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10 No-Residue Sunscreens That Won’t Leave You Looking Pasty

So sheer you'll forget you're lathered in SPF.

By Katharina Lyklar

When I learned in my teens that slathering myself in Crisco and baking in the sun would eventually lead to skin that resembled an end-of-shift convenience store hot dog, my obsession with head to toe sunscreen coverage began. And in the passing years my dedication hasn’t waned. I apply sunscreen multiple times a day, every day—even when I’m skulking in my apartment with the curtains drawn. Because of my sun phobia, I consider myself a bit of an expert on the subject of sunscreen, so ahead, my tried and true antidotes to UVA and UVB rays.


Avene Mineral Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+

Mineral sunscreens typically come with one major drawback: the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that bounce rays off your skin leave behind a residue that makes you look, at best, a little pasty and, at worst, like a totally terrifying shadow-person. This one, though, has an elegant finish that vanishes entirely the moment you slather it on. Another bonus: Because its protection is mineral rather than chemical it’ll deflect rays for up to eight hours (though, to be safe, still reapply every 120 minutes).

BUY FROM: Amazon, $28

Pratima Neem Rose Face Sunscreen SPF 30

I’ve been tempted to use this one at night—and no, not because I’m that terrified of the sun, but because it’s one of the most moisturizing products out there. The ayurvedic brand’s SPF harnesses organic botanicals like neem, shatavari and rose, which also happen to have the benefit of smelling delightful.

BUY FROM: ABC Carpet & Home, $36

Alba Very Emollient Sunscreen Facial SPF 30

As much time as I dedicate to applying sun-protective products, I’ll admit sometimes have a pretty lax attitude about other types of skin care, a fact that my very dry skin does not appreciate. Alba’s super-moisturizing sunscreen lets me skip every step but sunscreen and still leaves my skin sufficiently hydrated with botanically based ingredients.

BUY FROM: Ulta, $12

Supergoop Invincible Setting Powder SPF 45

I’m not going to say that this one is totally and truly invisible—it’s not. Know that dusting it on will mattify skin and eliminate shine (which is kind of the point of a setting powder). The non-pigmented product is, however, among the most imperceptible of dust-on sunscreens, allowing you to reapply before you head out for lunch without messing up your makeup.

BUY FROM: Sephora, $30

La Roche Posay Anthelios 60

The quest took years, but I finally found the facial-sunscreen holy grail—and that grail was filled to the brim with La Roche Posay’s milky fluid in SPF 60. This silky stuff goes on totally invisibly and plays nicely with makeup, acting almost as a primer. Its one downside: I’d really love to slather it on head to toe, but at $30 for less than 2 ounces, it’s not likely to descend lower than my neck on a regular basis anytime soon. The upside: When applied to the face and neck only, a bottle will last for a couple months, easy.

BUY FROM: Amazon, SALE $23.99 (Regularly $29.99, 20% Off!)


Coola Sport Continuous SPF 30

The best thing about this: It lets me be totally lazy at covering head-to-neck in a sun-deflecting mega-shield way with nothing more than a few sweeping mists. It goes on totally clear, lasts a good 2 hours under a blazing sun, and lets me entirely forget I’ve got it on. Like all sprays, it tends to run out quicker than you expect, but it smells like coconuts, letting me pretend I’m on the tropics when I’m actually just trapped in traffic.

BUY FROM: Sephora, $36

Australian Gold Sheer Coverage Continuous Spray with InvisiDry, SPF 30

Another mist-on version, this Aussie-inspired brand’s product is popular for a few reasons. It sprays on fast, dries even faster and comes at a price point that won’t have you hesitating to reapply every couple hours.

BUY FROM: Jet, $11.25

EltaMD UV Sport SPF 50

EltaMD’s line of sunscreen has a pretty strong approval rating among dermatologists—and for good reason. This particular SPF from their range is designed for the sporty (or just sweaty) among us, is water resistant for 80 minutes, goes on clear, and comes without even a whiff of added fragrance.

BUY FROM: Amazon, $23.50

Aveeno Active Naturals Protect + Hydrate Sunscreen SPF 50

The addition of colloidal oatmeal (a.k.a. super-finely ground oats) makes Aveeno’s body sunscreen both gentle and hydrating. It’s never made me break out with a case of bacne and it doesn’t make me feel all hot and sticky. It slathers on smooth and is invisible within seconds. What more can you ask for?

BUY FROM: Jet, $9

Heliocare Daily Use Antioxidant Formula Capsules

You probably already noticed from the the pill-filled bottle that this one’s different from the rest. Sourced from a Central-American fern, the star antioxidant in Heliocare supplement blocks UV damage from the inside out, fending off free-radicals responsible for wrinkles, sagging, dark spots—all the usual suspects. One major caution. While the product does give you an added layer of solar protection everywhere the sun does (and doesn’t) shine it’s more of a safety net—you’ll still need to follow up with a standard SPF.

BUY FROM: Jet, $22.50

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