Best sunscreen for the face: protect and nourish your skin in the sun

These six non-greasy facial sunscreens will keep your skin safe, and give it a nourishing boost, while you're exploring the great outdoors

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Whether you can quite believe it or not the good weather is here to stay, so now is a great time to pick up a high-quality facial sunscreen. 

From swimming and kayaking to climbing the Almcliff Crag, almost all outdoor pursuits leave your skin exposed to harmful sun rays, with your face often being the most at risk.  

Using a sunscreen for your face will protect your skin from these harmful rays and subsequent sun damage. Not only this, some of the more luxurious creams are highly moisturising too, so your skin will feel supple and refreshed throughout the day.

It could be that you’re looking for protection from the sun when surfing or hiking, or simply to keep you safe on a daily basis. Either way, we’ve found the best sunscreens for your face for a range of situations. But first, here's the skinny on why you should wear sunscreen, including on overcast days...

Wearing sunscreen protects your health

Your face, hands and other parts of the body are exposed to the sun daily, so the temperature doesn’t need to increase much for sunscreen to become an essential part of your self-care routine. 

And it’s not just about how hot it is outside, either—if the sun is strong yet hidden by cloud, harmful UV rays can still penetrate your skin. Luckily there are easy steps you can take right now to protect yourself from sun damage... 

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, daily use of an SPF 15 sunscreen or higher reduces the risk of developing melanoma (one of the most common types of skin cancer) by 50 per cent. That's huge. 

As with any sunscreen for the face, for the highest level of protection apply it 15-20 minutes before venturing into the sun. Applying suncream just after showering is the easiest way not to forget.

Why use a different sunscreen for your face?

You don’t always need to use a different sunscreen for your face, but there are benefits to doing so. Firstly, your facial skin is more delicate than that on your body, so a gentler formula is required. This is especially true if you have skin issues like acne.

Secondly, suncreams that aren’t too greasy for your body can quickly turn into a slime-fest when applied to your face. So it’s much better to buy a sunscreen that’s the right consistency for facial skin. 

How to buy the best sunscreen for the face: what SPF should you choose?

There are two types of harmful UV rays: UVA rays are long and penetrate deep into the dermis (the thickest layer of your skin), whereas UVB rays are short and burn the skin's surface layer. Both rays cause cell damage that has been linked to skin cancer. 

To protect yourself against UVB rays, check a sunscreen’s SPF factor. Factor 30 will protect you against 97% of UVB rays, whilst Factor 50 will protect you against 98%.

To protect against UVA rays, look for a star rating or the UVA protection symbol on the bottle. The star system isn't used globally, though. Alternatively, look out for 'UVA' written within a circle. This means that the suncream meets EU standards of UVA protection. 

Luckily, we've already done the research for you. As such, here are our picks for the best sunscreens for the face, depending on what you're doing and where... 

Our pick of the best facial sunscreens you can buy now

The best sunscreen for the face

Green People Facial Sun Cream SPF 30

Hands-down, this is the best sunscreen for the face

Reasons to buy
+UVA and UVB protection +Scent free+Non-greasy
Reasons to avoid
-Only available as SPF 30 

The Green People Scent-Free Facial Sun Cream ticks every box when it comes to the best sunscreen for the face: high SPF, UVA protection, chemical and mineral filter combo, and it feels great on a wide range of skin types. 

The ingredients (78% of which are certified organic) include soothing aloe vera and energising green tea. It's non-greasy, non-whitening, and free from parabens and sodium laureth sulfate, making it kinder on soft facial skin. 

It's especially well-suited to those of you who are prone to eczema or psoriasis, or who suffer from prickly heat. What's more, it's 100% cruelty free and reef-friendly.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50+

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50+

The best facial sunscreen for very high temperatures

Reasons to buy
+UVA and UVB protection +Light, non-greasy formula
Reasons to avoid
-Runny texture can smear clothing

If your next trip involves mountain biking in red-hot Moab or hiking in sun-drenched Morocco, you'll need high factor, broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. 

The Anthelios range by La Roche-Posay offers this, with different products available for different skin types. We love this Ultra Light Fluid because it doesn’t feel like your face is slathered in cream and the SPF 50+ is great for extended periods in the sun.  

You won’t spot stars on La Roche Posay sunscreens as they’re made in France, but their patented filtering system, Mexoplex, exceeds the European recommendation.

Bioderma Photoderm Ski SPF 50+

Bioderma Photoderm Ski SPF 50+

The best sunscreen for the face in high altitudes

Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+UVA and UVB protection+Protects skin in harsh weather 
Reasons to avoid
-Leaves a slight residue

Cold yet sunny environments are often the most dangerous for skin health because we forget we need protection. So whether you're skiing, climbing or hang-gliding, Photoderm Ski is the best sunscreen for your face when you're at high altitudes. 

Its thick formula offers good coverage, although at the expense of complete translucence, and guarantees optimum protection with UVA and UBA coverage. 

The sunscreen also contains Bioderma's patented Cellular Bioprotection tech, which activates the skin's natural defences to help safeguard against cellular damage. 

Jason Facial Natural Sunscreen SPF 20

Jason Facial Natural Sunscreen SPF 20

The best facial sunscreen for daily use

Reasons to buy
+Anti-shine+Completely translucent 
Reasons to avoid
-No mineral filter -Only available as SPF 20

If you’re looking for the best sunscreen for the face to use on a daily basis when you're out walking, we recommend Jason’s Facial Natural Sunscreen. It has a lower SPF and a formula so light it basically looks and feels invisible on the skin.

The oil-free and non-pore clogging formula suits practically everyone. There’s no greasy shine that accompanies some other high-factor suncreams, and no ghostly white residue. 

The downside is that the Jason Facial Natural Sunscreen isn't available in a factor higher than SPF 20, which we recommend for outdoor activities where you don’t want to be reapplying suncream too often.

Soltan Once Face SPF 30

Soltan Once Face SPF 30

The best once a day facial sunscreen

Reasons to buy
+Eight-hour protection in the sun+40-minute protection in the water
Reasons to avoid
-Leaves a sheen on the face

We’re not the biggest fans of once-daily sun protection. Why? Because on a day where you’ll need eight hours protection, you'll likely to be sweating or swimming. And while many sunscreens claim to be a 'once a day' application, they all advise reapplication after you've spent time in water or after you've been sweating.

Soltan Once is decent, though, with 8 hours of protection from the sun and 40 minutes protection if you're taking a dip in the pool or ocean. If you'll be spending longer in the water, take a look at our next facial sunscreen...   

Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream SPF 35

Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream SPF 35

The best water-resistant sports sunscreen for the face

Reasons to buy
+UVA and UVB protection+Water-resistant for 80 minutes
Reasons to avoid
-Only available as SPF 35-Tough to rub in properly

If you’re doing any kind of outdoor sporting activity, Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream is ideal. SPF 35 offers high protection via a Zinc Oxide filter, and the cream is waterproof for up to 80 minutes. 

This facial sunscreen comes out white. Squeeze some into your hands and warm it a little before application, though, and it should rub in clear.

Badger's Sport Sunscreen Cream loves the environment too, being certified as a reef-friendly sunscreen, just like the Green People Scent-Free Facial Sun Cream, so you can protect your skin from sun damage without impacting the environment.