As Featured in The New York Post
While we always have our facial sunscreens at the ready, it’s a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone situation if your moisturizer is pre-infused with SPF (though, dermatologists recommend reapplying throughout the day).
That said, we compiled this year’s edit of the 21 best moisturizers with SPF — tinted moisturizers accounted for, too. Aside from the best hyaluronic acid skincare and retinol creams, it’s always in our makeup bags.
Turning to four board-certified dermatologists to give us all their best practices, we also curated an FAQ section for what ingredients to look for, how to apply and more.
Click to jump to the best moisturizers with SPF:
Why is it important to wear SPF on your face?
Much like protecting your body from the UV rays in the summertime, your face is another prime area that should be lathered up.
“While it’s important to protect your entire body, the face is especially vulnerable to sun damage — it’s rarely covered by clothing and is exposed to the sun year-round,” Jesse M. Lewin, MD, a Mohs Micrographic and Dermatologic Surgeon practicing in New York and a spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation, told the New York Post. “Daily sunscreen use is an important part of a complete sun protection strategy that includes seeking shade during peak sun hours (10 am to 4 pm) and covering up with UPF clothing, wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.”
What’s more, one study found that regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, by 50 percent.
Should I apply a moisturizer with SPF before facial sunscreen?
“A moisturizer with SPF and good UVA filtering ingredients should provide adequate coverage on its own if applied correctly,” Marie Hayag, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics, told the Post. “However, I do recommend another SPF, preferably a physical block sunscreen, on top if you will be outdoors for more than two hours or if you’re in the intense sun such as sunny vacations, high altitude skiing and hiking or outdoor sports.”
Applying a moisturizer before your facial SPF is absolutely fine, too, as long as you aren’t decreasing the application of the volume of facial SPF. “To achieve the SPF level marketed on the bottle, the product needs to be applied appropriately, about ‘two-finger lengths’ of sunscreen for your entire face,” Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC, told the Post. “You can apply moisturizer before or after, but make sure you’re applying the minimum required sunscreen in between.”
What amount of SPF is best?
While any type of sunscreen can be deemed “good,” it’s important to follow the baseline recommendations for using SPF on your face.
“If your facial moisturizer contains an SPF that’s at least 30 and titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as an active ingredient, that’s really all you need,” Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a dual board-certified dermatologist and founder of NYC’s Mudgil Dermatology PC, told the Post. “Anything that doesn’t would require an additional sunscreen that meets my minimum criteria (namely, a minimum SPF 30 containing titanium or zinc).”
What other ingredients in a moisturizer should I look for besides SPF?
According to Hayag, look for ingredients that protect against blue light such as iron oxides and also antioxidant ingredients like vitamins C and E. “Formulations that contain HEV (high energy visible) blue light photons have higher energy than other wavelengths of light in the visible spectrum and penetrate deeper into the skin than UVA and UVB rays,” Hayag adds.
Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide — physical blockers of the sun’s rays — also provide protection against skin cancer and photoaging, Mudgil notes.
The best ingredients for sensitive or acne-prone skin
“If you’re aiming to use a hydrating SPF, look for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, squalane, and niacinamide,” Nazarian highlights. “Sensitive skin does well with ingredients such as glycerin and squalane — which are hydrating and calming — and sensitive skin tolerates mineral blockers such as zinc and titanium better than chemical sunscreen ingredients”
Moreover, acne-prone skin “works well with sunscreens containing lactic acid, niacinamide, and those that are labeled ‘noncomedogenic,’ ensuring other ingredients in the product don’t clog pores,” she explains.
The best ingredients for dry or oily skin
If you have naturally dry skin or it’s wintertime, consider choosing a moisturizing sunscreen with ingredients like lanolin or glycerin to combat dryness, per Lewin. An oil-free or mattifying moisturizer might be better for humid summer days or those with oily skin, too.
“Many moisturizing sunscreens on the market today include different combinations of skincare ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides and peptides. Depending on your skincare concerns, you can choose a moisturizer that will address both sun protection and issues like uneven skin tone or acne, but it can be helpful to discuss this with your dermatologist.”