three different types of sunscreen against a blue background with an orange circleShare on Pinterest
Design by Wenzdai

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission or other tangible benefit. Optum Store, Optum Perks, and Healthline Media are owned by RVO Health. Here’s our process.

Healthline only shows you brands and products that we stand behind.

Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we make on our site. To establish that the product manufacturers addressed safety and efficacy standards, we:
  • Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
  • Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
  • Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?
We do the research so you can find trusted products for your health and wellness.
Was this helpful?

Rain or shine, sunscreen is the one step in your skin care routine you never want to skip. Even if it’s not summer, and you don’t feel the sun burning on your skin, ultraviolet (UV) rays never take a day off.

SPF helps protect your skin from those rays year-round. Ultimately, it helps prevent sun damage, premature signs of aging, skin cancer, and fine lines and wrinkles.

We know shopping for sunscreen can be overwhelming — almost every skin care line offers one, after all. But what’s important to know is that, when you’re considering the following recommendations, there are two major types of sunscreen to choose from:

  • Physical: Also known as mineral sunscreens, these use ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to deflect UVA and UVB rays.
  • Chemical: These sunscreens are made with ingredients like avobenzone and oxybenzone. These ingredients absorb UV rays before they seep into the skin.

Sticks, sprays, and lotions … oh my!

Dermatologists recommend opting for sunscreen sticks and lotions with at least 30 SPF. The same goes for spray sunscreens, which are great for quick touchups on the go but must be applied correctly to be effective.

The best sunscreen type is a matter of personal choice and depends on the body parts you’re protecting. As long as it has broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, an SPF of 30 or higher and water resistance, you’re good.

For example, lotions or creams are great for dry skin and applying to the whole body. Sunscreen sticks can be great for the face and eyes because they’re less greasy and heavy than a lotion, and you can target sensitive or hard-to-reach areas.

Sprays and sticks offer just as much sun protection as other types of sunscreen when applied correctly, as found through mandatory Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing. The key is making sure to apply them the right way and at the right time. This will vary for different people and circumstances, but it should generally be every 2 hours, especially after sweating or swimming.

From there, it’s mostly up to personal preference: Do you prefer a tinted sunscreen, an option that’s tried and proven for sports, or 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, except for the Colorescience powdered sunscreen.

Pricing guide

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.

Writer’s pick

Before we jump into our list of 15 dependable sunscreens for all needs, we want to give a shout-out to a product that can protect your skin and leave you radiantly glowing: CC (color corrector) foundation skin tints with SPF.

IT Cosmetics CC+ Nude Glow contains SPF 40 and was developed in collaboration with dermatologists. It gives light, natural coverage for a healthy, dewy glow.

Plus, the tinted lotion comes in 22 shades to help you find one that suits your skin tone. It feels so much like makeup, you may not even remember you’re wearing sunscreen!

One drawback? If you’ve got oilier skin, you might need a powder to set the lotion.

Was this helpful?

Best drugstore sunscreen

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 70

  • Price: $

Key features: At an affordable price and available in many stores, Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen has a non-greasy 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.

Active ingredients in Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 70:

  • avobenzone (3%)
  • homosalate (15%)
  • octisalate (5%)
  • octocrylene (2.8%)
  • oxybenzone (6%)
Was this helpful?

Best spray sunscreen

Supergoop! Play Antioxidant Body Mist, SPF 50

  • Price: $

Key features: Offering the convenience of sunscreen application on the go, this spray provides broad spectrum SPF 50 protection (meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays) from four active ingredients, plus a boost of antioxidants, like vitamin C.

Considerations: Coverage may be a concern. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes that it can be difficult to determine how much spray sunscreen you need for an adequate layer of protective coverage. Additionally, pricing may be an issue, especially since other effective alternatives are on the market.

Active ingredients in Supergoop! Play Antioxidant Body Mist, SPF 50:

  • avobenzone (2.8%)
  • homosalate (9.8%)
  • octisalate (4.9%)
  • octocrylene (9.5%)
Was this helpful?

Best sunscreen for babies

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen, SPF 50

  • Price: $

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 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.

Active ingredient in Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen, SPF 50:

  • zinc oxide (21.6%)
Was this helpful?

Best sunscreen for kids

Coppertone Pure and Simple Kids 100% Mineral Sun Protection, SPF 50

  • Price: $

Key features: This sunscreen is great for children with sensitive skin, as its formula is hypoallergenic and contains botanical ingredients. Additionally, this lotion contains SPF 50 protection, making it a suitable choice for little ones who like to swim for long periods of time.

The hard plastic bottle and size make 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.

Active ingredient in Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids 100% Mineral Sun Protection, SPF 50:

  • zinc oxide (24.08%)
Was this helpful?

Best mineral sunscreen for face

Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Face, SPF 70

  • Price: $$

Key features: This sunscreen offers broad-spectrum, mineral-based sun protection with an SPF of 70. It also offers about 80 minutes of water resistance.

Mineral sunscreens have the advantage of blocking UV rays more quickly than chemical sunscreens. We chose this one from Bare Republic (and the next one) for being easily available and affordable.

Considerations: This face sunscreen is scented, although it’s very faint. Some users might not like the classic vanilla coconut scent.

Active ingredients in Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Face, SPF 70:

  • titanium dioxide (5.2%)
  • zinc oxide (1.5%)
Was this helpful?

Best sports mineral sunscreen

Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50

  • Price: $$$

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 in 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.

Active ingredient in Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50:

  • zinc oxide (20%)
Was this helpful?

Best reef-friendly sunscreen

Stream2Sea Sunscreen Sport, SPF 30

  • Price: $$

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 non-nano titanium dioxide. In other words, the particles of this ingredient are each 100 nanometers or more. This is considered safer for marine life because the larger size is less likely to affect their systems.

Reminder: 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.

That said, this sunscreen may be a good choice if reef safety is important to you, and you want effective sunscreen lotion.

Considerations: While the company boasts that the product formulas have been tested and found reef-safe, keep in mind that there is no set standard or regulatory group for such concerns.

Consumer Reports suggests 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.

Also, other sunscreens that claim to be reef-safe include ingredients that may still be harmful to marine life. For example, a 2014 study found that octocrylene might be harmful to developing zebrafish. Some reef-safe sunscreens still include octocrylene, although this one does not.

Active ingredient in Stream2Sea Sunscreen Sport, SPF 30:

  • titanium dioxide (8.8%)
Was this helpful?

Best body sunscreen for sensitive skin

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen, SPF 100

  • Price: $$

Key features: This option is safe for sensitive skin and offers impressive broad spectrum SPF 100 protection. It’s also free of oxybenzone, which is one of the more controversial sunscreen ingredients, according to the EWG.

Considerations: One big drawback of this product is the price tag. Those few ounces of formula are on the pricier side.

Active ingredients in La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen, SPF 100:

  • avobenzone (3%)
  • homosalate (15%)
  • octisalate (5%)
  • octocrylene (10%)
Was this helpful?

Best face sunscreen for sensitive skin

Avène Solaire UV Mineral Multi-Defense Sunscreen Fluid, SPF 50

  • Price: $$$

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 this sunscreen can leave behind a white cast when you apply it. Several users, for example, say the fluid has a sticky texture and white color, which may not be great if you like to wear sunscreen under makeup.

Active ingredients in Avène Solaire UV Mineral Multi-Defense Sunscreen Fluid, SPF 50:

  • titanium dioxide (11.4%)
  • zinc oxide (14.6%)
Was this helpful?

For more options for sensitive skin, check out what our dermatologists had to say.

Best sunscreen for dark skin

Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion for Face and Body, SPF 30

  • Price: $$

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 might not be enough if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors or want a higher level of protection.

Active ingredients in Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion for Face and Body, SPF 30:

  • avobenzone (3%)
  • homosalate (10%)
  • octisalate (5%)
  • octocrylene (2.75%)
Was this helpful?

Best powder sunscreen

Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen, SPF 50

  • Price: $$$$

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 oz. of formula in total. This can be problematic if you want a product that lasts long. The AAD suggests that adults need at least 1 oz. (or enough to fill a shot glass) of sunscreen to fully cover the body.

Active ingredients in Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen, SPF 50:

  • titanium dioxide (22.5%)
  • zinc oxide (22.5%)
Was this helpful?

Best sunscreen to wear under makeup

Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen, SPF 35

  • Price: $$$$

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 a great choice if you don’t want a white residue on your skin, or if you have issues with acne-prone skin.

Considerations: Keep in mind that the smaller size means it might not provide enough sunscreen for your face or body on your travels, especially if you’re spending a long weekend under a tropical sun.

Active ingredients in Glossier Invisible Shield Daily Sunscreen, SPF 35:

  • avobenzone (3%)
  • homosalate (6%)
  • octisalate (5%)
Was this helpful?

Best tinted sunscreen

Unsun Mineral Tinted Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen, SPF 30

  • Price: $$$

Key features: In addition to its broad spectrum SPF 30 protection, this sunscreen offers two shades that satisfy a range from dark chocolate to very light tones. This allows users to wear it alone or underneath makeup as a primer. 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 might not be the best product choice if you’re going to be outdoors or spending long periods of time in the water.

Active ingredients in Unsun Mineral Tinted Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen, SPF 30:

  • zinc oxide (6.5%)
  • titanium dioxide (5.5%)
Was this helpful?

Best sunscreen for tattoos

CannaSmack Ink Guard, SPF 30

  • Price: $$

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, also known as menthyl anthranilate, acts as a sunscreen, absorbing UV rays.

Active ingredients in CannaSmack Ink Guard, SPF 30:

  • meradimate (5%)
  • octinoxate (7.5%)
  • octisalate (5%)
  • oxybenzone (5%)
Was this helpful?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. It’s a number, typically ranging from 15–100, that tells you how long it would take for UV radiation to turn your skin red while wearing the sunscreen as directed, compared with how long it would take without the product.

For example, if you apply a SPF 50 product, your skin would take 50 times longer to redden or burn than it would with no sunscreen at all.

Follow these best practices the next time you’re heading out to prevent a sunburn:

  1. Apply sunscreen about 15–30 minutes before going outdoors. Since it takes about 15 minutes for sunscreen to be absorbed by your skin and offer protection, be sure to leave enough time in advance.
  2. Rub the sunscreen in thoroughly on bare skin, including the face, ears, feet, neck, and back. Most adults need about 1 oz of lotion to fully cover their bodies. Don’t forget to protect your lips with an SPF lip balm.
  3. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when outdoors and right after sweating or swimming.

If you’re going to spend any time outside, sunscreen is a must. There are many different kinds, so before completing your purchase, be sure to read the label. Here are a few key things to consider:

  • Choose a water-resistant sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection: Since water makes sunscreen less effective, choosing a water-resistant formula will prolong its protection. Sunscreens labeled as broad-spectrum protect against both UVA and UVB rays. All sunscreens protect against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancers. But UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer and premature aging.
  • Make sure your sunscreen has SPF 30 or higher: According to the American Cancer Society, higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 about 98% and SPF 100 about 99%.
  • Check the ingredients: Typical sunscreen or sunblock ingredients include tinosorb S and M, mexoryl SX, oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, PABA, and trolamine salicylate PABA. These ingredients will have varying degrees of risks and benefits to people and the environment.
  • Consider your skin type: Many sunscreens are made to help people with dry, oily, or sensitive skin. If you have dry skin, look for hydrating ingredients — like glycerin, lanolin, oils, silicones, and aloe — and avoid sunscreen sprays or gels with alcohol. If you’re looking for sunscreen for your child or baby, there are formulas specially designed with safe ingredients for them.
  • Decide whether you want a physical or chemical sunscreen: It’s thought that inorganic sunscreens create a protective barrier on the surface of your skin that reflects and scatters UV rays away from your body. There are only two inorganic sunscreen ingredients approved by the FDA: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Active ingredients that aren’t zinc or titanium are considered chemical sunscreen ingredients. Chemical sunscreens absorb into your skin like lotion instead of forming a barrier on top of the skin.

How do you choose the best sunscreen for your face?

Dermatologists agree that the best sunscreen for you is the one you apply consistently. Body sunscreens will work the same on your face, but they might feel heavy. Face sunscreens tend to have lighter and thinner formulas.

One thing to keep in mind is that, if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, a mineral sunscreen may be a better option for you. This is because mineral sunscreens 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 every 2 hours for optimal effectiveness. Reapply more often if you’re sweating or swimming.

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. Note any changes in consistency, smell, or texture.

What type of sunscreen is best?

There is no one “best” sunscreen — the best type depends on you, the activities you’re planning to do, and what areas you’re trying to protect. Whether you choose a lotion, spray or stick, look for a water-resistant sunscreen with broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and SPF 30 or higher.

Is higher SPF better than lower SPF?

A higher SPF number means more sun protection, but the higher the number, the smaller the difference. For example, SPF 15 sunscreens filter out 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 about 97%, SPF 50 about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%.

What’s the difference between sunblock and sunscreen?

Sunscreen absorbs UV rays before your skin has the chance to, while sunblock protects the skin from UV rays by blocking them through a physical shield. Sunscreens contain chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate, and they easily absorb into the skin. Sunblocks contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and don’t need to be rubbed into the skin.

Do sunscreens kill coral reefs?

They can. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, common sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone, benzophenone-1, benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, nano-titanium dioxide, nano-zinc oxide, octinoxate, and octocrylene can harm marine life, including coral reefs. The chemicals can accumulate in coral and animal tissues, bleach coral, and damage the coral’s DNA.

Effective sunscreens are available. Besides ingredients, other considerations that make a particular sunscreen the best choice for you come down to your specific needs and personal preferences.

Once you’ve zeroed in on the right sunscreen, wear it regularly to get the most benefits.