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Buy This, Not That: 8 best sunscreens for different skin needs, according to dermatologists

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I’m 36 and just had a basal cell carcinoma removed right above my lip. Not only have I lived in sunny SoCal for the majority of my life, 23andMe confirmed that I’m 22% northwestern European (read: British and Irish) — a combination doesn’t bode well for a fair-skinned lass.  Now, even though I’ve always been sun-cautious and rarely get sunburned, I neurotically apply sunscreen every single day.

Turns out, that’s something we all should do, even if we’re not in a high-risk category for skin cancer. “The importance of sunscreen in preventing basal cell carcinoma and other skin cancers can’t be overstated,” says NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, who adds that it is also essential you avoid direct, harsh sun exposure and sunburns. Here’s are the sunscreens that dermatologists, plastic surgeons and skincare pros recommend.

Best for everyday use: EltaMD SPF 46 UV Clear, $37 on Amazon

Amazon

“I’m a big fan of this light-feeling, elegant lotion that’s non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores or cause acne,” says Mudgil. “This should be worn on the face, neck and hands, 365 days a year, but if you’re wearing a bathing suit or have other body parts exposed to the sun, sunscreen should be applied there as well.”
– Buy at Dermstore
– Buy at Walmart
– Buy at SkinStore

Best for active adults: Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 30, $9.99 on Amazon

Amazon

For those who play sports outside and need a convenient, mess-free way to reapply sunscreen without sweaty hands touching their face, this 90-minute water resistant stick may be the answer. “I’m outdoors a lot and I can keep this in my pocket or backpack for easy access. Plus, it’s non-greasy, hypoallergenic and doesn’t leave it a film on my face,” says Los Angeles-based plastic surgeon Dr. Reza Jarrahy.
– Buy at Ulta
– Buy at CVS Pharmacy
– Buy at Beauty Bay.

Best for added anti-aging benefits:

Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30, $33 on Amazon

Amazon

NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman tells her patients to look for a high percentage of zinc oxide. (The Environmental Working Group, which annually rates the efficacy and safety of sunscreens, recommends mineral-based sunscreens like those with zinc oxide.) “Paula’s Choice has 13% zinc and it also has antioxidants like resveratrol and quercetin, which fight free radical damage,” says Jaliman.
– Buy at Sephora
– Buy at Dermstore
– Buy at Nordstrom

MDSolarSciences Creme Mineral Beauty Balm SPF 50, $39 on Amazon

Amazon

“This 100% mineral formula provides great sun protection and it feels very lightweight and silky,” says dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics, Dr. Marie Hayag. She also likes that it contains “multiple antioxidants” (these include vitamins C and E and green tea) that “can provide protection against free radical damage and photo-aging.”
– Buy at Walgreens
– Buy at Dermstore
– Buy at Overstock

Best for repairing damaged skin: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+, $55 on Amazon

Amazon

“I’ve had good luck with ISDIN. It’s SPF 50 and also contains a DNA repair treatment, and it’s a micro fluid that goes on smoothly,” says Los Angeles-based dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban. It’s also 100% mineral based, with zinc oxide as its main active ingredient.
– Buy at Walmart
– Buy at ISDIN
– Buy at Wish

Best for scalp protection: Supergoop! Poof Part Powder SPF 45, $34 on Amazon

Amazon

“It’s human nature to neglect areas that we cannot see, including the scalp,” says Dr. Milton Moore, dermatologist and expert advisor to skincare line Holly Hall Supply Co. But, he adds, “It’s imperative to also protect the scalp from the sun’s damaging UV rays.” This high-quality, mineral-based powder sunscreen is ideal for individuals who have thin hair or patches of scalp that may be exposed to the sun.
– Buy at Supergoop
– Buy at Nordstrom
– Buy at Dermstore

Best moisturizer, makeup primer and sunscreen combo: Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36, $95 on Amazon

Amazon

This 2.6 ounce tube is pricey but it can double as makeup primer and moisturizer. Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, a dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital, calls this “an elegant” sunscreen that is “hydrating without being comedogenic.”
– Buy at Bonanza
– Buy on Amazon

Best tinted moisturizer with sunscreen: COOLA Organic Rosilliance BB+ Cream, Tinted Moisturizer Sunscreen SPF 30, $44 on Amazon

Amazon

Amber Rose Johnson, founder of the Facial Lounge, likes reef-safe sunscreen, as it offers a zinc and titanium-dioxide mineral formula that protects against UV rays, pollution and blue light. “Titanium dioxide is a great sunscreen solution for acne prone skin,” says Johnson.
– Buy at Sephora
– Buy at Macy’s
– Buy at Dermstore  

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