After interviewing dermatologists for over 15 years, I can confirm that they are as skilled as politicians at staying on message. And the key point derms consistently drive home is that wearing SPF every day is the most important thing you can do for your complexion. As a skin-care minimalist, I’m a fan of moisturizers with SPF because I can get my daily dose of protection without an extra step. It’s a crowded and overwhelming market, so we asked nine skin experts to share their favorite moisturizers with SPF for a variety of skin types and concerns.
What we’re looking for
SPF Level: SPF measures how much UV radiation it takes to cause sunburn while wearing sunscreen versus not. The higher the SPF, the more protection you have, but SPF refers only to UVB rays (that’s why “broad-spectrum” on the label is a must). Dermatologists generally recommend an SPF of 30 or higher, but Dr. Tiffany Libby, director of Mohs micrographic and dermatologic surgery at Brown Dermatology, says that super-high numbers don’t necessarily translate to better results. “An SPF of 30 means it blocks out 97 percent of UVB rays, whereas an SPF 50 blocks out 98 percent, and SPF 100, 99 percent. This means that higher SPF numbers only marginally protect the skin better,” she says. Just like the sunscreen you use at the beach, moisturizers with SPF should be reapplied every two hours. You do have a bit of leeway depending on the scenario. “If you’re spending all day inside and you’re not near a window, you can reapply every four to six hours. Just remember that sun damage is cumulative, so even if you’re only exposed for a short time, it’s important to have protection,” says Dr. Rachel Westbay, a dermatologist at Marmur Medical. If reapplying isn’t realistic, “the next best thing is to wear a hat,” says Dr. Amir Karam of Carmel Valley Facial Plastic Surgery.
Moisturizing Ingredients: For glowy skin, ingredients that lock in moisture, like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides, are ideal. “Since sunscreen itself can be drying, this is helpful,” says Dr. Rebecca Marcus, dermatologist and founder of MaieMD. Dermatologists also suggest choosing SPF moisturizers that deliver more bang for your buck with a mix of antioxidants — like vitamins C and E and niacinamide — that improve the texture, tone, and overall health of your skin.
Best overall moisturizer with SPF
SPF 40 | Glycerin | Antioxidants
I love Supergoop sunscreens, and I generally believe this brand can do no wrong. This luxurious SPF moisturizer is beloved by Rio and a hardworking favorite. I’ve used up a jar of it in the past, and I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t get all greasy on my oily complexion. That said, when I surveyed the skin experts, Superscreen came up as one derm’s top pick for dry skin while another pro recommended it for combination skin. I chalk that up to the formula, which manages to be both lightweight and hydrating. This SPF cream is also smartly designed for modern life. “It contains cerium, a mineral that protects from the blue light of your computer screen, television, and phone, as well as pollution,” says Dr. Westbay.
Best moisturizer with SPF for dry skin
SPF 30 |Glycerin | Ceramides | Niacinamide
If your skin is dry and sensitive, this fragrance-free, noncomedogenic lotion is a safe bet. Made with the key ingredients highlighted by our expert panel (glycerin, ceramides, and niacinamide), the formula soothes, repairs, and rebalances parched skin. “This is basically an upgraded version of the already beloved Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, boosted with SPF protection,” says Dr. Libby. The nourishing moisturizer is also ideal for mature skin, which tends to get drier with age.
Best moisturizer with SPF for acne-prone skin
SPF 46 | Niacinamide|Vitamin E | Hyaluronic acid
If this SPF moisturizer looks familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen it highlighted by the Strategist staff as a best seller, an oily skin must-have, and a People’s Choice pick with over 2,600 five-star reviews on Amazon. As if that weren’t enough of a flex, five of the pros I contacted selected EltaMD UV Clear as the best moisturizer with SPF for acne-prone skin. The gentle formula checks off a lot of important boxes. “It contains niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and [exfoliating] lactic acid. It also helps calm and protect sensitive skin types prone to discoloration and breakouts associated with acne and rosacea,” says Dr. Hamza Bhatti of Schweiger Dermatology Group. Joie Tavernise, medical esthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare, likes its “smooth” texture and applauds the product’s ability to “refine the skin, clear pores, and reduce shine.” Dina Strachan of Aglow Dermatology sums it up as “therapeutic without being irritating.”
Best moisturizer with SPF for dark skin
SPF 30 | Vitamin C |Vitamin E | Antioxidants
This moisturizer is one of the Strategist’s picks for the best face sunscreen and one of the few SPFs several of my dark-skinned friends consistently rave about. The clear-drying formula has a slightly dewy finish that I love, too. Dr. Strachan is also a fan. “This product can be used on both the face and body, and it doesn’t leave a white residue,” she says. Black Girl Sunscreen works great as a daily hydrator with SPF because it’s packed with nourishing natural ingredients. “It contains moisturizing avocado and jojoba, while carrot juice and cacao offer antioxidant protection, and sunflower oil counters inflammation,” says Dr. Marcus.
Best moisturizer with SPF for reducing wrinkles
SPF 30 | Vitamin E| Glycerin
This is the priciest SPF moisturizer in our roundup, but based on Dr. Westbay’s endorsement, it’s worth the investment for anyone who wants to smooth out fine lines. “This is such a powerhouse of anti-aging ingredients combined with sun protection. It also makes your skin look and feel incredible after you put it on. My husband loves it, and this is the moisturizer that finally got me to win the battle of getting him to apply sunscreen every morning!” Made with an impressive combo of retinol, peptides, and antioxidants like vitamins A and E, this luxe cream is a multitasker. It smooths, firms, and evens out the complexion while keeping skin safe from the sun.
Best drugstore moisturizer with SPF
SPF 30 | Hyaluronic acid | Niacinamide | Ceramides
I wasn’t surprised when four of the skin experts I contacted included a CeraVe product in their list of top picks. This lotion (and the “ultralight” formula) have been staples in my skin-care rotation for years. The Strategist also named it one of the best drugstore moisturizers with SPF. Besides the price (it’s the least expensive on this list), I’m sold on the nongreasy texture and easy blendability. The formula also more than meets our criteria. “It contains hydrating and moisturizing ingredients such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid. And it’s oil-free, so it’s great for all skin types,” says Roberta Moradfar, aesthetic nurse practitioner and owner of EFFACÈ Aesthetics.
Best moisturizer with SPF to wear under makeup
SPF 50| Vitamin C | Vitamin E | Hyaluronic acid | Glycerin
This primer-SPF-moisturizer hybrid makes skin look fresh and more awake on its own, but foundation lovers will appreciate the smooth, flawless canvas it creates for makeup. Dermatologist Hadley King recommends it for its “blurred, filtered effect,” but she notes that the does-it-all formula is legit. “It’s rich in antioxidants to help protect the skin from damage from free radicals, and it contains hyaluronic acid and glycerin to hydrate, as well as camellia seed oil and shea butter to support the skin barrier.”
Best mineral moisturizer with SPF
SPF 30 | Vitamin C | Antioxidants | Niacinamide | Glycerin
If you prefer a moisturizer with SPF that blocks the sun with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (as opposed to chemical sunscreens), this lotion gets the job done exceptionally well, according to Dr. Westbay. “It has a creamy texture that melts into skin without leaving it feeling greasy and, although it’s a mineral-based formula, it doesn’t leave behind a white cast.” The product isn’t cheap, but it delivers more than just sun protection. With a mix of licorice, kiwi, argan, niacinamide, vitamin C, and an antioxidant blend, it helps defend your complexion against air pollution. It also gives skin an instant shot of radiance. Which I think is priceless when I’m trying to camouflage fatigue.
• Dr. Amir Karam, plastic surgeon
• Dr. Hamza Bhatti, dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon at Schweiger Dermatology Group
• Dr. Hadley King, dermatologist
• Dr. Tiffany Libby, dermatologist and director of Mohs micrographic and dermatologic surgery at Brown Dermatology
• Dr. Rebecca Marcus, dermatologist and founder of MaeiMD
• Roberta Moradfar, aesthetic nurse practitioner and owner of EFFACÈ Aesthetics
• Dr. Dina Strachan, dermatologist at Aglow Dermatology
• Joie Tavernise, medical esthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare
• Dr. Rachel Westbay, dermatologist at Marmur Medical
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