With the temperatures lowering, your first impulse may be to stow a favorite SPF under the sink as many might question the purpose of sunscreen in winter. But as any dermatologist will tell you, protecting skin against UV damage is a year-round commitment. Incidental sun exposure—the kind experienced on a daily commute—has a cumulative effect that results in fine lines and sagging skin. And research suggests that a thick layer of broad-spectrum SPF may be just as important for those who are holed up in an office as it is for those who spend their days hitting the slopes or taking snowy walks during winter weekends.
According to New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman, recent data indicates that pigment cells can be stimulated not only by the sun’s bright UV rays, but even by lower doses of ambient and infrared light emitted by your computer screen or overhead lamps. “People used to think, ‘What’s the point of wearing sunblock in winter?’ especially in Manhattan, where you never see the sun,” Engelman explains. “But now we know that even your office lighting, your phone screen can be harmful.”
Before you dash off to the store to stock up on cold-weather SPF, you might wonder what exactly to look for. “Since UV index and sun exposure is lower, SPF can be easily added to the routine by using a moisturizer that also contains SPF or by using a very lightweight SPF on top of your preferred moisturizer,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elyse Love. If you’ve already got a favorite thick moisturizer for day, layering over it with sunscreen will still work wonders.
And so, here are 14 sun-protecting formulas to safeguard and nourish your skin this winter.
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Consider the EltaMD UV Clear an excellent sunscreen for year-round use. It’s lightweight, oil- and fragrance-free, and infused with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid to clear pores and reduce shine while protecting against UV rays. According to Dr. Morgan Rabach, “the best formulas [for sunscreen in winter] are oil-free, and made with titanium and zinc (physical blockers) as the main ingredients.”
Supergoop! Daily Dose Hydra-Ceramide Boost + SPF 40 Oil
“The Supergoop! Daily Dose Hydra-Ceramide Boost + SPF contains skin barrier supporting ceramides to soothe skin, provide extra moisture, and SPF 40. The formula is a great add-on for sensitive skin in the winter and also happens to contain SPF,” explains Love. Because it’s an oil, you can easily layer this over a lighter, water-based moisturizer.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Facial Moisturizer With SPF
“La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Double Repair is a do-it-all formula— it provides good hydration and sun protection in one step,” says Love. Packed with the brand’s prebiotic thermal water, ceramides, niacinamide, and glycerin, this works to nourish and protect the skin barrier.
Innisfree Daily UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 36
You can’t go wrong with Innisfree’s hydrating Daily UV Defense Sunscreen—a lightweight, water-based formula powered crafted with a cocktail of green tea, cica, and sunflower seed oil to soothe skin.
Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen
For a lightweight, yet moisturizing sunscreen that won’t pill when layered with other products, this one by Biossance is a dream. Even more, it does not leave a white cast, and is powered by zinc oxide, water lily, and squalene to calm skin and lock in moisture.
Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
The Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint is surely one of our favorite lightweight foundations, but we’re loving it this winter for a bit of coverage and a boost of sun protection. The SPF 40 will do you well for your next après-ski or cold-weather adventures.
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen
Those keen on winter sports or workouts should consider Shiseido’s Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion—a sunscreen designed to become more effective as you sweat or expose the skin to water. Basically, the more you work—the stronger the sun protection.
Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen
Fenty Skin’s Hydra Vizor is the moisturizer-sunscreen combo you’ve been looking for this winter. The sheer, vegan formula is powered by Kalahari melon, hyaluronic acid, aloe, niacinamide, and baobab for your best skin yet. Did we mention it’s refillable?
Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF 30
For a thicker sunscreen, give the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream a try especially if you’d like to target signs of aging. It’s infused with botanical and marine extracts to improve skin’s suppleness and elasticity, without the white cast or residue.
SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield Broad-Spectrum SPF 35
SkinMedica’s Essential Defense Mineral Shield Broad-Spectrum SPF 35 is a solid winter pick as its thick formula uses green tea extract, caffeine, and UV protection for a sunscreen suitable for dry, sensitive skin types.
iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30
The iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30 is known to provide soothing, hydrating sun protection even for sensitive, irritation-prone skin. Here, aloe, vitamin E, and olive leaf extract work to reduce redness, smooth skin, and provide ample nourishment.
Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Designed with skin of color in mind, Black Girl Sunscreen’s lotion is great for winter due to the presence of avocado, jojoba, cacao, carrot juice, and sunflower oils in its sun-protecting formula.
Neogen Day-Light Protection Sunscreen SPF 50/PA+++
Powered by chemical and mineral ingredients, as well as SPF 50 PA +++, the Neogen Day-Light Protection Sunscreen will give you lasting hydration and protection without the white cast.
Supergoop! PLAY Lip Balm SPF 30
Give your lips a bit of T.L.C. this winter with an SPF-infused lip balm—notably this one by Supergoop!. Crafted with shea butter, honey, and sunflower seed oil, this balm can be worn on its own or under lip color formulas for added sun-shielding.