Being at the beach last week has reminded me how critical good sunscreen is. Mature skin has challenges that younger skin just doesn’t have. By this age, most of our faces (and I’m going to include décolleté in this) have taken a significant beating from the sun. And even though most of the damage was inflicted in our youth, we have to remain vigilant about protecting it from the sun. No matter your age or the time of year, wearing sunscreen daily is essential. Today I’m updating a popular post and sharing a roundup of the best cruelty-free sunscreens for mature skin. I have an entire arsenal that I rely on, so here are some of my favorites for your face and body.
Here are some other helpful posts about sun protection that you may also want to read:
Sunscreens are separated into chemical or physical ones, but to be honest, they’re all chemicals. Some are just assumed to be safer and more effective.
What’s the most effective sunscreen for mature skin? It’s the one that you will use consistently and use enough of. Most people use a thimbleful of sunscreen and spread it too thinly. Please check out How Much Sunscreen Do You Need?
Best Sunscreens for Women Over 50
Physical cruelty-free sunscreens for mature skin
Physical sunscreens provide the best protection and are the gentlest because they reflect damaging rays. They’re called sunblock because they block the rays from absorbing into your skin. Zinc oxide is the gold standard for sun protection because it blocks more rays than even titanium dioxide. My dermatologist and the National Rosacea Society believe that mineral (physical) sunscreens are the best type to use with my rosacea because they are less irritating.
They do tend to leave a white cast, so many companies add tints to help them blend in better. For many years I used Elta MD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41. I used it in place of foundation to give my face a smooth finish. Then I switched to Australian Gold Tinted Face SPF 50 to get that extra bit of coverage.
Josie Maran makes a lovely Broad Spectrum SPF 47 moisturizer that I’ve used for many years and love. I never rely on a moisturizer with SPF alone, but this one has titanium dioxide 5.1% and zinc oxide 6.4, so it’s very protective and soothing.
My current favorite sunscreen for my face is this MDSolarSciences spf 50. It has water-resistant, broad-spectrum UV protection that leaves a smooth, matte finish. I carry this stick in my purse and keep one in my car to add extra protection throughout the day.
I’ve been a big fan of Colorscience everything for years. They consistently make reliable, superior products with high SPF that many dermatologists, including mine, recommend.
I’ve used this ColorScience Brightening Primer off and on for years. It helps illuminate your complexion and smoothes its appearance with an SPF of 20 from titanium dioxide 5% and zinc oxide 4.5%. It’s not enough on its own for me, but I love how it smoothes things out, and my foundation goes over it so nicely.
I also love this Sunforgetable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50! It comes in 3 “shades,” which is a bit misleading because it rubs in to be totally invisible. I have the original, which is a universal peach that disappears and leaves no film or shine. You can add the Sunforgetable Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral powder on top of your makeup any time of day without disturbing it. It’s pricey, and other brands do make similar products, so you could shop this type of product around.
The Colorscience Total Eye 3 in-1 Renewal Therapy Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Concealer ingredient list reads more like an eye cream yet has a strong SPF you can use over your entire lid, from undereye to brow.
How Much Sun Protection Are You Getting?
It’s important to note that the total SPF you wear is not calculated by adding one product with another. It’s only as high as the strongest single SPF product you wear, assuming you have applied enough. I think that layering does help ensure I haven’t missed any spots.
I’ve been reading about these compact mirrors that reveal where you’ve applied sunscreen and where you may have missed it. Most are compact magnifying mirrors equipped with a built-in camera that shows your sunscreen application and the effectiveness of your sunblock. They come at different price points, and none are cheap, but they may be invaluable. This one works with your phone.
Chemical sunscreens for mature skin
There is some controversy over the safety of chemical sunscreens which I wrote about here. The FDA has decided that only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safe, but we all make our own decisions, and for many, they just can’t tolerate the physical sunscreens.
This Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is a best-seller everywhere. It absorbs into your skin with no residue, so makeup goes on easily. It contains zinc oxide, but I have it in this category because the other sunscreen ingredient is octinoxate. It’s sheer, lightweight, and contains hyaluronic acid, which helps hydrate skin.
Sunscreen For Lips
An often overlooked place where women (and men) get sun damage is their lips. I just ordered this Mdsolarsciences tinted lip balm with SPF 30 and will keep you posted. This Colorscience Lip Balm has an SPF of 50, which is much higher than most.
More products to protect your lips-
I am neurotic about protecting my skin from any future sun damage. I do as much reading as possible and try new ones all the time. I have no problem relegating one to “not for me” if it’s streaky, greasy, or generally unpleasant. If I don’t love it, I won’t use it, which makes it worthless to me.
Other Highly Recommended Face Sunscreens
While I haven’t tried these, I see them recommended again and again and have heard great things.
- Alastin Tinted Sunscreen
- Revision Skincare Intellishade Tinted Moisturizer with Sunscreen
- Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen
Additional Ways to Protect Your Skin from the Sun
While sunscreen is a must, I also wanted to emphasize that there are additional ways to protect your skin from the sun. Walking on the shady side of the street comes to mind, and I intentionally do it. Just as SPF is the rating in sunscreen, UPF is the rating in hats and clothing for sun protection. UPF 50+ is the highest rating in clothing offered and blocks up to 98% of UVA and UVB rays.
I highly recommend having a UPF 50+ sun hat handy. I’ve linked my favorite sun hats in this post for you. Another way to protect your skin is by wearing UPF clothing. Brands like Coolibar, Cabana Life, and others are designed just for this.
What are your favorite sunscreens?
Thanks for reading, and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.