Exposure to the sun and UV rays are major causes of skin cancer, but using the best sunscreens available can significantly reduce your chances of harm. If you’re swimming at the beach or in the pool, you’ll want a sunscreen that’s strong enough to protect your skin for hours and can withstand water. In addition to providing protection from skin cancer, sunscreen also helps keep your skin looking young and prevent skin problems like wrinkles, sagging, and hyperpigmentation.
When it comes to sunscreen, there are a number of myths. One of the biggest of these is that sunscreen is only necessary during the summer months. The sun has an incredible amount of power. Even if you’re indoors (yes, inside too), you should protect yourself from harmful UVA and UVB rays by wearing sunscreen at all times. Another is that darker skin does not need to use sunscreen, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, there is a real sunscreen gap for black people (and other people of color) that has made them less likely to wear sunscreen and therefore more likely to develop skin cancer in later stages.
A good way to start your new sun care routine is to purchase a new bottle of sunscreen that is tailored to your skin’s needs. There are only a few sunscreens on our list, but we’ve selected some of the best ones available right now that are effective and won’t leave your skin feeling heavy. Most prices and links are for 3-ounce bottles, but some are for smaller or larger bottles. Many options are larger and more cost effective. And if you’re looking for sun protection for your face, we’ve got you covered—check out our guide on The best sunscreen for your face.
Read more: What is the best SPF for sunscreen?
Ultra Sheer from Neutrogena is a bestseller for a reason. The lightweight formula has been around for years, doesn’t feel greasy, and rubs on visibly on all skin tones. You can find it in a spray, lotion, or stick, in many different SPF formulations. For a daily sunscreen at a good price, you can’t go wrong with this.
Neutrogena Sunscreen Ultra Sheer Waterproof Non-Greasy Lotion SPF 70, 3 Fl Oz (Pack of 1) Price Alerts
Oily sunscreens are no longer the norm, thankfully. You can now find many sunscreens that look like (and blend into your skin like) a moisturizing lotion. One of them is a light banana like air sunscreen. This SPF 50 sunscreen promises to quickly absorb into your skin and absorb oil so it keeps dryness at bay while providing sun protection.
It’s available as a spray, lotion, and sunscreen for the face, as well as a spray sunscreen for your hair and scalp.
You’re receiving Banana Boat Light price alerts as Air Sunscreen SPF 50
Zinc sunscreens have come a long way from those fungal lotions that left a white luster behind. EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen only uses zinc oxide to reflect harmful UV rays back to your skin so they don’t cause skin damage. This sunscreen is loved by Amazon reviewers because it rubs in so clearly. It’s also free of oils, fragrances, and parabens, so it’s a good sun protection option for anyone with sensitive skin or oily skin.
You receive price alerts for EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen SPF 50
CeraVe is already a great simple skincare brand on a budget, so the effectiveness of this sunscreen comes as no surprise. CeraVe Moisturizing Mineral Sunscreen is effective for all over the body and is suitable for sensitive skin. You can also expect the non-greasy, lightweight texture to melt right onto your body.
You’re receiving price alerts for CeraVe Tinted Sunscreen with SPF 30
One myth is the idea that black people don’t need sunscreen and that couldn’t be further from the truth. While there is melanin that protects black skin, it does not mean immunity from harmful rays. Keep in mind that if hyperpigmentation is an issue, a good sunscreen can help with that. Black Girl Sunscreen not only moisturizes, nor does it leave a white residue on the skin. And if you’re worried about Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, there’s neither in this sunscreen—all you’ll find are natural ingredients in this SPF 30 bottle.
You’re receiving price alerts for Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
Doctors advise limiting your child’s exposure to the sun by getting him to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing and keeping him in the shade. But even with these precautions, sunscreen is still recommended, generally when they are six months or older.
Once they reach the six-month stage, you can use sunscreen to protect them from the sun, but stick to formulas that are free of dyes and fragrances and that use minerals (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) for sun protection.
Blue Lizard’s mineral sunscreen formula checks all those boxes for baby sunscreen and the bottle turns pink in the sun, giving you a boost to reapply.
Receive price alerts for Blue Lizard Baby Mineral Sunscreen Zinc Oxide, Water Resistant, UVA/UVB Protection with Smart Technology – Unscented, Unscented, SPF 50-5 fl oz.
Photos by Unsun Cosmetics/Composite by Robin Mosley/CNET
A hydrating all-over body sunscreen, this full-coverage mineral sunscreen SPF 15 from Unsun is made with hydrating ingredients like prickly pear cactus and cucumber to provide high-quality UV protection while keeping your skin residue-free.
Copperton / Amazon
Looking for a sporty sunscreen that doesn’t feel sticky or oily? This is a good bet. Coppertone’s Sports Sunscreen is a popular lotion that’s both waterproof and hydrating, thanks to the vitamin E. It protects you from UVA/UVB rays for up to 80 minutes if you’re in the water or sweating, and it promises to win. It doesn’t sting your eyes.
Superjob / Amazon
The state of Hawaii, Key West in Florida, and a few island states have banned the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate because scientific studies have found these ingredients can harm coral reefs and other marine life. In response, many companies have begun selling “reef-safe” sunscreens that adhere to various bans.
If you’re headed somewhere that requires a reef-safe sunscreen, this non-aerosol spray sunscreen SPF 50 from Supergoop is a good pick to protect you from the sun’s UV rays. This sunscreen is not a mineral sunscreen but contains “clean chemicals” that are formulated without oxybenzone or octinoxate.
This sunscreen also contains vitamin C for a skin-boosting antioxidant boost and is suitable for sensitive skin (although it’s not fragrance-free). The Sephora link below is for the 5-ounce bottle; Amazon link for 3 oz bottle.
You’re receiving price alerts for Superjob Play Antioxidant Body Spray SPF 50
If you’re looking for an SPF 30 sunscreen for the face on a budget, this one from Buttah fits the bill. This is another sunscreen that disappears and dries completely. It is formulated with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium that protect your skin from harmful rays. Since this is intended for your face, it is safe to use around your eyes.
Sometimes the best sunscreen is the one that feels so lightweight and feels like it doesn’t weigh skin down. Glossier’s SPF 35 Water Sunscreen is exactly what people who want a simple shield from the sun should wear. It is not greasy, free of a white cast, and feels more like a skin care product than a gentle serum that works on all skin types.
Kids rarely want to sit still long enough to apply (and reapply) sunscreen. But this sunscreen for kids goes on quickly and is meant to work on damp skin. The mist penetrates water to adhere to the skin, so applying sunscreen is easy and your kids stay protected even as they spend all day in and out of the pool or ocean.
You’re receiving price alerts for Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray
Note that these products are independently selected by our editors and based on extensive research on the options available on the market. Prices may change.
More skin care and summer tips
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to provide health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.