Some people prefer not to use sunscreen on their face because it has a tendency to be thick and greasy, or because it may run into their eyes and sting. The best face sunscreens, however, are lightweight and won't run, no matter how much you sweat or get wet.
Two facial sunscreens get top reviews: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid (Est. $35 for 1.7 oz.) and EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 (Est. $29 for 1.7 oz.) . Both formulas provide broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection and rely on mineral sunscreen ingredients. La Roche-Posay Mineral Ultra Light has an SPF value of 50 and contains 11 percent titanium dioxide as its sole active ingredient. Paula Begoun says the fragrance-free formula is a "gentle option for those with sensitive or rosacea-affected skin." EltaMD, on the other hand, contains 9 percent micronized zinc oxide but adds in octinoxate, a chemical sunscreen that has the potential to irritate sensitive skin, Begoun says.
Both sunscreens are praised by experts and users. Editors of Allure magazine say Anthelios 50 has a "silky, liquidy formula" that feels "incredibly lightweight". Likewise, Begoun says that EltaMD's formula is "surprisingly lightweight" and has an elegant texture that feels silky rather than thick and pasty like most sunscreens. Editors of InStyle magazine say the oil-free sunscreen "seriously hydrates skin."
Users at Amazon.com also say EltaMD is easy to apply, "It absorbs quickly into the skin without leaving a tacky, sticky, oily or mask-like feeling... I don't even feel like I'm wearing anything on my skin," one user says. La Roche-Posay, on the other hand, takes a bit more effort to rub it in, according to users. Reviewers say both formulas leave skin a bit shiny, but most agree it's nothing that a little facial powder can't hide. Both sunscreens are fragrance-free.
Experts say that antioxidants help to boost the protective power of sunscreen and keep skin healthy. Although La Roche-Posay is better suited to sensitive skin, it contains only a sparse amount of antioxidants -- not enough to make much difference, Begoun says. EltaMD also only contains a small amount of antioxidants but it is loaded with niacinamide, which helps promote collagen production, increase skin elasticity and may help to reduce blemishes.
EltaMD UV Clear is the Best Reviewed pick for face sunscreen because it earns high ratings from more top-rated reviewers and provides benefits above and beyond sun protection. It can be difficult to find in stores, however, because it's distributed by dermatologists (we did find it at Drugstore.com). La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid is also an excellent option, especially if you have sensitive skin.