The 10 Best Sunscreens

Updated June 09, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Sunscreens
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 40 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, including that of toddlers, and 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. COUI Moisturizing

COUI Moisturizing is formulated with chamomile and ginseng for natural sun protection and is suitable for face and body use. It's cruelty-free, has a fresh smell most people find appealing, and is made in the United States.
  • can be used under makeup
  • quickly rubs into the skin
  • not ideal for oily skin
Brand COUI Skincare
Model SPF30UV40
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Emerald Essentials Sun-Lite

Emerald Essentials Sun-Lite is an organic option that contains natural mineral pigments and raw, hand-filleted aloe vera to revitalize and heal skin while you are in the sun. It is also fragrance-free and doesn't require any absorption time.
  • no nano-sized particles
  • low spf 20 rating
  • has a whitish tint after application
Brand Emerald Essentials
Model pending
Weight 4.3 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Replenix Sheer

Formulated with antioxidants to fight aging, Replenix Sheer is packed with vitamin C and green tea polyphenols that nourish skin with each application. Its Coenzyme Q10 and resveratrol promote skin firmness and elasticity, making it a skin care cream and sun block in one.
  • secure closure ensures no spills
  • absorbs quickly into most skins
  • has a somewhat pungent smell
Brand Replenix
Model pending
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Coola Mineral Face

Made with organic rose hip oil and shea butter, Coola Mineral Face fights free radicals and protects skin against environmental pollution to keep you looking your best. It is rich in antioxidants, but is only water resistant for up to 40 minutes.
  • improves skin elasticity
  • preservative-free formula
  • leaves a slightly greasy finish
Brand Coola Suncare
Model MF-30MT
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. 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, like it claims, even after spending time in the water.
  • recommended by dermatologists
  • doesn't clog pores
  • thick and can be difficult to spread
Brand Neutrogena
Model J&J360289
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Banana Boat Ultra Defense Max

If you want to come back from your tropical beach vacation with skin that is as white and 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
  • skin enriching aloe and vitamin e
  • contoured easy-to-grip spray can
Brand Banana Boat
Model 00079656150810
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense

SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense is ideal for those with naturally dry skin. It boosts the skin's barrier function, contains nourishing moisturizing ingredients, and has a tint that complements almost all skin tones, so anybody can use it.
  • uses all-natural filters
  • doesn't leave behind a white residue
  • easy to spread evenly
Brand SkinCeuticals
Model S0859000
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Yonka Solar Care

Yonka Solar Care rapidly dissolves into the skin for almost instant SPF 50 water-resistant protection. It also fights skin oxidation stress and aging for a smooth and vibrant look, making it a great choice for everyday use.
  • safe to use on children
  • contains no harsh chemicals
  • one application lasts two hours
Brand Yonka
Model YK-26502
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Bullfrog Water Armour Sport Instacool

Bullfrog Water Armour Sport Instacool is perfect for those individuals who plan on spending the whole day in the sun performing high intensity activities that will be making them sweat. It revitalizes sun-dried skin with a cooling layer of moisture.
  • spray-on formula
  • dries quickly after application
  • doesn't stain clothing
Brand Bullfrog
Model abc-15154
Weight 5 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Tizo SPF 40 Solar Protection

Free of fragrances, oils, and parabens, Tizo SPF 40 Solar Protection formula goes on silky smooth and maintains a matte finish that reduces shine, making your skin look healthy and never oily, unlike many other creams that leave a greasy feeling behind.
  • offers broad spectrum uv protection
  • good for those with sensitive skin
  • waterproof for up to 40 minutes
Brand Tizo
Model 5889232650
Weight 2.9 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 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 June 09, 2017 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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