The 9 Best Powder Sunscreens for Streak-Free UV Protection
If you’re worried about sun damage and want to prevent premature aging (um, so, all of us), one of the best things you can do is wear sunscreen every day. Yup, even when you’re sitting inside. There’s just one problem: The thought of reapplying midday and ending up with a streaky, cakey mess as the sunscreen mixes with our makeup is cringe-worthy. So we just don’t reapply. And especially in the summer months, when we’re getting more sun exposure, that’s a major no-no.
The solution? Powder sunscreen. Experts agree that while it shouldn’t be the only form of sunscreen you use (most powders don’t have a high enough SPF), it’s a great way to stay protected throughout the day. After you apply your heavy duty SPF in the morning, keep a powder version on hand to reapply without the major hassle of a lotion.
What exactly is powder sunscreen?
Most powder sunscreens are made up of a mix of zinc and titanium dioxides (the main ingredients typically found in mineral sunscreens), but instead of being put into a liquid or cream base, they come in micronized powder form.
How do you apply powder sunscreen?
It’s super easy. Just swivel up the built-in brush head and sweep the powder onto your face. Feel free to reapply multiple times if you’re getting a lot of sun—it’s light enough that it won’t create visible buildup.
One thing to keep in mind? While powder sunscreen is a dream come true for your face and neck, we suggest sticking to a sunscreen lotion for the rest of your body, as it’s hard to get full coverage over larger areas using such a small brush.
The best powder sunscreens
1. Best Overall: Paula’s Choice On-the-Go Shielding Powder SPF 30
This powder’s zinc oxide protects against both UVA and UVB rays, while its ceramides and vitamins A, C and E nourish the skin and protect against free radical damage. Users love that translucent formula mattifies the skin without leaving behind visible powder specs. “I was a little afraid it would mess up my makeup but this doesn’t add any significant color or texture, it actually sets the makeup nicely,” writes one reviewer.
2. Best Budget: Derma E Sun Protection Mineral Powder SPF 30
OK, so $18 isn’t exactly cheap, but in terms of powder sunscreens, it’s about as inexpensive as they come. Besides the price point, our favorite thing about this sunscreen is that it’s made with non-nano zinc oxide and non-nano titanium dioxide, so it’s reef safe. One thing to note? Some buyers mention that despite its product description, it’s not really translucent if that's what you’re going for.
3. Best Splurge: Colorscience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
When you think of powder sunscreen, this one probably comes to mind first. It’s one of the most popular, and it even gets the Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of approval. In addition to the standard zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, this formula is infused with hyaluronic acid for hydration, iron oxides to protect against blue light and mica to create a subtle glow. And judging by the over 100 five-star reviews on Dermstore’s site, we’d say it delivers on its promises.
4. Best Clean Beauty: Ilia Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20
This talc-free SPF 20 powder from Ilia won’t just protect you from the sun, it’ll enhance your skin too. Aloe leaf extract, passion fruit and rosemary oil combine to soothe and fight inflammation while you wear it. And we love the fact that you can easily remove and clean the brush head to ensure there’s no buildup.
5. Best Coverage: Supergoop! Invincible Setting Powder SPF 45
Since this is a setting powder rather than a translucent one, it provides more coverage if you’re hoping to conceal dark spots and blemishes. And it’ll keep your makeup in place even on a hot summer afternoon thanks to its sweat-resistant staying power. Some reviewers note that the packaging can be finicky, so you might want to use your own brush instead of the included one for a better application.
6. Best for Oily Skin: Tarte Tarteguard Mineral Powder Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30
If you’re on the hunt for a powder sunscreen with serious mattifying power, look no further. Fans rave that this SPF from Tarte combats oiliness and lasts for hours to keep your face shine free. “I have a very oily T zone, and extremely sensitive skin on my cheeks that dry out easily. This powder covers well, helps take the shine off my face during the day, seems to work well as a sunscreen and doesn't irritate my skin,” writes one buyer. And apparently this Tarteguard powder smells like vanilla, if that's something you’re into.
7. Best for Scalp: Supergoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part and Scalp Powder
Scalp sunburns are the worst, but we’d rather suffer through them then get our hair all greasy by applying sunscreen to our part. Enter: This powder. It dusts onto your part and hairline for SPF 45 protection that you won’t be able to see or feel. Plus, it contains silica to absorb excess oil if your scalp tends to get a little greasy throughout the day.
8. Best for Body: Powder Me Dry Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen
Unlike most powder sunscreens, this stuff isn’t just for your face—it’s designed for your body too. Pat the sponge applicator on your skin to release the powder, then gently glide it along your body to spread it out. We have a feeling this is going to be a game changer this summer, since our chest is always getting burned.
9. Best for Sensitive Skin: Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45
Peter Thomas Roth knows skincare, and this product is no exception. It’s formulated for all skin types (including sensitive skin) so it won’t cause irritation. “It’s the only stuff that doesn’t give me a rash,” writes one woman. Multiple reviewers also note that despite breaking out easily, this SPF hasn’t caused any flare ups. Score.