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When it comes to sunscreen shopping, there are a few non-negotiable boxes that have to be checked. One, making sure it’s a broad-spectrum formula (AKA that it shields your skin from both UVA and UVB rays). Two, it should (ideally) have at least an SPF 30, the minimum protection level recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.
But after that, the choices are pretty much up to you. Do you want physical or chemical protection? As a quick reminder, the former uses minerals that sit on top of your skin to deflect rays; the latter penetrate your skin to prevent UV rays from damaging the skin cells. Lotion, powder, or stick? There’s also the question of tinted or not.
Again, it’s totally your call, but allow us to sing the praises of tinted sunscreens for a minute. A little bit of tint helps counteract any chalky residue, ensuring you don’t end up looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost; this is especially important for mineral formulas. “Mineral sunscreens can leave behind a white cast on the skin, and adding a tint helps counteract this so that the formula blends in better,” explains dermatologist Dr. Rina Allawh of Schweiger Dermatology Group in King of Prussia, PA. Also worth noting: The ‘tint’ in many tinted formulas comes from iron oxides, which just so happen to protect your skin from blue light exposure, according to Allawh. Not to mention that tinted formulas are ideal for daily use, providing that oh-so-important sun protection while also evening out your skin tone and camouflaging blemishes in one fell swoop.
Convinced you should try one? Check out the best-tinted sunscreens below.
Best Overall: Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36
Forget sunscreens, this is arguably one of our favorite skincare products of all time. We recommend it to at least five people weekly and won’t leave home without it. What makes it so good? For starters, it delivers what we deem the perfect amount of hydration—creamy enough that you can skip moisturizer if you’re in a rush, but still lightweight enough that it never feels heavy or greasy. It blends in beautifully, and the universal tint delivers a surprising amount of coverage, not to mention works well on most skin tones. Bonus points for the radiant finish that makes it ideal to wear solo, though it layers beautifully under makeup, too.
Best Overall, Runner-Up: SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
Ideal for all skin types, even the sensitive set, this mineral block is paraben and fragrance-free, as well as non-comedogenic. Translucent color spheres give it a subtle tint that’s just enough to even out your complexion, and because it’s water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, it’s one of our go-to's for outdoor workouts or beach days. Also worth noting: It contains a plankton extract that increases your skin’s resistance to UV- and heat-induced stress, according to the brand. Yes, please.
Best Drugstore: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen For Face SPF 50
Drugstore skincare fans should check out this affordable pick, one of Allawh’s favorites. She lauds the lightweight texture, great for those who don’t want a thicker-feeling cream. It also delivers SPF 50, making it a great option for beach or pool days. (Just make sure to reapply after 40 minutes in the water.)
Give it a good shake before using.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Avène Mineral Tinted Compact SPF 50
This mineral protector is ideal for even super sensitive skin types and offers a non-greasy matte finish, which is a great choice if you skew oily. The cream-to-powder packs buildable coverage, too, and there are shades for both lighter and darker complexions. Toss it in your purse for easy reapplication throughout the day.
Best Powder: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
Breaking news: You really should be re-applying sunscreen every two hours. It’s an admittedly lofty goal, but pick up this guy and trust us, you can do it. One of our all-time faves, it’s easy to quickly brush on this block wherever, whenever. Because it’s a powder, it won’t mess up your makeup, and it also comes in four shades. And let’s not forget to mention that it protects against UV rays, pollution, radiation, and blue light.
Best for Fair Skin: Peter Thomas Roth Max Mineral Naked Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Lotion
This all-mineral option promises to shield your skin with a combo of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, then ups the ante with antioxidants vitamins A, C, & E meant for extra protection. Though it only comes in one shade, it blends well with most light to medium skin tones. And we’re especially big fans of the subtle luminosity it imparts, thanks to the addition of diamond (yes, diamond) powder.
Best for Medium Skin: EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41
A favorite of Allawh’s, she says this contains those great iron oxides mentioned earlier, along with a synergistic combo of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to offer broad-spectrum protection. Fragrance- and oil-free, it’s a great pick for sensitive and acne-prone skin alike. It only comes in one tone, a good, middle-of-the-road option that works for most medium complexions.
Best for Dark Skin: AbsoluteJOI Daily Hydrating Moisturizing Cream with Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40
At long last comes a tinted sunscreen that’s dedicated solely to those with darker skin. This formula is in fact super hydrating; think of it as a moisturizer that just happens to contain your daily dose of SPF (SPF 40, to be specific) and a perfect amount of light coverage. Speaking of, it comes in two dark skin-geared shades, both of which blend beautifully with many skin tones.
Best Sheer Coverage: Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen
The color in this newbie is super sheer, better for imparting just a little bit of a glow rather than coverage (but because it's so feather-light, it works even on darker skin). It’s also one of the smoothest, silkiest mineral ‘screens we’ve ever tried and boasts an affordable price tag to boot.
Best for Dry Skin: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
Promising to hydrate skin for up to 12 hours (thank you, hyaluronic acid), and with radiant, buildable coverage, this is a top-notch tinted moisturizer in and of itself. Added SPF protection is just the cherry on top, coupled with the fact that there are also nine colors—the most of any product in this round-up.
Best for Oily Skin: Cotz Face Prime & Protect SPF 40 Tinted
“This is an excellent product for those with acne-prone or oily skin,” says Allawh of this oil-free guy. We also love it because it does in fact act as a primer, meaning it layers beautifully under makeup. (So yes, you’ll actually want to put it on every morning.) And those who prefer to go makeup-free will appreciate how silky it feels, even on its own.
Best With Benefits: Isdin Eryfotona Ageless Ultralight Tinted Mineral Sunscreen
Sure, the name is a mouthful, but this formula is all business. Along with the requisite broad-spectrum SPF 50 that helps prevent future sun damage, it contains a unique ingredient, DNA Reparisomes, which work to help undo existing damage, according to the brand. There are also anti-aging peptides and protective antioxidants in the mix, too.
Use a tinted sunscreen once, and we’re very willing to bet that you’ll never go back. The Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 (view at Alastin) is our ride-or-die favorite because it's plenty hydrating and leaves skin beautifully glowy. For those with dry skin, the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 (view at Dermstore) can’t be beaten, and also comes in an impressive array of nine shades. Speaking of, anyone with darker skin should check out the AbsoluteJOI Daily Hydrating Moisturizing Cream (view at AbsoluteJOI), while the featherweight La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen For Face SPF 50 (view at Ulta) and super sheer Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen (view at Bliss) are your best bet if you’re all about wallet-friendly skincare.
What to Look for in a Tinted Sunscreen
According to Allawh, if you can find a formula that contains these you’ll get extra bang for your buck since they help shield skin from blue light, which can also be damaging.
As always, make sure you’re using a formula that contains a broad spectrum of at least SPF 30, the level recommended for daily use by the American Academy of Dermatology.
Consider Your Skin Concerns
There are plenty of tinted moisturizers out there that suit all different skin types. For example, if you’re prone to breakouts and/or have oily skin, look for oil-free and non-comedogenic formulas. Meanwhile, if you have dry skin, look for a formula that includes hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Sunscreen is hands down her favorite beauty product, particularly a tinted option. (Specifically, she’s OBSESSED with the Alastin option on this list.)
Meet the Expert
Dr. Rina Allawh is a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in King of Prussia, PA. She has a special focus on skin cancer prevention and management.