I've Never Been Sunscreen-Obsessed Until Now—8 SPFs I'm Currently Reaching For

I’m what they call an elder millennial. I'm in my early 40s, which means I lived through certain regrettable beauty trends—one of them being extremely artificially tanned skin. Everyone I knew either went to the tanning salon, used self-tanner religiously, or was fully committed to their Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil. I wasn’t as hard-core as my friends who lubed up their legs with literal olive oil before lying out in the backyard, but any time I had the opportunity to be by a pool, I was set on getting my gams golden. Because I tanned easily, I never really thought about the harm those UV rays could cause, until I got sun poisoning twice in Palm Springs (with one incident resulting in permanent discoloration that lasers helped lighten a decade later).

If you can guess, another thing about us "elders" is that we weren’t as concerned with using SPF as people are now. Sure, I used sunscreen when I knew I was going to be out in the sun all day, but I never really thought about using it as part of my daily skincare routine. Now that I’m in my 40s, I’m obsessed with my SPF, and it’s something that really only happened in the past couple of years. Late bloomer, I guess! It doesn’t feel right if I don’t apply sun protection before I leave the house. (However, I still haven’t gotten to the point where I’m applying it when I don’t leave the house, even if blue-light damage is a thing.) 

If you look around my apartment, there are bottles of sunscreen everywhere. In the bathroom, in the bedroom, on my desk, in my car, one in each purse. At one point, I realized I’ve been using at least five different forms of sun protection. And truth be told, I don’t even have a favorite. Similar to how I feel about the Spice Girls, I love them all! Keep scrolling to learn which SPF products are currently in my rotation—aka, which formulas I deem the best and totally worthy of your hard-earned money.

Best sunscreens to use in your 40s


Best Scent

I’ve loved Kinship’s sunscreen from the get-go. In fact, its original formula is the one that I keep in my car at all times. The Rose version has the same 22.4% reef-safe zinc oxide and Kinship’s proprietary probiotic but also contains Bulgarian rose Damascena flower oil for hydration and a gorgeous scent. If you’re as obsessed with all things rose as I am, you’ll love this.

Best for Body

I tend to use at least two different types of SPF products at a time (sometimes three, if I use a lip balm!). The first will be one specifically for the face, and the second will be a more general type of sunscreen that can be used all over the body. While I tend to alternate between options from Sun Bum’s product line, the original lotion is one of the best and the one I find myself reaching for again and again. 

Best sunscreens to use in your 40s


Best for Nostalgia

In my mind, sunscreen is inherently ’80s, which was the first thing about Vacation that appealed to me. The brand has the nostalgia factor on point, from the packaging to the marketing to the overall vibe, but the sunscreen is totally modern. While it has the classic coconut scent, the formula is free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, and PEG and is also vegan and cruelty-free.

Best Stick

Using a sunscreen stick is one of my favorite ways to reapply SPF. Shiseido's sunscreen stick is made with a reef-friendly, water-resistant, SPF 50 formula. It also features the brand’s signature SynchroShield, which contains two types of technology. One is called WetForce, which allows the product to become more effective when it detects sweat or water, and Heatforce, which is activated after sensing heat and causes the sunscreen to form a stronger barrier. Science! 

Best Aesthetic

It may be as stylish as Glow Recipe’s other products, but there’s even more to this sunscreen aside from its chic pink packaging. It’s made with both mineral and chemical sunscreen actives, feels super light and absorbs into the skin quickly, has SPF 50, and is formulated with super-skin-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, watermelon, and aloe. This is definitely one that is in multiple purses.

Best Primer + Sunscreen Hybrid

I’m just as diligent with primer as I am with sunscreen, and this new one from Thrive Causemetics is perfect since it gets rid of a step for me. The three-in-one product is a sunscreen, a face primer, and a hydrating gel that blurs my pores and creates a nice canvas for makeup, all while protecting from UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 37. 

Best for Multitasking

I just love this sunscreen! (And not because there’s a bunch of cute little hearts on the tube.) Even though the formula is pinkish-white and made with zinc oxide, it absorbs really quickly and doesn’t leave a white cast. It also contains plant-based xanthophyll, which is a natural blue-light blocker, and turmeric, which is filled with antioxidants and can help with redness and evening out skin tone.

Best Splurge

Tinted sunscreen is something I’ve only really just started using. This one by TIZO is a mineral formula that has a smooth and silky matte finish. I love wearing it alone on days when I just need a little bit of coverage or using it as a primer underneath my foundation.