Face sunscreen for dry skin

Moisturizers with SPF, tinted sunscreen for dry skin, and more

8 minute read

We’re here to tell you what we know, but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider about your specific health concerns.

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The importance of wearing sunscreen year-round

If there’s one step you never want to skip in your morning routine, it’s sunscreen application. It may feel like a drag to slow down to apply (or reapply) sunscreen when you’re ready and raring to go, but think of it this way: future you will be so thankful that you did! And with the products we recommend in this guide, your skincare routine can become a fun, feel-good activity.

In this guide, you’ll find the best face sunscreen for dry skin, from plain clear sunscreen to tinted sunscreens to CC creams and tinted moisturizers with sunscreen built-in. We’ll also school you on why chemical sunscreen can irritate sensitive skin, why it’s best to use physical sunscreen, and more need-to-know info.

What you need to know about sunscreen

Read on to find out…

  • How to find the best face sunscreen for your skin

  • Product recommendations: face sunscreen for dry skin

  • How to layer sunscreen under makeup (without it pilling or flaking off!)

  • Best face sunscreen for swimming or sweating

But first, here’s a quick crash-course in the need-to-know basics.

What is SPF?

You know those numbers on bottles of sunscreen? If you’ve ever wondered what that’s all about, you’re not alone—and the SPF number you use really does matter. The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number of any sunscreen is based on how quickly redness forms on sunscreen-protected skin compared to unprotected skin. Basically, it’s a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent the sun’s rays from damaging the skin. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is the minimum recommended by Curology’s dermatology providers, and it’s super important to reapply at least every 2 hours. Also important: reapply right away after swimming or sweating, because there’s no such thing as waterproof sunscreen! Not such a fun fact, but you’ll be glad you remembered when you avoid getting sunburned.

What exactly are UVA and UVB? The sun’s UV (ultraviolet) light rays are classified into UVA, which are a longer wavelength, and UVB, which are shorter. It’s important to protect your skin from both. Sunscreens that will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays are typically called broad-spectrum.

UVA

  • Main cause of aging and wrinkling — photoaging

  • Contributes to the development of skin cancer

  • Penetrates through clouds and glass — think of the sun exposure in your car!

  • Penetrates deeper into the skin compared to UVB

  • Major contributor to tanning (skin darkening is a response to sun damage and injury to the skin’s DNA — there is no such thing as a healthy tan!)

UVB

  • Main cause of redness and sunburn

  • Contributes to the development of skin cancer

How to choose the right sunscreen for your skin type

Sun exposure can cause redness and dryness, so if your skin is dry and/or sensitive as it is, it’s extra important to apply and reapply your sunscreen daily. Fortunately for us with dry skin, there are plenty of moisturizers that double as sunscreen! Just remember: No matter what the weather outside is like, no matter the season or temperature, the sun’s rays can still damage your skin, even on a cloudy day.

If your skin is both dry and sensitive, use the physical type of sunscreen to avoid irritating your skin. Don’t worry—we’ve got all the information you need right here to make choosing the best sunscreen for your face as easy as can be!

Best face sunscreen for dry skin

There are plenty of options to choose from that work great on dry skin! Check out our list of face sunscreens we’ve reviewed closely to make sure we can stand behind their ingredients. We hope this helps you find your new favorite face sunscreen! Once you’ve found ~*the one*~ don’t forget to wear it and—important!—reapply it. That means every. single. day.

Coola Full Spectrum 360° Mineral Sun Silk Crème Organic Sunscreen SPF 30

  • 70%+ certified organic ingredients

  • Broad spectrum UVA/UVB mineral protection

  • Smooth finish, layers well under makeup

  • Oil-free and fragrance-free

  • Non-nano zinc oxide protection

  • Vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, paraben-free, and reef-friendly

Drunk Elephant Umbra™ Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30

  • Ultra-gentle

  • Lightly hydrating

FIRST AID BEAUTY Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer SPF 40

  • Broad-spectrum sun protection with physical-only sunscreen ingredients (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide)

  • Ceramides nourish and fortify the skin’s moisture barrier

  • Colloidal oatmeal and squalane soothe the skin

Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Pa+++

  • Lightweight creamy formula

  • Combination of physical and chemical sunscreen (zinc oxide 15%, octisalate 5%)

  • Protects without clogging pores

  • Gives skin a smoother appearance

  • Doubles as a primer, perfect for wearing under makeup!

Supergoop! Glow Stick Sunscreen SPF 50

  • Invisible, dry setting finish oil-based stick for face, chest and shoulders

  • Hydrating, brightening formula without leaving an oily residue

  • Also works as a highlighter!

Olay Regenerist Whip Face Moisturizer SPF 25

  • Lightweight, whipped texture with cream-to-liquid formulation

  • Includes ingredients with skincare benefits

  • Smooth, matte finish

  • We recommend at least SPF 30 for sufficient sun protection. As with anything under SPF 30, you either have to reapply frequently or layer with another sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher!

Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20

  • Lasting hydration without oiliness or heaviness

  • Blue algae extract keeps skin supple and fights inflammation

  • Naturally occurring vitamins A and C to improve skin’s appearance and provide antioxidant protection

  • We recommend at least SPF 30 for sufficient sun protection. As with anything under SPF 30, you either have to reapply frequently or layer with another sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher!

E.l.f. Illuminating Moisturizer SPF 15

  • Lightweight moisturizer leaves skin with a soft, natural finish

  • Infused with grape seed oil to soothe skin

  • SPF 15 isn’t enough on its own—we recommend layering this with another sunscreen SPF 30 or higher

Bobbi Brown Extra Repair SPF 25 Moisturizing Balm

  • Formulated for aging and dry skin

  • Designed not to set or crease into fine lines and wrinkles

  • Paraben-free; phthalate-free; sulfate-free; vegan

  • Layers well with makeup

Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15

  • Light, silky-smooth texture that leaves skin soft and hydrated

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 15 (not enough protection on its own, layer with a sunscreen SPF 30 or higher)

  • Improves moisture retention without clogging pores

  • Fragrance-free

Neutrogena Hydro Boost City Shield Water Gel with SPF 25

  • Fights sun damage while providing lightweight, yet intense moisture

  • Formulated to protect the skin’s moisture barrier

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel SPF 15

  • Long-lasting hydration with a lightweight feel

  • Contains super-hydrating hyaluronic acid

  • Oil-free formula layers well with makeup

  • SFP 15 isn’t enough protection on its own—layer this with a sunscreen of SFP 30 or higher

Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer SPF 15 Sensitive Skin

  • Zinc oxide for physical sun protection

  • Provides long-lasting, lightweight protection

  • Vitamin E and aloe to soothe and hydrate

  • Oil-free

Olay Total Effects Face Moisturizer SPF 30

  • Lightweight hydrating formula

  • Replenishes the skin’s moisture barrier

  • Formulated with anti-aging skincare ingredients

Olay Regenerist Regenerating Face Lotion with SPF 50

  • Temporarily reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

  • Lightweight formula firms skin while hydrating

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream SPF 30 SPF 50

  • Niacinamide to soothe skin and even skin tone

  • Lightweight hydration visibly softens the appearance of wrinkles

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream with SPF 15

  • Helps treat and prevent fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging

  • Contains retinol/vitamin A

  • Pro-Vitamin B5, Vitamin E and special moisturizer formula help even out skin tone

  • SPF 15 is not enough protection on its own—layer with a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher for full coverage

  • Lightweight, non-greasy, quickly absorbing, with a smooth finish

  • Non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and oil-free

Neutrogena Men Age Fighter Face Moisturizer with SPF 15

  • Reduces the appearance of wrinkles, prevents sun damage, and hydrates/protects skin

  • Includes retinol to diminish signs of skin aging

  • Non-greasy texture

  • SPF 15 isn’t enough protection on its own—layer with a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher for full coverage

Simple Skincare Kind to Skin Protecting Light Moisturizer SPF 15

  • Oil-free blend with added pro-vitamin B5 and vitamin E

  • Lightweight and fast-absorbing

  • Contains no color or dye, artificial fragrance or other common skin irritating ingredients

  • Dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic

Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF 50 Moisturizer SPF 15

  • Medium-weight, emollient daily moisturizer works great for dry and aging skin

  • Antioxidant white tea, rich in polyphenols, and a unique polypeptide help improve the appearance of photoaged skin

  • Active sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB rays

  • Helps control the triggers that lead to skin aging

  • Blends smoothly into skin for a seamless finish

Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Face Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

  • Water resistant for up to 80 minutes

  • Physical sunscreen ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide

  • Non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores)

Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Face Moisturizer SPF 50

  • Lightweight, gentle, non-greasy moisturizing formula

Neutrogena Men Triple Protect Face Lotion SPF 20

  • Soothes razor irritation and moisturizes dry skin

  • Lightweight, gentle formula

Best tinted sunscreen for dry skin

Care for a side of coverage with your sun protection? A tinted sunscreen or tinted moisturizer with SPF is a great two-in-one product: it does double-duty as a lightweight foundation. All you need for a fresh-faced, glowy, effortless daytime look (complete with sun protection) is a tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher. The tint evens out the appearance of your skin tone, and makes things like redness, acne, and pores a little less visible (just add some well-placed concealer, if needed). For more coverage, you can layer foundation makeup on top of tinted sunscreen, then follow it up with concealer on any spots you’d like to hide.

Supergoop! CC Cream Daily Correct Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen

  • 100% mineral-based SPF 35

  • Corrects uneven pigmentation and softens the look of fine lines and pores

  • Contains hyaluronic acid to maintain long-lasting hydration

  • Includes vitamins and minerals to protect skin from free radical damage

  • Provides lightweight color coverage and correction, while protecting against UVA and UVB rays

Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte™ Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30

  • Ultra-gentle

  • Lightly hydrating

  • Subtle tint for light-to-medium skin tones (unfortunately, this doesn’t come in different color options)

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+

  • Color-correcting formula visibly evens skin tone

  • SPF 50+ physical sunscreen

  • Anti-aging benefits with collagen, peptides, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and vitamins

  • Diffuses the look of wrinkles and minimizes the appearance of pores

  • Luminous, flawless finish

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation Full-Coverage Moisturizer™ SPF 50+

  • Designed to help cover and improve the redness, pores, dark spots, breakouts, lines and wrinkles—all while protecting your skin with SPF 50+ broad-spectrum physical sunscreen

  • Smooth, flexible pure color pigments help hide fine lines and wrinkles without creasing

  • Natural finish

  • Suitable for all skin types

Revision Skincare Intellishade® Original SPF 45

  • Moisturizes and blends easily for a natural finish

  • Sheer coverage

MD Solar Sciences Mineral Tinted Crème SPF 30

  • Natural light tint and matte finish

  • Primer formula wears well underneath makeup

SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50

  • 100% mineral base, broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection

  • “Non-migrating formula” to prevent eye irritation

  • Sheer, universal tint suitable for all skin types

  • Use from the brow bone to the cheek bone, even on the eyelid

CoTZ Flawless Complexion SPF 50 - Tinted

  • Physical-only mineral sunscreen

  • Non-greasy, non-oily formula

  • Reef safe, eco-friendly

Sunscreen for sports, swimming, and sweating

Solbar Zinc SPF 38 has an oil-free base that lasts for up to 80 minutes in the water, is more rub resistant than most, and is gentle on the eyes.

Not-so-fun fact: there’s no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. In 2011, the FDA released a new set of rules regulating sunscreen in the United States which did away with “waterproof” and “sweatproof” labels on sunscreens because such claims are impossible. (Thank you, FDA, for getting real about beauty claims!) Instead, sunscreens can be labeled “water resistant” for either 40 minutes or 80 minutes, depending on test results.

That means you swimmers, surfers, athletes and boogie-boarders need to choose your sunscreen wisely, and remember to reapply. Use a water-resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating, and reapply according to the label instructions, either after 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, immediately after towel drying, and every 2 hours at a minimum.

Skincare pro tip: reapply your sunscreen religiously

You and your skin deserve better than to be stingy with the sunscreen, so slather it on liberally and when in doubt, apply more! Most of us don’t use enough sunscreen—the sun’s rays don’t really get boundaries, so make sure any skin in the sun’s line of proverbial fire is fully covered.

We know we sound like a broken record by now, but seriously, re-applying throughout the day is essential. Sunscreens need to be reapplied at least every two hours, especially if you’re swimming or sweating.

Use up to a half teaspoon for the face and neck, especially if you use your whole hands to rub in the sunscreen. Use 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons for the body. During a long day at the beach, one person should use around 1/4 to 1/2 of an 8 oz bottle.

No sunscreen, regardless of strength, stays effective longer than two hours. That being said, how often you reapply sunscreen depends on your activities. If you’re inside working all day, no need to reapply. If you’re in and out, reapply at least once midday. If you’re out for extended periods during the day, then reapply every 2 hours or so, especially if you’re entering water, sweating, or wiping your face.

Ingredients to avoid for dry skin

Some ingredients found in skincare and cosmetics can irritate the skin or clog pores. We’ve rounded up 30 skincare and makeup ingredients not to put on your face — these may irritate sensitive skin, clog pores, or both.

  1. isopropyl myristate

  2. laureth-4

  3. sodium lauryl sulfate

  4. SLS

  5. sodium laureth sulfate

  6. cetyl acetate

  7. acetylated lanolin alcohol

  8. coconut oil

  9. cocos nucifera

  10. coconut butter

  11. cocoa butter

  12. potassium chloride

  13. alcohol

  14. myristyl myristate

  15. ethylhexyl palmitate

  16. octyl stearate

  17. algin

  18. carrageenan

  19. polyglyceryl-3 diisostearate

  20. glycine soja oil

  21. wheat germ oil

  22. red algae

  23. isopropyl palmitate

  24. lauric acid

  25. myristic acid

  26. myristyl lactate

  27. isopropyl isostearate

  28. glyceryl stearate SE

  29. sorbitan oleate

  30. propylene glycol monostearate

Avoid alcohol, but just the “denatured” kind

Alcohol is unfortunately used in a lot of skincare products, even though it dries out the skin and can damage its protective barrier. That’s the last thing you need when your skin is dry enough as it is, right? Watch out for “denatured alcohol” or “alcohol denat.” on the ingredients list of your skincare or makeup products. Not all alcohol-related ingredients are created equal, though: cetearyl alcohol and coconut alcohol, for two common examples, are totally fine to use.

How to check any product for pore-clogging ingredients with CosDNA.com

Luckily there’s a (free!) tool that makes it easy to check any product for ingredients that can clog pores or irritate your skin. It’s called CosDNA.com, and it’s a must-have for your Bookmarks. Check out our quick-and-easy guide to checking products for pore-clogging ingredients!

How to layer sunscreen under makeup

Ever try to layer makeup on top of sunscreen, only to have it pill or flake off in annoying little white bits? Ugh! Try applying moisturizer before your sunscreen, then give it a few minutes to dry before putting on your makeup. This should give it enough grip so it won’t flake on you.

How to reapply sunscreen over makeup

It’s a good idea to keep your favorite face sunscreen in your bag/pocket/car/wherever you spend the most time, so every hour or two you can reapply for a fresh coat of skin-shielding goodness. If you want a quick touchup on-the-go, powder sunscreens like ILIA Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20 are a great, easy way to re-up your sun protection throughout the day without messing up your makeup.

Give your skin the personal touch it deserves

If you’ve got breakouts, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, redness, or just general questions or concerns about your skin—we’re here for you. Sign up for a free trial of Curology today and get your personal skincare consultation with one of our dermatology providers online! Check out our other Guides to learn more simple skincare tips, and always remember: we’ve got your back.

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