluteJOI, Dr. Anne Beal has one important rule: buy broad-spectrum coverage that protects against both UVA and UVB light. Dr. Beal also advises using a daily sunscreen that has SPF 30. If you want good sun protection, I like to use moisturizers because you slather them all over your face. But keep in mind it should be at least ¼ teaspoon for your face, and ½ teaspoon to get your face, neck, back of the neck, top of ears, and décolletage, which is often ignored in skincare routines,” she adds.  

Can I Use Skincare or Cosmetics With Added SPF Instead? 

Hard no. When using cosmetics with SPF, DO NOT use these instead of sunscreen,” warns Dr. Beal. They should be considered a boost to your basic sun protection game. And DO NOT apply sunscreen to the highlighted parts of your face where you think the sun hits most –it is not a highlighter or bronzer and must go all over your skin. 

 How Often Should You Apply SPF? 

You should apply SPF every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating,” says Kate Sommerville, Hollywoods go-to esthetician and founder of the Kate Sommerville ClinicPeople think you should only wear SPF while outside or in direct sunlight, but the truth is you should wear SPF even if it’s cloudy, and even while inside. Remember: UVA rays can penetrate glass, so I wear SPF while driving and indoors.”  

Best SPF For Deeper Skin Tones: AbsoluteJOI Daily Hydrating Moisturizing Cream with Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40, $33

sunscreenSource: AbsoluteJOI

Hate the post-ghost-look after applying sunscreen? Dr. Beals nutrient-rich moisturizer-SPF hybrid comes in two inclusive tints Mocha and Café au Lait – but is designed to hide the white cast. Rather than being a tinted moisturizer that hides skin, we decided to create a tinted moisturizer that hides the mineral sunscreen ingredients so our products can be used as an everyday moisturizer that protects skin from the sun,” says Beal.  

Best SPF For Face: Ghost Democracy Invisible Lightweight Daily Face Sunscreen SPF33, $33

sunscreenSource: Ghost Democracy

We love Ghost Democracys quick-absorbing SPF for lightweight, yet serious protection, minus the chalky residue. Not your average sunscreen, its also powered by high concentrations of niacinamide to strengthen your moisture barrier, artichoke leaf extract to minimize pores and fine lines, plus turmeric extract to revitalize dull, tired-looking skin. 

Best Anti-Aging SPF: Kate Sommerville Daily Deflector Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40, $50

sunscreen Source: Kate Somerville

Sommerville launched her newest SPF baby with one crucial goal in mind: to protect against blue light from staring at computer screens all day. Blue light can cause wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, so this is a must.  

Best SPF for Hair Protection: Sun Bum Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30, $15 

sun bum sunscreen Source: Sun Bum

Pro tip: dont neglect your hair and scalp while youre reapplying sunscreen on your face and body! If youve ever had a sunburn on your root line, youll understand the importance of this step –and even if you havent, break out the block. Sun Bums fast-drying scalp mist keeps you covered without weighing down your locks. 

Best SPF For Dark Spots: Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $42

sunscreen dr. dennis gross

Source: Dr. Dennis Gross

Whether youre trying to prevent dark spots or correct them, keep Dr. Grosss UVA and UVB ray-blocking tube on hand. Thanks to a unique Melatonin Defense Complex –with vitamins C & E – it fights environmental pollution and free radicals to keep you free of hard-to-conceal patches.  

Best Lip Balm With SPF: COOLA Mineral Liplux Organic Tinted Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 30, $18

coolaSource: Coola

One more time for the people in the back: YES you need SPF on your lips! The thinnest skin on your face burns the easiest, so pucker up to this tinted balm in universally flattering hues like Coral Reef and Purple Sky. 

Best All-in-One SPF Kit: Supergoop! x Gray Malin Everyday Getaway Kit, $75

supergoop Source: Supergoop!

The chic little SPF kit just was just released with everything you could need for some fun in the sun: PLAY Everyday Lotion SPF 50, Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, PLAY Antioxidant Body Mist SPF 50, Defense Refresh (Re)Setting Mist SPF 40, Glow Oil SPF 50, and PLAY Lip Shield SPF 30. Bonus: Gray Malins iconic beach print pouch doubles as a wet bag’ for swimsuits. 

Best All-Natural Body SPF: Alba Botanica Hawaiian Coconut Clear Spray Sunscreen SPF 50, $9

alba botanicaSource: alba Botanica

Even if youre catching rays in your backyard instead of Hawaii, this Skin Cancer Foundation-approved clear spray will make you feel like youre on a tropical vacay, thanks to a lovely coconut-shea butter scent. The SPF 50, water-resistant formula is made with 100% vegetarian ingredients – minus oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten, or synthetic fragrances –and feels like a silky oil to the touch. 

Best SPF For Dry Skin: Youth Corridor Soothe & Defend SPF 30, $37

Source: Youth Corridor

If youre on the dry side, get a double dose of hydration with your broad-spectrum protection. Dr. Imbers new SPF moisturizer is a chemical sunscreen that contains ingredients like zinc oxide, octisalate, and octocrylene, as well as vitamin E, green tea, and aloe, to repair signs of inflammation and quench thirsty skin.  

Best SPF Splurge: Sisley Phyto-Blanc Le Soin Correcting Brightening Moisturizer, $285

sisley sunscreenSource: Sisley

If you happen to reside in a city with harsh environmental aggressors, this mighty urban shield’ will not only protect your face from oxidative stress and pollution, but rebalance its color harmony by diminishing the yellow, lessening the gray, and reducing the red, all while correcting and brightening your skin. Name another sunscreen that can do all that. P.S. It makes the perfect makeup base!

For more SPF essentials, check out how to apply sunscreen over makeup.

Disclaimer: Every product we review has been independently selected and tested without bias by our editorial team. We never take payment to review products, however, some brands allow affiliate links, so we may earn a commission if you purchase a product by clicking on one of our links.