The Best Face Sunscreens for Summer, According to Top Makeup Artists

Rianne in Japan The Model Rianne Van Rompaey Discovers a Surfer’s Paradise Just Outside of Tokyo
Rianne Van Rompaey photographed by Colin Dodgson for W Magazine.

Your dermatologist, aesthetician, and grandmother who’s got pristine skin and has never had any work done (at least, that’s what she says), are all correct: sun protection is one of the most important aspects of skincare. If you are not wearing sunscreen properly and diligently, your skin will face the consequences: the threat of sunspots, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer mean we must protect our dermal layers. This summer is no different. It’s up to you to care for your skin effectively, even while wearing a hat and sunglasses.

You’ll need sunscreen for both the face and body this summer—and luckily, there are many types from which to choose, all offering a wide range of filter protections and finishes. (Most formulations also tend to include additional skin nourishers and brighteners such as niacinamide or green tea.) Typically, we at W reach out to high-ranking dermatologists to weigh in on their favorite products. But since we’re going to be more social than ever in the last two years, we’re considering this season’s vanity factor. This time around, some of our favorite high-profile, ultra-skilled and revered makeup artists have shared their preferred sunscreens that look sublime not just under makeup but even applied alone.

For decades, Shiseido sunscreens have served as beauty experts’ go-to—not just for cutting-edge sun protection, but for the Japanese label’s unique, non-greasy matte coverage. It’s one of the thinnest and most well-absorbed mixtures on the market, serving as a great makeup primer option for daytime. Renowned makeup artist Sandy Ganzer, acclaimed for fusing flawless skin with visionary looks for Hunter Schafer, Julia Garner, and Amy Sedaris, has long stood by her love for Shiseido’s sunscreen. Most recently, their newest launch has had a consistent presence in her work, as well as at home. “All of Shiseido’s sunscreens are legendary, but my new go-to is the Urban Environment Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 42,” she says. “It’s an oil-free, lightweight sunscreen that’s perfect during summer months, because it lightly mattifies the skin.” Spirulina energy essence and hyaluronic acid work together to keep the skin hydrated and irritant-free. Plus, all Shiseido sunscreens are reef-friendly, and free of octinoxate and oxybenzones.

The soft composition and light-yet-decadent application makes this product a game-changing winner for sunscreen options. “Clé de Peau Beauté SPF makes you want to wear sunscreen,” proclaims makeup virtuoso artist Daisy Toye. “It’s extremely luxurious and works perfectly as a primer under foundation.” An added bonus: the hydration factor. It absorbed into the face without any feelings of heaviness under makeup.

Cyndle K, one of the most recognized makeup artists in the fashion world, often lends her creative makeup visions to the most esteemed fashion runways, campaigns, and editorials. And she’s a self-proclaimed devotee of Chanel’s UV Essentiel Sunscreen. “What I love about this sunscreen is that it provides both UVA and UVB protection,” she says. “The consistency is very fluid and lightweight, almost water-like, keeping your skin hydrated but not oily. It dries down to a satin finish, providing the perfect primer for under makeup.”

We love this brand for its ability to provide a dewy, soft glow that stays on all day. Romy Soleimani, the New York-based MUA often recognized for her clean but momentous makeup looks on Cara Delevingne, Lucy Boynton, and Bella Hadid concurs: “I have been a fan of the X-Treme Cream Propolis SPF from Epicuren for years,” she says. “It’s in my personal bag and in my kit. I love that there are antibacterial properties from the Propolis. I find that it works well on even the most sensitive skin and leaves a beautiful glow. It is truly transparent on the skin and works beautifully under makeup.”

This sunscreen is a steady companion kept in the beach bags of so many effortlessly chic European faces. La Roche-Posay is one of, if not the most respected sunscreen brand across the world. “La Roche-Posay’s melt-in sunscreen milk SPF 60 is my absolute go-to protection base,” says makeup artist Amy Oresman, whose clients include Eiza Gonzalez, Kristen Bell, Ellen Pompeo, and Emma Roberts. The veteran makeup expert goes into further detail about the face lotion’s benefits, saying, “This brilliant sunscreen has no fragrance and truly melts into the skin with a velvet-like consistency. If you have sensitive skin, this is the product for you. It also adds a silky texture that makes a beautiful base for foundation. It’s a must-have for beautiful skin protection.” The robust formulation offers sun protection without irritating the skin or leaving heavy buildup, easing skin concerns of individuals who are careful with their sun exposure.

Gucci Westman hails this product for its soothing application on the skin. “I like Elta MD,” she says. “It’s calming for the skin, and I’m always looking for soothing elements in products. It’s broad spectrum and mineral based, and it works nicely under make up. It also feels light and has a very slight tint.” Neil Scibelli, the makeup artist famed for giving Elle Macpherson her indelible glow, is also a devotee of this sunscreen. “One of my top favorite sunscreens, without a doubt,” he says. “It blends effortlessly on the skin without leaving any white cast, and contains niacinamide, which helps to calm redness and addresses hyperpigmentation. This sunscreen comes in both tinted and untinted options—I personally love and use the tinted.”

“What I can’t stop raving about is that the stick is clear, and goes on clear,” says Uzo, the celebrated makeup artist and NARS Global Artistry Director of Shiseido’s clear sunscreen stick. “This is a sunscreen that you don’t have to rub in and wait for it to ‘disappear’ into the skin. This element makes it a perfect sunscreen for deeper skin tones, where most formulations tend to leave a whitish cast. It’s ideal for the weekends and when you’re on-the-go. I’ve been recommending Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ for all my clients. I like the idea of a sleek, lightweight stick that blends onto the skin effortlessly, leaving the skin with a fresh, natural glow.”

This product is a superlative SPF formulation using the most advanced anti-aging technology to give ultimate skin protection. That said, think of Odacité’s newest sunscreen application as actually advantageous for your skin. Gisele Bündchen’s longtime makeup artist, Jenna Anton, is keeping this sun protectant close this summer. “I’m absolutely LOVING Odacité’s SPF 50 Mineral Drops as a sheer protective layer for mine and my client’s skin,” Anton says. “It wears beautifully under makeup without leaving white residue or looking greasy.” The sunscreen incorporates Odacité’s proprietary Sun Repair complex formulated with high-grade niacinamide, green tea, and squalene to even out skin tone, brighten, and fight against exposure to free radical skin damage. Chamomile and calendula are also infused in the concoction to soothe and calm the skin against redness or irritation. Plus, it’s PA++++, the highest level of protection from the UVA rays responsible for aging.

“I have never seen anything like it!,” says Allan Avendaño, the makeup prodigy whose creative magic comes to life on such luminary faces as Bella Hadid, Joey King, and Vanessa Hudgens. “This formula works beautifully as a pore-smoothing primer that offers a blurring, soft-focus effect on makeup and provides SPF protection as well.” The newly launched Saint Jane sun protection medley still incorporates the power of skin-healing floral essences and remains a clean beauty composition. We love the fact that there was no white cast remaining on the skin, it was lightweight and uses plants—the ultimate skin beautifiers—to bring your skin to its ultimate best appearance, naturally.

Featherlight but yielding robust SPF broad spectrum protection, Tatcha’s Silk Sunscreen smooths on beautifully under makeup or worn on its own. Daniel Martin, the veteran makeup artist whose clients include Jessica Alba, Meghan Markle, and Jessica Biel recently collaborated with the brand for this specific sunscreen. “I was actually involved with the launch of The Silk Sunscreen from the inception,” he says. “It was important for me as a makeup artist to help create an SPF that one can wear underneath makeup without feeling it—one that connects with whatever makeup you use on top of it rather than interfering. This particular formulation is great in locking down whatever you use on top of it. On its own, I’ve found that this blurs and mattifies on combination-type skin.”

Long beloved in Tinseltown for perfecting the sultriest looks on the faces of Gwyneth Paltrow, Adele, and Mandy Moore, eyebrow and makeup maven Kristie Streicher has long been outspoken about the need for sunscreen to maintain beautiful skin long-term. Supergoop’s Unseen SPF 40 has been the artist’s constant favorite not just for summer, but year-round. “I am a huge fan of the Unseen Sunscreen for many reasons, but mainly because it’s nearly undetectable,” Streicher says. “I ask all of my microfeathering clients to use it on their brows post-treatment.”

An excellent option when you’re swimming, tanning, or boating, this all-natural water- and sweat-resistant SPF 50 uses a non-nano zinc oxide for ideal sun protection. It’s balmy and soft, with avocado oil penetrating the skin and providing nourishment with a blend of rose hip oil. Beauty expert and skilled makeup artist Robin Black praises the clean and sustainable option as her summer sun protection choice. “The Salt and Stone SPF 50 ticks all the right boxes for me,” Black says. “It’s reef-safe, fragrance-free, uses non-nano zinc for UVA plus UVB protection, and the packaging is sustainably made from sugarcane—so important, because who wants to take more plastic to the beach?”