5 of Best Tinted Sunscreens, According to Dermatologists
Keep your summer glow and avoid sun damage with these dermatologist-approved SPF tinted sunscreens for every skin type, from oily to dry.
The importance of applying sunscreen
Wearing sunscreen should be as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth, flossing, and exercising. Protecting your skin is about more than just preventing painful sunburns. According to the American Cancer Society, ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can wreak havoc, causing wrinkles, sunspots, and worse, skin cancer.
You might be thinking that’s easier said than done. It’s possible you’re not sure which is the best sunscreen for your skin type. Or maybe you haven’t figured out how sunscreen factors into your makeup routine. That last issue is a major reason so many people are less than gung ho about sunscreen. If you prefer to have some coverage to even out your skin tone and cover up imperfections, a daily foundation is likely part of your routine. But you may find that layering both foundation and sunscreen are too heavy for your skin. Enter: tinted sunscreen.
What is tinted sunscreen?
A tinted sunscreen will look and feel similar to a tinted moisturizer, with the added bonuses of sun protection and water resistance.
Tinted sunscreens protect and cover all at the same time, so they eliminate the need for layering daytime products, according to Patricia Farris, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Metairie, Louisana. “Most tinted sunscreens contain mineral-based ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide,” she explains. “These ingredients provide broad-spectrum coverage, blocking both UVA and UVB rays and will not harm coral reefs.”
That makes them a good solution for eco-conscious consumers worried about the way chemical sunscreens can wash off in the ocean, accumulate in the tissues of coral, and even kill coral.
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Why should you wear tinted sunscreen?
Wearing any sunscreen should be your No. 1 priority, says Rajani Katta, MD, a Houston-based dermatologist and author of Glow: The Dermatologist’s Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet. “I always tell my patients that the best sunscreen is the one that they’re actually going to use,” Dr. Katta says. “Depending on their formulation, they can leave a whitish cast on the skin, which is why many of my patients prefer tinted versions of mineral sunblocks.”
(Related: A Sweaty Gal’s Guide to Sunscreen)
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What ingredients should you look for in tinted sunscreen?
According to Dr. Katta, the first things you should zero in on when searching for sunscreens are the active ingredients. After that, you can focus on all of the extras: inactive ingredients like fragrance additives, preservatives, and other ingredients and whether the formulation is a cream, lotion, gel, stick, or spray.
Iron oxide is one ingredient found in many tinted mineral sunscreens, Dr. Farris adds. It provides effective protection from longer wavelengths of light, including visible light, which contributes to skin aging and causes hyperpigmentation, especially in dark skin tones. Many tinted sunscreens also contain antioxidants for added environmental protection, including vitamins C and E and botanical extracts.
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Do needs vary for different skin types?
For people with sensitive skin, Dr. Katta recommends mineral sunblock ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as they provide a barrier to protect against UV radiation and they do not cause allergic reactions. “If you have sensitive skin, I recommend that you avoid fragrance additives and also preservatives such as formaldehyde and methylisothiazolinone,” she says.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Eau Thermale Avène Solarie UV Mineral Multi-Defense Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50+
“This sunscreen contains antioxidants to protect the skin from UV rays and pollution,” Dr. Farris says. “It also has bisabolol and allantoin to calm the skin, so this is a great choice for those with sensitive skin.”
Best for All Skin Types: SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
Dr. Farris recommends this tinted sunscreen because it’s a light fluid that contains mineral filters. It contains iron oxide for visible light protection. Though it’s on the pricier side, this tinted sunscreen is water resistant for up to 40 minutes, making it a great choice for outdoor activities and daily wear for all skin types.
Best for Normal to Dry Skin: EltaMD UV Clear Tinted SPF 46
“This tinted mineral sunscreen is chemical-free, offers broad-spectrum coverage, and has antioxidants for additional environmental protection,” Dr. Farris says. “It also contains hyaluronic acid to help draw moisture into the skin, making it an excellent choice for normal to dry skin.”
Best for Normal to Dry Skin and Redness: SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair SPF 34 Tinted Sunscreen
“With antioxidants like vitamins C and E and moisturizing shea butter, this tinted sunscreen is great for normal to dry skin,” Dr. Farris says. “It also contains niacinamide that lightens dark spots and reduces redness.”
Best for Sensitive Skin: Vichy Capital Soleil Tinted 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 60
Dr. Katta recommends this tinted sunscreen because it contains minerals to strengthen and protect the skin barrier from UV rays and pollution. It’s also paraben free and allergy tested, making it a good option for those with sensitive skin.