You know that one kid at your high school who not only happened to be at the top of the class, but was also involved in sports, the spring musical, student government and every single club, including the ones you didn't even know existed? Now picture if that type of mega-impressive overachiever could exist in the skin-care world, and you'll have a good understanding of what's going on in sunscreen right now.
After decades of predictably similar formulas that did the bare minimum to prevent sun burns, but weren't particularly pleasant to use, things have truly changed. The new standard of sun protection is one that offers variety, an enjoyable (even fun or luxurious) user experience and a whole host of other important complexion benefits. Whether for body or face, these next-gen products are the show-offs of skin care: Yes, they provide legit, broad-spectrum protection against UV damage, but they also brighten, hydrate, soothe, refresh, prime and color correct.
Some formulas are spiked with a cocktail of potent, buzzy ingredients — think ceramides, vitamin C, blue light shields, hyaluronic acid or niacinamide — while others are all about texture, from featherweight, quenching serums to refreshing, cucumber-scented mists to glow-enhancing body oils. There are sunscreens that pack pollution protection, inhibit (and even correct) the appearance of dark spots and create a smooth, primer-like canvas for makeup.
There's also been important innovation in the realm of mineral sunscreens, which have historically been known for creating chalky white casts on medium and dark skin tones. The latest iterations — many from Black-owned and -founded brands, like Cay Skin, Kinlò, Eleven by Venus Williams and Unsun — have been developed specifically with melanin-rich skin in mind. Whether through pigmented tints in deeper shades or lotions that are actually sheer and transparent, no matter your skin tone, these game-changers are making sun care more accessible to all.
In the gallery below, we've rounded up a whole bunch of top-notch overachieving sunscreens for every complexion need, texture preference, skin type and tone. Click through to see (and shop) them all.
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