3 things a top dermatologist wants you to know about face sunscreen

face sunscreen facts

Take note next time you apply!

Beauty Crew Editor / February 08 2019

We have had it drilled into us time and time again that sunscreen is a non-negotiable. You should be covering every inch of skin from your head to your toes in plenty of that sweet, sweet UVA- and UVB-fighting stuff. 

But sometimes that whole facial sunscreen thing is one that we tend to skip out on when it comes to the everyday. Whether it’s because we think the SPF in our moisturiser or makeup is enough to do the job (hot tip: you’d need to apply A LOT of that SPF foundation to ensure you’ve got enough on!), or that we’ll be at work or indoors away from the sun’s rays (another tip: even if the sun’s rays are only reaching your skin through your office windows, it’s still doing damage), or because it simply doesn’t feel nice on (yet another top tip: this one works excellently under makeup), we are just not vigilant enough with our daily sunscreen application. 

Just so we’re clear (and we can rest easy knowing we’ve done our due diligence): facial sunscreen application should be part of your morning routine EVERY day, EVERY season. 

And now that you’ve made the mental note to add your sunscreen to your bathroom counter so you don’t’ forget it tomorrow morning, there are a few extra bits we thought you should know about using a face sunscreen. To do that, we called on the help of Professor Pablo Fernández Peñas, who is a Professor in Dermatology at The University of Sydney, Senior Medical Practitioner at Westmead Hospital and Director of the Centre for Translational Skin Research. 

#1 / You should be using a different sunscreen on your face and body

We get it, it feels tempting to just keep going up from your chest to your neck to your face when you’re doing a full-body sunscreen application, but the skin on your face and body are different, and so they may need different things. 

“Facial and body skin differs in thickness, sensitivity and oil content, so using the same sunscreen doesn’t work for everyone. Skin-feel and coverage are some of the things to consider when selecting a face vs body sunscreen. The right texture is critical for compliance, with creams typically prescribed for a drier skin, and a light fluid preferred for an oilier skin,” says Peñas. 

#2 / You should aim higher than SPF 15 – even if you’re just going to be indoors

There are a lot of day creams and moisturisers with an included SPF 15, and it might seem like you’re ticking your moisturising and protection boxes with one application, but Peñas's recommendation is to go for the top-shelf stuff when it comes to sunscreen. 

“It’s my preference, as a dermatologist, that my patients wear the highest SPF. Dark skin could have enough protection with a SPF 15, but for most white skin SPF 50+ would be better. If you want to minimise sun damage, ageing and skin cancer, the highest the better.” 

#3 / You should make sure you’re applying enough

Applying sunscreen every day is a great step in protecting your skin from sun damage, but even better is ensuring you’re applying enough. 

So, what’s enough when it comes to your morning facial sunscreen application? “I’d recommend half a teaspoon of sunscreen for your whole face and neck to ensure coverage,” says Peñas. 

If you’re feeling pretty motivated by the whole facial sunscreen thing and are keen to stock up on one, our members highly rate La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid SPF 50+, Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF50 and SunSense Daily Face SPF 50+ (click on each of the links to find out why they’re getting such stellar reviews).


La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid SPF 50+

Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF50

SunSense Daily Face SPF 50+

Looking to bulk up your sunscreen stash? Here are 7 sunscreens that go above and beyond simple sun protection.

Do you have a favourite facial sunscreen? Please share with us in the comments section below.

Main image credit: @shaymitchell

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.