Do you ever feel like you need a one-step, multi-purpose product because you simply don’t seem to have the time to follow all the skin care ‘rules’ out there?
There’s rules for dealing with acne, preventing wrinkles, drying out that oily t-zone, moisturizing dry areas, and yes even sun safety.
There is no magical cure-all, but one thing that you can do to help give your skin a fighting chance is to purchase an SPF-rated moisturizer.
The number one piece of advice from the American Academy of Dermatology is to protect your skin from the sun every day if you want to avoid premature aging and other skin issues.
A very easy way to do this is with a product that integrates sun protection into your daily moisturizing routine. No extra steps or extra bottle on your bathroom counter, just one and done.
If you’re new to purchasing this sort of thing, though, telling the good from the bad can seem a daunting task. I want to make this as painless as possible. This guide is all about what to look for when buying an SPF moisturizer, and I’ll even go over 5 of my favorite picks to get you started on your search!
After thorough research into the requirements for SPF moisturizers to be effective, SimplySunSafe recommends Cōtz Flawless Complexion Sunscreen SPF 50 as the best SPF moisturizer. Read on for a detailed buyer’s guide, comparison table, and in-depth reviews of the top 5 SPF moisturizers.
To guarantee you get both fantastic sun protection and moisturizing treatment from your SPF moisturizer, make sure it has the following key features:
Broad spectrum protection
One of the most important factors when shopping for the best SPF-rated lotion is to make certain you choose one that offers broad spectrum protection.
Most manufacturers of broad spectrum protective products will have a label clearly identifying this feature on their product. Look for one that says ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘UVA/UVB Protection’.
The concept of broad spectrum protection refers to the range of ultraviolet radiation a product can shield you from. In addition to the visible light we are commonly aware of, the sun’s rays also give off ultraviolet radiation that is not visible to the naked eye. This is the part of sunlight that causes damage to our skin, and it comes in a few varieties.
The two types of ultraviolet rays that you want sunscreen to shield you from are UVA radiation and UVB radiation.
UVB Radiation is the type of radiation that causes visible skin damage. Tans, sunburns, blisters and the like.
It is also the type of solar radiation that is being accounted for with things like SPF ratings, which we will touch on later in this guide.
UVA Radiation causes damage on a microscopic level, to the DNA of our skin cells. This damage is arguably the worst kind, because too often it goes unnoticed until it’s evolved into skin cancer.
Even if the damage to skin’s cell doesn’t become cancerous, however, it still accelerates the physical aging of your skin. This causes wrinkles, as well as thickened and saggy skin.
Any SPF-rated product is going to protect you from UVB rays. The problem is that they do not all protect from UVA rays, which are arguably even more dangerous.
In order to truly protect your skin from harm while out in the sun, be sure you choose a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection.
Best SPF for moisturizers
Whether or not a product is labelled as broad spectrum may tell you what sort of protection you can expect, but won’t really tell you how much protection is being offered. Typically, that is what an SPF rating is for.
- SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of how much longer you can be in the sun before burning, compared to not using sun protection.
This is the definition that commercial sunscreen manufacturers use when developing SPF ratings. Since the definition is only concerned with preventing burns, ratings only refer to UVB protection factors.
Most sunscreen ingredients offer far less protection against UVA than UVB rays, so it can also be helpful to check a website such as the EWG database to compare the balance of a product’s UVA/UVB protection.
Ensuring you get long-lasting protection is not as simple as grabbing the highest SPF you can find, though. Take a look at this table for a closer look at the protection offered by different levels of SPF-rated sunscreens:
|SPF Rating||UVB Protection|
You’ll notice that after SPF 30, the protection levels stay pretty consistent. Due in part to this, SPF 30 is actually a sufficient level of protection for most people.
Less than that won’t do a whole lot, but neither will buying SPF 100. It’ll give you at best an extra 2% protection, but will probably cost way more than that measly two percent is worth.
For most folks, it’s a good rule of thumb to make SPF 30 your minimum, and only pay up for more protection if you’re very fair or have photosensitivity concerns for another reason.
Physical is better than chemical
It’s becoming more and more common nowadays to walk through the grocery store and see plenty of people poring over the ingredients list of a product they’re considering purchasing. As a society, we’re becoming increasingly aware that not everything we can put in our bodies is actually good for our bodies.
The same is true of anything that goes on your skin, as well.
You don’t have to actually eat something for the ingredients to have an effect on your body, and the last thing you want is to spend all this time looking for a new sunscreen only to choose one with ingredients that may not be good for you.
A good starting point to avoid this is to take a look at the active ingredients in your sunscreen. These ingredients are broadly classified into two categories:
Physical Sunscreens are the new kid on the block, in terms of popularity. These are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and although they’ve been around a while, manufacturers are starting to put more and more effort (thankfully) into producing quality products with these ingredients.
Physical sunscreen work sort of a like a coat of armor. They sit on top of your skin, and incoming UV rays bounce away without being able to actually get to your skin through the sunscreen. Thus, your skin stays healthy while you get to enjoy the sunlight!
Chemical Sunscreens are the ones people are slowly trying to stay away from. These work by soaking into your skin, and absorbing the UV rays quickly enough that they don’t damage your skin.
Usually a combination of ingredients is used that may include avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone.
However, unlike physical sunscreens they are not immediately effective, and they do have the potential to cause health issues like skin allergies or endocrine dysfunction should they enter your bloodstream due to repeated use.
Let’s be honest: just because you want the best sunscreen moisturizer out there doesn’t mean you want to look as though you’ve been dipped in petroleum jelly.
Just as with any other lotion, in most circumstances you’re going to want something that has as close to a matte and invisible finish as possible. Otherwise you’ll be shiny the whole day every time you use the stuff.
Now, we love the physical sunscreen for their ability to provide high quality, safe protection, not for their ability to go unnoticed on skin.
However, you can still use physical sunscreens instead of chemical ones and get the finish and sun protection you’re looking for. It’s not easy, but if you know what to look for (like I do) your search is made very easy.
So if you’re worried about the lotion having a white cast or being ultra thick/shiny, you’ll definitely want to stick to the SimplySunSafe recommendations below to ensure you get the transparent finish you’re after.
Best SPF Moisturizer Comparison
|Cōtz Flawless Complexion||Juice Beauty Stem Cellular||Keys Solar Rx Moisturiser||MDSolar Sciences Mineral Crème||SanRe Vanilla Sensation Solar|
|Active ingredients||Zinc Oxide (20%)||Zinc Oxide (20%)||Zinc Oxide (20%)||Zinc Oxide (17%) & Titanium Dioxide (2%)||Zinc Oxide (9%) & Titanium Dioxide (4%)|
|Finish||Sheer||Sheer (5 tints)||Sheer||Sheer – Hint of tint||Sheer shine|
5 Best SPF Moisturizers
After thorough research that combined discussing issues with customer, reviewing customer feedback, examining manufacturer specifications, and participating in skincare forums, SimplySunSafe has chosen the 5 best SPF moisturizers.
All of these moisturizers provide broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 30 or higher, do not contain oxybenzone, have a pleasant finish, and are suitable for daily use.
Cōtz Flawless Complexion is a knockout product that comes with an impressively small price tag. It is not only one of the most affordable moisturizers with sunscreen on this list, but also the only one that goes that extra step further and provides SPF 50 protection.
That extra protection makes this a great choice for sun-sensitive folks, and it provides the broad spectrum, physical protection with a 20% concentration of zinc oxide.
This means that it’s safe to use even if you have sensitive skin – and the manufacturer promises that it won’t clog your pores either.
Coming out of the tube, the product appears gently tinted. This neutral skintone color blends very well with most skin tones. This is because the tint isn’t meant to match any particular tone, but more to help offset the stark whiteness of the zinc in the lotion.
It blends to a very sheer finish that isn’t overly greasy.
You could use this for body or face, though if you use it on your face under makeup you may want to consider using a bit of setting powder to help control shine.
- High concentration of active ingredients
- Won’t clog pores
- Sheer finish
- Can create shine on face
Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular tinted moisturizer is for anyone who is tired of using makeup that irritates their skin or doesn’t work well with SPF products.
The cream provides broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 30 with zinc oxide (20%) as the active ingredient. What’s more, the tint is available in 5 shades which gives you a lot of room to find something that will match your skin tone (see table below).
If you like a more ‘natural’ look with your makeup, you needn’t worry as this tint is still sheer. It definitely looks more like a typical tinted moisturizer than foundation.
If you want to go more full-coverage, many users have found success by just adding a little bit of liquid foundation to the product before application.
The tube only comes in a 1.7fl oz size, which will be a bit small if you use it every day.
Don’t be daunted by the slightly higher price tag – the ingredients used in this product are all aimed at giving you happier, healthier skin while providing sun protection.
It is a great value for the money and definitely worth a try.
- Great value
- Available in 5 shades
- High concentration of active ingredients
- Small container
Keys Solar Rx SPF moisturizer is a contender for best lotion with SPF for lots of reasons, but particularly for any of my vegan readers. This product is vegan and totally cruelty-free!
If you have a high sensitivity to gluten, this is also gluten-free which should give you peace of mind.
Aside from the wonderful bonus features, let’s get down to brass tacks: this products provides broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 30 using only zinc oxide (20%).
Whether you use this on your body or just the extra-sensitive skin of your face, you can be confident that you’re getting premium protection without any unwanted ingredients added in.
It’s also good value for the money. The container isn’t huge, but the price isn’t overwhelming considering the amount of product you get and the quality of the formula.
You’ll love this product as a daily-use moisturizer, though it isn’t water resistant.
If you are going to be outside a lot in warm weather, I would suggest either making sure to reapply frequently or perhaps simply saving this product for cooler days.
- Gluten-free and vegan formula
- Moderately priced
- Not water resistant
This tinted SPF moisturizer provides broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 30. It does this using a combination of physical active ingredients: zinc oxide (17%) and titanium dioxide (2%).
Of the two, zinc oxide provides a more well-rounded protection between UVA and UVB rays, so you are still definitely getting a product that you ought to feel comfortable using in high sun conditions.
As an added bonus, this formula is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
That makes MD Solar Sciences Mineral Tinted Créme a top choice for anyone who loves soaking up the sun and playing in the water when the weather is nice but who doesn’t want to sacrifice their skin or their flawless makeup routine.
This product works very well under your own choice of make up, or can be worn alone for a more natural look.
If you don’t wear makeup and want to look like you are, wearing this by itself provides a very general,sheer tint that would work for androgynous skin routines as well.
- Won’t clog pores
- Water resistant for 80 minutes
- High concentration of active ingredients
SanRe Organic Skinfood is a brand known for putting together formulas that truly nourish your skin while providing you with great benefits like sun protection.
Vanilla Solar Sensation delivers broad spectrum physical protection of SPF 30 with a combination of zinc oxide (9%) and titanium dioxide (4%).
While you’ll still get good protection, this low concentration of active ingredients is a big part of the reason that this product is number 5 on this list.
It isn’t terribly priced, but some folks may not find the investment worth it when you consider the concentration of zinc and titanium.
The lotion goes on very smooth and silky (not as difficult to run in as options with lots of minerals). It may not be a great choice for use on the face though, because the end results is a little bit shiny.
Think of the way you want your freshly shaven legs to shine in the sun when you’re wearing new shorts. That’s quite a bit more shine than you usually want on the face, and it’s roughly the effect this lotion has.
Overall a fantastic product, you may want to use this for body only and choose one of the other products for your face to avoid extra shine or oil control issues.
- Great for all-over use
- Finish is on the shiny side
- Low concentration of active ingredients
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful!
While SimplySunSafe does recommend Cōtz Flawless Complexion Sunscreen SPF 50 as the best SPF moisturizers, these are all great products.
Everyone has different skin and may need different things out of their skincare routine, so you may have to try a few of these before you fall in love and find the best product for you.
I love doing research on new products and different scenarios to bring you high quality information and product recommendation.
With that being said, I know there is always more to learn: if there is an SPF moisturizer that you love and don’t see listed here, let me know! Feedback from my wonderful readers only every helps to make this site better and more helpful with every new article and guide.