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As the last and one of the most powerful steps in a skincare routine, sunscreen doesn’t get the credit it deserves because it has long had the rep of being the most dreaded product. Not only are you supposed to use the two-finger rule to measure your SPF accurately, but many of the ones on the market also make a laundry list of promises only to leave you with a pasty white cast or a glob of grease. Still, feelings aside, sunscreen is a must for improving your skin’s health.
“Sunscreen protects the skin from UV damage, which can lead to skin cancer and signs of skin aging such as fine lines, stubborn wrinkles, photodamage including brown spots, and skin laxity. Since we are exposed to UV rays every day, even in the winter months, it is important to make it a part of your daily routine to protect the skin from this damage,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, tells ELLE.com. Think of it as a barrier protecting all the progress your skin has made from using those expensive face serums daily.
“It is important to remember that if you are doing other anti-aging treatments—whether it is topical serums or creams, or in-office procedures—and not wearing sunscreen consistently, you are not protecting your investment. While there are lots of treatment options to address signs of skin aging, regular use of sunscreen can help to prevent these changes from happening,” Dr. Garshick adds.
Whether you prefer a tinted version, powder formula, or zinc-based SPF, it shouldn’t break the bank. After all, unlike most skincare items, which may be fun but not entirely essential for your routine, wearing sunscreen daily does more than prevent premature aging or hyperpigmentation: It can protect you from life-threatening skin cancer.
“Skin cancers, both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers, as well as negative cosmetic changes associated with photoaging, are well-known issues caused by cumulative UV exposure over time,” NY-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lauren Penzi explains.
So if you want to spend your next paycheck on a fancy SPF, go for it! Just know the higher price point doesn’t make the formula more efficacious. These 14 drugstore sunscreens do everything they’re supposed to, and more. If SPF-related breakouts are your skincare nemesis, we have an acne-defying SPF here. Hate feeling greasy all day long? Try a matte-finish sunscreen. And if you’re looking to spend less than $10 for protection, we’ve got you covered. For every skin woe, preference, and budget, these are the best drugstore sunscreens to ensure you’re shielded from sun damage without spending a ton.