What are the best high SPF sunscreens? And should you even use one?
Rumour on the street has it, high SPF sunscreens give you a false sense of security. You think you’re better protected, so you don’t bother touching it up… or applying enough in the first place.
Imo, that’s true of ANY sunscreen. This stuff is thick. Greasy. White. A total pain to reapply with makeup on. If you didn’t have to use it, you wouldn’t.
All the more reason to go with a high SPF sunscreen. While SPF 30 still lets 3% of UV rays hit your skin, SPF 100 only lets 1% of UV rays through. In other words, SPF 100 works 3x better than SPF 30!
Research confirms this. A 2018 study tested sunscreen in real life, the way real people use it. Participants used SPF 50 on one side of the face and SPF 100 on the other, and then took part in a number of outdoor activities.
The results? SPF 100+ sunscreen protects you better against sunburn than SPF 50+!
Unfortunately, governments haven’t caught up on this research, yet. Some countries ban sunscreens with a SPF higher than 50. That’s why you see SPF 50+ a lot lately!
Question is, which ones are worth getting? Here are the best high SPF (50+ ) sunscreens to keep you safe all summer long… and beyond:
- Best High SPF Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin: Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50+ Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00)
- Best High SPF Sunscreen For Oily Skin: La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60 ($19.99)
- Best Antiaging High SPF Sunscreen: Replenix Ultra Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50 Plus ($40.00)
- Best High SPF Sunscreen For Dry Skin: Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 60 Soft Sheer Sunscreen Lotion ($30.50)
- Best High SPF Sunscreen On A Budget: Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 70 ($10.49)
Best High SPF Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin: Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50+ Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00)
I’m not gonna lie. Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50+ Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children leaves a noticeable white cast on your skin. Chalk it up to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, two white mineral UV filters that provide broad spectrum sun protection without the irritation. They’re so gentle, even babies can use them! The catch? You need to use so much of them to reach SPF 50+, they make you look a bit like Caspar The Ghost. But hey, it’s nothing a bit of foundation can’t fix. Plus, Shiseido sprinkled in a few antioxidants to fight free radicals and keep your skin young. If your skin’s sensitive, it’s well worth a try.
Available at: Nordstrom, Sephora and Ulta
Related: 3 Reasons Mineral Sunscreen Is Better For Sensitive Skin
Is your sunscreen up to the job? Download your FREE “Sunscreen Audit” cheatsheet to find out if your sunscreen is both effective AND safe:
Best High SPF Sunscreen For Oily Skin: La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60 ($19.99)
Lost all hope of finding a wearable sunscreen for your oily, breakout-prone skin? Give La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60 a try. For starters, it has a creamy texture that dries down quickly – no dreaded greasy cast here. The best part? It helps absorb excess oil, so you won’t have to blot your face every 5 minutes. It can also withstand heat, humidity and up until 80 minutes in water! Make no mistake, you still have to reapply it during the day – especially if you sweat a lot. But it does offer better protection than most sunscreens out there – and in a texture oily skin will love.
Available at: Blue Mercury, Ulta and Walgreens
Related: What Are The Best Sunscreens For Oily Skin?
Best Antiaging High SPF Sunscreen: Replenix Ultra Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50 Plus ($40.00)
Best for oily to combination skin, Replenix Ultra Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50 Plus has a lightweight texture that dries down to a soft matte finish. It’s loaded to the brim with antioxidants – including Vitamin C, green tea and resveratrol – that enhance sun protection. Remember that 1 or 2% of UV rays high SPF sunscreens still let through? They end up forming free radicals, nasty molecules that give you wrinkles and dark spots. Antioxidants neutralise them before they can wreak any real damage. Phew!
Available at: Dermstore
Related: What Are The Most Common Antioxidants In Skincare Products?
Best High SPF Sunscreen For Dry Skin: Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 60 Soft Sheer Sunscreen Lotion ($30.50)
Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 60 Soft Sheer Sunscreen Lotion has a creamy lotion texture that dries to a smooth, non-greasy finish. Its formula is pretty basic, but effective: it protects skin from both UVA and UVB rays and keeps it safe and moisturised for hours. In other words, it does what a good sunscreen is supposed to do. If you’ve got dry skin, you’ll find this a pleasure to use. The best part? It’s 100% fragrance-free.
Available at: Dermstore
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin
Best High SPF Sunscreen On A Budget: Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 70 ($10.49)
If you’re on a budget, look no further than Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 70. It has a lightweight, almost runny texture that absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue or white cast behind. It provides excellent sun protection from ALL UV rays (but you still need to reapply it during the day). It’s water-resistant, making it a great option for the beach, too. The catch? It uses a high amount of synthetic UV filters to reach SPF 70. You know what that means? If you have sensitive skin, this can be too irritating for you.
Available at: Walmart