We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
To help you find a great sun-protecting companion this summer, we recommend the 17 sunscreens covered here, based on such factors as ingredients, cost, SPF ratings, and more.
When you’re considering which of these recommendations will work for you, 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.
With one exception (Colorscience’s powder block), all the sunscreens on this list are under $30.
We indicate price range using the following scale, based on the cost per ounce (oz.):
- $ = $5 or less per oz.
- $$ = $6–$10 per oz.
- $$$ = $11–$20 per oz.
- $$$$ = More than $20 an 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.
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.
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.
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 and the National Eczema Association.
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.
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 tykes 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 haveto 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.
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.
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 easily the way a lotion or gel will.
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.
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.
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.
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 Amazon 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.
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.
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 ounce (or enough to fill a shot glass) of sunscreen to fully cover their body.
Key features: PA++++ is currently the highest PA rating. Sunscreen with this PA grade is said to protect against at least 16 times more UVA radiation than no sunscreen at all.
Along with active ingredients to absorb UVA and UVB rays, this product includes these skin care ingredients:Centella asiatica extract, also called gotu kola
niacinamide, a type of vitamin B
Considerations: Although this sunscreen is marketed to those with oily skin, some Amazon user reviews warned that it caused breakouts after use. This may be a turnoff for acne-prone users, especially since seasonal summer heat and humidity can cause a spike in acne flares. Based on the packaging for this product, it’s not as clear which are active sunscreen ingredients and how much is being used.
Key features: This SPF 35 facial sunscreen also doubles as an oil-controlling facial primer, with tapioca starch as an ingredient. So it might pull double-duty in your skin care routine as a product that allows you to get out the door faster.
Considerations: Though it’s meant for use on the face, this sunscreen bottle is on the smaller side. You might go through product quickly and have to buy it more often.
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.
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 perfectly. 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: A 2019 article published by The University of Texas at Austin suggested that while physical mineral sunscreens like these have a longer shelf life, they 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.
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 hemp seed oil. Other ingredients include beeswax and plant oils to keep skin hydrated.
Considerations: Hemp seed oil aside, this sunscreen contains other uncommon ingredients such as meradimate. Meradimate (aka methyl anthranilate) acts as a sunscreen, absorbing UV rays.
There are a lot of effective sunscreens out there, as this article suggests. Outside of ingredients, other considerations that make a particular sunscreen the best choice for you comes 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.