How to pick the right sunscreen for your skin type

How to pick the right sunscreen for your skin type

Imagine an absolutely stunning living room filled with priceless furniture, one of a kind art, and vintage finds. Blocking out the harsh direct light that would otherwise fade and discolor those priceless pieces are very ordinary, very dark drapes. Are you following me here? The living room is your skin, the one-of-one furniture and treasures are your serums and moisturizers and those drapes, well, they’re sunscreen. Just like those ugly drapes, sunblock is absolutely necessary but not that great at anything other than protection from harmful rays. Yes, we must use it or we will end up with wrinkled skin and unsightly dark spots, and a risk for skin cancer, but choosing the wrong sunscreen for your skin can lead to congested skin, acne or even rashes. 

“Olga, do you mean to say that not just any sunscreen is good enough for my skin?” Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. When choosing a sunblock, you need to pick one that won’t be fighting against your skin, but working with it. If you use sunblock that doesn’t agree with your skin, it won’t matter what other skin care you use. If you’re using sunscreen that is too oily and causes you to break out, it can cause more scarring that can turn into the dark spots you’re trying to prevent. 

Currently, sunblock is the only true protection our skin has against damaging UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are responsible for 90% of all ultraviolet rays, and the reason we hate them is because they’re the main cause of dark spots, wrinkles and cancer. Sunblocks that protect from UVA use the acronym: PA to measure the protection grade and it ranges from PA+ to PA++++. If your sunblock doesn’t use PA rating, pick a sunblock with zinc oxide, they both protect against UVA and UVB rays. UVB are the rays that cause a sunburn, and if you’re lucky, turn your skin to tan, that’s where the SPF range comes in acronym. When sunblock protects from UVA and UVB rays, it’s often referred to as full spectrum or broad spectrum SPF.

To make it simpler for you, I’ve rounded up the sunblocks I’d recommend if you were in my treatment room. While this list is mainly U.S. based sunscreen brands, see if you can get your hands on any Japanese or Australian brands. They have better, newer UVA filters that the FDA has yet to approve in the U.S. (most likely just not a priority). 

For oily/acne-prone skin:

  • Canmake - Mermaid Skin Gel (clear) SPF  55- PA++++

They have two versions - one is clear and one contains zinc (which leaves white cast). I like them both equally, if you hate a white cast, go for the clear one. This sunscreen is super light, looks great under makeup, and it doesn’t burn your eyes which in itself is a miracle! 

  • Paula’s Choice - Resist Super - Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 

WIth 13% Zinc Oxide, not only does it provide great UV protection, it has a very nice, light texture. The main con is that It’s best for light skin tones. 

  • Biore - Aqua rich watery essence Spf 50 PA++++

Absolutely love this for congested, acne-prone skin. It absorbs on contact, is super lightweight, and doesn’t leave a white cast.

For normal/sensitive skin: 

  • Alastin - SkinShield SPF 30 - 

This full spectrum sunblock is lightweight and perfect for those with sensitive skin, and those who have a hard time tolerating the feel of sunblock. It’s hydrating with a smooth matte finish, what more can you ask for? 

  • SkinCeuticals - light moisture SPF 50

I have used SkinCeuticals for years on myself and my clients, and it always delivers! This is great for kids as well! It has great spreadability making it easy to apply, and I rarely ever found congestion with any SkinCeutical sunblock. 

  • Biore - Aqua rich watery essence SPF 50

One of my favorites for all skin types. Light, effective and great under makeup!

  • Mesoestetic SPF 50 full spectrum

This is my favorite sunblock for anyone who has discoloration, sun spots, or an uneven skin tone.

It does have a light tint, so you have to check if it’s doable for your skin color. It works great under makeup or even alone when you don’t feel like putting much on. 

  • ANTHELIOS SPF 100 broad spectrum

This is a melt-in, milky sunscreen and is an absolutely great sunblock for all different lifestyles. It can be used as your everyday sunscreen, at the beach, and even when you are active and outside. Easy to apply and also great under make-up!

For Dry/Dehydrated skin:

  • Canmake - Mermaid Skin Gel (clear) SPF  55- PA++++

While this is a super light sunblock that is also great for dry skin, you still need to hydrate under this. For dry skin especially, make this the last step in your AM skincare routine. When you have dry skin, it’s best to go for a sunblock that is light in texture and doesn’t interfere with your products or makeup.

  • Alastin - SkinShield SPF 30 

This pure, physical sunblock has a sandy feel, and a formulation that is absolutely fabulous and perfect for most skin types. 


You have a lot of options, but know that regardless of what you choose, be sure to test it first! Apply it on only half of your face daily for two weeks to see if it has any negative side effects. Good luck, have responsible fun under the sun!


Sunblock how to: 

- Sunblock is the last step in your morning routine

- Wait at least 5 minutes in between the last step of your skin care routine before putting on sunblock.

- You need to apply at least 1/2 teaspoon of sunblock for your face, neck and ears

- Do not mix or layer sunblocks !

- SPF in your make-up or moisturizer is just not sufficient so don’t bother. Also adding SPF in your moisturizer just tells me you need better moisturizer.

What about your body

- Anthelelios XL - 50+ Full spectrum

Great for all over the body and absorbs easily so great for all exposed areas like chest and arms while driving or walking around.

- Blue Lizard - SPF 50+ Sensitive full spectrum

This is one of my favorite sunblocks when in tropical climates or anywhere where the sun index is high but due to high oxide content 24%. It’s also water resistant for up to 80minutes. Great for kids!

- SkinCeuticals -SPF 50 full spectrum - SPORT

I have used this sunblock for the past 16years and it never fails. Great for any athletic activity outdoors, also for beach, skiing and children. This is also great for your face so makes traveling with just one type of sunblock perfect!

Also don’t forget to wear protective SPF clothing!

Especially when gardening, on hikes or swimming in the middle of the day.

Happy summer!

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