It’s true that wearing any sunscreen at all is better than nothing — even more so if you make it part of your daily routine. But once you’ve crossed that threshold, there’s a whole wide world of sunscreen (that’s constantly growing and changing) to explore. And we wouldn’t be the Strategist if we didn’t keep constantly searching for the newest and best sunscreens on the market. Below, our experts’ picks for the 14 best sunscreens at various price points. Every one of them can be used all over the body, but we’ve categorized them considering other details, including price, ingredients, ease of use, and availability. (For more sunscreens for hyperspecific uses, see our lists of the best ones for lips, face, and kids and babies; we’ve even got some picks for bald men’s heads.)
What we’re looking for
Sunscreens tend to be judged on how much protection they offer — which is conveyed by SPF, or sun protection factor. This is the measure of how much radiation is needed to cause a sunburn. The higher the SPF, the lower the chance of sunburn. According to our experts, you should be using an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of UVB rays. SPF refers specifically to UVB rays, but you should be looking for broad-spectrum formulas, which protect from both UVA and UVB rays. No matter what SPF level you choose, you need to make sure you reapply — more when the sun is at its most intense, but at least every two hours.
Chemical or mineral
Our experts say to look for mineral (also known as physical) sunscreen if you’ve got sensitive skin or heat sensitivities, or if you’re using the sunscreen on babies 6 months or younger because the mineral formulation sits on top of skin to physically block UVA and UVB rays, as opposed to chemical formulations that sink into skin and absorb rays, which can cause irritation in more sensitive skin. Chemical sunscreens use ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octocrylene, and octisalate for sun protection. When applied, it triggers a chemical reaction that absorbs the sun’s rays and turns it into heat before releasing it from the body. This process takes about 15 minutes to get started, so you should wait at least this long post-application before heading into the sun. Mineral formulas, on the other hand, sit on top of the skin and work immediately. Chemical formulas have been under scrutiny as of late, due to the fact that some studies suggest ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate have been shown to bleach coral reefs. Some ingredients have also been linked to endocrine disruption, although it hasn’t been deemed conclusive, and the FDA (which regulates sunscreen formulations generally) continues to allow their use.
Mineral sunscreens work by scattering light, using physical blockers like zinc and titanium oxide. Both are often recommended for sensitive skin because they don’t tend to be sensitizing. Zinc oxide is good for hyperpigmentation in particular, and is thus a favorite of dermatologists for patients with melasma. On the flip side, mineral formulas tend to be chunkier and pasty, presenting a challenge for deeper skin tones. Formulas have improved as of late, though, thanks to nano-size zinc- and titanium-oxide particles that rub in and blend more easily. Strategist contributor and longtime beauty writer Hannah Morrill told us that another reason to consider mineral sunscreens is because some chemical ones contain oxybenzone, which research indicates can significantly destroy coral-reef ecosystems.
Contains oxybenzone, homosalate, and octisalate
Chemical sunscreens have been a topic of discussion for the past five years or so, with studies linking ingredients like oxybenzone, homosalate, and octisalate to endocrine disruption. The data isn’t conclusive here, but we’ve mentioned when and if they’re present, along with the concentration of said ingredients.
When it comes to sunscreens, consistency can be the difference between an SPF you’ll reach for every day and something you’ll only reach for when you have to begrudgingly apply for the beach. Sunscreens with thicker consistencies can be good for the body, but not so much for the face, which tends to be more sensitive and reactive to heavier, greasier formulations. Thick sunscreens might not be great if you have an oilier skin type, and thus a lightweight, serumlike option could be best for you.
Best overall sunscreen
SPF Level: SPF 55 | Chemical or mineral: Chemical | Active ingredients: Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5% | Consistency: Lightweight lotion
This sunscreen from Neutrogena came up most frequently, recommended by six experts we spoke to — including cosmetic surgeon Kenneth Rothaus; cosmetic dermatologist Sonam Yadav; aesthetician and founder of Skin by ASK Andrew Kelly; dermatologist Yoram Harth; and dermatologist Kenneth Mark. Its benefits are clear: It’s been around forever (time-tested), it’s relatively inexpensive (so you can stock up and not worry about generously slathering it on every two hours), and you can buy it pretty much anywhere. Yadav and Harth both recommend Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch because of its lightweight, mattifying feel that won’t clog your pores. In addition to a liquid version, it also comes in a stick and spray-on format, which Sapna Palep, founder of Spring Street Dermatology, prefers. Palep likes the spray-on version for getting full-body coverage as well as applying sunscreen to kids who can be “moving targets.” She says it spreads easily and is very water resistant, so it’ll stay on when you’re getting in and out of the pool or ocean. And if you want to stay away from chemical blockers altogether, you can also buy a mineral formulation with zinc oxide.
Best chemical sunscreen for face
SPF Level: SPF 40 | Chemical or mineral: Chemical | Active ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 8%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 4% | Consistency: Gel
In our best sunscreens for face story (which I also wrote), I dubbed Supergoop!’s Unseen Sunscreen as the best option for oily skin. My opinion there still stands, but I think it’s a good overall choice for most people. The consistency is akin to thin Vaseline (it’s the silicone), and it has an almost velvety skin feel. It works incredibly well under makeup and protects against blue light too. It’s a crowd favorite for a reason.
Best mineral sunscreen for face
SPF level: SPF 50 | Chemical or mineral: Mineral | Consistency: Lightweight lotion
Spanish brand Isdin’s mineral sunscreen comes recommended by three of our experts (Kelly, Mark, and Dr. Anna Karp, dermatologist at the Skin Institute New York). It’s on the thin side, so it doesn’t leave a white chalky film behind, and it has the added benefits of antioxidants, vitamin E, and DNA-repair enzymes that help combat previous sun damage. Mark really likes this sunscreen because the company “did a study where people who used it on a consistent basis saw a reduction in the number of precancerous lesions on the treated area.” It can be used all over, but since it’s much more expensive than many other brands, Mark recommends using it on the face or other specific parts of the body that tend to see the most sun damage.
Best (less expensive) sunscreen for face
SPF level: SPF 50 | Chemical or mineral: Mineral | Active ingredients: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide | Consistency: Lightweight lotion
Morrill told us she loves this sunscreen from La Roche-Posay for her face, which comes in both chemical and mineral formulations. Three other experts recommend it, too, with Harth saying, “I like the La Roche-Posay because it’s suitable for the face and body. It contains vitamin E, herbal extracts, and antioxidants to soothe stressed-out skin and shield you from the sun.” It has a lightweight, matte finish, so it goes on nicely under makeup too.
Best sunscreen for sensitive skin
SPF level: SPF 30 | Chemical or mineral: Mineral | Active ingredients: Zinc oxide | Consistency: Rich lotion
When we asked about mineral sunscreens you can buy at any drugstore in a pinch, this one from Blue Lizard was the first thing mentioned by Harth and Kelly (the brand also makes one of our top recommended facial sunscreens, too). Kelly suggests keeping a tube of it in your car, since a lot of people forget to apply when they’re driving. “You get so much sun damage on the driver’s-window side of your face and body. Once you hit 50 or 60 years old and your collagen and the elastin starts breaking down, you’ll start to see that damage a lot more.” He likes Blue Lizard because it doesn’t have any chemicals, fragrance, or commonly known irritants in it. Plus, the bottle turns blue in harmful UV light to remind you to apply. Because it’s a thick mineral sunscreen that doesn’t budge on the skin, Palep loves Blue Lizard for athletes who sweat out in the sun for hours.
Best mineral sunscreen for the body
SPF level: SPF 40 | Chemical or mineral: Mineral | Active ingredients: Non nano zinc oxide | Consistency: Lightweight lotion
While this is gentle enough to use on your face, dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar likes using it all over the body because it’s a “nongreasy SPF and will not leave oily residue all over your clothing.” Beyond that, it’s a reef-safe mineral sunscreen that’s also hypoallergenic. Additionally, it’s lightweight and sheer, so it won’t leave a white cast as long as you rub it in. Aguilar likes that it has powerful antioxidants like rose hip and green tea, as well as moisturizing ingredients like avocado and jojoba oils. For application, Aguilar says, “I like applying SPF prior to getting dressed and reapplying on any areas that are exposed to the sun throughout the day, doing my best to never forget the back of my hands.”
Best spray-on sunscreen
SPF level: SPF 50 | Chemical or mineral: Chemical | Active ingredients: Homosalate 15%, Octisalate 5% | Consistency: Lightweight spray
This spray-on sunscreen from Sun Bum is reef safe and comes in a variety of SPF levels, ranging from SPF 15 (though dermatologists recommend a minimum SPF level of 30) to SPF 70. In addition to being protective, it’s moisturizing and contains nourishing vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing properties.
Best sunscreen oil
SPF level: SPF 30 | Chemical or mineral: Chemical | Active ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 10% | Consistency: Oil
An oil sunscreen might evoke memories of tanning liquids, but it’s one of my favorite consistencies because it makes my skin look hydrated and renewed. I really like this oil from Vacation, which has a pleasant scent that’s both musky and fruity. It smells like the ’80s but as imagined by the creators of Black Monday. As for the texture, the oil is lightweight and immediately soaks into skin. It has an SPF of 30 (the minimum recommended amount), and while I wouldn’t recommend it for a day at the beach (reapplying with sandy hands is less than ideal), I really like it for everyday use.
Best powder sunscreen
SPF level: SPF 50 | Chemical or mineral: Mineral | Consistency: Powder
If you’re looking for a purely physical sunscreen that isn’t a thick cream, Palep recommends Colorescience’s brush-on sunscreen powder. It won’t leave a white cast, and with four different shades, you can choose one that best matches your skin tone. We’ve previously named Colorescience the best powder sunscreen after eight additional dermatologists raved about it — and it’s a must-have for Dr. Pimple Popper. Karen Fernandez, the aesthetics department manager for SkinSpxirit med spas, is a fan, too. She likes that it doubles as makeup, is good for oily or acne-prone skin, and is easy to reapply on the go. “I love using it as the finishing touch of powder to my morning routine and then reapplying as needed throughout the day,” she says. “It is small enough to fit in a pocket or makeup bag and totally mess-free.” It’s also water resistant up to 80 minutes, and Fernandez says, “It doesn’t run into your eyes when you sweat, and stays on in the water.”
Best compact-powder sunscreen
SPF level: SPF 68 | Chemical or mineral: Mineral | Active ingredients: Titanium dioxide 8.4%, zinc oxide 10.0% | Consistency: Pressed powder
If you prefer compact-powder makeup, there is this one from SkinBetter. It’s a 100 percent mineral foundation with UVA and UVB protection that’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes. It also has an SPF of 68, making it the highest on this list. We’ve written about it before as it protects against blue light from our devices, and is a favorite of writer Kaleigh Fasanella, who has really sensitive skin. Unlike the Colorescience brush-on, this one comes in only one shade, but according to Fernandez, it “adapts to your skin tone for perfect coverage, plus it comes in a beautiful compact you can easily carry in your makeup bag and reapply as needed.”
Best sunscreen for kids and babies
SPF level: SPF 50 | Chemical or mineral: Mineral | Active ingredients: Zinc oxide | Consistency: Lotion
All of our experts agree that babies should exclusively use mineral sunscreens that are hypoallergenic and have been tested for efficacy. When we wrote about sunscreen for kids and babies earlier this month, Lindsey Bordone, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Columbia University Medical Center, and three other dermatologists recommended this specific brand from Neutrogena, which is formulated for babies, features a broad-spectrum SPF 50 shield against UVA and UVB rays, and is dermatologist-tested, water resistant, and hypoallergenic. This specific product was also recommended by Mark.
Best sunscreen for dark skin tones
SPF level: SPF 30 | Chemical or mineral: Hybrid | Consistency: Lotion
As I said previously in my piece about the best sunscreens for dark skin, “Although dark skin does have some built-in sun protection (SPF 13.4, to be exact), it’s still imperative to use SPF to protect it.” In addition to preventing skin cancer (which, while less common, is often caught at a more advanced stage in people with darker skin tones), sunscreen helps prevent hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage. My go-to is Black Girl Sunscreen, a hybrid formula that goes on white but dries down clear. It feels and smells like your traditional Coppertone (for me, it’s delightfully nostalgic), but unlike those OG formulas, it leaves behind a noticeable glow. I have a normal skin type that sometimes leans dry, and while it works well for me, my friends with oilier skin have reported that it can leave them feeling a bit greasy.
Best sunscreen for acne-prone skin
SPF level: SPF 46 | Chemical or mineral: Hybrid | Consistency: Lightweight lotion
Not only was this specific sunscreen from EltaMD recommended by six of our experts, it was also the favorite sunscreen from our article about the best sunscreens for your face. And although the directions only mention using it on the face and neck, you can use it all over, making it ideal for those dealing with body acne, too. Kelly says that he uses this combination mineral-and-chemical sunscreen himself on a daily basis, and told us that he loves it because of its “serumlike” texture, explaining that “it provides both chemical and physical blockers for the skin and contains actives like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and lactic acid, which are great at fighting acne-prone skin while conserving moisture.” Palep, who uses EltaMD UV Clear because it doesn’t clog her pores, adds that niacinamide is an added bonus for correcting hyperpigmentation from acne scars or prior sun damage.
Best sunscreen for dry skin
SPF level: SPF 50 | Chemical or mineral: Mineral | Consistency: Lightweight lotion
Since it’s designed for babies’ delicate skin, Kikam recommends this gentle sunscreen for anyone with dry or sensitive skin. “It’s a lightweight, moisturizing, nonsticky, and fast-absorbing sunscreen that is aesthetically pleasing on all skin, including darker skin types,” she says. Along with offering excellent UV protection, Kikam likes that Pipette’s sunscreen contains squalane to replenish moisture in the skin and antioxidants to calm irritation.
Best water-resistant sunscreen
SPF level: SPF 50 | Chemical or mineral: Chemical | Active ingredients: Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5% | Consistency: Lightweight lotion
We recommended this sunscreen from Shiseido as the best swimming sunscreen for your face, but it’s a worthwhile option for the body, too. It creates a veil over skin and gets stronger whenever it’s exposed to heat, water, and sweat. It’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes, and because it’s oxybenzone- and octinoxate-free, it’s reef safe too.
• Natalie Aguilar, dermatological nurse
• Lindsey Bordone, assistant professor of dermatology at the Columbia University Medical Center
• Kaleigh Fasanella, writer
• Karen Fernandez, aesthetics department manager for SkinSpirit med spas
• Yoram Harth, dermatologist
• Andrew Kelly, aesthetician and founder of Skin by ASK
• Adeline Kikam, founder of @brownskinderm
• Rita Linkner, dermatologist and founder of RVL Skincare
• Kenneth Mark, dermatologist
• Dr. Anna Karp, dermatologist at the Skin Institute New York
• Hannah Morrill, freelance writer and editor
• Sapna Palep, founder of Spring Street Dermatology
• Kenneth Rothaus, founder of Rothaus Plastic Surgery
• Sonam Yadav, cosmetic dermatologist
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