We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, if you’re not using an SPF as part of your daily skincare routine, then you may as well throw all your other products out the window. In 2021 it’s no secret that wearing a daily sunscreen is essential—not just for the anti-ageing benefits (see: inflammation, brown spots and fine lines) but also for the protection it provides against the very real risk of skin cancer.
So, why is it that many of us are still failing to wear SPF? Often the reason is as simple as we haven’t found the right product for our specific needs. Thankfully, sunscreen formulas have come a long way and we now have access to sophisticated products that make the process of protecting our skin much more enjoyable, whilst also offering up additional skincare benefits.
Whether you're looking for a product that won't break you out, an affordable option, or a dose of glow with your protection, we've pulled together a list of the best sunscreens to buy across a multitude of categories, below.
Best All-Rounder Face Sunscreen
EVERYDAY HUMANS RESTING BEACH FACE SPF30 SUNSCREEN SERUM | $41
This hydrating, fast-absorbing and non-sticky sunscreen feels more like applying a serum than it does an SPF, that’s why it takes our pick as the best all-rounder on our list. The bonus addition of antioxidant-rich green tea provides added protection against free radicals and hyaluronic acid gives a juicy, dewy and hydrating finish that looks just as nice worn on its own as it does under makeup, all while guarding against harmful UV rays. Shop it here.
Runner Up: SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial Defense SPF50
Best Moisturiser-Sunscreen Combo
Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF50 | $45
If you're looking for all the protection without any of the fuss, this three-in-one product should be at the top of your list. Cleverly combining the protection of sunscreen, with the hydration of moisturiser and the skin prep of primer, there’s literally no excuse not to wear your SPF every day when it's this easy. Beyond some seriously great UVA and UVB protection, this product also has you covered when it comes to additional anti-ageing, skin improving and pollution protection benefits thanks to its line up of Australian native antioxidants. Shop it here.
Best Pharmacy Sunscreen
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF50 | $15.49
If you’re after a budget-friendly option you won’t be disappointed with this gel-texture sunscreen. Applying the water-gel lotion to the skin feels the exact opposite of what you expect your old-school sunscreen to feel like—it’s cool and soothing and dries down quickly, leaving barely a trace that you’ve actually applied an SPF (besides the SPF50+ protection of course). While this product has a non-greasy finish, it leaves the skin looking fresh and hydrated so will work well as a base under makeup, even on more sensitive or oily skins. Shop it here.
Best High-End Sunscreen
Rationale B3-T Tinted Superfluid SPF50 | $77
The Rationale brand puts a particular focus on sun protection, so it’s no surprise their sunscreen is one of the best. On application, the super-liquid formula feels almost oil-like, however it quickly dries down to leave behind a lightweight film that not only looks hydrated and radiant but provides superior protection. As a bonus, this formula also helps to repair and reinforce the skin barrier while you wear it and offers protection against the full sunlight spectrum of UV, including visible light and infrared. Shop it here.
Runner Up: Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF50
Best Sunscreen For Oil Control
Dermalogica Oil Free Matte SPF 30 | $85
If you’re looking for a sunscreen with some serious oil-controlling powers, then this is our pick. Designed specifically for oily and problem-prone skin, this SPF30 will protect against damaging UV rays while simultaneously keeping you shine-free (thanks to the addition of oil-absorbers). The ultra-sheer formula also contains ingredients that work to soothe inflammation and help control acne triggers without leaving a thick or heavy film on the skin. Shop it here.
Best Sunscreen For Glow
Ultra Violette Queen Screen SPF50+ | $47
If you like a side of glow served up with your daily SPF then look no further than this product. With its luxe dropper bottle, this sunscreen feels more like applying a fancy serum than it does an SPF. The super lightweight and liquid formula will leave even the driest of skins looking seriously glowy without any thick or heavy feeling. While it might look dewy, this formula is free from oils and full of skin-loving native Australia antioxidants for an added good skin boost. Also, did we mention it smells like fresh roses?! Shop it here.
Runner Up: SUPERGOOP! Glowscreen SPF40
Best Sunscreen For Sensitive Souls
Elta MD Clear Facial Sunscreen SPF 46 | $56
While it’s not the easiest product to get hold of on Australian shores, this sunscreen formula has long been a go to when it comes to caring and protecting both sensitive and sensitised post-procedure skin. Thanks to its weightless feel and fragrance-free formula this broad spectrum sunscreen is a great option for those managing skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea. This product also goes the extra mile with the combination of niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and lactic acid to help treat inflammation, regulate sebum buildup and hydrate the skin. Shop it here.
Runner Up: Ultra Violette Lean Screen SPF50
Best Sunscreen For Breakouts
tbhskincare Skin Shady 50+ | $42
When you’re breakout-prone, introducing new products into your routine - especially SPF - can feel like playing reaction roulette. Luckly, this new launch from acne-specific brand, tbhskincare caters exactly to this dilemma. The broad spectrum sunscreen offers protection against UVA and UVB rays, while its super-lightweight feel and oil-free matte finish works perfectly to protect and prime skin for makeup application without breaking you out in the process. Shop it here.
Best Sunscreen For Dark Skin Tones
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+ | $29.95
A go-to for some of the most sophisticated formulas at an affordable price point, this newly added lightweight and milky formula from La Roche-Posay is no different. The fragrance-free and dermatologically tested formula wears beautiful on the skin and provides SPF50+ protection, all while looking undetectable—meaning those with darker skin tones don’t need to compromise on their level of protection to find a formula that won’t leave any discolouration or grey cast. While specifically formatted for sensitive skin types, this is suitable for almost anyone and sits perfectly under makeup or in lieu of moisturiser for more oily skins. Shop it here.
Runner Up: Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense SPF30
Best Mineral Sunscreen
Emma Lewisham Skin Shield Broad Spectrum SPF30 Sunscreen | $55
As far as mineral sunscreens go, this multitasking formula is high on our list for good reason. Not only does the sophisticated zinc oxide formula protect against UVA and UVB rays, this 100% natural sunscreen doesn’t make any compromises on high performance or luxury feel. While a lot of zinc or mineral-based sunscreens can often feel heavy or greasy, we found this formula applies smoothly, while antioxidants, vitamins and omega fatty acids work to restore moisture levels, protect your skin from the elements and promote a generally more radiant and even-looking complexion. Shop it here.
Runner Up: Ultra Violette Lean Screen SPF50+
Best Brush On Sunscreen
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush SPF30 | $99
Your answer to the age-old question of how to top up your sunscreen throughout the day is this clever little preloaded powder brush. The tinted powder gets its SPF30 sun protection from its physical sun filters, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, while the additional antioxidants work to protect against free radicals. While this convenient application method is perfect for those who prefer a more matte finish or don’t typically like the feel of a spray, we wouldn’t recommend this as your only line of defence, rather a convenient and mess-free way to top up your SPF protection on the go. Shop it here.
Best Sunscreen Mist For Face
Supergoop Defense Refresh (Re)setting Mist SPF 40 | $20.25
While we don’t suggest this should be the only SPF in your skincare line up, this mist from Supergoop was specifically designed for both refreshing, setting and topping up your sunscreen throughout the day. Simply spray the mist for some extra protection as required, and it will dry down for a refreshed finish without disrupting the makeup or skincare you applied earlier. We suggest keeping this product close at hand (such as in your bag or on your desk) for quick and hands-free re-application. Shop it here.
Best Travel-Friendly Sunscreen
Mesoestetic Mesoprotech Sun Stick 100 | $49.80
Designed for use on-the-go this tiny sun stick packs some seriously high sun protection in a little—and very travel-friendly—package. The stick formula means you don’t need to worry about any leaks or liquid restrictions and the twist-up design makes it easy to top up your protection. Originally designed for easy application of target areas (such as the eyes and lips), it can be used all over and wears well on both bare skin and under makeup thanks to its sophisticated blend of physical, biological and chemical sunscreen filters. Shop it here.
Runner Up: Ultra Violette Mini Screen Collection
Best Sunscreen For Hands
SUPERGOOP! HandScreen SPF40 | $54.67
This luxurious cream not only offers specialised protection for one of the most sun-exposed parts of your body (your hands!) but also provides hydration and nourishment thanks to the addition of skin-softening omega and argan oils. Also, don’t fear that this will feel like rubbing a thick and gloopy SPF between your fingers. We promise this product feels more parts luxury hand cream than it does a traditional SPF. Shop it here.
Best Everyday Sunscreen For Body
Everyday Humans Oh My Bod! SPF50 Body Sunscreen | $31
While most body sunscreens are formulated for a day at the beach, this one was specifically designed with everyday wear in mind. This means you won’t need to contend with any of the not-so-desirable issues that come with your typical body sunscreens, such as greasy residue, product rubbing off on your clothes or a super-strong SPF smell. Feeling more akin to your favourite body moisturiser, this formula sinks in quickly and dries down to a matte but hydrated finish that will save you from both dry skin and sunburn on a daily basis. Shop it here.
Meanwhile, here's what order you should apply your skincare in.
Image credit: Ben Pham
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