5 Facial Sunscreens to Try This Summer

Can you believe we are already in the second week of June? Somehow the days have been going so quickly and dragging on at the same time. I know you don’t need me to tell you that you should wear facial sunscreen every day regardless of the seasons, but since summer is almost officially here, we could all use the reminder. Whether you’re staying in your backyard, going on a social distance walk, or braving the beach, here are five facial sunscreens to try this summer.

Before I get into the details of the five facial sunscreens below, let’s break down the details between the two kinds of sunscreens on the market: chemical and physical sunscreens.

I’m obviously not a dermatologist, therefore this is not medical on skin care or specific concerns.

5 Facial Sunscreens to Try This Summer | Charmed by Camille

Facial Sunscreen Swatches | Charmed by Camille
From top to bottom: Supergoop, Ren, EltaMD, Dermalogica, Versed

What’s the difference between chemical and physical facial sunscreens?

Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that absorb into the skin and therefore also absorb harmful UV rays. Without totally geeking out on you, chemical sunscreens take the UV rays and turn them into non-damaging wavelengths of light or heat. Since chemical ingredients absorb into the skin, they need some time to do so in order to become effective. Chemical sunscreens are usually lighter weight formulas that are more comfortable for daily wear.

Physical, or mineral sunscreen, reflects UV rays rather than absorbing them. Physical sunscreen is effective immediately, but these tend to have thicker, more traditional formulas like the body sunscreen you use at the beach. These *usually* leave a white cast on the skin due to the minerals – but some of the facial sunscreens below help to combat this.

Ren Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30

Chemical or Physical: Physical

SPF Level: 30

Broad Spectrum? Yes

Reef Safe? Yes

This facial sunscreen by REN is a clean formula with rice starch to help absorb oil for a mattifying and poreless effect. It almost has a whipped feel to the formula as to blend quickly onto the skin. Out of all the facial sunscreens in this post, I’d say this formula felt the driest – as in, it’s not too creamy or goopy feeling. This is good to use this right before a run or laying out, since the physical ingredients mean immediate effectiveness.

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Chemical or Physical: Chemical

SPF Level: 40

Broad Spectrum? Yes

Reef Safe? Yes

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen is another clean facial sunscreen, but it’s a chemical formula rather than a physical one. It’s a clear gel that absorbs extremely quickly into the skin. Although it’s gel, there’s no weird greasy or sticky feeling, and it doubles as a makeup primer. This is one of my favorite everyday facial sunscreens.


5 Facial Sunscreens to Try This Summer | Charmed by Camille

EltaMD Tinted UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

Chemical or Physical: Both

SPF Level: 46

Broad Spectrum? Yes

Reef Safe? No

If you’re looking for an SPF that comes highly recommended by dermatologists, then you can’t really beat EltaMD. The UV Clear formula comes in two versions: a white version and a tinted version. I like the tinted version because not only does it even out my overall skin tone for makeup free days, the golden tint means no white cast. This is also a great benefit for darker complexions. Along with active UV blocking ingredients (it’s a chemical and physical SPF) it contains skin care ingredients like hyaluronic acid for hydration and niacinamide to prevent breakouts.

Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense

Chemical or Physical: Physical

SPF Level: 30

Broad Spectrum? Yes

Reef Safe? Yes

Dermalogica is another professional favorite, and this physical sunscreen particularly helps to calm irritated skin and reduces redness caused by UV rays. The zinc oxide is super sheer leaving almost no residue, so if you’re looking for a white physical SPF I recommend this one. It has a nice creamy texture, and although it dispenses relatively thick, once rubbed in it’s very lightweight. As far as smell, this has a very subtle scent (I’m thinking it’s the green tea in there), but it’s so discrete if your nose isn’t super sensitive you may not even pick it up at all.

Versed Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen

Chemical or Physical: Physical

SPF Level: 35

Broad Spectrum? Yes

Reef Safe? Yes

Just like the EltaMD sunscreen, this SPF from Versed features a tinted formula to prevent any white cast that usually accompanies physical sunscreens. This is just creamy and sunscreen-y enough without an overly greasy feel. It’s also the most affordable option on this list but not a “drugstore” facial SPF.

Nice to Meet You

Hi, I'm Camille! I left the corporate world of fashion and beauty to share all of my favorite things on the Internet. When I have nothing to wear my go-to outfit is jeans, a t-shirt, and a leather jacket. My hair is usually a little messy but I love it best like that. I live in Los Angeles.

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