Not All SPFs Are Created Equal—‘Vogue’ Editors Share Their Favorites

Not All SPFs Are Created Equal—‘Vogue’ Editors Share Their Favorites

Summer is officially here, and with so much time spent outdoors in the heat, practicing safe sun by applying sunscreen is top of mind. While there are plenty of sunscreens on the market to choose from, there are certain considerations to keep in mind when purchasing a new bottle of SPF.  

When it comes to safeguarding your skin, opt for broad-spectrum SPF (this means it will protect you from UVA and UVB rays) 30 or higher. According to New York City dermatologist Julie Karen, MD, it’s important to apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before heading outside and to re-apply every two hours (or sooner if you happen to be swimming or sweating). Lisa Airon, MD explains that “SPF above 30 is not exponentially stronger…SPF 100 is not three times as strong, only slightly stronger.” 

SPF is measured by concentration on the skin, so you do need to apply the right amount in order to get the SPF number advertised on the bottle. Just how much should you apply? “An 8-ounce bottle is good for 8 applications,” Airon Shares. Dermatologist Omer Ibrahim, MD, seconds that sentiment, “Ideally sunscreen should be applied to the entire body (about 1 ounce or a shot glass’s amount of sunscreen is enough to cover the body); for the face, typically two lines of sunscreen (one on the index finger, and one on the middle finger) are enough to cover the face,” Ibrahim explains.

Another SPF consideration is whether to opt for a mineral or chemical sunscreen. Ibrahim breaks down the difference. “Chemical sunscreens work like a sponge, absorbing the sun’s rays,” Ibrahim tells Vogue. “Physical sunscreens (also known as mineral) act like a shield. They sit on the surface of the skin, deflecting the sun’s rays.” While chemical sunscreens rub into the skin easier without leaving any white residue, those with more sensitive skin, as Ibrahim recommends, should opt for a mineral sunscreen. 

While that can sound like a lot to keep in mind as you head out this summer, we’ve polled our editors for their tried-and-true sunscreens that not only fit the dermatologist’s bill, help to make application (and reapplication!) that much easier.  

Celia Ellenberg, Beauty and Wellness Director

I have written about my serious approach to sun care a fair bit for this website over the last few months, but it can’t be said enough: Wear sunscreen. But not just any sunscreen. For face, my go-to, daily mineral formulation—which is great for sensitive types, and anyone hoping to do their part for ocean reef conservation—is MD Solar Science’s tinted lotion, which doesn’t leave behind a white residue and is a great base layer for makeup. To kick it up a notch, I rely on Anthelios Clear Skin Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 60, which no beach can contend with. And for body, don’t overthink it: Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Lotion SPF 30 feels great, smells great, and works great.

MD Solar Sciences mineral tinted creme SPF 30

La Roche Posay Anthelios Sunscreen- SPF 60

Hawaiian Tropic SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen, twin pack

Ella Riley-Adams, Senior Living and Beauty Editor

I love the smell, feel, and effect of Shiseido’s 50+ SPF sunscreen stick, which goes on clear and stays put during a surf session. I typically just use it on my face, but after forgetting other formulas on a recent trip to Mexico, I ended up using it all over my body. And for those who want their sunscreen to complete a tropical photo-op, the brand’s collaboration with Tory Burch—decorated with adorable blooms—is a must-buy.

Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+

Tory Burch x Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+

Alexis Bennett, Commerce Writer

Sunscreen is one of the most important parts of my skincare routine (I’m trying to minimize sun damage and cut down on UV exposure-induced wrinkles for as long as possible). However, it’s been hard to find a formula that doesn’t leave a pasty, white film on my brown skin. The only one that’s been able to get the job done for me is Supergoop’s clear formula. Well, there are actually two formulas that I rely on. The Unseen Sunscreen provides a silky, smooth base layer under my makeup. And when I’m not wearing foundation or I’m rushing out of the door, the gel stick glides on quickly and easily, so no messy creams all over the place. Plus, I love the way it gives my skin a silky, dewy glow.

Supergoop! Glow Stick SPF 50 Sunscreen

Supergoop! Glow Stick SPF 50 Sunscreen

Rachel Besser, Market Editor

There are three sunscreens I rotate between at present. Elta MD’s UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is my tried-and-true. I have dry skin and their formula is the last step in my AM routine that leaves me feeling dewy and hydrated. Thanks to the niacinamide in the formula, it feels like I’m treating my skin while protecting it. Second is the Supergoop! Glow stick which I keep in my bag at all times. It’s easy to throw into a purse without worrying about a potential mess, and the easy-on glowy formula makes me want to swipe more on my face and hands throughout the day. Lastly, I’ve been using Paula’s Choice essential glow moisturizer SPF 30 as well. Another glow-inducing formula that’s all-mineral sun protection and looks good underneath makeup, too. I’ve started to use it as a primer of sorts when I go out since the sun doesn’t set until late in the summer.

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30

Michella Oré, Beauty Assistant

Neogen released their Airy Sunscreen earlier this summer and I’ve been hooked since my first application. Not only does it feel weightless, but it’s also a surprisingly hydrating formula that pairs well with humidity and recent heatwaves that have left my skin feeling more dehydrated than usual. With a blend of plant extracts and essential oils, my skin feels well protected and nourished.

Neogen day-light protection airy sunscreen

 Puja Prakash, Senior Social Media Manager

This SPF + moisturizer is so hydrating. It doesn’t leave behind a white cast and leaves your skin glowing and feeling so dewy. It’s been a favorite for years.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV SPF 30

Lilah Ramzi, Features and Shopping Editor

Fun Fact: I (a very pale-skinned individual) turned up to a Dr. Barbara Sturm event with a terrible sunburn. Upon seeing me, she gasped and whipped out of her purse her Sun Drops (I’m sure she carries her entire arsenal, because, you never know!) and began rubbing my red shoulders with it. Since, I’ve been using the drops on my face and I have to say I love how it feels. I mix a couple of drops within my moisturizer or foundation and I’m good with sun protection all day long. For my body, I love Supergoop! as I’m sure most all the editors here do. I love all their products but I’m most adamant that whichever sunscreen I buy be travel-sized. Too many times when traveling have I had to leave behind my lotion because it doesn’t pass TSA guidelines. 

Supergoop! Mini Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++

Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF 50

 Atalie Gimmel, Social Media Manager

SPF should also be worn on your lips. Period. (I was initially late to this practice, but I now swear by it.) This formula is coconut-oil-based, actually makes my lips feel moisturized throughout the day, and protects my lips from the sun. Triple win. 

Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 30

Rickie De Sole, Executive Fashion Director

I love this french drugstore classic, the Avène tinted sunscreen. After years of combining two products—a tinted moisturizer and a sunscreen—I was relieved to find this one product that did it all. I use just a small dime size drop of it so the coverage stays light on my pale skin. It spreads easily once out of the bottle and gives me a healthy-looking glow. I also love that it is scentless. 

Avène Spf 50+ Tinted Sunscreen

Julie Tong, Senior Commerce Editor

I’m a big fan of Habit’s previously sold-out spray sunscreen. I love to keep it in my bag for a quick spritz on my face in the morning before I go outside. It feels refreshing on, with hints of rose geranium, lavender, and rosemary. It’s hard to believe it actually protects my skin, but it does! For long days at the beach, I love using Sun Bum’s creamy sunscreen. It smells like refreshing coconut while leaving my skin feeling well moisturized and soothed while still providing all the sun protection needed during the dog days of summer.

Habit Skin N°41 Mister SPF Mist

Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

Madeline Fass, Market Editor

For days I want to look like I have makeup on and still be protected from the sun, Dr.Jart’s Cicapair products with SPF are the ideal option. A few drops of this green goodness will make your face look even and glowy, without being heavy or tinted—it’s my go-to for all occasions before the sun goes down and after the sun sets, I like to wear it in lieu of foundation out at night too! For my body, I like to go with a high SPF and always try to apply before I leave my house in the summer (spraying on the beach or by the pool is not fun!)—just be sure to rub it in so you’re fully covered. 

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Camo Drops SPF 35

Sun Bum Sunscreen Spray SPF 50

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