Our Beauty Editor’s Obsessed With These SPF Moisturizers

Our Beauty Editor’s Obsessed With These SPF Moisturizers

With warmer weather soon approaching, and we're excited to finally trade our puffer coats for short sleeves, sun dresses and beachwear. With more time spent in the sunshine, wearing and reapplying sunscreen is more important than ever. A quick and easy solution to protect your face is to use an SPF moisturizer. They're a hybrid product that offers the hydrating and sometimes anti-aging benefits of using a face moisturizer with additional sun protection coverage. Even better? These beauty editor-approved SPF moisturizers start at just $20 on Amazon, meaning you can treat yourself and your loved ones to one of these must-have products.

Best SPF Moisturizers

Do I Need Sunscreen if I Wear an SPF Moisturizer?

How effective are SPF moisturizers? And can we use them instead of layering on a separate sunscreen? Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Courtney Rubin, M.D., says, “As long as the SPF moisturizer is at least SPF 30 and broad spectrum, and you are using the correct amount on your skin, it should perform the same as using a separate dedicated SPF. If the product meets all of your personal, separate requirements for a moisturizer and sunscreen, combining the two will not compromise how it will perform!”

Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against the sun's ultraviolet A (UVA), which causes signs of aging, and ultraviolet B (UVB), which lead to burns and skin cancer.

How Much SPF is Enough for Daily Use?

Rubin, a cofounder of the skincare line Fig.1, advises everyone to use a broad-spectrum SPF moisturizer of at least 30. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) agrees with Rubin, adding water-resistant sunscreen is also helpful. As for how much sunscreen you need from head to toe, the AAD notes most adults need about one ounce or enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass. Regardless of which SPF moisturizer you use, don't forget to apply it to your ears, neck, top of the head, feet, and lips. Also, sunscreen reapplication is integral — exact timing recommendations will vary from brand to brand, but a general rule of thumb is to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or after sweating or swimming.

What to Consider

Physical Versus Chemical Sun Protection

SPF moisturizers use either physical or chemical ingredients to provide sun protection. Here's a quick at-a-glance look at the two types of protection.

Physical (aka Mineral) Sun Protection

  • What are they? Not all sun protection is created equal. Our in-depth sunscreen coverage taught us that not all chemical SPFs provide UVA and UVB protection. However, all physical, commonly called mineral sunscreens, provide broad-spectrum coverage and work instantly versus the usual 15- to 30-minute waiting period required for chemical sunscreen to de-emulsify.
  • How they work: SPF moisturizers infused with physical sun protection last longer in direct sunlight and are safe for sensitive skin. They work by forming a layer on top of the skin that bounces sunlight away from the skin, hence the name physical sunblock.
  • Common ingredients: Mineral sunscreens typically use titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or sometimes both for sun protection.
  • Downside: Mineral sunscreens can cause an ashy, gray, or purple cast on the skin. Luckily, our beauty editor, Nicole Saunders, tested all of these sunscreens to ensure they won't leave behind any embarrassing tints to the skin.

Chemical Sunscreen

  • What are they? Chemical sunscreens are fast-absorbing, don't leave behind a white cast, and are great for anyone who needs a sport sunscreen.
  • How they work: Chemical sunscreens use active ingredients to absorb sunlight, and a chemical reaction converts them into non-damaging heat released from the face and body.
  • Common ingredients: Avobenzone, octinoxate, oxybenzone, octisalate, and octocrylene.
  • Downside: Chemical sunscreens get a bad rep because studies done on rodents negatively impacted the reproductive system of rats and mice. However, in our guide to the best sunscreens, board-certified dermatologists Dr. Elizabeth Hale, M.D., and Dr. Anthony Rossi, M.D., say chemical sunscreens are safe. Hale previously told us, “Chemical sunscreen is absolutely safe. While chemical sunscreens have been detected by the FDA in the bloodstream, there simply isn’t enough data to prove them to be harmful."

So which is best?

All of our experts say it really comes down to personal preference. And at the end of the day, it's better to wear mineral or chemical sunscreen than skip it entirely, so shopping for an SPF moisturizer is the first and necessary step.


In our guide to drugstore moisturizers, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., recently told us moisturizers in gel or lotion form are best for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin, while cream and ointment formulas are ideal for dry and mature skin types. Normal skin types can use pretty much whatever formula they want, but we suggest using a thicker cream during the fall and winter and lighter lotions and gels in the summer.

How We Chose

After Saunders consulted Rubin, she carefully researched and tested a dozen SPF moisturizers, and can safely say these are the six best picks on the market. Saunders considered their active ingredient list, formulation, texture, smell, and feel. She also considered their price, because she understands firsthand what it's like balling on a budget. For added reassurance, she read hundreds of online reviews and feels confident you and your lucky loved one will adore these SPF moisturizers. Plus, she consulted one of her most-trusted makeup artists about sunscreen moisturizers, and they revealed their no-fail recommendation.

(Best Products; Josie Maran, Paula's Choice)
1) RESIST Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50

Paula's Choice



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All skincare enthusiasts know they can't go wrong using any Paula's Choice product, and their ultra-sheer SPF moisturizer is undoubtedly worthy of our best overall distinction. Saunders says your giftee will appreciate this beauty gift because it boasts an ultra sheer formula chock-full of plant-derived antioxidants and provides high SPF 50 protection.

The oil-free SPF moisturizer provides a matte finish that’s fantastic for oily, combination, acne-prone, and even normal skin types. Don’t worry if you’re shopping for someone with dry skin, since RESIST is infused with hydrating ingredients.

And if your loved one experiences redness, this is the best SPF moisturizer for their needs. It combines soothing green tea and oat extracts to relieve redness and calm skin sensitivity.

Saunders isn’t the only fan of this SPF moisturizer. With hundreds of 5-star reviews across retailers like Amazon, Sephora, Dermstore, and directly through Paula’s Choice, it’s no wonder it earned a spot on this list, too.

“I started to get flaky around my mouth and chin area, so I decided to give this a try, and now all my flakiness is gone and my skin is super hydrated! I’m so happy I switched instead of just packing on more of my moisturizer,” says one reviewer experiencing their first East coast winter.

More: Does NYX's Amazon-Favorite Eyeliner Live Up to the Hype? (sephora.com)
2) Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV SPF 30

La Roche-Posay



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Saunders is obsessed with the original Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, and this version with SPF is just as fantastic.

Made with ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin, French thermal water, and prebiotics, it's like a tall glass of water for the skin. It's also oil-free and non-comedogenic, meaning those with oily, combination, and acne-prone skin won't have to worry about breaking out from an overly greasy formulation.

It provides just the right amount of moisture and sun protection, and leaves her skin looking (and feeling) healthier and well-balanced.

3) Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF50 Moisturizer




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We always appreciate when a brand is certified cruelty-free, vegan, and gluten-free, but what we think your giftee will love most is the 3-in-1 formula that helps cut down on their morning routine.

So how does it work? This hybrid SPF moisturizer contains peptides to firm their skin, white tea extract improves signs of aging, and hyaluronic acid boosts hydration. In addition to anti-aging and moisturizing benefits, this product provides sun protection with a concentration of 3% avobenzone and 7.5% octanoate.

Online reviewers are obsessed with this SPF moisturizer because it transforms dull, dry skin into a dewy complexion. They note it won’t leave behind an annoying white cast on darker skin tones, which is always appreciated. To quote one 5-star Amazon review, “Love this sunscreen it’s light and sheer, I love wearing it. It’s great on darker skin, no white cast.”

4) Ultra Facial Cream Sunscreen SPF 30

Kiehl's Since 1851



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Inspired by their signature Ultra Facial Cream, this SPF moisturizer version contains everything we know and love in the OG, while providing SPF 30 coverage. It has a thicker consistency than others on this list, making it most ideal for those with dry skin.

Despite the creamy texture, it doesn’t feel heavy, which I appreciate because no one wants to feel greasy products on their skin.

This lightweight facial cream also absorbs relatively quickly, leaving the skin noticeably softer and smoother. It also has a water-resistant formula handy for days they exercise or swim during warm weather months.

Reviewers also adore the simplicity of this face cream, noting it doesn’t cause breakouts and is safe on sensitive skin. “I keep two at all times — one for home and one to travel with for reapplication during the day. Best of all, no [white]cast,” says one 5-star Sephora review.

5) COMPLEXION RESCUE Tinted Moisturizer




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Your loved one can moisturize, protect their skin against solar rays, and lightly cover imperfections with this product.

It's ideal for weekends when you want to skip a full face of makeup, but still want to look presentable while running errands or meeting friends for brunch. The hyaluronic acid hydrates and provides a dewy, healthy-looking glow to their skin, and let's be real: Who doesn't love (and need) that?

The non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic SPF moisturizer is made with 98% naturally derived ingredients and has mineral-based UVA/UVB sun protection. Given the variety of tints available, they won't have to worry about any annoying white cast with this product.

6) Get Even Sun Milk SPF 33

Josie Maran



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Celebrity makeup artist Melissa Rogers helps models and actresses ready for photoshoots and the red carpet, so naturally, we had to ask her about all things SPF moisturizer. Though she keeps a roster of Supergoop!, Shiseido, and Sunbum sunscreens handy in her pro kit, Rogers is a big fan of Josie Maran's SPF moisturizer.

"It is so hydrating and made with argan oil, jojoba, safflower, and squalene. It doesn’t leave a white residue, which is very important. I never break out, and it’s a great everyday sunscreen,” she says of the cruelty-free and reef-safe product. This SPF moisturizer also contains antioxidant-rich kakadu plum complex to help prevent collagen breakdown.


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Our beauty editor tested 12 SPF moisturizers in a month, and promises these are the best on the market.