The Best Powder Sunscreens (For People Who Hate Sunscreen)

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by Deanna McCormack
Originally Published: 

If you’re searching for the best powder sunscreens, great! The more SPF the better. Still, there are some important things to know before you think about swapping out your current cream or liquid sunscreen for a powder one. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick, powder sunscreens are “best used for reapplication, to provide an extra layer of protection and for hard-to-reach areas, such as the scalp. [Powder] sunscreens work well in conjunction with liquid sunscreens in that they are a great option for mid-day reapplication over makeup or when you are on the go.” Hear that, folks? They’re best used as an extra layer of sun protection, or for touchups when you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reapply a new layer of lotion. In other words: Don’t consider a powder sunscreen a primary form of sun protection.

According to Dr. Garshick, the best powder sunscreens have an SPF of 30 or higher and provide broad-spectrum coverage. (“Some may be water-resistant, so it's best to check the label,” she says.) Dr. Garshick also notes that powder sunscreens are particularly great for people with oily skin, as they can have mattifying effects. If you’re looking fro a sunscreen for dry skin, “It is best to look for hydrating ingredients to help boost moisture,” she says.

Dr. Garshick has a few last words of advice. “It is important to remember that the amount of SPF protection relies on how much product is applied, so it is important to apply enough of the powder to get the amount of protection labeled.” Easier said than done, unless you’re prepared to literally coat your skin in thick layers of powder. So once again, that’s why it’s best to use a powder sunscreen on top of another form of sunscreen. Similarly, that’s why Dr. Garshick explains that powder sunscreens are “best reserved for the face, hands, scalp, neck, and chest, as it may not be practical to apply the powder to the whole body while ensuring adequate coverage.”

Now that you’re fully informed, scroll on to shop the best powder sunscreens, including a few picks from Dr. Garshick.


The Overall Best Brush-On Powder Sunscreen

With its reasonable, $20 price tag and translucent shade, this DERMA-E Sun Protection Mineral Powder earns top marks on Amazon — where it’s been awarded over 1,000 five-star ratings — and beyond. Formulated with SPF 30, it also contains good-for-skin ingredients like vitamin E, which is a source of antioxidants, and green tea and chamomile extract to help soothe skin and temper redness. The SPF 30 comes from non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and like all DERMA-E products, the formula is non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan — so it’s a great choice for sensitive skin.

User review: “I love this powder! Took a family vacation in Florida, and wanted to be able to reapply sunblock to my face throughout the day without ruining my makeup. This worked perfectly. I applied often and did not get burned. It also did not leak powder all over my bag, was super easy to use, and bonus points for the ingenious cap design. Will be ordering again when this one runs out”

  • Available shades: 1


Runner Up

This Brush On Block mineral sunscreen is another great, fan-favorite powder formula, but it’ll set you back about $10 more. The formula is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, according to the brand, and made with green tea leaf, chamomile extract, and honeysuckle to soothe and impart antioxidants to your skin. It’s pretty similar to DERMA-E’s powder sunscreen, though you get a bit less product with this one (.12 ounces to DERMA-E’s 0.14 ounces), and the formula does differ slightly — for example, this one doesn’t contain any vitamin E. Choosing between the two will mostly come down to your budget and brand preference. You can opt for a translucent or tan-tinted version, and purchase it alone or bundled with lip oil or powder refills. It’s also available in a pack of two.

User review: “I burn extremely easily, especially on my scalp in my part due to my thin hair. Most scalp sunscreens are greasy or sticky. This product was simply brushed on and protected my tender scalp while in the sun almost all day. Love the easy application and results!”

  • Available shades: 2


A Tinted Brush-On Powder With SPF 50

If you prefer a tinted brush-on sunscreen, you’ll love the Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen, which Dr. Garshick recommends. It offers “all mineral powder protection against UVA, UVB, infrared, and high energy visible light,” she says. A great choice for sensitive or blemish-prone skin, this brush-on powder is made with custom-refined minerals and calcified red algae to calm and treat your skin. It contains broad-spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen, which is really quite high to find in a powder sunscreen, and claims to be water resistant for up to 80 minutes. The powder blends easily into your skin with a built-in, soft bristle brush and can be used to conceal redness, acne, or hyperpigmentation, though don’t expect full-on coverage with this.

User review: “Have been using this product for over 10 years. It was recommended by my Derm, and it works great! Never leave home without it.”

  • Available shades: 3


The Best Powder Sunscreen For Dry Skin

Dr. Garshick recommends Supergoop (Re)setting 100% Mineral Powder for people with dry skin, as it contains “a blend of ceramides and olive glycerides to provide a boost of hydration, but still works to help set makeup and reduce shine.” The SPF 35 protection comes from 100% non-nano zinc oxide, and it comes in both translucent and tinted shades.

User review: “Best sunscreen I ever had! Super practical to apply during the day on makeup. The packaging is easy to use and safe. The smell is soft and pleasant.”

  • Available shades: 3


This Versatile Pressed Powder That Covers All Your Makeup Bases

To incorporate all the benefits of a powder sunscreen into your makeup routine, try PUR Cosmetics Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup. This formula provides buildable coverage so it can work as a concealer, powder, or foundation, and it comes in a wide variety of shades. This powder is particularly great for oily complexions because it's made with silica, which absorbs excess oil and gives skin a matte finish, though it also contains vitamin E and shea butter for some non-greasy moisturizing benefits. That said, this only has SPF 15 — so be sure to layer a sunscreen with SPF 30 underneath.

User review: “This has a smooth, sheer natural look and has added SPF. I love this for daily use. It is expensive but I have not found its equal in quality”

  • Available shades: 26


This SPF 20 Mineral Powder In A Brush Or Sifter

There's a lot to love about jane iredale Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder. It's an all-natural, mineral foundation that not only gives your skin sheer to medium coverage and a smooth, matte finish, but is also infused with a broad-spectrum SPF 20 sunscreen that's water resistant up to 40 minutes. This loose, oil-free powder comes in your choice of a sifter container or refillable brush, is made from micronized minerals, and comes in 20 shades to suit a range of skin tones. But since this only contains SPF 20, you’ll want to wear this on top of a proper sunscreen with SPF 30. Consider this an added form of sun protection — not a primary one.

User review: “I use an spf under my make-up THEN apply and re-apply this product through out the day! It's great! I'm adding protection and not wiping off my make-up.”

  • Available shades: 20


This Indie Sunscreen Powder That Contains Just 4 Ingredients

Made by an independent brand based in Montana, this SPF 25 sunscreen powder contains just a few ingredients, like zinc oxide (for sun protection) and arrowroot powder. Naturally, this super-simple sunscreen is a great choice for people with sensitive skin, babies and young kids, and anyone with an allergy to gluten, soy, peanuts, or wheat, since its made without any of those things. That said, since it doesn’t contain the AAD-recommended minimum of SPF 30, this should be paired with another sunscreen, or used for touchups, rather than as a primary form of sun protection.

User review: “Good price compared to other powder sunscreens, and easy to spread with a makeup brush. It’s a pretty decent amount too, so you won’t run out any time soon. Has a nice subtle scent, smells way better than lotion sunscreens”

  • Available shades: 1


This SPF 30 Face Powder With Green Tea Extract

This Larkly face sunscreen doesn’t just have cute packaging — it also has SPF 30 sun protection, thanks to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The reef-friendly, vegan formula is made with skin-loving ingredients like green tea extract, resveratrol, and black licorice root, and reviewers report that it’s both non-drying and non-irritating.

User review: “This is a really nice powder. It’s not thick but very lightweight. Looks natural on the skin.”

  • Available shades: 1


This SPF 35 Powder That Was Designed For Your Scalp

Supergoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder is meant to be applied to your hair part/scalp — just remember to blend it in with your fingers or a brush to help it fade into your roots. It’s a 100% mineral sunscreen powder that’s packaged in a non-aerosol, spray-on bottle, so it’s convenient for touchups whenever you need them. Think of this as a dry shampoo/powder sunscreen hybrid — and a must-have for any beach bag.

User review: “Finally my scalp doesn’t get burnt and my hair doesn’t get greasy from spraying sunblock in it. This product is incredible!!”

  • Available shades: 1


A Derm-Recommended Mineral Sunscreen From A Cult-Favorite Brand

Though it’s undoubtedly on the pricey side, we had to shout out the ISDIN Mineral Brush, which is another recommendation of Dr. Garshick’s. “[It] contains titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and iron oxides to provide protection against UVA and UVB, as well as blue light and infrared radiation, while still leaving a natural finish to the skin,” she says. This comes from a cult-y European brand that’s known for their high-performing sunscreens, and though it has a slight tint to it, the brand says that it should work for most skin tones (one Amazon reviewer backed this up by commenting, “Works on darker skin tones - not ashy appearing”). Consider pairing this with ISDIN’s best-selling Eryfotona Actinica sunscreen emulsion for maximum sun protection.

User review: “Easy to apply. Powder is light and doesn’t cake on face [...] Works on darker skin tones - not ashy appearing . The brush is soft and not scratchy. Will order again”

  • Available shades: 1


Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.

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