Woman in sun hat applying sunscreen onto her face by the pool.

SPF is the most crucial part of any skincare routine, hands down. It helps prevent premature , , , and skin cancer. But finding one that not only does its job well but also makes you want to keep using it is a tricky matter. There’s a bevy of different formulations available, including sunscreen sticks, powders, and lotions. How do you know which is best for you?

To help narrow down your choices, we’ll walk you through the advantages (and disadvantages) of each of these sunscreen types.

Are Sunscreen Sticks Effective?

sticks offer on-the-go sun protection in a solid form. The travel-friendly packaging allows you to stash one in your purse or pocket for quick touch-ups throughout the day. As for shielding your skin from harsh sun rays, this format measures up to the traditional version – as long as you apply it correctly.

If you’re interested in trying SPF sticks for your face, here are some considerations you should keep in mind.

Pro: They don’t easily rub off.

Thanks to their waxy texture, sunscreen sticks typically stay on the skin better, especially in . The formula creates a thick barrier that won’t budge, even when exposed to sweat, water, or friction. And the real appeal for is most sticks glide on clear, so you don’t have to worry about a white cast.

Pro: You can use them with your eyes closed.

One of the standout features of sunscreen sticks is their mess-free application. Several swipes across the skin and you’re done – no need to blend out excess product. On top of that, the compact size allows you to cover hard-to-reach areas, such as the nose, behind the ears, lips, and eyelids.

Con: It’s easy to under-apply sunscreen sticks.

FYI, your face needs about ¼ teaspoon of sunscreen to get the level of protection listed on the label. But who measures out SPF that precisely? And with sunscreen sticks, it’s even harder to gauge how much product you’re applying. For even coverage, the recommends doing four passes back and forth over each area.

Con: They need cleaning.

Since sunscreen sticks are directly applied on the skin, they’re likely to accumulate makeup, dirt, and sebum. This can lead to bacteria buildup, which might trigger . To be on the safe side, clean the top layer with an antibacterial wipe after every two or three uses.

Do Sunscreen Powders Really Work?

Have you ever wished your setting powder could double as ? That’s the concept of sunscreen powders. Most of them contain mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that physically block UV rays. However, experts think they work best as a top-up rather than a primary sunscreen due to these factors.

Pro: They won’t ruin your makeup.

Many people skip sunscreen reapplication simply because they don’t want to mess up their makeup. With powdered sunscreens, you can refresh your SPF without removing your foundation. Plus, they help control shine (bye, !) and improve makeup longevity.

Pro: They work on sensitive skin.

Many sunscreen powders on the market are mineral-based. These merely sit on the skin’s surface, greatly reducing the risk of irritation. That said, be sure to pick one without fragrances or synthetic dyes.

Con: They’re less effective than sticks and lotions.

Sunscreen powders alone don’t provide sufficient protection against sun damage. In an Instagram post, , a cosmetic chemist, shows just how much SPF powder is needed to protect your skin – and it’s enough to make your skin look paper-white. So, remember to use these powders for reapplication only.

Should You Go for Sunscreen Lotions, Then?

The forever cool girl Alexa Chung once said: stick to the classics, and you can’t ever go wrong. Sunscreen lotions have undergone many improvements and innovations over the years. You’re sure to find a formulation that ticks all your boxes. They’re also preferred by skincare connoisseurs and dermatologists.

Pro: They’re a cut above the rest.

When it comes to UV defense, sunscreen lotions are the masters of the trade. The easy-to-spread texture makes it less likely for you to miss spots – a common problem with sunscreen sticks and powders. Most importantly, they’re suitable for both face and body, unlike their non-liquid counterparts.

Pro: They suit every budget.

Sunscreen sticks and powders can be twice as expensive as traditional sunscreen lotions because you’ll need to use more products to get the same amount of coverage. Safeguarding your skin doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re , sunscreen lotions, creams, or serums are the clear winners.

Con: Some may leave a white cast and sticky film.

Traditional sunscreens generally contain a higher concentration of sun-filtering actives, resulting in a sticky texture when applied. Some formulas can also leave a white residue and clog pores. That’s why it’s essential to scan the carefully. For the face, use a non-greasy sunscreen with labels like “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free” on the bottle.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can give POND'S UV Bright Sunscreen with SPF 50 PA ++++ a shot. This broad-spectrum sunscreen is infused with Gluta-Niacinamide to help fade dark spots in three days. For dry skin, try POND'S UV Hydrate Sunscreen with SPF 50 PA ++++. It has Hyaluron that instantly boosts hydration, giving you the coveted glass skin effect minus the stickiness.

The best sunscreen is the one you’ll use every day. But if we were to rank the options, it’s evident that SPF lotions are superior. While sunscreen sticks and powders have unique advantages, they’re better for touch-ups. In the end, it all comes down to preferences, so choose wisely!