The Complete Guide To Paula’s Choice Sunscreens: Which One Is Right For You?

by Gio
best paula's choice sunscreen guide

My biggest pet peeve with Paula’s Choice?

They call their sunscreens “moisturisers with SPF.” It’s not just semantics. Or being picky. Words matter.

You’re used to apply a lightweight layer of moisturiser and move on with your day. That’s it. Done.

But sunscreen needs a generous application – and frequent touch-ups – to provide adequate sun protection.

A moisturiser with SPF provides adequate protection only if you use it as a sunscreen. So can’t we just call it sunscreen and avoid all the confusion?

And while we’re on the subject, can’t you make fewer sunscreen? I mean… Paula’s Choice offers more than a dozen sunscreens. How the heck do you pick one?

Fret not. Here’s the complete guide to Paula’s Choice sunscreens so you can pick the right one for your skin type, lifestyle, and needs:

Table Of Contents

Best Sunscreen For Oily Skin

If You Have Oily And Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 ($33.00)

Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 is the sunscreen I recommend to all my oily-skinned clients and they all fall in love with it, too. What’s so special about it? It’s the most lightweight mineral sunscreen I’ve ever come across. It’s gentle on the skin, yet it provides excellent broad spectrum protection. It has a slight tint to counteract any white cast and dries to a matte finish that keeps oil at a bay for a few hours. Not to mention, it has its fair share of antioxidants to boost sun protection. The catch? The bottle is small and won’t last you too long.

Available at: Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Feel Unique, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Oily Skin

If You Have Oily And Irritated Skin: Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer For Normal To Oily Skin ($29.00)

Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer For Normal To Oily Skin uses mineral filters that protect skin without aggravating irritated areas. Plus, it’s loaded with soothing ingredients – like aloe vera and chamomile – to reduce redness and other symptoms of irritation. The texture is lightweight, but not tinted. You know what that means? It could leave a white cast on your skin. Unless your skin is super delicate, Super-Light Wrinkle Defense is a better everyday option for sensitive skin.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: How To Take Care Of Sensitive Skin

If You Need A Higher SPF: Paula’s Choice Resist Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 ($33.00)

If you prefer a higher SPF during the summer, Paula’s Choice Resist Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 has got you covered. It uses chemical filters (think avobenzone & co) instead than mineral ones, but it still has oil-absorbing properties and a higher concentration of antioxidants to boost sun protection and keep wrinkles at bay. Did I mention it makes your skin matte without leaving a greasy residue?

Available at: Dermstore, Feel Unique, and Paula’s Choice

Related: Take A Number: How To Choose The Right SPF For You


Need help creating the best skincare routine for you oily skin? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Oily Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).


If You Have Oily And Dehydrated Skin: Paula’s Choice Ultra-Sheer Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($29.00)

Paula’s Choice Ultra-Sheer Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30 has a lot in common with the other sunscreens on this list. UV filters that provide broad-spectrum protection. A lightweight, non-greasy texture. Antioxidants to boost sun protection and fight premature aging. A matte finish that helps keep shine at bay for a while. But it’s a touch more hydrating, making it a good everyday sunscreen for dehydrated skin.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

If You’re Prone To Breakouts: Paula’s Choice Clear Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+ ($33.00)

The name doesn’t lie. Paula’s Choice Clear Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+ has a fluid texture that resembles more a moisturiser than a sunscreen. It’s also non-greasy, so it won’t clog pores. Perfect for those with breakout-prone skin who are afraid of sunscreen. This’ll give you all the sun protection you need without inviting pimples on your face. But it’s low on antioxidants, compared to the other options below. It’s up to you to decide what matters more to you: a fluid, non-comedogenic texture or an extra anti-aging boost.

Available at: Cult Beauty, Feel Unique, and Paula’s Choice

Related: How To Deal With Adult Acne

Best Sunscreen For Dry Skin

If Your Skin Is Only Slightly Dry: Paula’s Choice Moisture Boost Daily Restoring Complex SPF 30 ($29.00)

If your skin gets only a little dry in winter or when you travel somewhere cold, Paula’s Choice Moisture Boost Daily Restoring Complex SPF 30 can help you restore the balance. Its lightweight, silky texture delivers moisture into the skin, helping to keep it soft and supple. Chemical UV filters provide good broad spectrum protection from the sun. Plus, it has a sprinkle of antioxidants to help you prevent premature aging.

Available at: Paula’s Choice

If You Need A High SPF: Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Restoring Moisturizer With SPF 50 ($33.00)

If you want to up your sun protection game for the summer or live somewhere hot and humid all year round, Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Restoring Moisturizer With SPF 50 is just what you need. This moisturising sunscreen has chemical UV filters to provide broad-spectrum protection, shea butter and niacinamide to keep skin soft and supple, and plenty of antioxidants to fight off free radicals before they give you wrinkles and dark spots. Did I mention it dries to a dewy finish?

Available at: Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Feel Unique, Net-A-Porter, and Paula’s Choice

Related: How To Care For Dry Skin


Need help creating the best skincare routine for you dry skin? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Dry Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).


If You Have Dry And Mature Skin: Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 ($29.00)

Sunscreen is the best anti-aging product out there. UV rays are responsible for up to 90% of premature aging, remember? Skip on it and those wrinkles will pop up sooner rather than later. Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 provides excellent broad spectrum protection and goes the extra mile in the anti-aging department. This mineral sunscreen uses a mix of antioxidants and peptides to fight off wrinkles and keep skin firm and younger-looking. The texture’s moisturising, but it may leave a white cast in darker skin tones.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Truth About Peptides In Skincare: Does It Work?

If You Have Dry And Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer For Normal To Dry Skin ($29.00)

Is your skin dry and red, maybe even flaky? If your skin gets irritated easily or you’ve simply overdone it with exfoliation, grab a bottle of Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer For Normal To Dry Skin. For starters, it uses mineral UV filters that don’t irritate skin more. Plus, it has a moisturising oil base that deeply hydrates your skin. The best part? It’s loaded with soothing agents – think oats and cucumber – that soothe redness and irritations. And yes, antioxidants to boost sun protection. It may feel a tad greasy and leave a white cast behind in darker skin tones, but the trade-off is worth it this time.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: 9 Soothing Ingredients For Irritated Skin

Best Sunscreen For Combination Skin: Paula’s Choice Hydralight Shine-Free Mineral Complex SPF 30 ($29.00)

If your skin’s not too oily but not too dry and just can’t make its mind up, try Paula’s Choice Hydratlight Shine-Free Mineral Complex SPF 30. This gentle mineral sunscreen has a lightweight texture that dries to a matte finish to absorb excess shine but still provides a fairly bit of moisture to your skin. Plus, plenty of antioxidants to boost sun protection and fight wrinkles.

Available at: Paula’s Choice

Related: How To Care For Combination Skin

Best Sunscreen For All Skin Types: Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29.00)

If you’re still confused and don’t know which sunscreen to pick, go with Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturiser SPF 30. It works for all skin types (unless you’re extremely dry or oily), so you can’t go wrong with it. The brand claims it’s especially formulated to fight pollutants, but anything with antioxidant does that (and every sunscreen they make has antioxidants…). So, yes, it helps but it’s not as special as they make it out to be. Instead, it’s worth getting because it has a creamy texture that hydrates skin without clogging pores, dries to a dewy finish that brightens your skin, and wears well under makeup. Oh, and it provides excellent sun protection, obvs…

Available at: Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Net-A-Porter, Nordstrom, and Paula’s Choice

Related: How Pollution Damages Skin (And 2 Ways To Fight It)

Best Sunscreen For Men: Paula’s Choice PC4Men Daytime Protect SPF 30 ($29.00)

Paula’s Choice PC4Men Daytime Protect SPF 30 is marketed to men, but anyone with combination or oily skin can use it. This chemical sunscreen has a lightweight, fast-absorbing texture that soaks up excess oil, provides broad spectrum protection, and helps fight premature wrinkles. It basically covers all the bases.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Best Body Sunscreen: Paula’s Choice Extra-Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50 ($17.00)

Paula’s Choice Extra-Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50 has a higher concentration of chemical UV filters. For a reason. It has a higher SPF and is better able to withstand sweat and water. Sure, no sunscreen is 100% waterproof and you do need to reapply after swimming, running, or heavy sweating. But if you have an active lifestyle or are simply a very sweaty person, this is made for you. Plus, it has a pleasant, non-greasy texture and enough antioxidants to fight free radicals before they give you wrinkles.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: Sweat It Out: Can Sweat Detox Your Skin?

Powders with SPF do NOT provide adequate sun protection. You need to apply something ridiculous like 14 layers to get the SPF stated on the bottle. And even then, good luck getting the powder to stay on your face. As you brush it off, you brush off the SPF too. If you need a quick touch-up on-the-go, it’s better than nothing. But it’s not something I recommend on a regular basis – and definitely NOT in place of sunscreen!

Related: Do Cosmetics With SPF Provide Adequate Sun Protection?

What’s the best Paula’s Choice sunscreen for you? Let me know in the comments below.

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2 comments

Carmela June 8, 2020 - 3:41 pm

Paula’s choice has another product. An SPF primer. I write this review on their website. They never published it. Here it is:

Be aware, you will burn your face if you don’t use a REAL SPF underneath. My face did not get sun burned for over 20 years. I use sunscreen every day. Then I got this as a gift, and trusting it is a real sun screen used it as my solo SPF. MY FACE BURNED SO BAD. For weeks I had angry red spots on my face, which now are starting to fade to brown. The damage looks like a permanent one, and I’m so angry. I called Paula’s choice, and was told that this is NOT to be used as a solo sunscreen. Nowhere did they say it on the packaging, and there was nothing inside the box. So, if you are using this as your SPF and primer, and use a foundation without SPF, your face will burn.
I’m writing this here to warn potential users of this product. I don’t know if Paula’s choice changed the instruction regarding this product.

Gio June 12, 2020 - 12:01 pm

Carmela, thank you for sharing your experience. This shouldn’t have happened to you.

This is why I didn’t include this primer in this post. It’s not a sunscreen. Primers, foundations, powders etc with SPF are not sunscreens and should never be used alone.

But most brands don’t tell you this and the way that Paula’s Choice labels all their SPF products, including their sunscreens, is very confusing for experts, let alone average consumers. They should definitely write in bold letters that this primer shouldn’t be used alone as sunscreen.

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