Whether it’s blazing hot or you’re bundled in layers of sweaters and scarves, wearing sunscreen daily is a must, both for the look of your skin and its overall health. You should always include a quality SPF in your daily skin-care routine—in fact, if you ask a dermatologist, they’ll tell you that it’s the most important step. Regardless of skin tone, sunscreen is a year-round essential because clouds and even windows don’t block all UV rays. Many can still get through and damage your skin. In the short term, that can manifest as hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and even acne. In the long term, UV damage can lead to premature signs of skin aging (fine lines and wrinkles) and cause skin cancer.
Still, the temptation to occasionally skip daily SPF application, and especially re-application, is real, which is where powder sunscreens come in handy. Instead of slathering another layer of liquid sunscreen onto your already made-up, sweat-beaded complexion, you can simply dust on a lightweight powder dispensed out of a tube with a built-in brush. Not only will it provide a second buffer layer of protection against UV rays, but powder sunscreens can also help absorb excess oil, even out skin tone, and re-set your makeup. What’s not to love?
What Is Powder Sunscreen?
Here’s the fine print: Powder sunscreens rely on the mineral SPF ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (rather than chemical sunscreens), which work on the surface of the skin as a shield to block UV rays.
How Much Powder Sunscreen Should I Apply?
“For both powdered and liquid sunscreens, the amount of protection, known as the sun protection factor (SPF), depends on how much product is applied,” explains NYC-based dermatologist Marisa Garshick. “In general, people do not apply a thick enough layer of the powder to offer the protection that is on the label,” she explains. This is why powdered SPF should generally be layered on top of liquid sunscreen—on top of your makeup, even—in order to “offer a great extra layer of protection,” Garshick says.
Can You Use Powder Sunscreen On Your Whole Body?
Because you need a thick layer of sunscreen for maximum protection, powder SPF does not make the best head-to-toe coverage. Instead, “it is best to use a liquid sunscreen for the whole body and reserve the powdered sunscreen options for reapplication to specific areas,” Garshick says. Specific areas such as the face, neck, ears, upper chest, arms, hands and hair part—or other small body parts.
Another indisputable win is the convenient and tidy tubes that make power SPF ideal for on-the-go re-application. Ready to try one for yourself? Here, we’ve rounded up 9 of the best powdered sunscreens you should be wearing all day, every day.
Brush-On Sun Defense SPF 30
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This gentle hypoallergenic powder sunscreen works both for pore-minimizing and controlling oil — all while blocking out harmful sun rays that can damage the skin. The powder is translucent, making it ideal for all skin tones.
Sun Protection Mineral Powder SPF 30
Infused with UV-blocking zinc oxide, moisturizing vitamin E, and soothing green tea and chamomile extracts, this powder combines the benefits of skincare and makeup. Your skin is left with a smooth finish that lasts all day.
Powder-Me SPF 30 Dry Sunscreen
Use this SPF powder on the skin or scalp to protect against sunburns and sun damage that can lead to wrinkles and premature aging. The brush is super soft, and won’t leave any streaks in your makeup, making it ideal for on the go touch-ups.
Organic Sun Defense Minerals SPF 30
This water-resistant SPF 30 powder is formulated with vitamins A and E for double the fine line-fighting power. Equally important is what you won’t find: parabens, sulfates, gluten, and phthalates.
Sea Set & Protect Mineral Powder Sunscreen
In addition to working on all skin types and skin tones, sans chemicals, this translucent SPF is also cruelty-free (like all Tarte products.) It’s formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—the two FDA-approved mineral sunscreen ingredients—which both actually “exist naturally as a powder,” Garshick explains.
(Re)setting 100% Mineral Powder SPF 35
Supergoop! is known for its innovative SPF formulations, and this popular powder is no different. The silky, fine-milled formula goes on smoothly and leaves skin with a slight matte finish. It comes in three different shades—light, medium, and deep—as well as translucent, which works on all skin tones. For long days spent under the sun, the brand also makes Poof Mineral Part and Scalp Powder, an amazing little bottle filled with a translucent powder that is equal parts dry shampoo and sunscreen for your hair and scalp.
Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 30
The price tag may be steep, but this OG brush-on powder sunscreen is top-rated for a reason. It provides remarkably long-lasting SPF without any dyes, chemicals, colorants or fragrance. Keep one in your purse or your car and swipe it onto your face, neck, and chest for extra UV protection without any caking.
Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20
If you’re new to powder sunscreens and want to test out a translucent, fool-proof option, this option from Ilia is for you. It provides SPF 20 coverage while simultaneously soaking up excess shine and nourishing skin, thanks to the passion fruit and rosemary oil in the formula.
Mineral Sunscreen Powder
Per hundreds of stellar Amazon reviews, this SPF 30 powder sunscreen is an all-around winner: The self-dispensing brush doesn’t spew out any excess and the SPF 30 formula is lightweight and all-natural.
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