Stories from Summer Skin Care

5 of the best face sunscreens to help you avoid a wonky-looking mask tan

Zoe Weiner

Zoe WeinerMay 7, 2020

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Photo: Getty Images/ urbazon

Face masks are the hottest (and most important) new accessory of 2020, and for the time being, none of us should be leaving the house without them. But going outside with our face half covered presents an interesting beauty conundrum. How, exactly, are we supposed to avoid a mask tan as the UV index climbs and the temps soar? Aside from the obvious answer: Wear SPF (and lots of it!), we asked a derm for her top tips to keep our faces protected.

According to her, it’s all about the application. “It doesn’t matter if you’re using mineral or chemical sunscreen—it’s about applying and re-applying,” says board-certified dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD. “You don’t want to let yourself get to the threshold where you’re getting tan around the mask and not tan underneath the mask, because you’ll wind up with a line.” While the choice between a physical or chemical sunscreen comes down to personal preference, she suggests opting for a formula that’s not greasy or oily so that it won’t drip when you inevitably sweat under your mask.

One other thing to keep in mind? “Put your sunscreen on first, before you put on your mask, because if the mask shifts you, don’t want any weird burns,” she says. Remember, apply chemical sunscreens at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure for them to have a chance to take effect, and even waiting this long for mineral SPFs to fully dry isn’t a bad call for the time being. Then, be sure to re-apply religiously throughout the day (rain or shine) so that you don’t get a tan.

To help you pick the best product, we rounded up some of our favorite, non-greasy face formulas that will stay on during even the sweatiest walks around your block.

CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 Face Sheer Tint, $14

Photo: Cerave

This mineral sunscreen is lightly tinted to provide a sheer, opalescent finish on top of any skin tone. In addition to SPF 30, it’s got niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, which will help calm any mask-induced irritation.

Supergoop Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50, $22

Photo: Supergoop

This sunscreen got its name—”Play”—thanks to the fact that it’s meant to stand up to even the sweatiest activities. It’s lightweight and fast absorbing, which means that you’ll forget it’s even there within seconds of putting it on. Because it’s formulated with antioxidant-rich sunflower extract, it will protect your skin from pollution while also fending off sun damage.

BeautyCounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, $38

Photo: BeautyCounter

Having worn this sunscreen on approximately 200 morning runs over the last few years, I can tell you that it stays put. It acts as a physical blocker to keep your skin safe from UVA and UVB rays, and despite being loaded with zinc it won’t leave behind an annoying white cast.

Photo: Skinceuticals

Considering it was developed by dermatologists, you know this stuff is good. It’s water (aka sweat) resistant for up to 80 minutes, and features a plankton extract called Artemia Salina, which boosts your skin’s natural defense to UV and heat-induced stress, while protecting your collagen from damage.

Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Face Oil-Free Sunscreen, $9

Photo: Neutrogena

Sweat of any kind is no match for this oil-free ‘screen. Despite offering SPF 70 coverage, it doesn’t feel thick or clog pores. It absorbs easily into your skin, which means that it’s resistant to any chafing or rubbing that might happen when your mask starts shifting around.

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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