Dangerous UV rays aren’t just a threat when you’re at the beach or on the tennis court. Your daily commute or any other prolonged period out in the sun can be just as risky, which is why dermatologists say to apply sunscreen every morning — and ideally reapply it every two hours — to best protect your skin. A few good places to start are your face, neck, and hands, as those areas are disproportionately at risk for sun damage (as well as the first places to show signs of aging).
But anyone who wears makeup knows that things can get trickier when it comes to reapplying, especially if you’re using a cream-based sunscreen. Most powder sunscreens, however, come in convenient brush-topped tubes — making them super easy to dust right over makeup, use as a setting powder, or even as a quick way to touch up an oily T-zone. To find the best powder sunscreens, we talked to 12 skin-care experts including dermatologists, aestheticians, and cosmetic surgeons. Read on for their picks.
Best overall powder sunscreen
All the experts we talked say not to rely on a powder sunscreen as your only form of protection, but eight of the 12 we spoke with recommend the Colorescience Sunforgettable Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Brush for touch-ups and reapplication throughout the day. Dermatologist and co-host of The Doctors Dr. Sonia Batra keeps her tube of Colorescience in her car “to reapply to my face, décolletage, and the back of my hands throughout the day. I love that it can be brushed over your skin without making palms or fingertips messy. It also helps reduce shine on a hot day.” And dermatologist Dr. Susan Bard says it’s her favorite “because it’s a completely mineral powder sunscreen and it comes in a variety of shades.” Dermatologist Dr. Caren Campbell also mentioned Colorescience as one of her favorites for patients with melasma and hyperpigmentation, conditions that are made worse by the sun. She says that, in addition to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the ingredient iron oxide (which is often found in tinted mineral powder sunscreens) helps further block harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Inessa Fishman says she loves Colorescience, too, because it’s cruelty-free, easy to apply, portable, and offers coverage with a touch of shimmer to make the skin looks its best. “I use this product myself, and brush it on my husband and young daughter — with minimal to no complaining.” And whatever powder sunscreen you chose, dermatologist Dr. Hadley King says to apply “two milligrams per square centimeter of skin” to ensure you get its advertised SPF.
Best powder sunscreen for oily skin
Two of our experts — King and aesthetician Andrew Kelly of Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa — recommend Supergoop! Invincible Setting Powder. The SPF 45 mineral powder is also one of Rio’s favorite products, because it both protects her face from UVA and UVB rays, keeps her skin matte, and nourishes it thanks to ingredients like ceramide 3 and olive glycerides. This powder sunscreen is also vegan, cruelty-free, and packed with antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Kelly likes it for the anti-oxidants, “which help with pollution and environmental factors that affect the skin on a daily basis,” and specifically recommends it for oily-skinned folks, as it “works to absorb excess oils.”
Best translucent powder sunscreens
King and dermatologist Dr. Alain Michon both recommend Brush on Block Mineral Facial Sunscreen Powder. Michon says “Brush on Block is sweat-proof, and all of its minerals and ingredients are coral-reef friendly.”
And King likes that it’s translucent, making it great for people who don’t want to look particularly made up. “It’s less makeup-y compared to some of the other products on the market,” she says. “I think that makes it easier to apply more generously, and also makes it more ideal for application to areas like the back of the hands, neck, and scalp. It also makes it great for men; it has become popular with golfers because it does not affect your grip, the way cream products can.” Campbell also likes non-tinted powders because they are less likely to stain your clothes.
Kelly also recommends Peter Thomas Roth’s translucent powder sunscreen, which contains both vitamins A, C, and E. “It’s a great option to keep in your bag if you’re rolling around the city all day outside,” he says.
Best powder sunscreen for kids
King doesn’t just like Brush on Block’s powder sunscreen for adults — he also thinks the brand’s version for kids is great, too, because of its “fun purple applicator brush.”
Easiest powder sunscreen to apply
Spanish brand Isdin’s take on powder sunscreen comes recommended by both Kelly and King. Kelly, an Isdin enthusiast, says it’s probably his favorite powdered SPF. “I like the Isdin applicator the best. It’s a SPF 30, you can apply it over makeup, and it contains light reflecting particles, so it makes the skin look a little glowier without adding any oil.”
Best powder sunscreen with puff-applicator
Campbell says that after Colorescience, this made-in-the-USA powder sunscreen from Jane Iredale is what she recommends most to her patients (it’s also what she uses herself). It contains both titanium dioxide and iron oxide, and you can choose between three tinted shades or translucent. She likes that it has a puff applicator as opposed to a brush, saying, “Jane Iredale makes a really nice one that comes in a puff, which is an easier way to know how much you are really applying. But obviously, it’s not quite as purse friendly.”
Two more powder sunscreens to try
Strategist-approved, natural beauty brand Tarte offers a brush-on powder sunscreen that contains all three UVA and UVB mineral blockers (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and iron oxide). For that reason, Cambell says it seems like it would be a good option (though she has never tried it).
Campbell also says this translucent powder sunscreen from Strategist favorite Paula’s Choice — which has zinc oxide, iron oxide, and vitamins C and E — also appears worthy due to its ingredients (but again, she has not used it).
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