how to find the perfect sunscreen

for every skin type

Illustrations by Elisabeth Moch

No one is going to dispute the fact that sun protection is a must—especially now that it’s finally warm enough to spend long periods of time outside. But picking a sunscreen is a whole other story. Sunscreen, after all, is skin care. And as such, it should be selected as carefully as your moisturizer or face wash, depending on what your skin needs. 

The first thing to know is that there are two types of sunscreen: physical, and chemical. Dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology explains, "Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s rays and can create free radicals, while physical sunscreens protect skin by deflecting the radiation." Dr. Dennis Gross, NYC-based dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, says that both kinds are equally effective: "Any protection is good protection," he says, noting that what's really important is the SPF number. As a rule, the higher the number, the better. "The SPF factor is a result of FDA standardized testing designed specifically to prevent sunburn," he explains. It's everything else that you need to worry about, since certain ingredients can be irritating depending on your skin type. 

Click through to find the perfect one for you.