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Dermatologists’ Recommended Sunscreens for Different Skin Types

June 21, 2018

When it comes to sunscreen today, there’s no shortage of options. And while you have plenty of choices, it’s important that you find the one that is right for you.

“All sunscreens are not created equal and neither is our skin,” says Dr. Katy Lane, a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon at U.S. Dermatology Partners Shoal Creek near Liberty in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Today you have many choices, which means that you can find the one that works best for each member of your family.”

Here’s a look at some of Dr. Lane’s picks for best sunscreens:

The Best Sunscreen for Children

Since children have sensitive skin, look for mineral-based sunscreens with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Some of Dr. Lane’s favorite brands are Blue Lizard, Badger Kids, California Baby, Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby and Thinkbaby.

“Avoid aerosolized sunscreens in children because of the risk of them inhaling it,” she advises.

Since it’s often difficult to put sunscreen on young, wiggly children, consider looking into clothing with UV protection. Brands like Coolibar and UV Skinz offer cute designs, but also have features like a chin strap to keep hats in place and flaps that extend the coverage area.

“Remember that sunscreen is not approved for use in children under the age of six months, so until then, you’re going to want to use sun protective clothing, sun shades and other sun protective measures,” she adds.

The Best Sunscreen for Your Face

Using a tinted sunscreen can give you a touch of color, as well great coverage. Dr. Lane prefers a tinted mineral-base sunscreen that can be applied either under makeup or used on its own. Her favorite brands are Elta MDSkinMedica Total Defense Tinted Repair and La Roche-Posay Anthelios Daily Primer.

“For touch-ups on the go, Colorescience’s Sunforgettable Mineral Sunscreen brush is a powder that can be quickly brushed on the face and back of the hands,” she says.

The Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

Just as with children, people who have sensitive skin often have better success with mineral-based sunscreens, which won’t be as irritating to the skin as chemical-based options.

“Brands I have had success with include Vanicream and Blue Lizard,” Dr. Lane recommends.

The Best Sunscreen for Dry Skin

Dry skin can benefit from a two-in-one sunscreen that has a moisturizer to quench your skin while it protects you.

Good combination products that moisturize and protect include Shesiedo Wet Force, Neutrogena Healthy Defense, Cetaphil PRO Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30 and La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Sunscreen Milk.

The Best Sunscreen for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

Keeping your pores from getting clogged while at the same time making sure your skin is protected from harmful UV rays means that you probably want to look for a sunscreen created with acne-prone skin in mind. “Look for sunscreens that are noncomedogenic and oil-free,” Dr. Lane advises. “Some of my favorites are Elta MD UV Clear, SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense and Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion.”

The Best Sunscreen for People with Skin of Color

Darker skin can often end up looking chalky after being slathered with a thick, mineral-based sunscreen. Fortunately, there are some good alternatives on the market that provide the kind of SPF protection you need without giving skin that streaked, white or chalky appearance. Two of Dr. Lane’s favorites are Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen and Glossier Invisible Shield.

The Best Sunscreen for People Who Have Had Skin Cancer

Individuals with a history of skin cancer need to take extra precautions when it comes to protecting their skin, Dr. Lane says.

“You will want to use the highest SPF you can find, and you need to use it every time you go outside. “

Although experts had previously reported that there’s not much of a protection advantage to using sunscreen with a SPF above 30, more recent findings have reversed that way of thinking.

“The newest studies show that people wearing 100 SPF are less likely than those wearing 30 to get sunburned,” she adds.

If you’ve had Mohs surgery, you’ll also want to use a non-chemical sunscreen to protect your sensitive skin.

The Best Sunscreen for People with Eczema/Psoriasis

For people suffering from eczema or psoriasis, Dr. Lane recommends following the same guidelines as those with sensitive skin: Look for mineral-based brands, which will be gentler on your skin than chemical-based brands.

The Best Sunscreen Overall

While you can find sunscreen tailored to the specific needs of every member of your family, sometimes you might not want to have the hassle of using different sunscreens. In that case, Dr. Rhea Phillips, a board-certified dermatologist at U.S. Dermatology Partners of Dallas Preston Center in Dallas, Texas, recommends using EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 sunscreen, which not only provides a high level of protection, but also is designed not to clog pores or cause reactions in people with sensitivities.

“And, since it’s made with hyaluronic acid, it actually helps keep your skin moisturized and healthy,” Dr. Phillips says.

The Best Sunscreen for You

Finally, remember that the best choice of sunscreen varies from one person to the next, Dr. Lane reminds. If you’re using an aerosol sunscreen, keep in mind that sprays go on thinner than recommended, so you will need to reapply more often that with conventional creams and lotions.

“The best sunscreen is the one that you are willing to put on,” she says. “Find one you love, and use it every day.”

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