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The Best Sunscreens For Pale Skin

There are three reasons why I'd consider myself an authority on sunscreens for pale skin. One, I'm a naturally pale person; two, I test and write about beauty products for a living; and three, having lived in Asia — where the sunscreen selection is absolutely unparalleled — I've tried about every innovative sunscreen under the sun. Though I could list dozens of sunscreens that hold a special place in my heart, the best sunscreens for pale skin have an SPF of at least 30 to prevent burning and long-term skin damage. Beyond that, choosing the right sunscreen for yourself will mostly come down to skin type and formula preference. Whether you have super sensitive, redness-prone skin or hate the feeling of traditional sunscreens, I guarantee you'll find at least one intriguing option ahead.

Just a few quick sun-safety notes before you get to shopping. If you plan on spending time outside, it's crucial that you reapply your sunscreen every two hours. Also, don't forget those oft-neglected areas (like your ears, your eyelids, and the tops of your feet), and if you've gone swimming, reapply your sunscreen as soon as you step out of the water. Follow those steps, and your skin should stay properly protected from the sun. (That said, us pale people may want to take additional measures to keep our skin safe by wearing sun hats and staying in the shade whenever possible.)

With that in mind, scroll on to shop five of the best sunscreens for pale skin.

In a hurry? Here are the best sunscreens for pale skin:

I discovered this sunscreen back when I lived in Thailand, but thanks to Amazon, you can get it Stateside now, too. I’m absolutely obsessed with it, because I hate the feeling of thick, greasy sunscreens — and this formula, being an "essence," is so lightweight that you immediately forget you're wearing anything at all once it's absorbed (and it absorbs quickly). The other thing I love about it is its subtle illuminating effect. It has a slight pinkish-purplish tint that makes your skin look like a pearl: iridescent and glowy. To top it off, it has a nice, high SPF of 50+ PA++++ — the highest possible — to keep your skin protected from both UVA/UVB rays. Truly, what more could a pale girl want from a sunscreen?

Sunscreen Type Chemical SPF Level 50 Size 2.8 oz.

Relevant review: “This is the perfect sunscreen for anyone with pale skin seeking to smoothen out skin texture appearance. the tone up effect is really incredible as it quickly brightens complexion. it also goes well under makeup and doesn't feel sticky.”

For fair-skinned folks who prefer mineral sunscreens, this Colorescience Total Protection Face Shield in 'Original' is a must-try. It's a great choice for pale skin types in particular because it imparts just the slightest hint of radiance with its peach-hued formula — it's not quite tinted, but almost. Amp up the glowy factor even more by trying the 'Glow' shade, or fake a natural-looking tan with 'Bronze.' Also, it has a high SPF of 50, so you don't have to worry about burning.

In addition to protecting skin from UVA/UVB rays, it also provides blue light and pollution protection. Other highlights include its reef-safe, non-nano formula and ability to resist sweat and water for up to 40 minutes.

Sunscreen Type Mineral SPF Level 50 Size 1.8 oz.

Relevant review: “I have fair to medium skin and this adds just the right amount of glow. Does dry down nicely. SPF 50 is perfect protection too. I will definitely purchase again.”

If you have pale skin that’s prone to redness due to conditions like acne or rosacea, Hero Cosmetics Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen deserves a spot on your shelf. It’s a zinc oxide-based mineral sunscreen, so it’s safe for sensitive skin, but what really makes it unique is its subtle green tint that immediately works to neutralize unwanted redness. The gel-cream formula is completely weightless, so if your skin is oily or gets easily congested, you’ll love how lightweight this feels. It’s also fragrance-free, silicone-free, and noncomedogenic; plus, it’s packaged in an airtight bottle to keep it fresh.

Sunscreen Type Mineral SPF Level 30 Size 1.69 oz.

Relevant review: “I love this cream. Light, blends on easily but is not greasy. Does not leave any white film on skin. The light green tint really makes a difference in changing my rosacea redness to a lovely glow.”

Pale skin types tend to be especially vulnerable to burning and skin damage, so it's best to avoid tanning — but you can still achieve an all-over (albeit temporary) glow with this bronzer-infused sunscreen from Australian Gold. It protects skin with an SPF of 30 and imparts a subtle hint of color using a caramel-derived bronzer, which will wash off once you shower. Antioxidants like tea tree and Kakadu plum keep your skin further protected, while nourishing ingredients like cocoa butter, sunflower seed oil, and olive oil give this gel sunscreen a smooth glide while simultaneously pampering your skin.

Also part of the brand’s bronzing line is a traditional sunscreen lotion and a continuous mist spray.

Sunscreen Type Chemical SPF Level 30 Size 8 oz.

Relevant review: “This is the best sunscreen I’ve ever used. I’m pale Irish and burn easily, and I haven’t burnt wearing this all summer and the bronzing makes me look like I have a tan. It doesn’t rub off, doesn’t stain, doesn’t smell like fake tanner ... it’s wonderful! Highly recommend!!”

If you don't want any glow in your sunscreen, pick up a tube of La Roche-Posay's Anthelios Cooling Water Lotion Sunscreen. Fragrance-free, sensitive skin-friendly, and enriched with free radical-fighting antioxidants, it can be used on both your face and body (though I reserve it for my body only). La Roche-Posay makes several excellent sunscreens, but what I love about this one is its refreshing, water-light feel: Upon application, it delivers a slight cooling sensation — an especially nice feature when it's particularly humid outside. It's a great alternative to traditional thick, creamy sunscreen lotions, due to its lightweight feel. Choose from two levels of SPF protection: 30 or 60.

Sunscreen Type Chemical SPF Level 60 Size 5 oz.

Relevant review: “I am glow in the dark pale and this is my favorite sunscreen! So lightweight that I forget I’m wearing it but I never burn. Worth the price!”

This article was originally published on May 30, 2020