The 10 Best Sunscreens

Updated January 17, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Sunscreens
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. We're just politely pointing out that "lobster" is not the best look on you. So slather on one of these sunblocks before catching some rays. We've included formulations good for sensitive skin and vegetarians, along with those that offer broad spectrum coverage for extended sun exposure. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best sunscreen on Amazon.

10. Banana Boat Sport Performance

For any outdoor activity, you won't want to leave home without Banana Boat Sport Performance. The smell can be a bit overpowering, but it sprays on clear with long-lasting effects, plus the cap conveniently locks with a simple twist to prevent any leaks in your bag.
  • comes as a two-pack
  • suitable for daily use
  • sometimes doesn't spray evenly
Brand Banana Boat
Model X300599901
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Neutrogena Sport Face

Neutrogena Sport Face has been specially formulated to work on sensitive parts of the body like, you guessed it, the face. It has been proven by independent testers to offer SPF 70+ protection, even after spending time in the water.
  • doesn't cause breakouts for most
  • can be used under makeup
  • a little difficult to spread
Brand Neutrogena
Model J&J360289
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Banana Boat Ultra Defense Max

If you want to come back from your tropical beach vacation with skin that is as damage-free as before you left, then you'll need Banana Boat Ultra Defense Max. With an SPF 100 rating, it's practically like wearing a physical barrier between you and the Sun.
  • high level of water resistance
  • contains skin enriching aloe vera
  • contoured can is easy to grip
Brand Banana Boat
Model 00079656150810
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

7. Alba Botanica Hawaiian

Alba Botanica Hawaiian offers maximum effectiveness in a convenient, six-ounce, aerosol-free spray can. It is formulated solely with vegetarian ingredients, so you can have peace of mind that you're protecting your skin with only the best stuff on Earth.
  • good for hard to reach areas
  • easy for kids to apply
  • can spray at any angle
Brand Alba Botanica
Model LB0345
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer comes as an economical twin-pack for lasting throughout your extended summer vacation. It does wonders to prevent against skin damage, plus it has a lightweight feel that absorbs quickly and leaves a shine-free finish.
  • doesn't clog your pores
  • available in different sizes
  • contains helioplex for protection
Brand Neutrogena
Model 086800287926
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Thinkbaby Safe

Thinkbaby Safe is a must-have for any adult, or any child that is at least six months old. This award-winning product is praised for its mineral-based formula, as it is free from harsh chemicals that could have long-term side-effects on your overall health.
  • non-greasy texture
  • light tropical scent
  • good for the face and body
Brand Thinkbaby
Model 890397002684
Weight 4.2 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Coola Mineral Face

Coola Mineral Face is packed with premium ingredients, including organic rose hip oil and shea butter for fighting free radicals and protecting your skin against environmental pollution. It is also slightly tinted to blend in nicely with most skin tones.
  • improves skin elasticity
  • preservative-free formula
  • rich in antioxidants
Brand Coola Suncare
Model MF-30MT
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Blue Lizard Australian

Made from a powerful titanium dioxide and zinc oxide formula, Blue Lizard Australian offers maximum UVA and UVB protection for delicate skin. You'll get a kick out of watching the bottle turn blue right before your eyes should it detect any harmful UV light.
  • a little goes a long way
  • white residue goes away quickly
  • doesn't contain oxybenzone
Brand Blue Lizard
Model pending
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Sun Bum Premium

Sun Bum Premium is a top pick for active individuals who plan on spending the whole day outdoors performing high intensity activities that will make them sweat. It is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes before it needs to be reapplied.
  • delivers a consistent spray
  • enhanced with vitamin e
  • doesn't stain clothing
Brand Sun Bum
Model SPF 50
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Obagi Sun Shield

Free of fragrances, oils, and PABA, Obagi Sun Shield goes on silky smooth and maintains a matte finish that reduces shine for an elegant appearance. This hypoallergenic formula is the perfect choice for anyone with sensitive skin.
  • protects against uva and uvb rays
  • contains zinc oxide and octinoxate
  • tested by dermatologists
Brand Obagi Medical
Model 5500734
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Choosing The Right Sunscreen

The primary purpose of sunscreen is simple enough: it is supposed to protect your skin from the damage that over-exposure to sunlight can cause. Sunscreen does this by both reflecting and absorbing the sun's rays. Various inorganic compounds such as zinc oxide reject ultraviolet light, sending it back away from skin treated with sunscreen. Ingredients like oxybenzone absorb and dissipate the heat of solar rays in the visible or infrared spectrum.

When most people think of sunscreen, their primary concern is the level of the SPF, which essentially equates to the strength of the sunscreen. SPF is an acronym for Sun Protection Factor, and the higher the SPF rating, the more protection a sunscreen offers its wearer. But choosing the right sunscreen involves more than merely choosing a strong sunscreen.

For everyday use when you will not spend protracted amounts of time in direct sun, the general rule of thumb is that a sunscreen (or a product with sunscreen in it) rated at between 15 and 20 SPF is sufficient to offer protection. For daily use with limited sun exposure, it's acceptable to choose a product with this coverage level based on other attributes you like, such as a certain moisturizer profile or ingredients like Vitamin E or aloe vera.

If you will be in the sun for a long amount of time, or if your live in or are visiting an area with hours of direct daily sunshine, then you need to select a good, powerful sunscreen first, and consider its secondary properties later. A sunscreen with an SPF rating of 50 or higher is a wise choice for ensuring your skin stays healthy in the long term. If you don't like the process of rubbing lotions into your skin, consider spray-on options; these formulas rarely offer much in the way of moisturizing, but they offer great sun protection and are easy to reapply, making them perfect for days at the beach.

Choosing a sunscreen with a lower SPF rating and excellent moisturizer qualities is a good idea for regular use during the cooler, less sunny months of the year (or for use on cloudy days). UV sunlight can still reach the ground on overcast days, so some sun protection is a good idea even when it's not particularly sunny out, and your skin will always appreciate the extra nutrients, vitamins, and hydration you get with the formula of a great sunblock.

The Immense Importance Of Sunscreen

A lifetime of unprotected exposure to the sun dramatically increases your chances of developing life-threatening skin cancer. Getting too much sun will also increase the pace at which wrinkles develop and will make wrinkles more pronounced as sunlight can cause elastosis, or a loss of the elasticity of the flesh. These are long term and potentially serious issues, and mitigating them takes a lifelong commitment to vigilant sun caution.

In the shorter term, getting too much sun can cause painful burns, aptly called sunburns, that make skin peel, itch, and ache. It can also cause freckles, discoloration, and the visible dilation of small blood vessels near the surface of the skin.

To put it simply, you have to protect your skin from sun damage if you want to live a healthy life.

On the other hand, ironically, our bodies need some regular sun exposure in order to function healthily. When the sun's UV-B rays hit your skin, they facilitate a reaction that synthesizes Vitamin D, which your body needs to facilitate the proper absorption of nutrients and minerals like calcium and iron. About ten to fifteen minutes of direct sun exposure a day is sufficient for producing Vitamin D, though, and supplements can always augment your body's supply of it.

Other Ways To Beat The Sun

Wearing sunscreen is not always the best way to protect your skin from sun damage; limiting the amount the sun's rays directly hit your skin is another, and often more effective, way to limit the short and long term damage too much sun exposure can cause.

If you are going to be spending time at the beach, lake, or river, then consider wearing a sun shirt designed for use in the water. These garments are usually rated at SPF 50 or higher, quickly wick away moisture from sweat, and dry out after you leave the water, so they can keep you protected from the sun while you remain comfortable. (They are also often called rash guards and prevent chafing and irritation that comes from lying on a surfboard or paddleboard.) There are also casual wear shirts that feature built-in SPF protection.

Another great product for use at the beach, the park, or when camping is a pop up sun shelter. These handy structures are usually lightweight enough to be carried by one person and can be set up (or taken down) in a matter of minutes, producing a haven from the sunshine anywhere you go.

And, of course, don't forget the tried and true method of simply wearing a hat. As your face, neck, and ears are the area of the body usually most directly exposed to the sun, the addition of a hat to your outfit means protection where you need it, and possibly an injection of individual style, too.

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Last updated on January 17, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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