At any age, we need to take care of our skin. Sunscreen is a vital tool to slow the signs of aging, and to help protect older skin. Whenever we are out in the sun, we are being bombarded by two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun (UVA and UVB). While UVB causes the top layer of skin to burn, it is mostly UVA that causes us to look older. Acting more deeply on our skin than UVB, UVA radiation affects the DNA in our skin, causing wrinkles, age spots, and frown-lines.
As we age, there are other natural changes to our skin. Our sebaceous glands produce less oil, which can lead to dry patches. Our skin becomes less elastic, especially in sun-exposed areas, which can cause leathery skin. Additionally, our skin thins and the number of pigment-cells decreases, giving us a paler and sometimes even translucent look.
All this means that our skin becomes more sensitive as we age. It also takes us longer to heal if something happens to us, say if we get sunburn. This is where sunscreen can help! Using a broad spectrum sunscreen which is gentle on the skin will not only benefit and protect older skin, it will also help prevent the signs of aging from appearing in the first place. The key is to find a sunscreen with great UVA protection as well as one which can help moisturize the skin.
After thorough research into what causes wrinkles, photoaging and what can help keep our skin looking young, SimplySunSafe recommends DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ as the best sunscreen for wrinkles. Read on for a detailed buyer’s guide, a comparison table, and in-depth reviews of the top five sunscreens for wrinkles.
To make sure older skin can get the protection it needs, there are several must-have features to should look for in your sunscreen:
Broad spectrum protection
While it is always important to buy a broad spectrum sunscreen, it is especially important when looking for the best sunscreen for wrinkles. Sunscreens without broad spectrum protection will not protect against the visible signs of aging nor will they protect against further damage.
When sunscreen first became widely available, after World War II, we didn’t know about the harmful effects of UVA on the skin. As a result, early sunscreens only protected against UVB. This helped protect us against skin reddening and sunburn but neglected a far greater problem.
Until recently, we were not aware of how harmful UVA was. Since UVA has a longer wavelength than UVB, it is able to penetrate the skin more deeply. In the short term, it appears to cause less damage than UVB. Over the long term, however, these rays damage elastin, a protein in the skin which maintains young-looking skin. The body compensates by producing enzymes which break down collagen, a protein which helps skin structure. This leads to uneven healing which, over time, causes wrinkles. Up to 80% of the symptoms of premature aging are caused by unprotected exposure to UV rays.
To protect your skin effectively both against the signs of aging and when your skin is older, it is vital that you use a broad spectrum sunscreen. You may also see these sunscreens sold as ‘multi-spectrum’ or ‘UVA/UVB’ sunscreens.
Best SPF for Wrinkles
When we buy sunscreen, we always look at the Sun Protection Factor (SPF). I used to assume that this was the only measurement that mattered, but I didn’t really understand what it meant.
Theoretically, a sunscreen’s SPF rating tells you how much longer you can stay in the sun than you could if you didn’t apply that sunscreen. To figure out how long the sunscreen will be effective, you take the amount of time you can be in sunlight before you burn and multiply it by the SPF. So, if it takes me 10 minutes to burn in the sun and I apply an SPF 15 sunscreen, I can stay in the sun for 150 minutes.
Turns out, however, that it’s not quite as simple as that. No matter how high the SPF, sunscreens are only effective for a maximum of two hours, and even that is under perfect conditions. Those two hours will be shortened if, say, you sweat or jump in the pool. Not only this but even how intense the sun is will change how long the sunscreen is effective for.
In short, it’s impossible to know how long you’ll be protected by a sunscreen from its SPF. As well as regularly reapplying your sunscreen, you should also keep in the shade as much as possible and cover up, ideally with UV-rated clothing. Even just wearing a hat helps! Remember that each time you’re exposed to UVA, the aging effect gradually accumulates: every little thing helps!
Here are a couple more things to bear in mind:
- SPF tells you about how the sunscreen protects you against UVB. There is no system rating protection against UVA. Instead, you’ll need to choose a sunscreen with the correct active ingredients to know you’ll be protected (we’ll talk more about this shortly).
- It isn’t the case that an SPF 30 sunscreen is twice as protective as an SPF 15 one, not even close.
The simplest way to judge the effectiveness of a sunscreen is to look at the amount of UVB radiation it will block:
|SPF Rating||UVB Protection|
As you can see, this is a much simpler approach. Once you get to SPF 30, you have 97% protection from UVB radiation. Increases in SPF beyond that provide only a little more protection. No sunscreen can provide 100% protection. For this reason, the FDA now caps SPF at +50.
As a result, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you should use a sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30. Remember that, if you have older or more sensitive skin, a sunscreen with an SPF up to 50 may give you a little more protection. There is no evidence that sunscreen with SPF higher than 50 gives you any more protection.
Physical is better than chemical
There are two kinds of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing ultraviolet radiation, while physical sunscreens reflect it away.
Physical sunscreens have several advantages over chemical ones, especially when it comes to older skin. Physical sunscreens:
- protect against more UV rays, including the important UVA radiation
- are less likely to degrade in sun, so they last longer
- are less likely to irritate delicate or sensitive skin
- usually work as soon as you put it on your skin, you don’t have to wait 20 minutes
- have a shelf life longer than chemical sunscreens
Even more importantly, studies have shown that chemical sunscreens may cause health issues. If absorbed into the body, the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens have been shown to make a mess of thyroid and hormone production in the body. For instance, the Environmental working Group’s (EWG) least favorite ingredient, oxybenzone, acts like estrogen, and may reduce sperm count in men and cause endometriosis in women. Despite this, oxybenzone is widely used in chemical sunscreens.
When buying a sunscreen, be sure to select a physical one. If you’re not sure whether the one you are looking at is chemical or physical, check out the active ingredients: if you see high concentrations of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, it’s a physical sunscreen.
Rub on lotion not spray
When looking for the best sunscreen for older skin, it may be tempting to choose a spray-on sunscreen. As we grow older, our mobility is reduced and it can become harder to reach parts of our skin which may be exposed to the sun.
While a spray-on sunscreen may seem to be the answer, there are health issues associated with them. The FDA has warned against using them for many years. Firstly, there is the risk of inhaling harmful chemicals which, as we have seen, can cause serious issues in humans. Secondly, it is difficult to provide an even and consistent coating of sunscreen across the skin this way.
Suitable for daily use
As the repeated accumulation of small amounts of DNA damage by UV radiation causes wrinkles and photoaging, such consistent protection is especially important for older skin as it is more susceptible to damage from the sun.
This means you should only consider using sunscreens with formulas gentle enough to be used everyday. All of the sunscreens recommended below are formulated for daily use. If you have particularly sensitive skin, read through the detailed descriptions for key ingredients and those particularly suited to your skin type.
As I mentioned earlier, older skin is likely more dry than young skin. This makes a sunscreen that contains a moisturizing ingredients a must for skin with wrinkles. This means you get the double protection of a sunscreen that protects against the sun advancing the signs of aging and a moisturizer that nourishes your skin to prevent it worsening.
Best Sunscreen for Wrinkles Comparison
|DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer||Block Island Natural Moisturizer||BurnOut for Face & Body||EltaMD UV Physical||KiNesys Sunscreen Ointment|
|Active ingredients||Zinc Oxide (19%)||Zinc Oxide (22%)||Zinc Oxide (18.6%)||Zinc Oxide (9%) & Titanium Dioxide (7%)||Zinc Oxide (25%)|
5 Best Sunscreens for Wrinkles
After thorough research, which combined discussing issues with customers, reviewing customer feedback, examining manufacturer specifications and ingredients, reading medical journals and participating in skincare forums, SimplySunSafe has chosen the 5 best sunscreens for wrinkles. These five sunscreens provide broad spectrum protection, are physical sunscreens using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, are oxybenzone-free, are invisible, are sensitive enough for daily use and are moisturizing.
DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+’s high concentration (19%) of zinc oxide makes it an ideal solution for older skin and those seeking protection for wrinkles. For over ten years, DeVita’s mission has been to create skin products which are 100% vegan and cruelty-free. They use only natural ingredients and do not use added fragrances or parabens. Their products are gluten-sensitive safe and don’t contain any GMOs.
All DeVita’s products have a soothing base of aloe vera gel, and their Solar Protective Moisturizer is no exception. This makes their products ideal for people with older, more sensitive skin. When applying, you may find that it takes a little longer to rub into your skin. However, when applied the results are very positive: although it provides strong protection, it doesn’t feel heavy on the skin, nor does it clog up your pores. It soaks into the skin quickly and leaves no white cast.
Not only does Devita’s Solar Protective Moisturizer provide excellent broad spectrum protection, it also contains a lot of goodies which will help protect and nourish your skin. In addition to aloe vera, it contains vitamin E to hydrate and provide anti-aging effects, vitis vinifera and hyaluronic acid moisturize the skin, while coconut oil extract helps increase the effectiveness of these ingredients.
Another advantage of DeVita’s Solar Protective Moisturizer is that it uses non-nano zinc oxide particles. This is important because there is some concern that nano particles of zinc oxide are so small they could be absorbed by the skin where they could cause damage. That DeVita is committed to non-nano is another example of their focus on their customers’ health. The average particle size DeVita uses is 240nm which is over twice the size of a nano-particle of zinc oxide.
While researching this product, I noticed there were several negative reviews, saying that the product left a white cast on the skin. The surprised me, so I decided to dig a little deeper. A few years ago, it turns out that DeVita had to switch to another zinc oxide supplier which created an inferior product. Many customers complained and it’s a testament to DeVita’s responsiveness that they reformulated the product again, calling it “Back and Better Than Ever.” Customer response to this product has been overwhelmingly positive.
Safe both for you and the environment, you will immediately reap benefits by using DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer. It will help both protect against further wrinkles and care for your older skin. It is available in a 7 ounce tube, which I have linked to above. This size provides great value for money. However, it is also available in a smaller 2.5 ounce tube which is great for travel or if you want to try SimplySunSafe’s top pick without committing yourself yet.
- High concentration of active ingredient
- Hydrating ingredients
- Less cosmetic texture
Block Island Natural Face Moisturizer SPF 30, with a concentration of 22% zinc oxide, provides excellent broad spectrum protection against UV rays and will protect older skin against photoaging. It is such an effective product that the EWG awarded it Best Moisturizer with SPF in 2016!
Block Island Organics believes in producing the safest products available: as with all their products, Block Island Natural Face Moisturizer is environmentally safe, cruelty-free and 100% vegan. They are passionate about only including ingredients in their products which are safe for the consumer: never using fragrances, sulfates, phthalates, parabens, petrochemicals or dyes. They even list descriptions for all the ingredients for all their products on their website, together with a justification for why they included it.
The product is formulated to take great care of your skin, making it a great choice for older skin. Shea butter moisturizes the skin, glycerin protects and hydrates, aloe vera soothes, while vitamin E also helps to hydrate. In addition, Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer benefits from pomegranate extract’s antioxidants which help prevent cell damage and protect aging skin, as well as the anti-aging properties of green tea leaf extract.
Block Island Organics uses non-nano zinc oxide in its Natural Face Moisturizer, which means you can be sure that no particles of zinc oxide can pass through your skin, potentially causing damage. Despite this, it leaves no white cast after application and works well under makeup.
Users have found this formulation to be lightweight and non-greasy on their skin. One minor drawback is that it does feel somewhat sticky on application and it can take about fifteen minutes to dry. As this is otherwise such a great product, this shouldn’t stop you trying it. However, it is enough to keep it from being SimplySunSafe’s number one recommended product.
Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer is one of the pricier sunscreens out there. It is marketed primarily for use on the face. While it may be the best sunscreen for an older face, it can also be used on all exposed skin: the gentle and comprehensive mixture of moisturizing and protecting ingredients in Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer make it an ideal sunscreen to benefit older skin.
- High concentration of active ingredient
- Hydrating ingredients
- Feels sticky on application
When it comes to wrinkles or older skin, BurnOut SPF 30 for Face & Body is an ideal sunscreen. The high concentration of zinc oxide (18.6%) provides excellent UVA protection as well as great broad spectrum protection.
BurnOut Suncare was founded to create powerful but gentle suncare products. The environmentally-friendly formula of BurnOut for Face & Body is free of chemicals, parabens, and petrochemicals. As a result, it has received the highest possible safety rating from the EWG.
Additionally, it has been formulated to be great for older and sensitive skin. It is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and even gluten-sensitive safe. It contains ingredients which will help against wrinkles and has anti-aging properties. Gentle aloe vera is paired with camu camu berry extract which nourishes the skin with its antioxidants and vitamin C content. Imperiata Cylindrica Root Extract both moisturizes the skin and stimulates collagen synthesis which, as we have seen, is important in the prevention of wrinkles.
Using non-nano particles of zinc oxide, you can be sure this product is safe for your skin. BurnOut for Face & Body is a lightweight lotion which is easy to apply and leaves no white sheen. It is non-greasy and is also non-comedogenic, making it a great choice if you are prone to breakouts. It also works great under makeup.
This product was recently reformulated and a few users have found that it now requires a little more work to rub into the skin invisibly. For this reason, it is placed third on this list of the best sunscreens for older skin.
The lightweight formula, its gentle protection together with its high concentration of zinc oxide make BurnOut for Face & Body an excellent choice for older skin as well as for those seeking anti-aging properties and protection against wrinkles.
- High concentration of active ingredient
- Great value
- Matte finish makes it a great base for makeup
- Formula feels a little thick
Unlike the others in our top 5 sunscreens for wrinkles, EltaMD UV Physical Broad Spectrum sunscreen uses a combination of both zinc oxide (9%) and titanium dioxide (7%). These minerals work well in combination: zinc oxide provides the best all-round UVA and UVB protection while titanium dioxide helps strengthen the sunscreen’s broad spectrum protection, especially against UVB rays. This product is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation as providing excellent protection.
This sunscreen is designed for extra-sensitive skin. Also a great choice for post-procedure skin, this sunscreen is super-gentle, which is ideal for older skin. It contains linoleic acid, quercetin, and thioctic acid, three antioxidants which help reduce the signs of visible aging.
While EltaMD UV Physical Broad Spectrum sunscreen may not contain all the moisturizing benefits of some of the other entries in our top 5, it more than makes up for this with its solid performance and gentle formulation. You may find it helpful to apply a moisturizer as a base and then applying this sunscreen on top.
EltaMD UV Physical Broad Spectrum sunscreen is free from chemicals, parabens, oils and fragrance. As such, it is easy to apply and is non-comedogenic. It is non-greasy, works well with makeup, and, best of all, rubs in without leaving a white cast. In fact, it is a lightly tinted sunscreen. The tint is subtle and looks natural. It works well for most users, although some have found it either too dark or too light.
If this is the case, we recommend you try one of the other products in our top 5. Alternatively, EltaMD does produce a non-tinted sunscreen, EltaMD UV Shield SPF 45. Be aware, however, that EltaMD UV Shield SPF 45 pairs zinc oxide with a chemical sunscreen octinoxate. Octinoxate has been shown to have hormone-mimicking effects in laboratory animals and is known to be absorbed by the skin.
If you are physically active, EltaMD UV Physical Broad Spectrum sunscreen makes a great choice as it is water-resistant for 40 minutes. So, if you do activities which involve breaking a sweat, this sunscreen can give you extra peace of mind. With an SPF of 41, this has the highest Sun Protection Factor of any sunscreen on this list and makes a good choice to help protect against wrinkles and the signs of aging.
- Lightly tinted
- Designed for sensitive skin
- 40-minute water resistance
- Lower levels of active ingredients
KiNesys SPF 30 Sunscreen Ointment with Pure Zinc Oxide has the highest concentration of zinc oxide of any product in our top 5 at 25%. For over 20 years, KiNesys has been developing sunscreens which are hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and cruelty-free. KiNesys SPF 30 Sunscreen Ointment is also free of parabens and PABA. As this product contains beeswax, it is not technically vegan, but KiNesys stress that it is collected cruelty-free and that their products are ethically manufactured.
Unlike most sunscreens, KiNesys SPF 30 Sunscreen is a thick ointment which comes in a tub. While it is non-greasy, it does take a little work to rub it into the skin. It does rub on clear and works well with makeup. A small minority of users have noted that with reapplication, it may leave the skin slightly white or blueish tint. For this reason, we can’t rank this product higher in our top 5, although I, personally, have not noticed a white cast on my skin with this product.
As well as a high zinc oxide concentration, KiNesys SPF 30 Sunscreen Ointment contains aloe vera extract to help protect the skin and keep it young-looking. It also contains peppermint oil which is antiseptic and antimicrobial as well as rosemary oil to help re-hydrate and tone your skin, protecting you against wrinkles. Please note that the peppermint oil gives the product a light and pleasant minty fragrance.
One downside to this product is that it comes in a large tub rather than a tube. While it is easy to use, it may be a little large when traveling. At 3 ounces it is under the TSA’s size limit for carry-on liquids, but it does feel rather bulky. This is a minor complaint about an otherwise excellent product.
KiNesys SPF 30 Sunscreen Ointment is also water resistant. Coupled with its high zinc oxide concentration, this is the perfect sunscreen if you lead an active lifestyle. I have found it to still be effective even after swimming. While KiNesys SPF 30 Sunscreen Ointment may cost rather more than the other sunscreens on this list, a little goes a very long way. It is better value than it may seem at first: one 3 ounce tub is sure to last you a long time!
- High concentration of active ingredient
- Hydrating ingredients
- Thick formula
I wrote this guide to help you when choosing the best sunscreen for wrinkles and to protect older skin and to protect against wrinkles. Hopefully, you have found it helpful in understanding what to look for in a sunscreen.
SimplySunSafe recommends DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ as the best sunscreen for older skin. However, we all have different skin and different needs, so it may be that one of the other four works best for you. All five recommendations will provide the protection and care you need.
If you have tried a fantastic sunscreen which I haven’t included here, please let me know in the comments below. I’ll look into it and might add it to the guide!