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Most of us think of sunscreen as a thick, white lotion you need to rub into your skin. If you’re cool with that kind of product it’s no big deal. But for some of us it just feels unpleasant. And if you happen to wear makeup, applying and reapplying a liquid sunscreen can really throw off your routine.
Luckily, powder sunscreen exists to make applying sunscreen a little bit easier. Powder sunscreen works like a setting powder and can be brushed on easily and quickly without ruining any makeup. It’s great for a day on the fishing boat or lounging in your favorite chair.
Powder sunscreen works best when used as a reapplication after normal, liquid sunscreen. So when you’ve been out in the sun for an hour or two, you can apply some powder sunscreen and get the UV protection benefits you’re looking for. And with that in mind, let’s check out some of the best brands available.
Brush on Block is a great option if you plan on being in and around the water. It’s SPF 30 so it offers reasonable protection but it’s also reef friendly. That’s important if you plan on heading into the water because it means you’re not harming the environment. Also, the container is refillable so you’re not just making more garbage when you’re done with it.
The product is available in a translucent shade that goes on all but invisible as well as tan if you want to help accent the color of your skin. It applies smoothly and doesn;t clump of feel heavy on the skin, which is nice as well.
There are some issues with the brush applicator sometimes, in the sense that it can be hard to actually get the powder on the brush when you first open the thing. You may have to play with it a bit to get it working right.
Brush doesn’t always work properly
Works best with a liquid sunscreen base
Best Premium Choice
2. ColorScience Sunforgettable Brush On Mineral Powder Sunscreen
If you’re looking for a top of the line product that works great and feels great, Colorscience Mineral Sunscreen is the best option. Not only is it dual spectrum to protect against UVA rans and UVB rays, it’s also protecting you against pollution, infrared and blue light. You’ll look and feel good in any light conditions.
One of the big selling points for this brand is that it’s also water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Not a lot of powders are able to stand up to moisture so that’s a big plus.
It’s worth noting that this really is priced at a premium. The entire package weighs just 6.2 grams so you want to be sparing when using this. And some users have had issues getting the brush to properly apply the powder. If that happens, though, you can just use any brush or compact to apply it so it’s not too big of a deal.
Hawaiian Tropic has been a trusted name in sunscreens for years so it’s no wonder they have their own mineral sunscreen available. This stuff won’t block your pores like some brands and it’s very light and easy to apply. It provides a matte finish so you don’t look strangely shiny like you will with some brands.
One of the best things about this brand is that it’s really easy to find. Some higher end brands can only be found at specialty stores or on the manufacturers website. Others you may only get from Amazon. This one you can even pick up at Target, which makes it convenient if you find yourself running low and need to pick it up on the go.
It’s all well and good to take care of yourself at the beach, but you can’t forget the kids. Some kids just hate getting sunscreen on. If you find yours are a little too finicky, give Bob a try. It’s SPF 30, broad spectrum, and goes on quick and easy without the mess of trying to smear a struggling toddler with traditional sunscreen.
Because kids are going to be busy out in the sun, Bob is water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes. I’d recommend reapplying a little before that 80 minutes is up, just to be safe, though.
The powder is all natural, free of harsh chemicals and parabens, and even vegan-friendly. No need to worry about what you’re exposing your kids to with this one. That means it’s also reef-friendly so it’s safe for the kids and the ocean.
Make sure it’s being applied properly, however. If it doesn’t go on right, you run the risk of a bad sunburn.
Applicator can be hard to use sometimes
Very light and may blow away if you’re not careful
Mineral Fusion makes a super lightweight product that you won’t even notice when it’s applied. It’s easily applied on bare skin or even over liquid sunscreens and makeup. It won’t clump either, which is obviously helpful.
The powder is very fine and light so you don’t feel like you just got a dust bath. This is a potential downside as well, however, since it’s actually hard to see the powder on the brush sometimes. Chemically, this is nearly identical to the ColorScience brand but at a lower cost, so it’s worth checking out if you like that mineral powder but don’t care for the price.
Good for sensitive skin
Easy to use
Noticeable on darker skin tones
Powder is so fine it’s hard to tell if you’re applying it properly sometimes
Made from zinc oxide, Nature’s Apothecary has no dangerous chemicals and is hypoallergenic. The company offers replacement or refund if you’re not fully satisfied, which is a nice touch.
They recommend reapplying every 40 minutes or if you’ve gone swimming or been very active, which is a little more regular than some of the other brands. They also readily admit that, when you use it, you’re going to have a white cast to your skin. But at least they’re up front about it and not pretending it’s totally invisible like some brands do.
This is actually a cream to powder formula so it dries to a powder on your skin. The advantage of that is that it’s less messy going on and less messy in storage. If you drop a traditional powdered sunscreen or open it wrong you can get powder everywhere. This avoids that, which is great. It’s also SPF 50 which is much higher than most powder sunscreens which come sin at spf 30 more often than not.
Water resistant for up to 30 minutes, this is also a good price for what you get. It’s half to a third the price of some other brands. It’s also made with vitamin E to help protect against free radicals as it’s an antioxidant.
Be aware that this product does contain some talc, which is not generally considered safe these days.
If you want good coverage that doesn’t feel heavy but still offers great protection, this is a solid choice. Isdin mineral powder offers SPF 50 protection which is better than most. That’s thanks to the titanium dioxide formula. At the same time it won’t feel heavy when you apply it.
The formula is fragrance and talc free, which is great, and leaves your skin feeling smooth. One thing to watch out for is the brush being difficult to use, at least at first. Like many other brands, it can sometimes be hard to get the powder out. Also, because of the shade of the product, if you have very fair skin you might end up with a pale orange cast which is not desirable.
Protects against blue light
No white cast
One of the more expensive brands
Applicator can be finicky
May give an odd color to very fair skin
Things to Remember About Powder Sunscreens
Powder sunscreens are often easier to apply than liquid kinds. They’re ideal for use if you have makeup on already and don’t want to ruin it. Also, they can be great for kids or anyone who just doesn’t enjoy the feel of traditional liquid sunscreen. Look for a sunscreen powder broad spectrum spf protection to ensure best results.
Matching a powder to your skin tone can sometimes be difficult. Check the ingredients and descriptions of what you buy. Some have options for different colors to choose depending on skin tone. Some may be translucent.
Powders made with zinc oxide in particular are more likely to leave a white cast on your skin. Be prepared for that ahead of time so it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.
The best powder sunscreens can absorb excess oil and help protect even acne prone skin from uv rays. Look for ones that a board certified dermatologist has recommended for its sun protection abilities. Broad spectrum protection in powdered sunscreens is common but they can still be rough on some sensitive skin types depending on the formula.
This one surprises a lot of buyers who invest in powder sunscreens when they have never tried them before. The pictures are enlarged so when you get your tube and brush it may be smaller than you expect. These are often pretty tiny and they won’t last long. This is why the cost of some can be really over the top as they can actually work out to well over $300 per ounce.
The Bottom Line
Like any sunscreen, you’ll want to follow the directions of powder carefully. Make sure you are getting full coverage in order to get the most benefit. Reapply often according to the instructions, especially if you’re using a kind that isn’t water resistant and may come off as you sweat. As always, stay safe and have fun.
My grandfather first took me fishing when I was too young to actually hold up a rod on my own. As an avid camper, hiker, and nature enthusiast I'm always looking for a new adventure.