The sparkly SPF is everywhere lately—but is it safe for skin?

Kathleen Mulpeter
April 19, 2018

You definitely don't want to forget the sunglasses on your next trip to the beach: Glitter sunscreen is *the* thing everyone is going to be obsessed with this summer.

Unicorn Snot's trendy Glitter Sunscreen ($24; alwaysfits.com) sold out on most websites within days of launching last week. The product boasts broad spectrum SPF 30 coverage and a stay-put formula in three so-sparkly shades: gold, pink, and blue. Although they're sold out right now, you can pre-order the next batch, which ships in June, in the meantime.

Our social media feeds have been inundated with photos of the pretty formula. And while it's undeniably gorgeous once applied, is a glitter-infused sunscreen formula still safe for your skin?

Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology in New York City, points out that sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug by the FDA, and therefore needs to have proven effectiveness in order to be labeled with an SPF value on the bottle. That said, "the effect of glitter in the sunscreen is unclear," he tells us. "Until we know for sure what the effect of the glitter is, my best recommendation is to look at this glitter sunscreen the way I look at makeup with sunscreen: Apply a base layer of sunscreen, then apply the glitter layer of sunscreen above it for added protection."

While the glitter itself shouldn't trigger a reaction, New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, suggests that those with eczema and rosacea avoid this sunscreen to be extra-safe. "It might irritate their skin," she says. "You should also be careful if applying on the face; if the glitter gets in your eyes, it will cause irritation."

Dr. Zeichner also recommends that folks with sensitive skin stick to a formula that contains a mineral blocker such as zinc oxide instead. He likes Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen ($12; amazon.com) or Aveeno Continuous Protection Sunscreen ($17; amazon.com).

And as always, "sunscreen only works in the real world if enough is applied," notes Dr. Zeichner. So no matter which type of SPF you choose, be sure to apply at least a quarter-sized dollop for your face and one ounce (about the volume of a shot glass) over other sun-exposed parts of your body.