There are a lot of sunscreens on the market, and that can make finding the right one for you difficult. How are you supposed to know if a sunscreen will hydrate your dry skin or prevent your acne-prone skin from breaking out? Enter EltaMD, a sunscreen brand beloved by dermatologists and known for its effective sunscreens that work for a variety of skin types and concerns.
What sets EltaMD’s sunscreens apart from others out there is the formulations. “They all have a basis in zinc as the primary UV protectant,” says Larry MacPhee, EltaMD’s general manager. “We believe very strongly in the use of zinc because it’s a physical sunscreen blocker so not being a chemical, the product won’t erode due to exposure to UV light.” Zinc sits on top of the skin to create a physical shield against the sun. MacPhee adds that in many instances, zinc is used for skin care treatments and is beneficial for damaged or sensitive skin (unlike chemical UV blockers, which are absorbed into the skin and can be sensitizing).
Beyond using zinc, EltaMD’s formulas are cosmetically elegant, meaning application is a breeze. “Cosmetic elegance underscores our products so that they have a relatively easy rub in,” says MacPhee. “Even when formulated with titanium or other UV ingredients, they are able to rub completely into virtually any skin type. This allows a protectant that is as powerful as zinc and can be used by anyone.”
How to Choose the Right EltaMD Sunscreen
This all being said, choosing a sunscreen shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone’s skin has different needs, and what works best for one person may not necessarily be the best option for someone else. For example, someone who breaks out regularly may benefit from an oil-free, non-comedogenic formula, while someone who has dry, flaky skin may want to look for hydrating ingredients that provide added moisture in addition to sun protection.
When choosing the right sunscreen for your skin type, consider the following three factors:
Skin type: Your first step in choosing a sunscreen should be thinking about your skin type. “Do you suffer from acne; do you have rosacea or eczema?” asks MacPhee. “Taking these kinds of things into account are very important considerations.”
Lifestyle: Do you work outside all day? Do you like to play sports? Do you live by the ocean? “These lifestyle choices direct the kind of sunscreen that you should be using,” says MacPhee.
Geography: Where you live should factor into your decision too. “If you live in the mountains of Colorado where your sun exposure is huge because you’re a mile up in the sky, the amount of sun you would receive there exceeds the amount of sun received in Florida, for example,” explains MacPhee.
Now you’re ready to find your EltaMD sunscreen match! Here, get the lowdown on every EltaMD sunscreen and find out which one suits your needs.
Why it’s great: No more white cast here: goes on completely clear, as it utilizes transparent zinc oxide for sun protection. Plus, it fights acne while it protects your skin against damaging UVA and UVB rays, thanks to the pore-refining and shine-reducing lactic acid in its formula. Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, zinc oxide, octinoxate SPF: 46 Tinted?: Untinted Oil-Free?: Yes Water-Resistant?: No Great for Skin Type/Concern: Acne-prone, hyperpigmentation, rosacea What shoppers say: “Sunscreen is light and blends easy! Feels like putting on an extra layer of moisturizer and love the way it makes my skin feel. No white residue and [it’s] great for everyday wear to protect your skin and great to use while in the sun!”
Why it’s great: This tinted facial sunscreen hides imperfections, making cover-up an unnecessary step and saving you time. It also does more than just offer physical broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays; antioxidants fight damaging free radical molecules while hyaluronic acid plumps up skin so it feels smoother and wrinkles appear minimized. Key Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants SPF: 44 Tinted?: Tinted Oil-Free?: Yes Water-Resistant?: Yes Great for Skin Type/Concern: Dry skin, sensitive skin, mature skin What shoppers say: “I received a sample of this from my dermatologist and fell in love immediately. I wear it daily, especially on weekends when I typically don’t wear makeup and am outside much more. It feels smooth and doesn’t have the typical sunscreen smell, which I love.”
Why it’s great: Skin is particularly sensitive (and vulnerable to the sun) after treatments like peels and microdermabrasion, and this broad-spectrum facial sunscreen works specifically to protect post-procedure complexions. It relies on zinc oxide for sun protection, hyaluronic acid for moisturizing and vitamin E for free radical shielding. Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, dimethicone, antioxidants, zinc oxide, octinoxate SPF: 30+ Tinted?: Untinted Oil-Free?: No Water-Resistant?: No Great for What Skin Type/Concern: Dry skin, sensitive skin, post-procedure What shoppers say: “I have been using this product for several years, ever since my dermatologist recommended it for my sun allergy. It is the BEST! So cosmetically elegant—it won’t give you the pasty-white finish many mineral sunscreens give you, and yet highly effective. It works as a great primer under my makeup—even powder-based makeups (so long as you let it absorb for a few minutes first). It also moisturizes my very dry skin all day.”
Why it’s great: When you have oily skin, oftentimes you might be worried that using sunscreen will lead to breakouts. But you don’t have to be concerned with this facial sunscreen, which has a non-comedogenic, lightweight mineral formula that won’t clog pores. Its light tint adds a boost of radiance and acts like a primer for the rest of your face makeup routine. Key Ingredients: Antioxidants, dimethicone, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide SPF: 41 Tinted?: Tinted Oil-Free?: Yes Water-Resistant?: Yes Great for What Skin Type/Concern: Oily skin, sensitive skin What shoppers say: “Chemical sunscreens burn and break me out, and most mineral-based sunscreens are pasty and leave a white cast on my skin. This is cosmetically elegant and sinks into my skin. It has a light, mousse-like consistency. I layer it over moisturizer, then add mineral foundation on top. It’s a great daily sunscreen, and it has a slight tint which works well for my skin. I’m warm-toned in the light-medium range, and it blends into my skin.”
Why it’s great: Hyaluronic acid is one of the buzziest skin care ingredients of the moment, and for good reason. It’s super-hydrating and smoothing. One of this facial sunscreen’s star ingredients just so happens to be hyaluronic acid, making it a great pick for dry skin. It’s also gentle so it can be used by sensitive skin types and those who’ve just had procedures. Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, zinc oxide, octinoxate, dimethicone, alpha hydroxy acids SPF: 40 Tinted?: Untinted (tinted version also available) Oil-Free?: No Water-Resistant?: No Great for What Skin Type/Concern: Dry skin, sensitive skin, post-procedures What shoppers say: “I love this! It feels like a lightweight moisturizer, not a sunscreen. Absorbs quickly, no sunscreen smell, leaves no residue or white sunscreen look. I feel like it evens leaves a nice glow on my face. Put it on after my moisturizer and before my makeup every day now.”
Why it’s great: This oil-free sunscreen is a perfect pick for oily and acne-prone skin types, as well as anyone with sensitivity, because of its non-comedogenic, fragrance-free formula. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it absorbs into the skin. Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids SPF: 47 Tinted?: Untinted Oil-Free?: Yes Water-Resistant?: Yes Great for What Skin Type/Concern: Oily skin, acne-prone skin, sensitive skin, rosacea What shoppers say: “I love the way this product goes on—the zinc oxide melts right into the skin without that white sheen. Also, a little goes a long way. And it doesn’t irritate my skin or cause breakouts—a HUGE plus!”
Why it’s great: Consider this your go-to daily facial sunscreen. Micronized zinc provides broad-spectrum sunscreen protection and offers a radiance boost without creating a white cast. Use it as a base before applying makeup, and your foundation will glide on smoothly. Key Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, octinoxate, vitamin E, alpha hydroxy acids SPF: 45 Tinted?: Untinted Oil-Free?: Yes Water-Resistant?: No Great for What Skin Type/Concern: Aging skin, normal skin, oily skin, acne-prone skin, combination skin What shoppers say: “Chemical sunscreens result in rashes on my skin and most of the physical sunscreens that I’ve tried leave a thick, white and unflattering layer (very visible!). This is the only physical sunscreen I’ve tried that rubs in clear and has been effective at preventing sunburn!”
Why it’s great: Made for the outdoors and water activities, this formula keeps up with your active lifestyle. It can be applied on dry or wet skin and resists rinsing off during swimming and sweating. Key Ingredients: Beeswax, dimethicone, zinc oxide, octinoxate, octisalate SPF: 50 Tinted?: Untinted Oil-Free?: Yes Water-Resistant?: Yes Great for Skin Type/Concern: All skin types, great for body What shoppers say: “I have a history of skin cancer and my dermatologist recommended this to me, as I cycle outdoors daily. This stays on my body and does not rub off. I am confident being out in the sun for hours while using this.”
Why it’s great: If you prefer all physical sunscreen ingredients and spend time in the water or exercising outdoors, this moisturizing, reef-safe formula is your best bet. It’s great for kids, too.
Key Ingredients: Jojoba esters, antioxidants, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide SPF: 50 Tinted?: Untinted Oil-Free?: Yes Water-Resistant?: Yes Great for Skin Type/Concern: All skin types, great for body What shoppers say: “If you want serious water-resistant staying power with extreme SPF protection, this is for you. I love it for sweaty exercising or swimming.”
Why it’s great: This mineral sunscreen helps restore moisture to dry and stressed skin. Its gentle ingredients make it easy on sensitive types, while antioxidants provide protection against skin-aging free radicals.
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide SPF: 44 Tinted?: Untinted Oil-Free?: Yes Water-Resistant?: Yes Great for Skin Type/Concern: Dry skin, sensitive skin, aging skin, normal skin What shoppers say: “Love this SPF to finish off my daytime skin care routine! It is non-greasy and you only need a little bit. It does not have a strong sunscreen smell either.”
By day, Christina Heiser is a senior editor for L’Oréal Paris. By night, she’s a freelance beauty, health, and wellness writer for a variety of online publications like NBC News Better and What’s Good by The Vitamin Shoppe. Outside of the offi... Read More >