Wearing sunscreen is the number one beauty tip of countless celebrities, actresses, and influencers- and with good reason: stopping harmful UV rays from reaching your skin is the best possible way to protect your skin. Using proper sun protection shields your skin from both skin cancer and premature aging.
According to the Skin Cancer Center, an estimated 90% of skin aging is due to sun damage. That's a shockingly high percentage! However, the good news is that a large part of it is avoidable with good skincare. A little sun is good for your skin, sure- but lying out all day with no sunscreen isn't a smart idea.
Thankfully, a solid sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays, although no sunscreen can block 100% of UVB rays. You can still tan through most sunscreens regardless of SPF, but you'll enjoy the preventative measures against other damage and a reduction in skin cancer risk.
Whether you prefer chemical sunblocks or mineral, spray or lotion, oil-based or matte, there are endless options available. We've selected 20 sunblocks and weighed their pros and cons so that you can quickly choose one and get outside to enjoy the sunshine without having to worry about wrinkles!
20 The Invisible Shield By Glossier
A cult beauty product by any standard, the Invisible Shield by Glossier is a super-hip way to wear your SPF. Designed to be worn daily, the SPF 35 product should be put on as the last step of your skincare routine (before makeup). And Invisible Shield is popular for a reason, apart from its skin- protecting ingredients.
The gel formula is lightweight and breathable, soaking into the skin rather than sitting on top.
It dries without changing the texture of the skin so that your level of shine or matte is up to your makeup look, not your sun care routine!
19 Tied For First: Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Sunscreen
A source we trust, Good Housekeeping's Institute Beauty Lab, did a comprehensive study on some of the most popular sunscreen brands. In their tests, this Banana Boat product was tied for first. Ringing in at a quite affordable $7, this product is a much-loved beauty score.
SunComfort received some of the highest scores in absorbency, texture, and overall satisfaction. The testers called the formula "lightweight," saying it "soaked immediately" into the skin. Although the fruity and sweet fragrance was appreciated, the thing the testers liked most about this product was that it didn't leave a white residue on their skin.
18 Tied For First: Kiehl's Activated Sun Protector Sunscreen
The tied first-place winner of the Good Housekeeping's Institute Beauty Lab study? This high-end 'activated sun protector' by Kiehl's. This broad-spectrum protection is SPF 50 as well as water resistant for up to 80 minutes.
With a texture more similar to a lotion than a gunky sunscreen, Kiehl's "weightless" sunscreen met tester expectations.
The formula is branded as "water-light," "cooling, refreshing, weightless defense," and good for both the face and body. The GH testers agreed- they called it "moisturizing" and appreciated its neutral smell, scoring it highly all around. In particular, testers noted the formula's non-greasy, non-oily feel- a welcome departure from sticky and overwhelming sunscreens.
17 Best Smelling: Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen
Sun Bum is the preferred brand of tan girls the coast over, offering a range of protection levels all in retro-chic wood-look packaging. The Sunscreen Lotion with an SPF of 50 scored quite highly on Good Housekeeping's Institute Beauty Lab tests, earning perfect scores for not stinging or irritating skin.
Although it lost some points for lack of ease of application and absorbency (the formula is pretty thick, taking a good amount of effort to rub in), the lotion also scored the highest marks possible for its distinctively fruity and beachy scent. If you're tired of the scents of other formulas, this one is worth a try for its beach-scented vibes.
16 It's A Stick: All Good SPF 50+ Sport Sunscreen Butter Stick
Although we're all worrying about protecting our skin and feel great when we remember to protect ourselves with sunscreen, one thing we easily forget is that all of the sunblock we pile on can be super harmful to the environment.
In fact, Hawaii recently banned a whole host of sunscreen brands that contain ingredients that have been washing off in the ocean and killing coral reefs.
Fortunately, The Manual found and tested different eco-friendly brands. This Stick formula by All Good scored super high with an SPF of 50+ and UVA/UVB protection. Plus, the glide-on application is convenient and travel-friendly!
15 Prevent & Reverse Aging: Revision Intellishade SPF 45
One of the most expensive sunscreens we've reviewed, this product comes highly commended. Designed for the face and everyday wear, the SPF of 45 is high enough to offer routine protection, plus it offers anti-aging properties. Also, the formula is a tinted moisturizer, so it's easy to incorporate into your daily beauty routine.
According to Dr. Schlessinger, who is the President of LovelySkin.com, "this sunscreen moisturizer for the face is the first of its kind to be formulated with all mineral sunscreen ingredients while providing anti-aging and hydration benefits to the skin."
While that sounds amazing, you'll have to decide whether it's worth the $75 price tag.
14 Don't Forget Your Lips! Vanicream Lip Protectant And Sunscreen SPF 30
Sun protection doesn't stop at facial skin! Although even highly moisturizing sunscreens can be drying when used on the lips, there are plenty of products to make sure your pout is protected.
Featuring SPF 30 and water resistant for 80 minutes, this lip balm by Vanicream is perfect for everyday lip care.
Julia Tzu, MD, founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology, recommends this product particularly for people with eczema as it is hypoallergenic. It's made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and doesn't have any lanolin, parabens, or preservatives. Odorless and dye free, it can also be used on the face in a pinch.
13 Super Sustainable: Manda Organic Sun Paste
Although zinc or other mineral-based sunscreens are better for the environment than chemical-based, zinc still has to be mined from the Earth to produce them. Thankfully, the brand Manda managed to work around this while continuing to make good on its commitment to sustainability.
Manda uses a lower than typical zinc content, so instead of mining excess zinc, adds thanaka to their products. Thanaka is an ancient natural sunscreen made from the ground-up bark of a tree that's native to Myanmar. In addition to its naturally sourced skin protectant, Manda's sun paste comes in a tub, is 100% organic, and has a unique scent- cinnamon!
12 For Dry Skin: Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen
Perfect for anyone looking for hydration as well as protection from their sunscreen, this Aveeno 'protect + hydrate' is perfect for anyone looking to only bring one product to the beach (rather than a tote full, like we do!).
Because it is oil-free and noncomedogenic, you can use this block on both your face and body without fear of acne breakouts.
Plus, it absorbs quickly and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. The cream is enriched with colloidal oatmeal, which helps to hydrate and protect the skin barrier. The nourishing ingredients make it suitable for people with dry or sensitive skin.
11 Gentle & Effective: Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen
Sunscreen brand Supergoop makes some excellent products, especially the 'play' formula. This broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection is great for the whole family and was judged in the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab tests as gentle and effective.
The mellow chemical sunblock formula also includes plant oils and flower extracts to give it a faint herbal scent, which most of the testers really enjoyed. Although reviewers tested the 2.4oz tube, Supergoop also sells this stuff by the boatload. You can buy it in 18-oz pump-style top-handle containers, too! The supersized container means there's enough to make sure everyone reapplies often, plus it's more cost effective.
10 Rainbow Beach Party: Bare Republic Mineral Neon Sunscreen Stick
Especially cool for summer festivals, wild camping trips, and any time you feel like raving a bit, the sunscreen sticks produced by Bare Republic are opaque and neon.
Although definitely not for everyday wear, these opaque colored sunscreen sticks are super protective.
You may not choose them for office wear - remember, SPF every day no matter where you're going- but for going out with friends or attending a festival, you can't go wrong.
The exciting color combos feature a high concentration of zinc and are probably the most fun sunscreen on the market. Available in six bright and bold colors that each have their own distinct scent, we recommend these be in every Burning Man attendee's bag.
9 Super Water Resistant: MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense
From MD SolarScience, this broad-spectrum SPF 50 is fully mineral formulated. With titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect from UVA and UVB rays, you'll appreciate the natural items on the label. Plus, added to this formula are antioxidants which aim to provide protection against free radicals. Ceramides and humectants keep skin hydrated, too.
Cruelty-, fragrance-, paraben-, and oil-free- as well as noncomedogenic- this formula is excellent for delicate skin, safe for both mature skin and even babies. At $39/4oz, this formula is a luxe price, which may give buyers pause. But, it's a sound product both produced and approved by dermatologists.
8 Don't Get Greasy: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen
A good rule of thumb, according to Prevention, is to choose a sunscreen product from a big-name brand as they have access to top-notch (and top-price) research and development.
Neutrogena is a trusted name and their 100+ SPF comes with a pro recommendation.
"Starting out with a higher SPF acts as an insurance policy to give the highest level of protection for the longest period of time," according to Joshua Zeichner, MD. The higher the SPF, the safer you are if you forget to re-apply. If you have fair skin or tend to burn quickly, consider a higher SPF from the start for best results.
7 Non Break-Out-Prone Protection: SkinMedica Essential Defense Everyday Clear
This sun protectant by SkinMedica is more than just a pretty bottle. It's formulated specifically with acne-prone skin in mind, so it's ideal for those with oily or combination skin. The SPF of 47 offers a broad-spectrum sun defense, too, thanks to a combination of both chemical and mineral ingredients.
The sheer and lightweight product won't clog pores or leave you feeling greasy- helpful if you already struggle with a shiny T-zone. In addition to being hypoallergenic, it is free of oil, fragrance, and parabens, according to Prevention. Plus, did you know that going sunscreen-free can actually make acne worse? Don't take any chances- protect your skin from the moment you step outdoors!
6 For Sensitive Skin: Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
This innovatively packaged sunscreen is top-notch care for people who have very sensitive skin. The bottle, regularly white, turns blue when exposed to UV, providing a fun reminder to reapply. The formula is mineral-based and uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. It is also chemical-, paraben-, and fragrance-free.
Dr. Lauren Ploch, MD, MEd, says that even her patients with the most sensitive skin are able to tolerate and use this product without issue.
Therefore, if you have eczema or easily irritated skin, this Australian brand might just become your go-to for fun in the sun. After all, eczema flare-ups and sunburn are equally un-fun.
5 Staying Power: Neutrogena CoolDry Sport
One of Neutrogena's more intense products, their Sport sunscreen scored higher on the Good Housekeeping's Institute Beauty Lab tests than the regular formula. The "cooldry" technology is meant to evaporate sweat away from your body to leave you feeling cool and clean.
Also, the water-resistant formula is meant to have major staying power- and stay it does. According to GH, one tester used it daily for 5-10 mile walks in 80-100°F temperatures with direct sun. After the test, the user said she would definitely buy this formula on her own. The downside? Unfortunately, some reviewers reported that the formula felt drying to their skin.
4 Luxe Care: Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Named one of the top sunscreens of 2018 by the health website Prevention, Elta's MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 comes recommended by numerous dermatologists. Prevention spoke to a board-certified dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, Lauren Ploch, MD, MEd, about her thoughts on the brand.
Dr. Ploch favors this brand and expressed surprise that more companies have not been able to formulate a hypoallergenic lotion sunscreen that doesn’t rub off on clothing.
Noncomedogenic, fragrance-free, and paraben-free, this was the derm's choice for people with acne-prone skin, but it's also the perfect pick for anyone who wants to avoid sunscreen streaks on their clothes or swimsuits.
3 Coconut Oil It Up With EIR NYC Surf Mud
EIR NYC has a hyper-devoted clientele for their fully organic skincare line, which they've become pretty well known for. However, they also put a ton of effort into and emphasis on their "Surf Mud" collection, an all-organic and top-notch sun protection line.
The SurfMud formula remains similar whether it's in a tin or the pictured stick. It has the UVA/UVB-blocking power of zinc plus the natural moisturizing powers of coconut oil, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and beeswax. It's a somewhat steep $34 dollars for a stick, which has an SPF of 50, but the clean ingredient list has many customers hooked.
2 Clear Spray: All Good Sport Spray
A rarity in zinc-based sunscreens, this Sport Sunscreen by All Good comes in a handy water-resistant spray instead of a thick and hard to apply paste. Gone are the days of asking someone to cover your back with goopy sunscreen!
With ingredients like organic green tea, rose hips, and buriti oil, the formula sprays on easily and has a light floral scent.
The SPF 30 has UVA and UVB protection and is water-resistant. Although spending a cool $22 on this All Good spray helps the environment since it's nontoxic and coral reef safe, you're also supporting conservation efforts through the brand's partnership with eco-friendly organizations. Perfect for a guilt-free getaway!
1 Non-Irritating: Coppertone Clearly Sheer
The Coppertone 'Clearly Sheer" spray scored quite highly in Good Housekeeping's Institute Beauty Lab tests, tying for runner-up. The lightweight, breezy formula sprays on evenly and easily, which the testers loved. They also said the Broad Spectrum SPF 50 wasn't irritating to wear at all, substantiating the claim that it leaves skin soft and smooth without clogging pores.
Unfortunately, however, it scored lower in the water resistance category, leaving us to recommend this one only if you're not a big swimmer. If you prefer to soak up the rays on the beach or poolside, however, you can't beat this breathable spray.