Despite knowing that we should wear sunscreen daily, most of us don’t do so for a major reason: It’s sticky. And gloopy. And makes you sweat.
And as for reapplication… while we will remember to apply these sunscreens under makeup, how many of us will slather on more layers of sunscreen over a full face of makeup throughout the day? Exactly.
This is where powder sunscreens come in!
A powder sunscreen dusts invisibly over makeup while absorbing excess oil and leaving a smooth finish. In most cases, one would even sop up any excess grease that would smudge your makeup.
They are also super-easy to apply and feel weightless.
So, let’s delve into powder sunscreens, exploring their benefits, how to choose the right one for you, and how to apply them correctly. Along with a curated list of the 10 best options. Ready for the ride?
What exactly are powder sunscreens?
Powder sunscreens are the cool new kids on the block in the world of sun protection.
They come in powder form instead of the usual lotions, creams, or sprays. SPF powders contain mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to shield your skin from UVA and UVB rays.
The best part? They’re usually packed in a nifty little container with a built-in brush applicator, making them a breeze to apply and touch up throughout the day!
Benefits of powder sunscreens
But what makes powder sunscreens so irresistible? Let’s uncover their benefits.
Miracle workers for acne-prone and oily skin
Traditional sunscreens can sometimes clog pores, leading to breakouts — which makes them a tough choice for acne-prone skin. However, mineral sunscreen powders are non-comedogenic and won’t cause acne or aggravate your skin in any other way.
Plus, many of them contain oil-absorbing ingredients like silica to keep your skin looking fresh and shine-free all day long.
Reapply with ease, even over makeup — no more excuses!
We all know how annoying it can be to touch up our sun protection without ruining our makeup, so many of us skip it altogether.
However, these powder-based formulations can be gently buffed onto your skin, blending seamlessly with makeup. No need to take off your everything — or deal with the sticky, cakey mess of applying a liquid formulation on top of foundations, blushes, and highlighters!
The ultimate travel companion
No more sunscreen spills or leaks in your bag! Powder sunscreens’ compact design and mess-free application make them the perfect travel buddy, whether you’re traveling to Paris or running errands around town.
Sensitive skin’s new bestie
If you have sensitive skin, you know how tricky it can be to find full facial sun protection that doesn’t cause irritation.
Powder sunscreens often use gentle mineral-based filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, making them a fantastic option for sensitive skin, rosacea, and eczema sufferers.
Flawless, natural-looking finish
Mineral sunscreen powders provide a sheer, natural-looking finish perfect for those who love a more minimal look. Some even come in tinted formulas that work as a setting powder to help even your skin tone and give a subtle touch of color.
Are powder sunscreens effective?
I have fair skin that blushes bright red within 15 minutes of soaking in the sunlight. Yet, whenever I use powder sunscreen, my skin remains happy.
These SPF powders contain mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that offer broad-spectrum protection, shielding your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
But to ensure your powder sunscreen does its job, you must keep these tips in mind!
Pick a powder broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, the minimum dermatologists recommend for everyday use. A higher SPF offers even better protection, but remember that no sunscreen can block all UV rays completely.
Choose a broad-spectrum powder sunscreen to protect your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. This will guard against premature aging, wrinkling, sunburn, and potential skin cancer.
Apply it like a pro
To get the most out of your SPF powder, apply it evenly and generously on all exposed skin.
People often use insufficient amounts of powder sunscreen, reducing its effectiveness. You might need a few extra brush strokes to achieve the perfect coverage.
Reapply, reapply, reapply
Remember to reapply your powder sunscreen every two hours or right after swimming, sweating, or toweling off like any other sunscreen. Staying on top of reapplication keeps your sun protection game strong all day.
Mineral sunscreen powders may not hold up as well in water. So when you hit the beach, stick to traditional liquid formulations.
Team up with other sun protection
Where sun protection is concerned, more is always better. Pair the powder sunscreen with sun-protective clothing, seek shade during peak sun hours, and rock those sunglasses to keep your eyes safe.
But for everyday wear, pick one from this curation of the best powder sunscreens for your face. You won’t look back.
The 10 best powder sunscreens
We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best powder sunscreens to help you stay protected and flawless under the sun. With options for all skin types, tones, and preferences, you will find the perfect powder sunscreen to suit your needs. Stay sun-smart, and happy sunbathing!
This lightweight, sweat-resistant, mattifying sunscreen is ideal for hot, humid day touchups. Its coated silica spheres diffuse light for a pore-minimizing effect, while ceramides and olive glycerides keep skin conditioned.
This tinted compact is ideal for inflamed, irritated, and redness-prone skin. It features photo-stable vitamin E to combat skin-damaging free radicals and is perfect for sensitive skin days. Added benefits: It has a built-in mirror and is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes
The Colorescience Sunforgettable brush-on sunscreen has a high level of SPF, goes on streak-free, and is water resistant (up to 80 minutes). Plus, it's got hyaluronic acid for added hydration, iron oxide to protect against blue light, Infraguard technology to shield skin from infrared radiation, antioxidants to prevent free radical damage, AND antimicrobial brush bristles to help keep it hygienic.
This loose mineral powder sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection and iS Clinical's antioxidant Extremozyme technology for defense against environmental stressors. Its semi-opaque coverage reduces redness, imperfections, and visible pores while feeling hydrating—a win-win!
This luxurious powder foundation offers the perfect blend of skincare and makeup. It delivers buildable coverage, a smooth finish, and essential sun protection. Enriched with La Mer's signature Miracle Broth, the nourishing, non-drying formula melts into skin to blur imperfections, visibly soften fine lines, and create a more even-toned appearance.
While ILIA's SPF rating is not high enough to be a standalone sunscreen (unless you are popping out for about 20 minutes!), the silky, mattifying powder makes it perfect for touchups. It's also got skin-soothing aloe vera and rosemary, making it ideal for days when my skin is particularly irritated.
This vegan sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection for the face, body, and scalp. It features a detachable, magnetized mineral powder sunscreen brush for easy cleaning after oil absorption. However, there is a minimal range of shades, with "Tan" being the deepest. And since "tan" can mean different things to different people, try before you buy or stick to "Translucent."
This provides high SPF 45 protection and helps absorb excess oil for a shine-free complexion. The transparent, talc-free, lightweight formula suits all skin tones and won't interfere with your makeup.
Tarte's powder sunscreen protects your skin from the sun and helps control oil and shine thanks to its non-greasy, mattifying formula. Infused with antioxidants and marine ingredients, it's vegan, cruelty-free, and perfect for environmentally-conscious beauty lovers all through the summer months.
This multi-tasking superstar offers sun protection, oil control, and a flawless finish in one handy product. It's talc-free, non-comedogenic, and perfect for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about powder sunscreens.
How do I apply powder sunscreen?
To apply powder sunscreen, use the brush applicator or a makeup brush to pick up the product and gently buff it onto your skin in a circular motion, ensuring even coverage. Focus on sun-exposed areas like the face, neck, and ears.
Can I use powder sunscreen over makeup?
Yes, powder sunscreens are designed for easy application over makeup. They blend seamlessly with your existing makeup, making them perfect for touchups throughout the day.
How effective is a powder sunscreens compared to traditional sunscreen?
Powder sunscreens can provide effective sun protection, but it’s crucial to apply a generous amount and ensure even coverage for optimal protection.
Do powder sunscreens expire?
Like other sun protection products, powder sunscreens do expire. Check the product’s packaging for the expiration date and replace it as needed to ensure adequate sun protection.