Up until about a year or so ago, I would say I was off my sunscreen game. I was terrible at remembering to put it on every day. Some weeks, I'd be on a roll and feel good about my good sun-protection habits, and other weeks, I'd forget completely, hoping that whatever bit of SPF was in my makeup would help.
I know, I know. Sunscreen is the most important step of any skincare routine. It's your best protection against harmful UV rays, skin cancer, and sun damage, and it can even slow down the signs of aging. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you apply sunscreen every day if you will be outside, even on cloudy days. And now, with many people working from home, experts still suggest applying sunscreen daily, especially if you'll be close to a window.
So yes, for a while there, I was putting my skin and health at risk with my very wishy-washy approach to sunscreen. I think my main excuse was—and it's not a very good one—that I was lazy and all sunscreens felt greasy, sticky, and heavy to me. Told you it wasn't a very good reason.
Little did I know it wasn't a sunscreen problem, it was a "me" problem. I wasn't doing the right research on the types of sunscreens out there, thinking they were all the same consistency. But there are so many options available. Who knew my cup runneth over when it comes to the number of lightweight, matte sunscreens out there?
So after realizing that, I came across Supergoop!'s Unseen Sunscreen ($34) when some colleagues and friends recommended it to me. It totally changed my sunscreen habits. The SPF 40 formula ticked off all the right boxes for me. Lightweight? Check. Good consistency? It's gel-like, so it goes on so smoothly. Nongreasy? It has a velvety, matte finish and even works as a makeup primer!
Dare I say it was actually fun to put sunscreen on every day with this product? It was the right complement to my skincare and makeup routines, and it made my face feel so smooth. I was hooked.
Now, I can proudly say that I'm becoming quite the sunscreen connoisseur. Of course, Unseen Sunscreen is in my skincare rotation, but I felt inspired to try new ones for both face and body, too. It sounds a little nerdy to say, but it's been fun trying out new brands and products knowing that, ultimately, I'm doing my skin a big favor.
If you're on the hunt for the perfect sunscreen match, I've included a list of my favorite lightweight options, plus some other editor favorites that I have on my wish list.
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
EltaMD is a dermatologist- and editor-recommended sunscreen brand that delivers so much coverage and protection. UV Clear's lightweight, oil-free formula also contains sodium hyaluronate to moisturize and lactic acid to reduce pores.
Versed Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35
Ask anyone in the Who What Wear office for their favorite sunscreen, and you'll probably hear Versed's Guards Up. The mineral sunscreen has zinc oxide to protect against UVA and UVB rays. It goes on with an invisible finish, so no white cast here.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Daily Antioxidant Serum With Sunscreen SPF 50
This serum absorbs quickly into the skin, so you won't feel any residue whatsoever. In addition to SPF protection, the product contains vitamins C and E to fight free radicals and promote collagen and elastin production.
Banana Boat Dry Balance Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
Don't forget about applying sunscreen to your body, too. Banana Boat's Dry Balance spray is one of my favorites. It leaves a matte finish on your skin, which makes it easy to apply in the morning as I'm getting dressed. You know it won't leave any marks on your clothes!
Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35
Tatcha's lightweight face sunscreen has anti-aging benefits, too. Japanese wild rose minimizes the appearance of pores and smoothes the skin while loquat leaf extract protects against free radicals.
CeraVe Tinted Sunscreen With SPF 30
This is a great tinted sunscreen option. The mineral sunscreen blends in well and isn't greasy at all. It's also formulated with ceramides to protect the skin barrier.
Supergoop! Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40
I've been using Supergoop!'s Glowscreen more during quarantine because it leaves a radiant finish. This comes in handy while I'm working from home because I can still look presentable during Zoom meetings, but I don't have to spend time putting on makeup.
Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35
Reviewers say that Glossier's Invisible Shield goes on easily and isn't greasy. If you prefer a serum-like consistency, you'll like this water-gel formula.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion With Broad Spectrum SPF 100+
You don't have to worry about a slimy, oily finish with Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer Sunscreen. It leaves a matte finish that feels like you're not even wearing product.
Algenist Sublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid SPF 50
Sheer and lightweight, Algenist's sunscreen also contains ingredients to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, protect the skin against environmental damage, and restore moisture.
Farmacy Green Defense Daily Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
This lightweight mineral sunscreen contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for UVA and UVB protection. Reviewers say that it doesn't irritate sensitive skin or rosacea.
Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen SPF 42
This highly rated sunscreen absorbs excess oil, leaving a matte finish. The water- and sweat-resistant product also acts as a makeup primer.
EltaMD UV Aero Broad-Spectrum SPF 45
I recently tried this body sunscreen and was really impressed. I like that it goes on white but dries quickly—it helped me see which parts of my body were covered and which weren't so I could make sure I was properly protected. And best of all, it didn't leave a greasy, slimy finish. I'm definitely keeping this one in my rotation!
Clinique Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion for Body
Some sunscreens take some elbow grease to make sure it's rubbed in fully but not Clinique's body sunscreen. It's like an invisible layer because it absorbs quickly.
SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield Broad-Spectrum SPF 35
This sheer and weightless formula is infused with green tea and caffeine, which target inflammation, irritation, and redness. It's especially helpful for sensitive and post-procedure skin.
Hawaiian Tropic Antioxidant+ Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
The reef-safe sunscreen is packed with antioxidants to combat skin damage and the effects of aging. The lightweight and smooth sunscreen does contain fragrance, so if you are allergic, you might want to skip it.
Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30
Not only does this sunscreen protect against UV rays, but it also has anti-aging benefits thanks to antioxidants and resveratrol. Since the product smoothes skin and leaves a silky finish, you can use it to prime your face before makeup.