Best Powder Sunscreens to Keep Skin Protected Year-Round

Summer may have come and gone, but as every dermatologist preaches, sunscreen is an all year-round game. But if you hate that thick, goopy, lotion-y texture, you’re in luck with the ushering in of the next generation of powder sunscreens that can seemingly do it all. These dry formulas protect against UVA and UVB rays and camouflage uneven skin tone with a faint tint, all while having a pleasant texture in a decidedly un-messy brush applicator.

But here’s the catch: according to Seattle-based dermatologist Dr. Laurel Geraghty, “It may be hard to wear enough powder sunscreen to get to the level of SPF shown on the bottle — you really have to dust and layer it on it!

That means to really soak up all the benefits of a powder sunscreen, you’ve “got to apply it liberally,” she says, and reapplication is the name of the game here. 

Even so, you should first start with a traditional cream lotion first to set a solid sunscreen foundation, says Dr. Corey L. Hartman, who calls powder sunscreens “a good adjunct” to liquid or cream formulations. “They’re really designed to absorb into the skin and act as a shield, if they’re mineral,” he explains. “While powder sunscreens are designed to sit on top of the skin and are great for replenishing throughout the day and adding to the foundation that’s already been set with the cream or lotion.”

When it comes to sun protection, I’ll take all the help I can get, so here are three leading dermatologists on their favorite formulations and exactly what to look for in a powder sunscreen so you can get every bit of protection your skin deserves.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50

ColoreScience is my favorite powder sunscreen,” says Dr. Geraghty. “I love the little to-go wand that I can pop into my handbag for quick, no mess touch-ups while I’m running around. I love to dust it along my part line — almost like a dry shampoo — when I don’t have a hat with me.”

What’s more, this dust-on powder “has the best array of colors to help women or men to match their color, so it can go on as seamlessly as possible,” says Dr. Hartman. No white residue here!

To shop: $69; dermstore.com

Zo Skin Health Sunscreen + Powder Broad-Spectrum

Not only does this titanium dioxide and zinc-packed tinted powder protect against UVA and UVB rays, but its soft, smooth texture doesn’t make it feel like sunscreen at all. Equally important, it comes in three buildable hues: light, medium, and dark, so you can easily color match to your specific skin tone, and according to Los Angeles dermatologist Dr. Sameer Bashey, the powder “blends really well into most skin tones” to “give your skin coverage as well as a glow.”

To shop: $65; zoskinhealth.com

Supergoop! (Re)Setting 100% Mineral Powder SPF 35

Supergoop! is known for creating sunscreen that doesn’t feel or smell like the scent we all know (and hate), and this cult favorite powder is no different. Formulated with 100% mineral zinc oxide — one of two FDA-approved mineral sunscreen ingredients — the ingredients are blended with hydrating ceramides and olive glycerides to lock in the skin’s natural moisture. 

But don’t worry about getting any shine here, the coated silica diffuses light and camouflages the look of pores.”The nature of the powder itself is going to help with oiliness because that’s going to soak up additional oil,” says Dr. Hartman.

To shop: $30, sephora.com

Tarte Sea Set & Protect Mineral Sunscreen 

Mineral sunscreens can be best for acne-prone skin, as it sits on top of the skin, vs. chemical sunscreens, which are absorbed and can sometimes cause irritation,” explains Dr. Bashey.

Luckily, tarte found a workaround, and it’s best to look for formulations that “just keep it as pure as possible, I would say,” recommends Dr. Hartman, adding that clean formulas that have “no other preservatives” are your best bet to keep your skin clear. 

And when it comes to powder sunscreens, it doesn’t get much cleaner than tarte’s vegan non-chemical sunscreen. Plus, it also pulls double duty to set makeup for up to 12 hours, thanks to it’s translucent hue, which works with all skin tones. 

To shop: $28; sephora.com

Isdinceutics Mineral Brush

Powder sunscreen is also great for those chronically exposed areas where we may want a bit of bonus protection — noses, ears, hands — for quick touch-ups in the car,” explains Dr. Geraghty. “So much UV light comes in through the side windows, especially.” And this do-it-all power sunscreen provides protection against free radical damage from pollution, blue light and infrared radiation as well, making it perfect to use anytime and anywhere on the body.

To shop: $55; isdin.com

Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Broad Spectrum SPF 45

I’m glad that the stigma [of men not using sunscreen] is being erased,” says Dr. Hartman. “And I do think that it helps with powder sunscreens that don’t have a tint — it can get on your clothing.”  

This Peter Thomas Roth gem of a powder sunscreen was formulated to be completely transparent, easy to apply and offer serious SPF protection, aka the perfect option for men who spend their days outside. “Powder sunscreens have traditionally been thought of as a product that only women would like to use and benefit from,” explains Dr. Hartman. “So leaving the tint out and making it convenient are really the driving force for men, so if you can accomplish those things, then we can get men to start using it more, which would just encourage more reapplication, which is going to prevent skin cancer.

To shop: $21; revolve.com 

Ilia Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20

Many of us with dry skin tend to steer way clear of powder anything, but not with this nourishing — and clean! — formulation from Ilia. Bonus: It’s infused with conditioning ingredients, like aloe, rosemary, and oil-balancing bamboo, it hydrates skin while keeping a shiny T-zone at bay. 

But the first step to glowy skin is always a hydrated base, Dr. Hartman reminds us: “If your skin’s dry, please put a good hydrating moisturizer on first with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, qualine or glycerin, and then let the powder be the finishing and protective touch on top.” 

To shop: $34; sephora.com

Brush on Block SPF 30

This mineral formulation is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it ideal for summer athletes and water lovers to easily reapply throughout the day, especially as most dermatologists consider reapplication necessary. “Sunscreens of all kinds need to be reapplied at least every two hours if you’re staying outside or exposed to UV light, or more often if you’ve been swimming or sweating,” says Dr Geraghty. And this power powder couldn’t make it easier.

To shop: $30; walmart.com

INSTYLE

The Best Powder Sunscreens That Make Applying SPF So Easy

When I discovered powder sunscreen, it was a total game-changer. They’re basically UV blockers (like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) in a powder form that can be easily brushed on skin throughout the day when you need to reapply your SPF, all without messing up your makeup. In fact, depending on which one you try, they’re actually pretty excellent for mattifying oily skin or even adding a little bronzed glow to your face. Genius, right? 

BEST MULTITASKING POWDER SUNSCREEN :

Paula’s Choice On-the-Go Shielding Powder SPF 30

Not only does this SPF 30 powder protect you from UVA and UVB rays with zinc oxide, it uses antioxidants (specifically vitamin C and vitamin E) to help minimize free radical damage and ceramides (they’re essential for a healthy, functioning skin barrier) to prevent moisture loss throughout the day. 

Shop $29

BEST REFILLABLE POWDER SUNSCREEN :

Jane Iredale Powder-Me SPF 30 Dry Sunscreen

I love this powder sunscreen for two main reasons (beyond the fact that it shields skin with SPF 30). The first being that the brush head is removable (you can easily pop it off to clean and disinfect the brush hairs as needed) and the second is that it’s refillable! Once you finish up the powder, just recycle your empty powder pod and replace it with a new one.

Shop $50

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT POWDER SUNSCREEN :

Mineral Fusion Brush-On Sun Defense SPF 30

This powder sunscreen feels practically weightless and has a translucent matte finish, so it works on just about every skin tone. Another bonus: It layers perfectly (no clumps or caking) over liquid, cream, and powder makeup products too.

Shop $22

BEST DERM-FAVORITE POWDER SUNSCREEN :

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50

Any time I talk to a dermatologist about powder sunscreens, this top-rated one from Colorescience always comes up in the convo. The tried-and-true mineral formula protects skin from UV rays with SPF 50 and comes in four different shades (fair, medium, tan, and deep) that never look chalky or ashy on skin.

Shop $65

BEST WATER-RESISTANT POWDER SUNSCREEN :

Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen Powder

This powder sunscreen with SPF 30 is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it ideal for days when you’re hanging by the pool or sweating like crazy. I like to apply my regular cream-based facial sunscreen in the morning and then layer this one on top throughout the day as a touch-up.

Shop $32

BEST MATTIFYING POWDER SUNSCREEN :

Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45

Oily skin types, get excited. This powder sunscreen doesn’t just shield your face from UV rays, it keeps it nice and matte too. As soon as you dust the translucent mineral formula over your skin, it’ll soak up excess oil to keep your face grease-free for hours.

Shop $30

BEST POWDER SUNSCREEN FOR MAKEUP :

Tarte Sea Set & Protect Mineral Sunscreen Powder

The last step in your makeup routine should 100 percent be a layer of this powder sunscreen. It provides you with your daily dose of SPF 30 AND sets your makeup for up to 12 hours of transfer-proof wear. 

Shop $28

BEST SOOTHING POWDER SUNSCREEN :

Derma E Sun Protection Mineral Face Powder

If you’ve got sensitive skin, this soothing powder sunscreen is for you. The gentle, non-irritating formula is made with anti-inflammatory zinc oxide to protect skin from sunburns and photo-damage, plus redness-reducing chamomile and green tea. 

Shop $22

BEST ALL-NATURAL POWDER SUNSCREEN :

Ilia Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20

This translucent SPF powder is made with all-natural and organic ingredients (like aloe vera, passion fruit, and rosemary oil), making it a legit option for anyone who is into the green beauty scene. Buff it in to protect your skin from UV rays, take down shine and excess oil, and minimize redness. 

Shop $34

BEST SCALP POWDER SUNSCREEN :

Supergoop Poof 100% Mineral Part and Scalp Powder SPF 45

Think of this brush-on powder with SPF 45 as a dry shampoo/sunscreen hybrid. Apply it to your part to soak up excess oil (just like a dry shampoo) and protect your scalp from getting burned. And don’t worry, it won’t leave behind any weird, white-ish residue.

Shop $34

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