Best Facial Sunscreen Under $20 for 2020

Whenever a sunscreen or skincare deal is posted, there are usually comments asking for product recommendations, and there was a suggestion to create a thread where this information can be posted in one place. With so many different product categories, I thought we'd just try starting one thread just for sunscreens and see how it goes. If there is enough interest, we can do other product categories in future. The products don't have to be 2020 releases, the title just allows us to do another poll in future as new products are released, if there is enough interest.


What is the best sunscreen suitable for daily use on the face?

Even though summer is coming to an end, Cancer Council still recommends that sunscreen should be incorporated into our daily morning routine on days when the UV Index is forecast to be 3 or above.

Despite the recent news headlines about certain sunscreen filters getting into your bloodstream, the official press release from the FDA is asking for more studies to be done, but still states:

Absorption does NOT equal risk – The FDA advises continued use of sunscreens

Some may prefer to stick with sunscreens with only zinc oxide and titanium oxide filters to be on the safe side.

There are many types of sunscreens out there, some that are for the body, some that are for both face and body, and some are for the face, some are tinted etc. For the purposes of limiting the options to a manageable poll, we will restrict poll options to those that satisfy these requirements:

  • Under $20 (those that are under $20 only when on sale are ok)
  • Suitable to be used on the face (but not necessarily for the face only)
  • SPF 30 or more

Some considerations when choosing a sunscreen:

  • Sun Protection factor
  • Whether it is broad spectrum
  • Types of filters - chemical (organic) vs physical (inorganic)
  • Texture and finish - the less comfortable it is, the less likely you will want to use it every day, or put on the required amount
  • Any white cast?
  • Does it irritate or sting the eyes?
  • Water-resistance for those who want a multi-purpose product.
  • How it performs under make-up (for those who do use make-up)

I have started with a few product suggestions that have been recommended on beauty forums or on OzBargain. Feel free to vote or add your suggestion.

And we have a winner - La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF50+. Thank you for voting!

First place: La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF50+
Second place: Cancer Council SPF 50+ Day Wear Face Matte Invisible
Third place: Neutrogena SPF 50+ Ultra Sheer Fluid

Poll Options expired

  • 41
    Cancer Council SPF 50+ Day Wear Face Matte Invisible
  • 3
    Ego SunSense anti ageing sun lotion SPF 50+
  • 4
    Ethical zinc
    Suggested by Klogg86 on 07/02/2020 - 19:55
  • 74
    La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF50+
  • 8
    Natio Daily Defence Face Moisturiser SPF 50+
  • 1
    Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF50
    Suggested by zrmx on 25/02/2020 - 14:36
  • 17
    Neutrogena SPF 50+ Ultra Sheer Fluid
  • 1
    Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Clear Face Sunscreen Liquid-Lotion SPF 30
  • 12
    Nivea Sun SPF 50+ UV Face Shine Control
  • 2
    Olay Complete Defense SPF30+ (Sensitive Skin)
    Suggested by O O on 22/02/2020 - 00:03
  • 1
    Paula's Choice Hydralite Shine Free Mineral Complex SPF 15 (30 in America)
  • 7
    Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sun 60ml SPF50+ PA++++
    Suggested by bohn on 12/02/2020 - 11:09
  • 3
    Sunsense Daily Face SPF 50+ Sunscreen


  • Thank you for contributing and voting! Looks like OzBargain's favourite facial sunscreen for 2020 is La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF50+.

    First place: La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF50+
    Second place: Cancer Council SPF 50+ Day Wear Face Matte Invisible
    Third place: Neutrogena SPF 50+ Ultra Sheer Fluid

    • Note however that La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF50+ has now been repackaged as 'La Roche Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid SPF 50+' with a slight formula change according to this reddit post.

      • Do you know if the La Roche Posay product leaves a white cast? The third placed Neutrogena product certainly does.
        I'm looking for a sunscreen that offers SPF 30-50+, that doesn't sting my eyes and doesn't make me look like a corpse.

    • Thanks for making this thread Moocher. It's been very useful. Ever since I stumbled upon Biore, I've been looking for a replacement once I run out of my stash. Now I know which ones to try.

  • I work in the sun a lot and try to look after my skin. My favourite is the also brand "Ombra" sunscreen. Usually get the green active bottle because I usually sweat. Very cheap, smells good, last good and doesn't leave whitecast

    • Err, this one?

      • +2 votes

        I use the Aldi sunscreen and find it very good. It is very cheap and seems effective.

        It is also almost perfect as a face sunscreen as it is completely non oily. You can put a lot on and it dries to a matte finish.

        It certainly does not "feel like acid" so I have serious doubts on the stories in that article.

        OP, that makes two votes for the Aldi Ombra sunscreen

        • Aldi make a lot of different sunscreens. If you wish to suggest an addition to the poll, please follow the instructions in the description, and specify the full name of the product in the poll suggestion. Thanks.

  • I just use the large Colesworth branded one. Is there really a difference?

  • I'm actually curious on this since gf pushing me to put on sunscreen daily - so great timing to follow what people recommend.

  • There was some chat chat about La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF50+ & Neutrogena SPF 50+ Ultra Sheer Fluid.

    Neutrogena SPF 50+ Ultra Sheer Fluid is better priced generally, but La Roche-Posay was on sale recently.

  • Suggested Ego SunSense anti ageing sun lotion SPF 50+

    The regular (ie no "anti ageing") was recommended by my dermatologist. Tried both, and find the anti ageing to work better with my skin. The "anti ageing" bit I don't care about, there's no evidence it works.

  • I usually just get kids sunscreen, with the assumption that there would be less irritants (even though the ingredients appear the same). Yesterday was the Coles variant.

  • Hmmm upon some investigation I can get effectively free sunscreen through my health insurance if its Cancer Council branded so I think I'm just going to get their waterproof face and body one.

  • The sukin one smells absolutely terrible and very strong, just an FYI. Other than that I still use it :)

    The Cancer Counil is indeed very matte - can confirm. There is also a tinted version which has a blurring and skin tone evening effect - I think it's called the BB version. I like this more than most other BB creams I have tried. Recommend!

    • Thanks for the feedback. Yeah I heard about the smell for the Sukin sunscreen, but wanted to add an option in there that uses only physical (inorganic) filters for those who prefer to avoid chemical (organic) filters.

    • The smell is most likely coming from the natural oils used in the product.

  • A reminder:

    1. If you wish to add a poll option - please do so following instructions in the description above.
    2. I will reply to your comment once the poll option has been added, remember to come back and add your vote. Votes cannot be automatically added on your behalf.
  • Suggested Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sun 60ml SPF50+ PA++++

    Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sun 60ml SPF50+ PA++++

    Korean sunscreen. Absolutely no sunscreen smell at all. Rubs in like a moisturiser. Must order from OS but can get for $20 delivered.

  • For those who have bought Biore Water Gel in Japan, are any of those choices similar?

    • I've never seen anything like the water gel before, definitely not here!

      • Have you tried any of the ones in the poll? Any of those good enough as a replacement even if it's not similar?

        The Biore is so good. It feels very light and has a nice subtle fragrance to it.

    • For the ones in the poll, the one that may be the closest in texture to some of the watery Japanese sunscreens (not the Biore water gel in particular) may be the Neutrogena ultra sheer fluid.

      • Thanks for that Moocher. I'll try it out once I run out of my Biore stash.

  • Unfortunately you missed out on the LRP sale few weeks back

    • I didn't miss it, I just didn't buy. Current sale was better, because I got $7.50 back from Shopback. $23 - $7.30 = $16.70 for 2 bottles.

  • Cancer Council SPF 50+ Day Wear Face Matte Invisible is on sale at Big W for $7.77, if I remember and drive past I'll grab one to compare.

  • Suggested Olay Complete Defense SPF30+ (Sensitive Skin)

    Olay Complete Defense SPF30+ (Sensitive Skin).

    The sensitve skin version comes with a blend of chemical and physical sunscreens. It doesn't leave a white tint as zinc oxide/titanium oxide only sunscreen.

  • I make sunscreens for a living. Happy to answer any technical questions. 😁

    • Have you tried Biore watery gel? It feels so nice and light, is it as good as those heavy feeling sunscreens?

      • Yes I have. They were originally designed for the Asia markets where light feel was a priority. Just bear in mind that different markets comply to different regulations. As long as it's sold in Australia, it has to comply to Aus regulations which are very strict.

        • So even if it's SPF 50+, it might not give the same protection? Specific to the Biore, would this be good enough for protection.

          I found that the light feel make it more likely for me to use it especially when going to work. It's nice not to feel sticky and smell like sunscreen.

          What about reapplying? How often is one supposed to reapply sunscreen in everyday situations i.e. not going to the beach/swimming.

          • @Hogg: Yes different countries have different requirements. Mainly it comes down to broad-spectrum protection. For general use I would recommend reapply every 2 hours if you are always in the sun, or reapply after sweating/wiping.

    • Thanks for being available to answer questions! Hopefully these are not too complicated to answer…

      1. How is the 'safety' of sunscreen filters determined in Australia? How does a new filter get approved, for example? How much data is actually available for each filter? (Asking this as it seems like it's only years later that some research comes out that filter A has been found to do XYZ to humans or animals or sea life)

      2. Are Australian sunscreen manufacturers/formulators moving towards using newer sunscreen filters such as Tinosorb S & M, Uvinul A Plus in general?

      3. Are there any sunscreen filters (or a combination of a few of them) that you find particularly effective? Any personal favourites?

  • No problem at all,

    1) all chemicals coming into Australia requires a safety assessment by NICNAS (step 1). All ingredients used in therapeutic products (sunscreens are classified as therapeutic in Australia) required safety & tox assessment by the TGA -Therapeutic Goods Administration (step 2). Sunscreens are manufactured by TGA licensed companies (audited by TGA to comply with GMP as well any requirements by the TGA). Keep in mind that a lot of UV filters have been listed and approved by the TGA , many years ago when they were first developed/came out as there are not that many new UV filter molecules entering the market now. The TGA would have conducted their assessment based on the best available evidence at the time of submission. TGA still monitors any new development of research data that comes out, and will only take action in the event of significant and overwhelming data that risks consumer health and safety.

    2) I can't speak about all of Australia, however most are using the new technology as consumers demand products with improved 'feel, which can be achieved using the new UV filters, due to their higher efficacy and therefore reduction in oil load and total UV filters used per product. This is primarily driven by competition from imported sunscreens from Asia which have vastly improved feel (higher price point) compared to traditional sunscreens in Australia.

    3) All sunscreens sold in Australia must comply to the same regulations. Based on this, I try to pick the product with the best feel for myself. If you don't like the way the sunscreen feel on your skin, you are less likely to use the correct amount and/or re-apply correctly.

    I hope this helps.

    • Thanks, that was very informative.

      Totally agree that the more comfortable sunscreen feels, the more likely we'll apply enough of it.

      I'm rather curious about what you do for work, here are some more questions, but feel free to ignore any that you don't think are appropriate to answer.

      1. In your day-to-day work, do you get to create/design the formulas, or do you get given the formula and have to put them together? I assume formulas go through cycles of formula creation -> sample creation -> testing -> refinement?

      2. How are the formulas tested - do employees test on themselves or other recruited humans? For sunscreen formulations, does the final 'prototype' then get sent to TGA for them to test and approve? And do you specify what SPF level you are seeking approval for or is that just rated by TGA?

      3. Is it true that moisturisers that claim SPF15 and below do not need TGA approval? For example, I've seen products with 21% Zinc Oxide but only SPF 15 on the label for the Australian market. Is it a correct assumption that 21% Zinc Oxide likely to offer more than SPF 15 protection?

      4. Why doesn't Australia have any levels for UVA protection like the PA ratings that exists in overseas markets?

      5. Does 'dermatologist-tested' mean anything at all for Australian products? Does it actually mean it 'passed/approved', or just just 'tested, didn't kill but may still suck'?

      Thanks in advance!

      • 1) Yes, both ways. Mainly new development though. Developing sun care products in Australia is very costly and not a lot of brands can invest the time and resources into it.
        2) For SPF testing, the products are sent to approved labs either in Australia or overseas. In these labs, they recruit volunteers and test the sunscreen as per the international testing protocol, ISO24443. You have to specify what SPF claim you are making when you are listing your product with the TGA.
        3) Yes this is correct. SPF15 moisturisers or SPF30-50+ can circumvent the TGA approval and be claimed as a cosmetic. You are restricted to what claims you can and cannot say by going through this method. Your example of products containing 21% Zinc Oxide but only claiming SPF15 can be attributed to a few reasons:
        A) It is too costly for the brand to go through a therapeutic route. So they decide to make the product a cosmetic.
        B) The manufacturer does not possess the correct license to produce TGA listed medicines (most common).
        C) The product is not efficiently formulated and they cannot achieve their desired SPF label claim.
        4) PA ratings are specific for certain regulatory markets. To be honest though, Australia's broad spectrum requirements (in line with EU's) are very strict. The amount of UVA protection offered in new sunscreens in Australia, is much higher than a product that only complies to US FDA regulations. PA ratings are nice, but most consumers here do not know what they mean. I suspect the TGA is avoiding a situation where consumers are misinformed.
        5) A-ha, this is one of the most popular claims in skin care market, but also quiet a controversial one. I will just say that there is not much regulation regarding this type of claim in Australia and we shouldn't be making it as it confuses the consumers.

        • +2 votes

          Thanks for taking time to answer our questions :)

          It's great to run into different experts on ozb.

        • Thanks Duckie2hh for your patience in answering all these questions :) Very interesting and helpful.

          As for PA ratings, I realise that the Australian market is not familiar with them but I think it can be useful and educational. IMO just having 'broad spectrum' label isn't quite enough for those who care about UVA :P I am sure the TGA could come up with a system without misinforming consumers.

      • I'm not a skincare formulator, just a tad obsessed with skincare science. I've looked up 3) before and your answer is here.

        So basically, only spf15 moisturisers that are also:
        1) not advertised as water resistant
        2) has an expiry date on the product (ie not stable for > 3 years)
        3) in a pack size <300ml/g
        4) doesn't have any therapeutic claims in relation to it (including prevention of skin cancer)- sun exposure claims limited to those in relation to premature ageing connected with sun exposure, and only made if product meets performance requirements for broad spectrum product set out in….

        So if any of these can't be check-boxed (don't apply), then TGA makes them therapeutic goods regulated under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 :).

  • Cancer Council SPF 50+ Day Wear Face Matte Invisible is great. I wear this and it is not sticky or oily and dries pretty quick.
    and barely feel it on.

    • That product is… interesting…

      • care to elaborate….are you being sarcastic? or approve it?

        • On a seperate topic…. La Roche Posay feels great!

          • @Duckie2hh: Do you reckon the formula of this one has properly stabilised Avobenzone? I'm always concerned that it's not stabilised properly in a product, and the resulting negative effects of that. I know Octocrylene (also present in this formula) will stabilise but not a chemist so don't know the concentrations to make it effectively stabilised.

            If it is, and there's no physical filters, seems like a really good coverage sunscreen- according to this graph - (couldn't find the enzacamene on there though).

    • Would you say this feels like a cosmetically nice beach sunscreen, or feels more like a non shiny moisturiser (ie one that you can't notice the sunscreeny greasiness of)?

  • Suggested Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF50

    Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF50

    Contains hyaluronic acid, which is a very good moisturiser. Smells lightly perfumed, so great for people that doesn't like the usual sunscreen smell. Also not very greasy. Non-comedogenic and 4 hours water resistant.

    La Roche-Posay is great, but a lot more expensive.

    Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer range is great too.

    • Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF50

      I like the texture but unfortunately it stings my eyes even when I haven't applied it near my eyes, somehow it creeps up after a couple of hours and starts stinging. I use it on my body now.

    • Your poll suggestion has been added - please remember to add your vote :)

  • Sun screen should be environmentally friendly as well, as so many people using toxic sunscreen within great barrier reef or at least the one which sell near the reef.

  • I use non greasy alcohol based sprays for hands and face as I don't like greasiness on face or greasing up things I touch. I use normal 'non greasy' cream on rest of body. non greasy is greasy but apparently less greasy than others. non greasy alcohol sprays are less effective in water - 80mins in comparison to 2-4 hours

  • Just wondering… how did people survive before sunscreen? It's not like they were dropping dead left right and centre.

    • They just drop dead more slowly from skin cancer, and get old wrinkly skin faster.

      Sunscreen is the only real "anti-aging" cream out there but unfortunately works as a prevention so it's important to start using before it's too late.

      • Hmm, if it was "anti-aging", there would be no dead people. We'd all be in our 20ies. I think it is more of a scare mongering as supposedly we should now slip, slop, slap even when we wear clothes, as they only provide minimal UV protection. It's good for sunscreen companies, shops, washing machine companies, clothing companies.

        Sure, we should protect ourselves, but in my opinion this goes too far.

        • Sorry I wasn't as clear as some of the sunscreens mentioned in the poll.

          I didn't mean to say that it prevents aging completely hence the speech marks.

          It's known that the sun, UV, rays are damaging to the skin, leading to skin that looks older than it's age.

          While sunscreen won't completely stop that, it lessens the affect.

          I'm not trying to convince that you have to use it. It's a personal choice.

          • @Hogg: I didn't think you were trying and as I mentioned we should protect ourselves, just that it seems it is getting overboard. It's either live in a cave or put sunscreen whenever you are out including those areas that are covered with clothing.

            • @bargainparker: Ah I get what you mean now. I think it's because the loudest opinions are always the extreme ones so you'll get the really extreme views making it seem like it's either live in a cave or sunscreen everything.

              I think the more moderate viewpoint is that sunscreen helps reduce risk of skin cancer and reduces damage to skin but you don't have to put it on all the time or everywhere.

              Perhaps it's because the sunscreen formulations are getting better in terms of fragrance and feel so people are more likely to use and discuss them.

              While I personally put on sunscreen whenever I can, I don't do it every time I go out because sometimes time is of the essence. And I don't think I'll die from just the one time without sunscreen.

              But yeah if anyone says to live in a cave or sunscreen everything, they're probably a minority extreme view.

    • mud

  • Never get any natural vitamin D! Else you will miss out on the free virus treatment.

  • one vote for Natio daily defence!! it does make me a little shiny but I really like it. Thinking of trying something more matte in the future but we'll see 😊