Rachel’s Top SPF Picks

SPF is a must have, and this is coming from a girl who would dread putting it on throughout my life. I don’t know if it was the smell or the texture, but my mom used to slather Leah and I with sunblock 24/7 growing up and I HATED it. Now I can’t live without it. And I really want to encourage anyone reading this to PLEASE start incorporating it into your daily routine however you can. Let’s prevent skin cancer AND prevent premature wrinkles and aging. A win-win for us all!

Side note: thanks to my mom (shout out to KB) and my intense dedication to preventing wrinkles, I’ve been pretty well protected from the sun throughout my life (except for a couple rebellious years in college but okay). Recently, L and I went and got facials, and our awesome esthetician (hey Cameron! @killllaacamm) was able to show me how much sun damage I have under my skin using a blue LED light – and guys, THERE WAS SO MUCH DAMAGE. Looking at my skin from the outside, you’d have no clue. I tell you this so you remember that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

But not all SPF products are created equal! You want to make sure they don’t contain harmful ingredients (e.g., fragrance, alcohol). And you want to make sure you are applying it Every. Single. Day. Rain or shine. I’m serious.


So since I am so picky with my SPF, here are some of the things I look for when searching for the perfect sun protection. I’ll give a little overview of some SPF basics, and I’ll share with you my tried-and-true favorites, including the best ones for wearing under makeup!

I can already tell this is going to be a long post, so grab a snack and buckle up.


1.Mineral vs chemical. Your SPF is going to consist of either a mineral or chemical base. Sensitive skin babes like myself want to gravitate towards a mineral based SPF for protection, as the main ingredients in a chemical sunscreen can irritate the skin, but both are safe for topical use.

Mineral ingredients include titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide (seen here on this Clinique SPF), while chemical sunscreens often include avobenzone, oxybenzone, homosalate, and others (seen here on this Paula’s Choice SPF).


It may also impact the consistency of the SPF. Mineral sunscreens are often in the form of a slightly thicker cream or solid stick and are often very white. Chemical sunscreens can be a lighter, clear, gel formula, and often what you see in spray forms of SPF. Here is an example comparing the Clinique mineral SPF with the Paula’s Choice chemical SPF before and after blending them in.


You’ll notice that they both blended in beautifully with my skin (however I am pale as a ghost, so those with deeper complexions might need to go for a tinted SPF if you choose mineral to avoid any potential chalkiness).

2. Make your SPF multifunctional. The best and easiest way I have found to incorporate SPF into my daily routine is to find products you would already be using that also have SPF (e.g., foundation, primer). I make sure I always use a primer with SPF now, so it smoothes and preps my skin for makeup while also giving me protection. I don’t have to add in another step into my routine, and I’m not putting more layers of product on my face. Now they even make setting sprays with SPF in them!

3. SPF 30 as a MINIMUM! This is the general rule of thumb I’ve consistently read about over the years, and what I swear by. And make sure you are using a very generous amount when applying.

And now on to my recommended SPFs:

For my glam babes who like to wear makeup, I would recommend a chemical SPF. I find that it does not mess with the consistency of powder and foundation, and doesn’t alter the shades of your products!

My #1 tried and true is Paula’s Choice RESIST Smoothing Primer Serum SPF 30 

I’ve bought this two separate times and it’s always my favorite. It provides the perfect base for your foundation, and doesn’s break it up or cause any other issues. I ride or die for Paula’s Choice products, so I’m not even surprised with how much I love it.

I also like the Urban Decay Urban Defense Complexion Primer SPF 30

This is one I can also wear under makeup. HOWEVER, this one is a little more high maintenance, and I have to be extra gentle with my makeup application so it doesn’t pill. If you use a beauty blender to apply face makeup like I do, you’re golden. I think the buffing motion of a flat top kabuki brush or something similar might lead to a greater chance of pilling!

My favorite mineral SPFs:

Clinique SPF 50 Mineral Suncreen Fluid for Face

If you wear makeup AND need mineral, this is the one I would recommend for sure. Foundation applies pretty nicely over this one.

And for a drugstore option, I highly recommend Derma E Natural Mineral Suncreen SPF 30 (Oil-Free!)

(I also saw this powder version of their SPF 30 and I am definitely going to check it out!)

Also, just quickly, these are two runner ups that I love, which are formulated for different skin types (anti-aging and anti-redness). BUT!!!! I do NOT recommend these under face makeup. They pill under makeup and foundation just does not sit well atop them. But if you need an SPF for no-makeup days, I highly recommend these as well: Paula’s Choice RESIST Skin Restoring Moisturizer SPF 50 + Paula’s Choice Redness Relief Mineral Moisturizer SPF 30 (for Normal to Oily Skin)

And FINALLY (I swear, I’m almost done). If putting SPF on your face isn’t your thing, then please at least consider getting a basic SPF for your hands and neck, which are the two areas that are first to show signs of aging. I just picked up a jumbo size of this Banana Boat one, and I throw it on my hands before I walk out the door. I got mine for less than $10 at Target.

I also recommend putting a mini version in your bag, that way you can touch up your SPF coverage if you leave the office for lunch or something. I picked up this baby Bum one from Target in a stick form for easy application! **This is also perfect if the texture/smell of sunscreen grosses you out like it used to for me!**  (And yes, I always use products marketed for kids and/or babies because they often omit the unnecessary/irritating ingredients like fragrance)

As always, please check Beautypedia to make sure your SPF choice is high quality and doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients! I find all of my makeup and skincare recs there. We want to protect that gorgeous face of yours!

And please leave your recommendations for SPF in the comments! I love trying new ones out, and even though I love all of these, I’m always trying to find the best one and share them all with you. Love you, babes!


xo Rachel

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