When it comes to skin care science advances, every year is a leap year. Now SPF-protecting luxury brands are performing a disappearing act. That is, we hardly know the products are on our body or face even while we’re lifting, brightening, and tightening. The days of dealing with chalk-white, one-trick-pony products are over. Finally!
As I toggle in the Baby Boomer/ Gen-X zone, I find many younger people don’t realize the sunscreen formulations were so inferior in my day that sunbathers would have to literally decide if they wanted to risk an acne breakout or a bad sunburn. As anti-aging becomes more of a 24/7, year-round endeavor, should anyone stop skin perfecting until the fall? No way.
I’d say this year is the first time where retinols, vitamin C, exfoliating acids (such as AHA/BHA) and other skin-enhancing topicals have been incorporated into powerful yet sheer sunscreens, with ratings from 15 to 75 SPF matching the strength of a product’s protocol — premixed. These developments may not sound important, but trust me, SPF products will never be the same.
Of course, even the mildest facial procedure requires doctor’s orders for outdoor exposure. With Earth’s depleted ozone and so many blue screen devices in our lives, sunscreen is an absolute must. That pimple or razor nick that cleared three days ago? Walk a mere four blocks in direct sunlight and you’ll have an unseemly dark spot appear. Yikes! Done properly, we can keep treating our skin or even revving up our routine safely, without harmful sun exposure or hyperpigmentation. Here are some of the very best products that can age you backwards and protect you from the sun’s powerful, harmful rays at the same time.
Luxury SPF is rare as a serum, as is Megashade Sunscreen Serum SPF 50 ($40). Also consider GooGetter Spot Clarifying Dots ($19) for masterfully hiding and healing pimples that can’t be exposed to the sun. ZitSticka.com
Well-moisturized doesn’t have to mean shiny. Sisley Paris’s luxe solution is Mattifying Moisturizing Skin Care With Tropical Resins. Redefine eye-opening with Black Rose Eye Contour Fluid and its cold ceramic applicator tip that’s both oil-free and rare rosewater-infused for tautness. Need a rock star protection cream? Sunleÿa SPF 50+. That’s the stuff. ($158-$315) Sisley-Paris.com
Are you still assertively treating your winter skin in summer? Dr. Susan Obagi and Obagi Medical practically invented luxury skin protection with products that allow you continue a four seasons protocol. Textured skin needs Retivance Skin Rejuvenating Complex with retinaldehyde, C and E. Professional-C Suncare SPF 30 for brightening or its velvety HydraFactor Broad Spectrum SPF 30. Need serious outdoor matte coverage? Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50 delivers. Obagi’s Skinclusion Ambassador, Dr. JoAn Monaco, doubles down: “Always wear SPF when using your computer and phone as blue light ages us,” the Manhattan-based specialist says. “Also, men are susceptible to sun damage because dead cells are shaved away so men absolutely need sunscreen, too. Every day.” ($53- $133) Obagi.com
Origins really nailed it with A Perfect World SPF 40 Age-Defense Moisturizer With White Tea ($47) and Plantscription SPF 25 Power Anti-Aging Cream ($64). Purity in a jar. The brand’s vegetarian/vegan formulations also treat and anti-age, making this another must-have SPF. Origins.com
ColorUp is widely respected for its CBD education, spa-level services and serious skincare products. Elemental Zinc Moisturizer ($40) provides environmental and UV protection and over time can shrink large pores, even out skin tone, and boost collagen production with a long list of polyphenols and plant-based extracts, fixing prior damage and preventing new. ColorUpCo.com
Alt-tanning keeps getting perfected. Enter Blue Saint Instant Self-Tanner ($39), a (free) mitt-applied, plant-based foam formula with Italian probiotics and a “zero orange” guarantee. Helpful website, great reviews and availability. BlueSaint.com
NudeSkin’s NudeStix is a snappy set of citrus detox, brightening clean, enzyme exfoliators, hydra-washes, and express masks that cover every assertion level of cleansing, pre- and post-summer sunscreen. And the brand’s 5% Citrus Fruit & Glycolic Glow Toner perfectly sets the stage for more great skin care. ($18-$38) EmerageCosmetics.com
Super-C SPF 30 Vitamin C Moisturizer and Super-C Retinol Brighten & Correct Vitamin C Serum. My new favorite? Advanced Retinol Day Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30. For a safe, sheer finish use Full Screen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Clear Finish. ($39-$99). Strivectin.com
Enter Jack Black’s solution treatment duo, MP10 Nourishing Oil applied over Oil-Free Sun Guard SPF 45. Clean Break Oil-Free Moisturizer, and Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20 have potent, daily hydrators containing white tea, niacinamide, and blue algae; 1.5-8.5 oz. ($25-$48) GetJackBlack.com
Timeless Face Defense - Nutrient Rich Repair uses red raspberry, carrot seed oil, and chaga mushroom as a stellar alternative to chemical sunscreens while infusing full-spectrum hemp extract (CBD) and reishi mushroom for all-in-one luxe hydration. To further your urban detox and treat redness or inflammation, start with Timeless Calm - Soothing Face Serum. ($50-$60) GnomeSerum.com
Writer MARCO MEDRANO is a multi-state licensed cosmetologist and beauty/grooming expert. @mrmarcomedrano
Art Director BEN WARD @_benjaminward_
Model ALEX POLCYN is an actor, model and producer. He currently works in development at VICE Studios but also creates his own content @apzander
Photo Assistant SOPHIE CHAN ANDREASSEND