The 14 Most Innovative Sunscreens Of 2021

The term ‘sunscreen’ should no longer conjure up images of chalky white faces and greasy limbs. To kick-start your modern sun care routine, we’ve rounded up the year’s best formulas for face and body.
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Written by Meg Storm
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The 14 Most Innovative Sunscreens Of 2021Billion Photos/Shutterstock

If you’ve a regular reader of The AEDITION, you know that we seldom write a story about skincare without also extolling the virtues of an equally judicious sun care routine. After all, unprotected sun habits put you at an increased risk of developing skin cancer (i.e. the most common and most preventable cancer in the United States), and they threaten to undo any of the in-office and at-home complexion-perfecting treatments you spend your time and money on. Sun damage leads to premature signs of aging (think: fine lines and wrinkles, laxity, hyperpigmentation), and the only way to prevent them is to limit your exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and to protect your skin with sunscreen.

Speaking of sunscreen, we’re here to tell you that the term should no longer conjure up images of chalky white faces and greasy limbs (phew). Be it physical or chemical, today’s sunscreen formulas are lightweight, easy to apply, and packed with added benefits. From blue light protection to skincare-inspired actives, these products are the ultimate multitaskers that can protect and correct your skin from head to toe.

A quick reminder on how to use sunscreen: The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 every day — rain or shine, warm or cold, beach or no beach. ‘Broad spectrum’ means the formula provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays. The former cause sun damage, while the latter are responsible for sunburns. When applying sunscreen as part of a larger beauty routine, apply it after your final skincare step but before any makeup.

Now that we’ve got that covered, it’s time to find your perfect formula. Below, we’ve rounded up the most innovative sunscreen launches of 2021 to get you through summer and beyond. Every product on this list is broad spectrum and features SPF 30 or higher, so you can rest assured that you are not sacrificing safety. Happy shopping!

For a Moisture Boost: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 30 HA Mineral SPF Moisturizer


If you are looking for a broad spectrum mineral sunscreen that also hydrates the skin, this two-in-one formula is for you. On one hand, it offers SPF 30 UVA and UVB protection with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. On the other hand, it acts as a gentle daily moisturizer thanks to hydrating hyaluronic acid. $35,

For a Hint of Tint: Love Sun Body Glow Natural Tinted Mineral Sunscreen & Moisturizer SPF 30


Consider this multitasking tube, a sun-safe take on your favorite tinted moisturizer. Available in four shades, the blendable formula keeps skin hydrated (with raspberry seed, sunflower and jojoba oils) and corrects signs of photodamage (thanks to antioxidants in the form of vitamins C and E), all while providing light coverage and SPF 30 protection with over 20 percent non-nano zinc oxide. $35,

For Pigmentation: SkinCeuticals Daily Brightening UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 30


Protect yourself against future sun damage and correct existing concerns with this multi-benefit SPF 30 formula. Glycerin hydrates the complexion (and makes the sunscreen go on silky smooth), while tranexamic acid, niacinamide, and other brightening actives lighten UV-induced pigmentation and improve skin tone and texture. $54,

For Guys On the Go: Oars + Alps Go Stick Clear Sunscreen SPF 35


Skin cancer rates are on the rise and men are disproportionately impacted. Oars + Alps is here to change that with its mission to help guys spend time in the sun safely. This travel-friendly face and body stick goes on clear (no white streaks here!) and is water- and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes. All the while, sunflower and jojoba oils add moisture and antioxidants like vitamin E offer additional protection. $22,

For Oily Skin: Peter Thomas Roth Max Matte Shine-Control Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45


Whether you have oily skin or are dealing with the shiny effects of hot and humid weather, this sheer, non-sticky sunscreen offers broad spectrum protection while absorbing excess oil. Use it alone or as a mattifying primer under makeup for lightweight shine control. $34,

For Smoother Skin: M-61 Hydraboost Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 40


This fast-absorbing, oil-free sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays and fights premature signs of aging. Potent peptides, hyaluronic acid, tamarind, avocado oil, aloe, and vitamins B5 and E combine to smooth, soothe, and plump the skin. Oh, and it pairs well with makeup. $42,

For Beach Days: Bare Republic Clearscreen SPF 50 Sunscreen Body Spray


Make sunscreen application something to look forward to with this transparent SPF 50 mist that smells sweetly of coconut mango (sans synthetic fragrances). The non-greasy, water-resistant formula is infused with antioxidants like vitamin E and raspberry and goji berry extracts to boost free radical protection. $13,

For Blue Light Protection: Kate Somerville Daily Deflector Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40


The celebrity aesthetician’s first foray into sun care is this ultra-lightweight non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen that is designed to shield skin from UV rays, blue light, and premature signs of aging. Emollient ectoin improves skin texture, while Tasmannia lanceolata leaf extract calms the complexion and reduces redness. $50,

For Sensitive Skin: Thrive BodyShield 50 Mineral Sunscreen


Good for your body and the planet, this gentle, zinc oxide-based sunscreen leaves behind no white residue and is packaged in plants (the tube is made from sustainably sourced sugarcane). For added benefits, the non-greasy formula features soothing botanicals like fiorello, juanilama, and coralillo that are grown on the brand’s regenerative farms in Costa Rica. $21,

For Multitaskers: Youth Corridor Soothe & Defend SPF 30


Combining physical (zinc oxide) and chemical (octisalate and octocrylene) blockers, this broad spectrum formula from board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Gerald Imber, MD, also features tried-and-true skincare ingredients (hi, aloe, green tea, and vitamin E) to treat and repair sun damaged skin. $37,

For All-Over Glow: My Day Screen Body Melt SPF 30


Nourish the skin below the neck like you nourish the face with this creamy mineral sunscreen body balm that features moisturizing avocado, coconut, and sunflower oil alongside soothing aloe and antioxidants like pomegranate, green tea, and vitamin E. The result? Brighter and smoother limbs. $30,

For Priming: Odacité Sun Guardian Oceanic Glacial Water Day Creme SPF 30


Feels like a day cream, works like a sunscreen, this multitasking formula features 22 percent non-nano zinc oxide but goes on like a silky moisturizer thanks to soothing aloe vera and calendula and antioxidant-rich green tea and vitamin E. Wear alone or treat as a primer under makeup, the natural matte finish works either way. $65,

For Tighter Pores: Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen


This 100 percent mineral sunscreen offers sheer, broad spectrum SPF 30 protection sans any chalkiness, greasiness, or pore-clogging irritants. An antioxidant blend helps protect against free radical damage, while rosa canina fruit oil works to control excess shine and minimize the appearance of pores. $22,

For Dry Skin: Bondi Sands Fragrance-Free SPF 50+ Daily Face Lotion


The Australian self-tanning brand is entering the sunscreen game with a collection of fragrance-free formulas for face and body. We’re partial to the daily face lotion that boasts a 72-hour hydration claim and dries to an invisible, non-greasy finish — making it ideal for layering under makeup. $10,

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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MEG STORMis the editorial & content director at AEDIT.

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