Now that you know about the best mineral sunscreens, there's one more product to consider adding to your summer beauty arsenal.
Also known as "dry sunscreen," it can give your daily suncare routine a little extra somethin'-somethin'.
Not in replacement of your regular sunscreen, mind you, but in addition to it. Here's why.
Powder Sunscreen Benefits
These are some of the reasons to love powder sunscreen:
- Goes on over makeup: How convenient is that? It looks and feels just like any loose face powder, is available in both translucent and tinted versions, and mattifies at the same time as it protects. Besides your face, you can also put it on your chest, hands and down your part.
- SPF 25 to SPF 50: Thanks to the same ingredients—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—that you see in creamy mineral sunscreens, powder sunscreens also have a sun protection factor (SPF) on their labels.
- An extra layer of protection: I'm not suggesting powder SPF should be the only sunscreen you use to protect your skin—at least not for prolonged outdoor exposure. (I doubt most of us would apply it liberally enough, plus overly powdery faces don't look good!) But powder is perfect for adding an extra layer of protection on top of your favourite lotion-based sunscreen.
- Easy to re-apply: We already talked about the whole sunscreen re-application conundrum. I think powders are the best solution, because they contain safe mineral filters, are super-quick to apply, and won't mess up your makeup.
- Portable: When you get caught without enough sunscreen on, it's the worst. I suggest keeping a powder sunscreen in your purse at all times as a back-up or "emergency" sunscreen—you never know when you might need it! Each tube comes with a built-in, self-dispensing brush, so it's easy to use on the go.
Is Powder Sunscreen Safe?
You may have heard that powder sunscreen has been banned, or that it contains dangerous nanoparticles. Here's what you need to know:
- Are powder sunscreens banned? No. According to Health Canada's sunscreen monograph, powder is considered an acceptable form of sunscreen, and can currently be purchased in Canada. In the US, the FDA stepped up its regulations on powder sunscreens in 2013, requiring all manufacturers to submit their products for approval in order to continue selling them as SPFs. Unless you've somehow managed to get hold of old stock, the powder sunscreens now sold in the US have gone through this approval process.
- What about nanoparticles and inhalation? These are definitely valid concerns about powder sunscreens. The products I've suggested below use micronized forms of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, not nano-sized particles, so the risk if inhaled is much lower. (Dr. Annie Chiu, for example, doesn't think there's any danger.) To be on the safe side, I try to hold my breath and avoid inhaling when I'm swirling the powder over my face—it only takes a couple seconds, so no big deal.
Ready to see my powder picks? Read on!
The Best Powder Sunscreens
Supergoop! Invincible Setting Powder SPF 45
Supergoop! Invincible Setting Powder SPF 45 has a sheer, silky, non-drying texture. With 24.5 percent zinc oxide (and no silicones!), it offers an SPF 45 and full broad-spectrum protection. There are three matte tints, Light, Medium and Deep, along with a translucent version—and they promise no flashback in photos.
Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45
Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45 was recently reformulated to include even higher levels of active ingredients. Although the SPF 45 hasn't changed, it now has 20.75 percent titanium dioxide and 19.6 percent zinc oxide, which give you broad-spectrum protection. It comes in one transparent matte shade. Bonus: You can also use it as a hair powder!
Tarte Tarteguard Mineral Powder Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Tarte Tarteguard Mineral Powder Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 is a powder sunscreen that offers a light layer of protection. It features 10 percent zinc oxide and 8.6 percent titanium dioxide for an SPF 30. There's just one shade, translucent, to suit all skin tones.
Paula’s Choice On-the-Go Shielding Powder SPF 30
Paula's Choice On-the-Go Shielding Powder SPF 30 features 19.24 percent zinc oxide for broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection. This one is a finely milled translucent powder that also mattifies shine and blurs the appearance of large pores (perhaps due to the silicones).
ILIA Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20
ILIA Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20 is ideal if you're looking for a product with very clean ingredients and no silicones. Just keep in mind that it's only an SPF 20, with 14 percent zinc oxide. It comes in one translucent shade, but rather than matte, the finish is luminous. (Don't worry though, there's no glitter or sparkle in here!) They recently improved the packaging to ensure the powder flows through seamlessly.
Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 50
Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 50 is perhaps the original powder sunscreen. With 22.5 percent zinc oxide and 22.5 percent titanium dioxide, you're getting SPF 50 and complete broad-spectrum protection. It comes in four shades (Fair, Medium, Tan and Deep), gives a matte finish and is water-resistant.
Jane Iredale Powder Me Dry Sunscreen SPF 30
Jane Iredale Powder Me Dry Sunscreen SPF 30 only contains titanium dioxide—17 percent of it. So it's not going to give you protection from UVA (the aging rays) like zinc oxide will—it'll just protect from UVB (burning rays). Still, you could use it as a topper for zinc oxide sunscreen lotions, and is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes. There are now three shades (Nude, Golden and Tanned), plus Translucent.
Arcona Nearly Invisible SPF 30 Dry Mineral Powder
Arcona Nearly Invisible SPF 30 Dry Mineral Powder contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, but unfortunately they don't disclose the percentages. All we know is that it's an SPF 30! It's water-resistant, comes in one transparent shade, and has a finely-milled, lightweight texture.
Derma E Sun Protection Mineral Powder SPF 30
Derma E Sun Protection Mineral Powder SPF 30 gives you SPF 30 protection with 20 percent zinc oxide and 17.29 percent titanium dioxide. It comes in one translucent, mattifying shade, and is oil-free and silicone-free. This is a good choice if you prefer more natural products.
Éminence Sun Defense Minerals SPF 30
Éminence Sun Defense Minerals SPF 30 has the shortest ingredients list here, and no silicones, which I appreciate. It contains eight percent each of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for an SPF 30. What's great about this one is the selection of shades; it comes in Translucent as well as five different tints (Honey Apple, Cherries and Berries, Peaches and Cream, Calendula Spice and Cinnamon Bronzer). If you set it with a face mist, it becomes even more water-resistant.
Mineral Fusion Brush-On Sun Defense SPF 30
Mineral Fusion Brush-On Sun Defense SPF 30 is the most affordable powder sunscreen—yet it has a whopping 20 percent zinc oxide and 17.3 percent titanium dioxide to give you SPF 30 broad-spectrum protection. It comes in one transparent shade, and has a short, silicone-free ingredients list. The silica is great for controlling oil.
Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 contains 12 percent zinc oxide and 15 percent titanium dioxide for a respectable SPF 30 level of broad-spectrum protection. It's also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Brush On Block Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Brush On Block Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is the brand's tinted version, and it features the same active ingredients—12 percent zinc oxide and 15 percent titanium dioxide. The only difference is its sheer hint of warm colour. It, too, is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Touch In Sol Pang Pang Sun Cutting Powder SPF 30
Touch In Sol Pang Pang Sun Cutting Powder SPF 30 contains mostly physical sunscreen filters—13.93 percent titanium dioxide and 2.94 percent zinc oxide—plus a small amount, two percent, of octinoxate. It has one of the shortest ingredients lists, and should help with oil control, thanks to the witch hazel. It comes in one transparent shade with a weightless, finely milled texture.
Laboratoire Dr Renaud Loose Powder SPF 50
Laboratoire Dr Renaud Loose Powder SPF 50 gives you full broad-spectrum protection with the highest possible level of active ingredients: 24.8 percent zinc oxide and 23.4 percent titanium dioxide. That's more than any other powder on this list! There are just two shades, Light and Dark.
Supergoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder SPF 45
Powder sunscreen is not just for your face. Supergoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder SPF 45 protects your hair and scalp from the sun's rays. It has 24.5 percent zinc oxide, and the powder is translucent—so it won't be detectable, no matter what your hair colour. It's just like dry shampoo, but with sun protection!
You can never be TOO prepared to face UV radiation, which is why I love the concept of powder sunscreen!
It's quick, it's easy and it won't mess up your makeup—you can't even tell you're wearing it. Plus, it's made with zinc oxide, your best bet for full-spectrum sun protection. (The only exception is Jane Iredale, which must be paired with a zinc-based sunscreen lotion for adequate protection.)
Again, I suggest not relying on powder sunscreen as your only sunscreen. Use it as a top-up and a back-up, and you'll always be sun safe!
Shop Editor’s Picks
Have you tried powder sunscreen?
Which one is your favourite?