Summer is here and the sun isn’t letting up, so neither can you. This endless battle between you and the sun has only one winner if you don’t use sunscreen, and it’s not you. If you don’t use sunscreen often, the sun’s harmful rays can lead to skin cancer and sunburn. In addition, sunscreen is also a great way to keep your skin youthful and prevent skin problems such as wrinkles, sagging and hyperpigmentation.
There are many myths when it comes to sunscreen. One of the bigger ones is that sunscreen is only necessary in the summer months. The sun has incredible power; even when you’re inside your home (yes, even indoors), you should protect yourself from harmful UVA and UVB rays by wearing sunscreen at all times. Another is that darker skin doesn’t need to use sunscreen, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there is a real sunscreen gap in blacks (and other people of color) that has resulted in them being less likely to wear sunscreen and therefore more likely to develop skin cancer at later stages.
A good way to start a new sun care routine is to buy a fresh bottle of sunscreen tailored to your skin’s needs. There are only a small number of sunscreens on our list, but we have selected some of the best that are currently available, effective and will not burden your skin. Most of the prices and links are for 3 ounce bottles, but some are for smaller or larger bottles. Many of them have larger and more affordable options. And if you’re looking for sun protection for your face, we’ve got you covered – check out our guide on.
Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer is a bestseller for a reason. The lightweight formula has been around for years, doesn’t feel greasy and spreads on all skin tones. You can find it in a spray, lotion or stick, in many different SPF formulas. For an everyday sunscreen at a good price, you can’t go wrong with this.
Fortunately, oily sunscreens are no longer the norm. Now you can find many sunscreens that feel like a moisturizing lotion (and blend into your skin). One of them is Banana Boat’s Light as Air sunscreen. This SPF 50 sunscreen promises to absorb quickly into the skin and absorb oil, so it actively keeps you dry while providing you with protection from the sun.
It is available in a spray, lotion and sunblock for the face, as well as a suntan spray for the hair and scalp.
Zinc sunscreens have come a long way from those pasty lotions that left a white sheen behind. EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen uses only zinc oxide to reflect harmful UV rays away from the skin so they don’t cause skin damage. Amazon reviewers love this sunscreen because it spreads. It’s also oil, fragrance and paraben free, making it a good sun protection choice for anyone with sensitive or oily skin.
CeraVe is already a great brand for simple and affordable skin care, so the effectiveness of this sunscreen comes as no surprise. CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen is effective for the whole body and is suitable for sensitive skin. You can also expect the non-greasy, lightweight consistency to melt on your body.
Babies rarely want to sit still long enough for you to apply (and reapply) sunscreen. But this sunscreen for kids goes on fast and is meant to work on wet skin. The spray penetrates the water to adhere to the skin, so applying sunscreen is easy and your kids will stay protected even if they’re in and out of the pool or ocean all day.
One of the myths is that black people don’t need sunscreen and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Although black skin is protected by melanin, it does not mean immunity from harmful rays. And keep in mind that if hyperpigmentation is an issue, a good sunscreen can help with that. Black Girl Sunscreen not only hydrates, but does not leave white residue on the skin. And if you’re worried about Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, neither is in this sunscreen—all you’ll find are the natural ingredients in this SPF 30 bottle.
Doctors recommend that you limit your child’s exposure to the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing against the sun, and by keeping them in the shade. But even with these precautions, it’s still recommended to use sunscreen, usually when they’re six months and older.
Once they reach the six-month milestone, you can protect them from the sun’s rays with sunscreen, but stick to formulas that are free of dyes and fragrances and that use minerals (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) for sun protection.
This Blue Lizard mineral sunscreen formula checks all those baby sunscreen boxes, and the bottle turns pink in the sun to encourage you to reapply.
Photo by Unsun Cosmetics/Composite by Robin Mosley/CNET
A hydrating sunscreen for your whole body, this Full Coverage Mineral Lotion SPF 15 from Unsun is made with moisturizing ingredients like Prickly Pear Cactus and Cucumber that provide quality sun protection from UV rays while keeping your skin residue-free, all for 13 $.
Looking for a sports sunscreen that isn’t sticky or greasy? That’s a good bet. Coppertone’s Sport Sunscreen is a popular lotion that’s waterproof and moisturizing thanks to vitamin E. It protects you from UVA/UVB rays for up to 80 minutes if you’re in the water or sweat, and promises not to sting your eyes.
The state of Hawaii, Key West, Florida, and several island states have banned the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone or octinoxate because scientific studies have found that the ingredients can harm coral and other marine life. In response, many companies have begun selling “reef-safe” sunscreens that adhere to various bans.
If you’re heading somewhere that requires a reef-safe sunscreen, this Non-aerosol Spray SPF 50 from Supergoop is a good choice to protect you from the sun’s UV rays. This sunscreen is not a mineral sunscreen, but contains “clean chemicals” that Supergoop has formulated without oxybenzone or octinoxate.
This sunscreen also contains vitamin C for antioxidant skin support and is suitable for sensitive skin (although it is fragrance-free). The Sephora link below is for the 5oz bottle; Amazon link for 3oz bottle.
If you’re looking for a cheap tinted mineral SPF 30 facial sunscreen, then this one from Buttah will do the trick. This is another sunscreen that fades and dries. And it’s formulated with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium to protect your skin from harmful rays. Since it’s made for your face, it’s safe to use around the eyes.
Sometimes the best sunscreen is one that is light and feels like it doesn’t weigh the skin down. Glossier Water Gel Sunscreen SPF 35 is just what people who want a simple sun shield should carry. It’s non-greasy, no white cast and is more of a skin care product like a thin serum that works for all skin types.
Please note that these products are independently selected by our editors and are based on extensive research of the options available on the market. Prices are subject to change.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions regarding health conditions or health goals.