Many people may think of applying sunscreen as a beach-exclusive activity, but dermatologists widely recommend setting it as a daily habit. Sunscreen protects you from damaging UV rays that could dry skin, cause damage, speed up aging, and even lead to skin cancer.
Most sunscreens are rated with an SPF, which is commonly displayed prominently on the bottle. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor (SPF) and tells you how much protection you get, but it isn’t the end-all, be-all of sun protection.
There are many different kinds of sunscreen for different skin tones, skin types, and settings. The variety of choices at the drugstore aisle can be dizzying…if not paralyzing! In this guide, we’ve put together 12 of the best sunscreen options around to help you choose the right sunscreen for you.
Best Sunscreens for 2021
- Overall Best Sunscreen: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Broad-Spectrum SPF 100+
- Best Sunscreen For Face: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+
- Best Sunscreen For Acne-Prone Skin: La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch SPF 60
- Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin: Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 30
- Best Baby Sunscreen: Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
- Best Korean Sunscreen: NEOGEN Dermalogy Day-Light Protection Sunscreen SPF 50/PA+++
- Best Tinted Sunscreen: CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen Face Sheer Tint SPF 30
- Best Natural Sunscreen: Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Lotion SPF 30
- Best Sunscreen For Kids: Blue Lizard Kids Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 30
- Best Sunscreen For Tattoos: CannaSmack Ink Guard SPF 30 & Tattoo Fade Shield
- Best Sunscreen For Men: Jack Black Sun Guard SPF 45
- Best Sunscreen For Rosacea: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Overall Best Sunscreen: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 100+
If you’re looking for a good all-in-one product that does the job with no frills, Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch is a good pick. Its lightweight formula dries with a soft, matte finish that doesn’t leave a greasy feeling, making it a great daily sunscreen to go under your makeup. But with its sky-high SPF and UVA/UVB broad-spectrum protection, you can count on this one to keep you protected for a day at the beach as well.
- High SPF and reliable UV protection in any setting
- Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
- Oil-free, non-greasy formula and lightweight finish
- Leaves the skin feeling hydrated
Best Sunscreen For Face: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+
While there are sunscreens that are suitable for both your face and your entire body, the skin of the face can be more delicate, calling for gentler active ingredients and a higher sun protection factor.
Although this one might be a bit of a splurge, it’s well worth the investment. On the surface, it’s a high SPF zinc oxide sunscreen that applies thin and dries sheer, eliminating the white chalky residue that often comes with mineral sunscreens. Board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, has said that zinc oxide is a UV-blocking ingredient that is so gentle that it’s often used as the main ingredient in babies’ diaper rash creams.
But beyond that, this sunscreen is a miracle worker in treating previous sun damage. Actinic keratoses are rough, bumpy patches of skin caused by UV damage that can potentially become cancerous. ISDIN’s mineral formula comes loaded with antioxidants, vitamin E, and DNA repair enzymes that treat and repair UV damage like this.
- Mineral sunscreen with a non-greasy, emulsion-like texture
- Protects against both UVA and UVB rays, water-resistant for up to 40 minutes
- Treats and repairs damage from previous sun exposure, such as actinic keratoses
Best Sunscreen For Acne-Prone Skin: La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch SPF 60
La Roche-Posay is a big name in the skincare world, and with good reason. As part of their extensive lineup of sun protection products, the Anthelios Clear Skin is a sunscreen that promises no breakouts. This is because it uses an oil-free formula that contains no parabens, fragrances, and other irritants that clog pores and lead to acne.
It protects from both UVA and UVB damage and contains antioxidants that stave off free radicals that can cause skin aging. With water resistance for up to 80 minutes, you’ll be ready to take on the beach for as long as you want.
- Oil-free formula
- Non-comedogenic sunscreen – no clogged pores
- Protection from both UVA/UVB, as well as free radicals
- Water-resistant sunscreen effective for up to 80 minutes
Best Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin: Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 30
The active ingredients in a chemical formula can be too harsh on more delicate skin, resulting in breakouts and rashes. Blue Lizard’s mineral sunscreen doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals (such as oxybenzone or octinoxate) and instead contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, sunscreen ingredients that are safe even for babies. Blue Lizard also contains no common irritants (like parabens or fragrances), making this the best option for those with a sensitive skin type. It comes in a handy bottle that changes color under harmful UV light, giving you a visual reminder to lather up again.
- Pure zinc oxide and titanium dioxide formula with no harmful chemicals or other common irritants
- Water-resistant up to 40 minutes
- Bottle changes color when exposed to harmful UV rays, reminding you to reapply
Best Baby Sunscreen: Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
Did you know that babies as young as 6 months old can already start wearing sunscreen? Not only is it possible, but it is in fact recommended by dermatologists across the board.
Babies are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, and Aveeno’s mineral sunscreen lotion provides gentle protection from it. This tear-free, non-greasy, paraben-free formula contains oat, which locks in moisture without irritating your baby’s skin. It is also sweat- and waterproof for up to 80 minutes, ensuring lots of fun in the sun for your baby.
- Physical sunscreen lotion with UVA/UVB protection
- Certified by the Skin Cancer Foundation
- Gentle formula with no harmful sunscreen ingredients or irritants
- Waterproof for up to 80 minutes
Best Korean Sunscreen: NEOGEN Dermalogy Day-Light Protection Sunscreen SPF 50/PA+++
While SPF tells you the level of protection you get from UVB rays, the PA rating tells you the level of protection you get from UVA rays. With both a high SPF and high PA rating, this sunscreen can effectively stave away both sunburns and more penetrating UV damage that can result in skin cancer. Aside from sun protection, it also contains natural ingredients like aloe vera, fruit extracts, and flower oils that help moisturize the skin and control sebum, giving you a dewy glow.
- Combination chemical and mineral formula
- Feels lightweight on the skin
- Broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides both UVB and UVA protection
- Contains fruit and flower extracts that moisturize the skin, control sebum, and give it a pleasant scent
Best Tinted Sunscreen: CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen Sheer Tint SPF 30
If you’re looking for an effective sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white cast, this one’s for you. Aside from providing both UVB and UVA protection, this moisturizing sunscreen can even double as a makeup primer, making it a great choice for everyday protection. It contains three ceramides that lock moisture into the skin to prevent dryness and irritation, as well as niacinamide which helps in correcting hyperpigmentation from acne scars or previous sun damage. According to board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, these nourishing ingredients improve the hydration of the skin and even restore the skin barrier with each use.
- Tinted formulation with no white cast
- Can double as a makeup primer
- Contains ceramides to lock in moisture and niacinamide to correct hyperpigmentation
- Mineral formulation suitable even for sensitive or problematic skin
Best Natural Sunscreen: Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30
Physical sunscreens are often associated with a thick formula that leaves behind a white cast, but you won’t have to worry about that with this sunscreen. It goes on smooth and absorbs like a dream, even with darker skin tones.
Harmful chemical filters have been cut out of this lotion. Instead, it coats the skin with natural mineral protection, making it suitable even for people with sensitive or dry skin.
- Lightweight formula that doesn’t feel chalky or pasty on the skin
- Main protective ingredient is suitable even for sensitive skin
- Broad-spectrum formula that provides UVB and UVA protection
Best Sunscreen For Kids: Blue Lizard Kids Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 30
Compared to adults, kids have a more delicate skin barrier, which is why using chemical sunscreens on them could result in rashes and skin irritation. Like its grown-up counterpart, the Blue Lizard Kids sunscreen is a mineral lotion without any of the common irritants in sunscreens, like oxybenzone, octinoxate, parabens, or fragrances.
The difference? This one is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, which means that you can be sure that your little ones are protected no matter how much they splash around.
- Mineral-based formula
- Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
- Signature color-changing bottle that turns from blue to white under harsh UV light, reminding you to apply sunscreen again
Best Sunscreen For Tattoos: CannaSmack Ink Guard Tattoo Sunscreen SPF 30
There is nothing that will make your ink fade faster than sun damage. Fortunately, there are sunscreens out there specially formulated to prevent this, like CannaSmack’s Ink Guard Tattoo Sunscreen. It’s a stick sunscreen that makes application easy and mess-free and travels well with no risk of spillage.
It is also waterproof and non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t contain anything that can clog pores. CannaSmack contains hemp seed oil, beeswax, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and aloe vera, which all help in keeping the skin moisturized.
- Stick formulation allows for easy, precise, and mess-free application
- Waterproof and non-comedogenic
- Contains natural ingredients that hydrate and nurture the skin, including hemp seed oil
Best Sunscreen For Men: Jack Black Sun Guard SPF 45
Before you ask: no, this is not at all related to Jack Black the actor. What it is related to, however, is a lineup of premium skincare products specially formulated for men – an often-overlooked market in the skincare industry.
This is an oil-free, broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion enriched with vitamin C and calendula flower extract, which helps soothe irritated skin. It is water- and sweat-proof, making it a great choice for beach days and sports days.
- Oil-free and vitamin-enriched sunscreen lotion
- Broad-spectrum protection to prevent damage from UVA/UVB rays
- Water- and sweat-proof formula suited for active use
Best Sunscreen For Rosacea: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
With one review referring to it as “the Beyoncé of sunscreens”, EltaMD’s UV Clear sunscreen is a juggernaut in the world of sun protection. The serum-like, lightweight, fragrance-free formula blends into the skin almost immediately without any of the white cast that characterizes a lot of mineral sunscreens.
In addition to its main active ingredient, this sunscreen also contains niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid. Niacinamide helps in correcting hyperpigmentation, while hyaluronic acid helps the mixture soothe irritated skin. Meanwhile, lactic acid gently exfoliates the skin and prevents sebum build-up, ultimately minimizing breakouts.
- Lightweight zinc oxide formula that doesn’t leave a white cast
- Contains niacinamide, which helps with correcting hyperpigmentation from previous UV damage or acne
- Contains ingredients that help soothe irritated skin and minimize breakouts
The world of sun protection can be an intimidating one just because of the sheer volume of choice. The most important thing is to do your research and look up reviews before you invest in any product. By regularly applying sunscreen on all areas of exposed skin and practicing sun safety, you’ll be ready to face the day no matter where you are and what time it is!
Keep in mind that applying (and reapplying) a shot glass’s worth of sunscreen every 2 hours is just the tip of the iceberg. To really stay protected against the harmful effects of UV rays, dermatologists also recommend staying out of the sun during peak hours (10 AM to 4 PM) and wearing sun-protective clothing such as hats, sunglasses, pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Perhaps it’s time to go shopping before your next Florida vacation.
***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.