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- Best drugstore sunscreen: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen
- Best spray sunscreen: Supergoop! Play Antioxidant Body Mist
- Best sunscreen for babies: Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen
- Best sunscreen for kids: Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids Sunscreen Lotion
- Best mineral sunscreen for face: Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion
- Best sports mineral sunscreen: Bare Republic Mineral Sport Sunscreen Stick
- Best mineral body sunscreen: Solara Suncare Clean Freak Nutrient Boosted Daily Sunscreen
- Best reef-friendly sunscreen: Stream2Sea Mineral Sunscreen for Body
- Best body sunscreen for sensitive skin: La Roche Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen
- Best face sunscreen for sensitive skin: Avène Mineral Multi-Defense Sunscreen Fluid
- Best sunscreen for dark skin: Black Girl Sunscreen
- Best powder sunscreen: Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Shield
- Best sunscreen for oily and acne-prone skin: Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen
- Best sunscreen to wear underneath makeup: Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen
- Best tinted sunscreen: Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen
- Best sunscreen for tattoos: CannaSmack Ink Guard Sunscreen
No matter rain or shine, sunscreen is the one step in your skin care routine you should never skip. Even if it’s not summer and you don’t feel the sun burning into your skin, ultraviolet (UV) rays never take a day off. SPF helps protect your skin from those rays year-round, and ultimately help prevent sun damage, premature signs of aging, skin cancer, and fine lines and wrinkles.
We know shopping for SPF can be overwhelming — almost ever skin care line offers one, after all. But what’s important to know is that when you’re considering which of the following recommendations work for you, you should keep in mind that there are two major types of sunscreen to choose from:
- Physical sunblocks, also known as mineral sunscreen, use ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to deflect UVA and UVB rays.
- Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, are made with ingredients such as avobenzone and oxybenzone. These ingredients absorb UV rays before they seep into the skin.
And then after that, it’s mostly preference: Do you prefer a tinted sunscreen, an option that is tried and proven for sports, a gentle sunscreen for babies and kids?
To help you find a great sun-protecting companion for all year round, we recommend the sunscreens listed here based on such factors as ingredients, cost, SPF ratings, and user reviews.
All the sunscreens on this list are under $30, with the exception of the Colorescience powdered sunscreen.
We indicate price range using the following scale, based on the cost per ounce (oz.):
- $ = under $6 per oz.
- $$ = $6–$10 per oz.
- $$$ = $11–$20 per oz.
- $$$$ = over $20 per oz.
For example, one dollar sign means you get more product for the money spent, while products that cost a bit more might meet other needs besides budget.
Best drugstore sunscreen
Key features: At a value price point and available in many stores, Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen has a nongreasy feel, an SPF of 70, and water resistance for up to 80 minutes.
Considerations: It contains potentially irritating ingredients, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which publishes information on personal care products through its Skin Deep database. Oxybenzone has been associated with allergic reactions.
Best spray sunscreen
Key features: Offering the convenience of sunscreen application on the go, this spray provides broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection from four active ingredients, plus a boost of antioxidants like vitamin C.
Considerations: Coverage may be of concern, as the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes that it can be difficult to determine how much spray sunscreen you need to ensure that you have an adequate layer of protective coverage. Additionally, pricing may be an issue, especially since there are other effective alternatives on the market.
Best sunscreen for babies
Key features: This SPF 50 sunscreen lotion offers up to 80 minutes of water-resistant protection against UVA and UVB rays. And if you like products backed by experts, know that this sunscreen has received praise from both the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Considerations: This sunscreen contains zinc oxide. It also contains Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour, an ingredient that can be an irritant or allergen for some users. However, it’s not in high concentrations in this product.
Best sunscreen for kids
Key features: This sunscreen is ideal for children with sensitive skin, as its formula is hypoallergenic and contains botanical ingredients. Additionally, this lotion contains essential SPF 50 protection, making it a suitable sunblock choice for little ones who like to swim for long periods of time. The hard plastic bottle and size makes it easy to pack, and with enough lotion, you don’t have to worry about running out during a day’s activities.
Considerations: Although this sunscreen is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, the formula will wash off, especially for little ones going in and out of water frequently. You’ll still need to keep up with reapplication throughout the day — every 1 or 2 hours, ideally.
Best mineral sunscreen for face
Mineral sunscreens have the advantage of working to block UV rays more quickly than chemical sunscreens. We chose these two from Bare Republic for being easily available and affordable, and for representing two options: a traditional lotion and a pocket-sized solid.
There are unscented options available, including from Bare Republic, but these two are designed to resist water and sweat for longer.
Key features: This sunscreen offers broad-spectrum, mineral-based sun protection against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 70. It also offers about 80 minutes of water resistance.
Considerations: This face sunscreen is scented, although it’s very faint. Some users may not like the classic vanilla coconut scent.
Best sports mineral sunscreen
Key features: This sunscreen comes in the form of a small solid that you can swipe on. Like the Bare Republic lotion mentioned above, this sunscreen stick offers mineral-based sun protection. And it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Users like being able to throw it in a bag or keep it in a pocket without having the bulk of a bottle or an accidental leak out of a tube.
Considerations: Also like the lotion, this sunscreen stick comes with a vanilla coconut scent. While this form of sunscreen lets you apply it exactly where you want it to go and doesn’t come off easily, this also means it won’t spread as easily as a lotion or gel.
Best mineral body sunscreen
Key features: Mineral sunscreen is a type of physical sunscreen, often using zinc oxide as an active ingredient. The AAD recommends physical sunblocks, such as mineral sunscreen, as a better choice for those with sensitive skin. With this in mind, this SPF 30 unscented face and body sunscreen is high on the list for people seeking a mineral-only formula.
Considerations: Since mineral sunscreens have the disadvantage of being on the thicker side, it might take a little more time to rub on. Additionally, because of their thicker consistency, mineral sunscreens can also cause a white cast to the skin, which some find undesirable. Also, this sunscreen costs more than sunscreens you might pick up at the store.
Best reef-friendly sunscreen
The very best reef-friendly sunblock if you’re in the water is clothing, according to many experts. A T-shirt, rash guard, or cover-up not only blocks more UV rays from your skin, but also reduces the amount of sunscreen you need to apply (and reapply) to the exposed parts of your body.
For that, we recommend taking a look at mineral-only sunscreens. We chose this one for the brand’s commitment to marine life.
Key features: This sunscreen doesn’t use any of the known active sunscreen ingredients that affect coral reefs and fish. Stream2Sea states this sunblock uses titanium dioxide that is not nanotized. In other words, the particles of this ingredient are each 100 nanometers or more, which is considered safer for marine life because its larger size is less likely to affect their systems. With this in mind, this sunscreen may be a good choice to consider if this issue is important to you and you want effective sunscreen lotion.
Considerations: While the company boasts their product formulas as tested and found reef-safe, keep in mind that there is no set standard or regulatory group for such concerns.
Consumer Reports suggests that a reef-safe label can be misleading in general, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently doesn’t have an agreed-upon definition, and this factor isn’t strictly regulated by the government. For example, other sunscreens that claim to be reef-safe include ingredients that have been found in studies to be harmful to marine life.
Best body sunscreen for sensitive skin
Key features: This safe for sensitive skin option offers impressive broad-spectrum SPF 100 protection to keep sunburn at bay. It’s also free of oxybenzone, which is one of the more controversial sunscreen ingredients, according to the EWG.
Considerations: One big drawback surrounding this product is the price tag. Those few ounces of formula are on the pricier side.
Best face sunscreen for sensitive skin
Key features: This mineral sunscreen is formulated without the chemicals, fragrances, or irritants used in many sunscreen products, including octinoxate. Beneficial ingredients include emollients and fatty acids.
Considerations: User reviews suggest that this sunscreen can leave behind a white cast on application. Several user reviews, for example, stated that this block has a sticky texture and white color, which may not be ideal for users who like to wear sunscreen underneath their makeup.
Best sunscreen for dark skin
Key features: Many sunscreens have the disadvantage of leaving behind a white cast, which can be a frustrating issue for people of color. To avoid a gray mask-like appearance, this product formula boasts a sheer texture that dries on clear. Users like that it feels moisturizing, too.
Considerations: Although SPF 30 provides essential and effective sun protection, it may not be enough for those who are spending a lot of time outdoors or want a higher level of protection.
Best powder sunscreen
Key features: This all-mineral sunblock offers the convenience of speedy application tucked away in a tube that can easily fit inside purses, backpacks, and pockets. The powder formula comes in four shades to complement skin tones from pale to dark.
Considerations: Although this sunscreen has convenience on its side, it only contains 0.25 ounces of formula in total. This can be problematic for individuals who want a product that goes long: The AAD suggests that adults need at least 1 oz. (or enough to fill a shot glass) of sunscreen to fully cover their body.
Best sunscreen for oily and acne-prone skin
Key features: This sunscreen is lightweight, and leaves skin feeling silky and smooth while also minimizing the appearance of pores. It also doubles as the perfect makeup primer. Japanese wild rose helps tighten pores and smooths skin texture, and loquat leaf extract offers antioxidants to protect and calm skin.
Consideration: The sunscreen is formulated without parabens, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, sulfate detergents, phthalates, urea, DEA or TEA. It doesn’t contain aminobenzoic acid, homosalate, oxybenzone or octinoxate.
Best sunscreen to wear underneath makeup
Key features: This lightweight sunscreen speeds up the application process by providing a serum-like formula that absorbs quickly into the skin. This makes it an ideal product choice for those who don’t want a white residue on their skin or have issues with acne-prone skin.
Considerations: Keep in mind that its smaller size means it may not be able to provide enough sunscreen for your face or body on your travels, especially if you’re spending a long weekend under a tropical sun.
Best tinted sunscreen
Key features: In addition to its broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection, this sunscreen offers an extensive shade range that satisfies olive and dark chocolate tones. This allows users to wear this tinted block alone or underneath makeup as a primer, as it claims to color-correct redness and dark spots upon application.
Consideration: Physical mineral sunscreens can rub or sweat off quite easily. So this tinted sunscreen may not be the best product choice for those who will be outdoors or spending time in the water for a long period of time.
Best sunscreen for tattoos
Key features: This sunscreen aims to offer SPF 30 protection against UVA and UVB rays for tattoos of all sizes. It also claims to prevent color fade and dehydration with ingredients like hempseed oil. Other ingredients include beeswax and plant oils to keep skin hydrated.
Considerations: Hempseed oil aside, this sunscreen contains other uncommon ingredients such as meradimate. Meradimate (aka methyl anthranilate) acts as a sunscreen, absorbing UV rays.
How do you choose the best sunscreen for your face?
Dermatologists agree that the best sunscreen for you is the one you’ll apply consistently. Body sunscreens will work the same on your face, but they might feel heavy. Face sunscreens tend to be lighter and thinner formula.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, a mineral-based sunscreen may be a better option for you, as they can help prevent clogged pores.
How often should you reapply sunscreen?
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before heading outdoors, and reapply about every 2 hours for optimal effectiveness. You should reapply more often if you’re sweating or going for a swim.
How can you tell if your sunscreen is expired?
Like any other skin care product, sunscreen has an expiration date. If your product doesn’t explicitly list a date in the packaging, keep in mind it should last you about 3 years, per the FDA’s standard.
However, if your product sits in the heat or light, it could last you less time. Make sure to note any changes in consistency, smell, or texture.
There are a lot of effective sunscreens out there for you to choose from. Outside of ingredients, other considerations that make a particular sunscreen the best choice for you come down to your specific needs as well as personal preference.
Once you’ve zeroed in on the right sunscreen, be sure to wear it regularly to get the most benefits.