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The Over-Anxious Angeleno’s Guide to Sunscreen

A person putting sunscreen on a body of a woman
Photo by Steve Christo/Fairfax Media via Getty Images
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When you ask any woman with flawless skin to divulge her secrets, she’ll defer to three key factors: genetics, a healthy lifestyle, and consistent use of sunscreen. (Even if she’s got a great plastic surgeon, these aspects will typically prevail more prominently over time.) Sunscreen can be a complicated piece to the perfect skin puzzle, as the majority of women tend to not only apply their favorite sunscreen incorrectly, but also not often enough (top dermatologists recommend effective application to be every few hours).

If you prefer your skincare products to veer on the lighter side during the day, using sunscreen can definitely be a buzzkill. The layering process suddenly becomes thicker, heavier, and often, everything looks just a bit cakier. All carping aside though, sunscreen is not just a skin perfecter that will ward off future wrinkles and spots—more crucially, sunscreen helps decrease your risk of getting skin cancer.

Driving in the Los Angeles heat wave this last week inspired us to reach out to a handful of noted celebrity makeup artists to recommend their favorite lightest and most effective sunscreens—including some of the newest launches this year, as well as some of the most cherished SPF mainstays.

A favorite of Georgie Eisdell, the renowned makeup artist responsible for Gwyneth Paltrow and Carey Mulligan’s most unforgettable red carpet looks, this product doesn’t feel cakey, uses clean ingredients, and can serve as a dual moisturizer and sunscreen. “Here’s why I love Sunvisor the most: it doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin (thank goodness), it’s really beautiful under makeup—which is hugely important to me, and it leaves the skin beautifully dewy, so it is really gorgeous on its own, without makeup, too,” Eisdell says. “Plus, it’s totally clean and that in itself is incredibly important. I always use clean skincare; it penetrates into the skin and the skin is the largest organ in the body, so I want to make sure that what I am putting on my skin is a clean product.” Launched earlier this year, the SPF 35 formulation uses aloe to help calm skin, vitamin E to nourish, and zinc oxide to protects skin against sun damage.

“Physical sunscreen usually means a white, ghost-like look on your skin, but you don’t get that with Dr. Gross Wrinkle Defense,” says Chicago-based celebrity makeup artist Candace Corey, who frequently collaborates on Zoe Saldana’s beauty looks. “This sunscreen glides on like water, so it’s not thick, and it blends into your skin without looking like you have toothpaste on your face. It’s ideal even if you have a darker complexion.” Launched last month, the sunscreen doubles as a makeup primer and sun protector, and has potent anti-wrinkle/complexion boosting ingredients ferulic acid and sea buckthorn.

Just launched this week by veteran skin aesthetician Somerville, Daily Deflector helps prevent dark spots and premature aging while providing the highest-rated sun protection; non-nano zinc oxide is the key ingredient there, helping ward off the damaging effects of endless blue light exposure and sun damage. Rich in vitamin E, tasmannia lanceolata leaf extract and a ceramide complex, the sunscreen will calm and hydrate the skin, too.

Makeup artist Mary Phillips (whose client list includes Bella Hadid, Jennifer Lopez, and Kendall Jenner) has been a longtime fan of the sunscreen, which provides a bevy of rich, sea-sourced minerals from La Mer’s famed Miracle Broth mixture. “I often use this fluid because it goes on just like a moisturizer, it’s lightweight and doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue,” she says. “It sits perfectly under makeup while hydrating my skin all day long. It’s been my favorite because its formula quickly absorbs into the skin and provides protection from UV exposure without constant reapplication. I use it all year round.”

Celebrity makeup artist Allan Avendaño considers this tinted sunscreen a must-buy, due to its ability to glide on fine, promoting a natural and dewy complexion. “I am obsessed with the Umbra Tinté Physical Daily Defense for myself and for my clients,” he says, noting the product also helps nourish skin with several beneficial antioxidants including raspberry, grape juice, and marula oil. “I use it on a daily basis, and it leaves my face moisturized and protected from harmful UVA/UVB rays. I also love to use this on clients because not only does it protect, but it works like a primer, smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles on the face. It also doesn’t leave any white residue and doesn’t flash back when you take photos like most SPF products do!”

Not only is Lauder’s light but powerful sunscreen remarkably featherweight and fast-absorbing, this gel emulsion—ideal for those who hate the feeling of thicker, creamier sunscreens—provides environmental defense against pollutants that tend to irritate and damage skin. The quick-absorbing mixture provides up to eight hours of skin hydration for comfortable, all-day wear.

A steady go-to for makeup artist Mellody Vere (who often preps the flawless complexions of Alessandra Ambrosio, Poppy Delevingne, and Emma Roberts), Vere likes to use this product for makeup priming. "It feels silky on skin, there’s no white residue and it is perfect to wear under makeup without looking paste-like,” she tells W, adding that it simultaneously heals skin with high-grade shea butter, cucumber extract, and rhodochrosite, which helps prevent cell damage. “It’s a high-performing SPF with skin nourishing benefits that hydrate and give a glow because of the essential oils and vitamin E. For me, SPF packed with nutrients is always a win-win for the faces I work on.”

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