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Best facial sunscreens that won’t leave residue behind

These top-selling sunscreens will protect your skin without creating a white cast


The sun’s UVA and UVB rays are damaging to the skin and can even lead to skin cancer. That’s why it’s vital to protect your skin with sunscreen when spending time in the sun. However, some products that provide excellent protection can also make skin look pale and unnatural. That’s where a facial sunscreen that doesn’t leave behind residue comes in. 

The best ones for your skin offer excellent SPF without a white cast. They aren’t heavy, greasy or sticky, allowing your natural skin tone to shine through. 

What causes sunscreen residue?

There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and physical. According to the Mayo Clinic, chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s ultraviolet rays so they won’t damage the skin. Physical sunscreens, or mineral-based sunscreens, form a barrier that prevents the sun from reaching the skin. Chemical formulas don’t leave a white residue. It’s minerals in physical sunscreens such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that create the protective barrier that can also be seen on the skin. The result is often a visible white residue. 

While some people are concerned about the chemicals used in chemical-based sunscreens, these products are effective at protecting skin from ultraviolet rays. However, mineral-based sunscreens are best for babies, young children, people with sensitive skin, eco-conscious consumers and those who prefer chemical-free products.

What to look for in residue-free sunscreens

If you’ve ever applied a thick, mineral-based sunscreen and realized your face looked pale, you’re not alone. Fortunately, many modern mineral sunscreens have been formulated to prevent a white cast. In addition, there are several chemical-based sunscreens that don’t leave behind this type of residue. 

Here are some other features to look for to ensure that the sunscreen you purchase will protect your skin without producing a white cast: 

  • Opt for a sunscreen that doesn’t contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. While effective and free of artificial chemicals, these minerals are known for leaving behind a white residue if the product isn’t made with a special formula. 
  • Look for products that indicate on their labels that they are sheer or clear. These sunscreens are made to be virtually invisible once absorbed into the skin. 
  • Choose a tinted mineral sunscreen. In addition to enhancing skin’s natural tone, the light color in these sunscreens prevent a white cast. 
  • Try a powdered formula. This type of sunscreen is lightweight and easy to blend. Colorless formulas as well as those with light tints are available. 
  • Assess the wording in product descriptions. Sunscreens that are described as lightweight, easy to blend, matte and absorbing easily are typically unlikely to produce a white cast. 
  • Think about the reefs. If you spend a lot of time in the ocean near coral reefs, it’s a good idea to avoid sunscreens with chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. These can harm some coral and various other marine dwellers. 

A word about SPF and facial sunscreens

When you are in the sun, your face is prone to excessive exposure. Additionally, delicate facial skin is likely to burn. That’s why it’s best to choose a facial sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher for optimal protection. Additionally, look for broad-spectrum formulas that protect against both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. 

Best facial sunscreens that won’t leave a residue

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Unseen Sunscreen by Supergoop! has become a fan favorite for its matte finish. You can also use it as a makeup primer. Fans love that it absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel greasy on the face.

Sold by Ulta, Kohl’s, Sephora and Amazon 


Colorscience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 50

Because it’s in powder form, this mineral sunscreen is easy to apply and doesn’t feel heavy or oily. The reef-safe formula comes in several colors to match different skin tones. It’s suitable for wearers with sensitive skin and isn’t likely to cause breakouts.

Sold by Amazon


Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50

This lightweight, clear sunscreen features a proprietary formula that delivers enhanced performance when exposed to heat and moisture. The handy sunscreen stick form makes it easy to stash in a bag and go.

Sold by Kohl’s, Sephora and Ulta Beauty


La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50 

This creamy luxury facial sunscreen is rich in antioxidants that are good for the skin. It absorbs quickly and has a light tint that enhances skin tones and prevents a white cast.

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty


Coola Organic Classic Face Sunscreen SPF 50

A fragrance-free reef-safe formula makes this facial sunscreen a great choice. It absorbs quickly and feels lightweight on the skin. What’s more, it’s made with quality organic ingredients that are ideal for most consumers with sensitive skin.

Sold by Ulta Beauty, Macy’s and Amazon


Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

With avocado and jojoba extracts, this sunscreen lotion features a highly moisturizing formula that pampers your skin. The sheer formula absorbs fast and is also fragrance free.

Sold by Ulta Beauty and Macy’s


EltaMD Skincare UV Clear Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 46

Those with skin that’s prone to breakouts will love this dermatologist-tested sunscreen’s oil-free formula. Although mineral-based, it’s sheer and has a lightweight feel on the skin.

Sold by Amazon


Dermalogica Prisma Protect SPF 30

Formulated with moisturizing ingredients and antioxidants, this sunscreen is ideal for anyone prone to dry skin. The smooth, creamy consistency doesn’t feel greasy and absorbs quickly for all-day protection and hydration.

Sold by Sephora, Ulta Beauty and Amazon


Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 70  

There’s no greasy feel to this sunscreen that produces an attractive matte finish once it has absorbed into the skin. It offers an impressive SPF 70 that’s ideal for hours of fun in the sun. Additionally, it’s made by a trusted drugstore brand and is available at a reasonable price point. 

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty


Clinique Sunscreen Fluid for the Face SPF 50

If you are looking for an extremely lightweight sunscreen, this is the one to get. The mineral-based formula is made with the brand’s Invisible Shield Technology, which makes it undetectable on the skin. The lightweight consistency feels nice on the face.

Sold by Macy’s, Ulta Beauty, Sephora and Amazon


Sun Bum Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 30

When it comes to ease of use, a stick sunscreen is a good choice. This formula feels lightweight and absorbs in minutes. It’s made with vitamin E that protects and nourishes your skin.

Sold by Ulta Beauty and Amazon


Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 30

It’s the lightweight feel of this facial sunscreen lotion that has earned it many happy customers. It’s also an affordable option that boasts a delightful coconut scent that’s perfect to wear in the summertime.

Sold by Amazon

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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