The Best Physical Block Facial Sunscreens For Summer

I like to think of myself as a facial sunscreen aficionado. I’ve tried so many in my search for the perfect one that I practically have to be an expert at this point! At least for my sunscreen formula of choice, which is the physical kind. So, first lets start off with why I choose physical over chemical sunscreens.

Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreens are usually made up of titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. They work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. And they are especially beneficial to those of us with sensitive and acne prone skin. Because they are known to be non-irritating and less likely to clog pores. The only downside to them is that they can leave you with a ghostly looking white-cast. So, to find the right formulation can be a bit of a challenge.

Chemical sunscreens work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. Which can possibly cause an increase in existing brown spots and discolouration due to a higher internal skin temperature. A fact that I was shocked to find out, because that is exactly the thing I want to prevent! Also, they can increase redness because of that light to heat conversion, clog pores and be irritating to the skin. So you can see that they are just not right for my sensitive, easily reddened, acne prone face. Right?!

I have four solid favourite physical sunscreens that I rotate through depending on what I’m doing that day. Now, I’m not saying that you have to rush out and get all four of these guys because they do all work wonderfully for most day-to-day scenarios. I just want to let you know about each of them and give you as many options as possible!

SkinMedica Daily Defense Sunblock lotion

SkinMedica Daily Physical Defense

This has got to be my favourite one for wearing under makeup. It’s a white, moisturizing lotion that once worked into the skin becomes completely transparent, leaving absolutely no white-cast! It’s hydrating but not greasy and doesn’t ball up or pill when you try to layer makeup on top. It just creates a lovely and comfortable base that won’t interfere with your daily makeup.

I do also wear this on its own occasionally for no-makeup days. But more than likely I will cheat a little bit and wear a sunscreen with a tint. Gotta have at least teensy bit of coverage!

Elta MD UV Physical sunblock

Elta MD UV Physical

A fantastic sunscreen for really sensitive skin! I used this after I had a Fraxel laser treatment done back in January. My skin was crazy sensitive for weeks post-procedure and this was the only sunblock that didn’t sting or burn my skin. Back then, when I was just solely using this for sun protection I found it worked pretty well under make-up too. Maybe some slight pilling, but nothing that you couldn’t dust away with a brush. It’s lightly tinted and has more of a matte finish, so if your someone with very oily skin this could be the one for you.

I really like to use this one nowadays when I know I’m going to out in the sun all day. It has this feeling about it that it has staying power. Almost like it dries down and locks into place for the day. It’s also water-resistant, so it’s perfect if you’re in and out of the water. Just remember to re-apply part way through your day!

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense

This gets top marks for the best all-rounder. So incredibly nice to wear on its own and under makeup. It has a light tint that blends seamlessly into the skin and slightly blurs fine lines and imperfections. It has very watery formula that when first applied can feel a tad oily. But, after a few minutes it dries down and offers a very natural and luminous finish. For all my combo skin girls out there, give this one a try! It’s my personal favourite.

ColoreScience Sunforgettable powder sunblock

ColoreScience Sunforgettable Topical Powder Sun Protection

This is a handy-dandy mineral powder sunscreen that comes in a super convenient brush applicator. Just tap the powder into the brush with the lid on and then brush over the face and you’re covered. I keep this in my bag and have it with me at all times during the summer months. I love that I can take down shine and top up my sunscreen mid-day all in one swoop. The powder itself melts into the skin nicely without looking chalky or powdery as long as you don’t go overboard on application. It has little to no coverage to it, but still comes in a nice variety of shades.

If you’re looking for more sunscreen babble check out this video by Angie from Hot and Flashy on Youtube. She does great in-depth reviews on tons of sunscreens with camera flash and all day wear tests! Check in the description box below her video for more on sunscreens.

Let me know some of your favourites in the comments below! xo

∗ side note: I buy the SkinMedica sunscreen and the Colorescience powder from MD Esthetics in Colwood. The SkinCeuticals one from Clinic 805 in Victoria. And the Elta MD one from Amazon.