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The Best Powder Sunscreens (For People Who Hate Sunscreen)

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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 have 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.

1

The Overall Best Brush-On Powder Sunscreen

With its reasonable, $22 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 sunscreen powder! It's the first powdered sunscreen I've ever tried. It evens out my light olive skin tone and makes my complexion look radiant, stays put over my tinted foundation style sunscreen, and lasts a long time. Now I can touch up my face, neck, and even the back of my hands quickly and easily during the day.”

2

Runner Up

Here’s another great, fan-favorite powder sunscreen, 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.

User review: “I really like this sunscreen. I was searching for something that I could reapply easily throughout the day without messing up my makeup and this certainly does the trick! I usually tilt my face so I can catch the light at the right angle to see the sunscreen when I'm applying it just to make sure it's going on, that's how translucent it is! I will definitely be buying the refill for this.”

3

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.

  • Available shades: 4

User review: “I love this powder, [it’s] super light weight, protects my skin and still allows me to have a natural look while still giving me some coverage. My dermatologist recommended it and I love it!! I would say it lasts me about 3 months before I have to purchase a new one.”

4

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.

5

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.

  • Available shades: 24

User review: “It’s the perfect balance of feeling like you are wearing nothing at all and medium-full coverage. I normally only wear makeup on special occasions, but now I’m starting to wear makeup more often. With liquid makeup I always see makeup strokes or blotches [...] With the [PÜR 4-in-1 Pressed Powder] my skin looks even and flawless. Please note, I followed advice to go a shade darker than your skin color and it worked for me. I like it so much I started to wear it to work everyday. It evens out the skin and doesn’t look like I’m trying hard. Happy customer for life.”

6

This Loose Mineral Powder With SPF 20

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 is made from micronized minerals and comes in 14 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.

  • Available shades:

User review: “I have been using the Jane iredale amazing loose powder for over a year now. I'm in my 30's and still have daily acne outbreaks. My numerous attempts to repair my skin have all had less then stellar long term results. I say this because acne is just something I have to deal with every single day. I need full coverage, but I hate looking like I have on full coverage. This covers acne beautifully, it doesn't look cakey, even after a full days wear. Not drying, doesn't add oil and it looks more natural than any other mineral powder makeup I've ever tried. Love, love, love!”

7

This Indie Sunscreen Powder That Contains Just 4 Ingredients

Made by an independent brand based in Montana, this SPF 25 sunscreen powder contains just four ingredients: zinc oxide for sun protection, and tapioca powder, arrowroot, and lavender powder — that’s it. 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: “A nice powdered sunscreen that is affordable! I love it! I put this powder on over my liquid sunscreen to give myself extra protection and a less oily look. It goes on white but disappears into a translucent natural smooth matte look, but my face doesn’t feel dry with it on. I am fair-skinned with freckles, so darker skin may not get this same experience. The free Coconut Cake lip butter was also very nice!”

8

This Face Powder With SPF 50 From Japan

This Japanese face powder is big over in Asia, but thanks to Amazon, you can get it Stateside as well. It’s a translucent setting powder with SPF 50 that can be used to set your makeup, soak up oil, and give your skin a matte, silky finish. It even comes with its own little pouf for easy reapplication wherever you are.

User review: “As soon as you put it on, it blurs your pores immediately! It's matte enough that I can wear it the whole day and not look as oily as I normally do. I haven't broken out because of using it.”

9

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.

10

Honorable Mention

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: “Best way to apply loose face powder or any face powder that I have ever found! I absolutely love this and will buy it again! Takes the shine off my face without going on too thick and fake looking. No mess! Good quality brush, excellent quality powder. Why didn't someone think of this many years ago? Perfect solution for travel or home. Great buy of a great product!”

Expert:

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