The Crucial Reasons You Need to Put Sunscreen on Your Face Every Day

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Before heading outside for any amount of time, you need to apply sunscreen on your face. Every. Single. Time.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen can lower your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by roughly 40 percent, and reduce your melanoma risk by 50 percent. That’s a lot of benefit, from a habit that takes less than a minute of your time.

So where to start? We consulted Dr. Claire Wolinsky M.D.Dr. Rachel Maiman M.D., and Dr. Hysem Eldik M.D., who are all New York City-based board-certified dermatologists, for all the SPF facts about the best sunscreens for your face.

What SPF number should we buy?

Dr. Claire Wolinsky, a New York-based dermatologist says to opt for an SPF of 30 because you get 97 percent protection against UVB rays when you use it correctly (meaning you apply one ounce every two hours), while an SPF of 15 provides 93 percent coverage.

More importantly than getting an SPF that’s higher than 30 is to remember that high-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs. A high SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication. Furthermore, your sunscreens should always offer broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and ideally should be water-resistant for sweat and swimming. 

How much SPF should we wear on a given day?

“Apply enough sunscreen to cover all skin that clothing will not cover,” says Dr. Rachel Maiman M.D. “Most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body. Allow sunscreen to dry on the skin 15 minutes before going outdoors. Then, reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours, or after swimming, sweating, or any other water exposure.”

Mineral or Chemical?

In short, physical sunscreens (also called mineral) contain either zinc or titanium oxide. This creates a barrier between you and the sun as the product sits on top of your skin. Physical sunscreens also block both UVA and UVB rays and work immediately once applied.  

Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, absorb into the skin and block UV rays subcutaneously. Most have added skin care ingredients like hyaluronic acid or niacinamide (they help skin retain moisture).

“A mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide is always preferable to a purely chemical sunscreen,” says Wolinsky. “If you have sensitive skin, avoiding chemical sunscreens is prudent as there is a much higher chance of allergic and irritant reactions to these chemical ingredients (oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, etc),”

This is a mineral sunscreen that is lightweight, matte, non-comedogenic and easy to rub into the skin.

This protects the skin with close to 15 percent zinc oxide while also containing antioxidants like vitamin E to add an extra level of anti aging benefits. It rubs in well and is also moisturizing.

This is a really great sunscreen for use on the entire body. Pack this on the next beach trip; it’s surprisingly soft to the touch for a zinc SPF and it has great protection at 50.

This is an anti-aging product as well as a sunscreen. It’s best for anyone with a strong history of skin cancer or precancerous spots as well as anyone who likes the idea of using a sunscreen with anti-aging benefits.

This is the most popular sunscreen (chemical and mineral) for acne-prone skin since it’s lightweight and sheer. It’s extremely versatile and effective.

If you absolutely hate the feel of sunscreen on your face, try this one. It goes on so light, you forget you’re wearing it at all. You get all mineral protection, courtesy of zinc oxide.

Sun Bum has great broad spectrum sunscreen products, including this mineral sunscreen for the face. The brand is environmentally conscientious and their products rub in smoothly without leaving a residue.

The brand has a cult-favorite sunscreen that’s virtually invisible, but it’s chemical-based. So we prefer this one; it goes on velvety-smooth and contains 17 percent zinc oxide. It’s great if your skin tends to get shiny during the day.

This is a purely mineral sunscreen with a very versatile tint that suits a wide range of skin tones. Hyaluronic acid allows the product to be moisturizing without being greasy.

This SPF is amazing because it’s clear and has a velvety smooth finish. Feels completely weightless on the skin.

Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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