In general, there are some guidelines to go by when choosing a face sunscreen, regardless of skin type. Board-certified dermatologist and founder of Amarte Skin Care Craig A. Kraffert, MD, says that the ideal facial sunscreen should offer broad-spectrum SPF (preferably 50+) protection that is water-resistant for 40 minutes.
Kraffert says that in his experience, he’s found the best facial sunscreens are a blend of both physical and organic chemical sunscreens. “These blended products allow the best synergy of functional SPF and aesthetic elegance/usability,” he explains. “For those with oily skin, chemical-only sunscreens offering SPF 50+ tend to be heavy, leaving a cloud-like residue even after massaging in thoroughly. This residue is particularly problematic when it mixes with skin oils. On the other hand, physical-only sunscreens lack aesthetic elegance at SPF 50+ due to the opacity inherent in physical sun blockade. This is often described as a pastiness or greying. It can impart a ghost-like quality to skin.”
When it comes to mineral versus chemical sunscreens, it’s up to personal choice, as we’ve learned before. Mineral (or physical) sunscreens contain zinc and/or titanium dioxide and sit on top of your skin to block out rays. They’re known as natural and nontoxic. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone and are absorbed into the skin in order to provide protection. These ingredients aren’t labeled as toxic by the FDA, but Kraffert does say that there have been increasing concerns about oxybenzone and avobenzone in the dermatology community. In short, much more research needs to be done on these ingredients’ impact when absorbed in the body.