Best sunscreen for your face - the tried and tested formulas you'll love

Picking the best sunscreen for your face will keep your skin protected daily. Here, our beauty team and a panel of dermatologists share their favourites.

A collage of the best sunscreens for your face
(Image credit: Future)

Using the best sunscreen for your face every day, rain or shine is an essential aspect of skincare.

All experts agree that using the best sun creams is a non-negotiable way of keeping your skin safe. According to Harley Street consultant dermatologist Dr Ophelia Veraitch, “Our faces are exposed to UV light and visible light on a daily basis. UVA causes skin ageing and hyperpigmentation. UVB causes damage that increases the risk of developing skin cancer. The skin is exposed to these factors on a daily basis, no matter what the season or whether you’re inside or outside - rays can penetrate through clouds and windows.”

Not only is it important to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer symptoms, studies show that sun damage accounts for 80% of signs of ageing. Thankfully, sun creams have come a long way - the best sunscreen for your face is now as light and comfortable as your best moisturisers, while doing some essential shielding. We narrowed down our favourite picks and spoke to several dermatologists to get their expert take on each buy. 

What to consider when looking for the best sunscreen for your face

Why you can trust GoodtoKnow. Our experienced Consumer Editor & parent reviewers spend hours testing products to help you make the best choice. Find out how we test and review products.

  • Star rating: Our in-house star-rating system is based on peer reviews. They’ve tried and tested the sunscreens and awarded stars based on factors such as product quality, ease of use, customer feedback, awards and value for money. Products that have received a 5 star status are rare and considered exceptional, going above and beyond our reviewer’s expectations.
  • The type of sunscreen and the level of protection it offered: With sunscreen being such an important product, we wanted to make sure that every buy on this list offered high levels of protection. We considered both chemical and physical formulas (with an explainer on both below), and opted for a minimum of factor 30 protection. Dr. Veraitch doesn't advise going below 30, she explains "I recommend an SPF50 daily, as it provides the most effective protection. However, for those prone to skin congestion and acne I am more flexible in my advice and advise that lower SPF can be advisable, down to SPF30."
  • The wearability of the formula: There's no use buying the best sunscreen for your face if you're not going to actually use it. For the formula to really work it has to be one that you really want to wear - we only picked options that felt really comfortable to wear, that didn't feel greasy or sticky, and sat nicely under makeup. 
  • Cruelty-free: More and more beauty brands have realised that testing on animals is not a humane or sustainable practice. We’re keen to select products from brands that follow this ethos.

The best sunscreens for your face, picked by our beauty team and dermatologists

Dr. Dennis Gross All Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF

Credit: Dr. Dennis

1. Dr. Dennis Gross All Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF30

Best sunscreen for face for most skin types

Specifications

RRP: £42
Type: Mineral
SPF : 30
Water resistant?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Works for all skin types
+
Oil and fragrance free
+
Rubs in easily
+
Has active anti-ageing ingredients

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive considering cost to quantity ratio 
-
Not water resistant

As we've already touched upon, mineral sunscreens have previously had a bad reputation for being thick, difficult to rub in and leaving a white cast. Luckily Dr Dennis is debunking all those myths for us, having created a mineral sunscreen that’s easily absorbed and suitable for all skin tones. 

We were concerned that a high factor, mineral sunscreen would result in breakouts, but there were no spots to be found, even on typically oily areas across the T-zone. The texture is light and comfortable, and as an added benefit, it's packed with antioxidants like bearberry, sea buckthorn, lingonberry, and ferulic acid. And these work behind the scenes to banish the pesky free radicals which can speed up the ageing process.

Dermatologist verdict: "It's a physical sunscreen suitable for all skin types but especially dry skin," Dr Anton Alexandroff, a Doctify-reviewed dermatologist explains. "It's also non-comedogenic which means it's safe for acne-prone skin too. Plus it is made by an experienced dermatologist and is very hydrating."

Heliocare 360° Oil Free Gel SPF50

(Image credit: Heliocare)

2. Heliocare 360° Oil Free Gel SPF50

Best sunscreen for oily skin

Specifications

RRP: £31
Type: Mineral
SPF: 50
Water resistant?: No

Reasons to buy

+
Non-greasy application
+
Vegan friendly
+
Alcohol free
+
Contains anti-oxidants for skin health  

Reasons to avoid

-
Not water resistant 

SPF and oily skin don’t tend to play nicely together. And if you’re anything like me, you’re more likely to bring home a face full of tiny white heads from your holiday than a glowing tan. Enter Heliocare. The oil-free formula glides onto skin before becoming quickly dry to the touch. Once on, we found it sits nicely under make-up, and doesn’t contribute to the dreaded 3pm shine. It didn't block our pores either, leaving skin clear and fresh. The colour is ever-so-slightly tinted, which makes it a great all-rounder for all skin tones.

Dermatologist verdict: "I’m a huge fan of Heliocare 360 as the range genuinely offers something for everyone and their preference e.g. spray, cream, gel etc," says consultant dermatologist Dr Emma Wedgeworth. "It features Fernblock, a unique ingredient which harnesses natural plant power to defend skin cells from damage caused by the sun and protecting our skin cell DNA, alongside a Bioshield system that protects skin against visible light - like our own melanin, but much more powerful."

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Comfort Cream SPF 50+

Credit: La Roche-Posay

3. LA ROCHE-POSAY ANTHELIOS UVMUNE 400 HYDRATING SUNCREAM

Best high protection sunscreen for face

Specifications

RRP: £20.90
Type: Chemical
SPF: 50+
Water resistant: No

Reasons to buy

+
Long lasting protection
+
Quick absorption
+
Ultra moisturising - great for dry skin
+
Paraben, colourant & fragrance free

Reasons to avoid

-
Thick formula - not good for oily skin
-
Not water resistant

For high-quality facial sun cream, La Roche Posay's SPF 50+ Anthelios Ultra Comfort Cream is one of the best out there. Although it comes with a higher price tag, it's worth investing in if you really struggle with dry skin due to it's added hydrating powers. The ingredients create a lightweight cream which provides a spectrum of defence against harmful UVA, UVB and infrared radiation, while also moisturising the skin and helping to create a healthy complexion.

Dermatologist verdict: This is a great sunscreen that provides protection against infrared, UVA, UVB radiation which helps protect against skin cancers as well as photoaging," Dr Suchitra Chinthapalli tells us, consultant dermatologist at The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic. "It's hydrating and applies easily. It's particularly useful if you have dry skin."

PIZ BUIN Allergy Sun Sensitive Face Cream SPF30 50ml

Credit: Piz Buin

4. PIZ BUIN Allergy Sun Sensitive Face Cream SPF30 50ml

Best water-resistant sunscreen for face

Specifications

RRP: £8
Type: Mineral
SPF: 50
Water resistant?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Water resistant
+
Nice texture - non-sticky
+
Protects against prickly heat 
+
Suitable for irritation-prone skin

Reasons to avoid

-
It's 50ml size means you don't get a huge amount for your money,  but it's a handy handbag size 

We love Piz Buin's facial sun cream as it was designed alongside dermatologists, with sensitive skin in mind. This means that it's really effective in preventing prickly sensations and blotchiness caused by UV rays on the skin. It offers sun protection along with the brand's unique anti-irritant shield, helping our skin to become more resistant to the sun in the long term. Plus it's both water and sweat resistant, making it a good contender for hotter days. We loved using this on a particularly sweltering summer day, skin felt comfortable and soothed.

Dermatologist verdict: "This is designed for sunsensitive skin, and also sensitive and itchy skin making it a good pick overall," says dermatologist Dr Anton Alexandroff. "Water and sweat resistant, it contains powerful antioxidants to protect against UVB and UVA damage."

5. Ultrasun UV Face & Scalp Mist SPF50

Ultrasun UV Face & Scalp Mist

Credit: Ultrasun

5. Ultrasun UV Face & Scalp Mist SPF50

Best sunscreen for all skin tones

Specifications

RRP: £20
Type: Mixed
SPF: 50
Water resistant?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Vegan friendly
+
Water resistant
+
Kind to sensitive skin
+
Suitable for face and scalp  
+
Spray formula is easy to apply

Reasons to avoid

-
Sticky if overapplied

Be honest, do you really take your sun cream all the way to your hairline, or does the prospect of greasy hair cause you to stop halfway up your forehead? If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. In fact, according to Ultrasun MD Abi Cleeve, this is one of the sites where skin cancer is becoming most prevalent. To help you ensure you’re getting the best possible protection, without compromising on your roots, this lightweight spray has been designed as an extra step. Abi adds that it's a mix of between mineral and chemical sunscreen to reap the most rewards: "At Ultrasun we look for an optimal balance between the two, so we look at smaller particles of titanium and zinc that will physically stop the sun’s rays, combined with chemical absorbers in a quantity and a level that the skin can cope with."

We've been keeping one in our bag, and one on our desks, for fuss-free top-ups whenever and wherever necessary. It’s completely transparent, so won’t leave you with tell-tale white dots on your skin.

Dermatologist verdict: "This contains InfraGuard which combines organic sunflower shoots and powerful antioxidants from the tara tree," Dr Anton tells us. "This means it protects from both infrared and visible blue light. It's a quick drying transparent spray which can be worn over or under cosmetics." 

Eucerin Actinic Control Fluid SPF100

Credit: Boots

6. Eucerin Actinic Control Fluid SPF100

Best sunscreen for pale skin