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There’s good news for everyone who knows they need to be more diligent about their sunscreen habits — especially that whole reapply thing — but hates to continually slather sticky SPF on their faces all day and interfere with a good makeup day. Powdered sunscreens are a thing, and they’re particularly great for reapplications and touch-ups.
Dermatologists might not necessarily recommend you replace your regular liquid sun block with a powdered version, as they may not offer quite as much protection as the old-fashioned kind. However they can be a particularly convenient way to supplement and boost your normal UV protection without messing with your face.
The active ingredients in most powdered sunscreens — titanium dioxide or zinc oxide — are the same ingredients found in liquid sunscreens. It’s just that it can be difficult to apply enough powder on the face and body to get the same protection you get from a liquid. That’s why dermatologists recommend beginning with a base of your normal SPF, and using the powder for touch-ups on the most sun-burnable areas such as the bridge of your nose, back of your neck, or scalp.
Look for an SPF of 30 or higher to make sure you’re getting enough protection, and if your skin tends toward the dry side, it’s not a bad idea to look for extra-hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides. And whatever else you do, remember to reapply, reapply, reapply.
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1. Ilia Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20
We love Ilia’s Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder for a few reasons. It’s vegan, contains soothing aloe vera and other natural nourishing ingredients, has an SPF of 20, and evenly distributes powder to leave a luminescent finish without looking shiny. Also, have you seen the chic packaging? Conveniently, it comes with a removable built-in brush — ideal for on-the-go touch-ups.
2. Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral Powder
Colorescience’s multiple award-winning mineral brush-on sunscreen is beloved by dermatologists as well as beauty editors because it offers protection against infrared radiation, blue (HEV) light, and pollution, as well as harmful UVA/UVB rays, with an SPF strength of 50. It’s also a good choice for acne-prone skin, as the light, all-mineral formula keeps skin looking fresh but won’t clog pores. Oh and did we mention it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes?
3. Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen Powder
This fan-favorite powder sunscreen by Brush On Block is beloved for its sensitive skin-friendly formula, which dispenses a light, sheer layer of powder, unlike the chalky quality of some heavier products. We like that the self-dispensing brush doesn’t emit a ton of excess powder and that the cartridge is refillable, which is more environmentally friendly.
4. Supergoop! (Re)setting 100% Mineral Powder SPF 35
If your skin tends toward the drier side rather than being acne-prone, we love this 100 percent mineral formula from Supergoop — a well-known leader in the world of powder SPF formulas — because it includes moisturizing ingredients like ceramides in addition to sun protection. The powder itself is finely milled, and leaves a slightly matte finish without looking cakey.
5. Avène MineralTinted Compact SPF 50
This tinted formula by Avène combines broad-spectrum SPF 50 with vitamin E to protect from damaging free radicals in a non-greasy cream-to-powder texture. Application leaves a smooth, light finish that is designed to be gentle on even the most sensitive of skin.
6. Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Sunscreen
We’re also fans of Peter Thomas Roth’s mineral powder sunscreen, another high-SPF choice. For one, its high-strength, broad-spectrum formula offers powerful UV defense, while other nourishing antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E offer additional protection from other types of skin damage. It is also an airy, totally transparent powder that smooths out skin-tone without appearing to do so.
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