Protect Your Skin With a Gentle but Effective Sunscreen All Year Long

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Courtesy of Amazon

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Remembering to apply sunscreen when you’re spending the day outside in the sun and heat is usually pretty easy. Fear of a painful sunburn and terrible tan lines waiting for you at the end of a fun beach day act as enough of a reminder to apply and reapply. But sunscreen is needed beyond the sand and surf.

Sun damage can happen anytime, even on cloudy days when your exposure to the sun is minimal. Slow and sometimes inconspicuous sun damage can add up over time, making skin appear wrinkled, creating dark spots, and prematurely aging skin. On a more short-term basis, exposure to the sun’s UV rays can make you feel tired and sluggish.

What to Consider Before Buying Sunscreen

SPF is probably the first factor to consider when shopping for sunscreen, but it’s hardly the only factor that makes a difference. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends an SPF of at least 30. You might need a higher SPF if you have a fairer complexion or you’re spending longer time in the sun. The sunscreen should also be broad spectrum. That means it will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The best sunscreen should also be water-resistant. This isn’t just important at the beach; water-resistant sunscreen will help resist running as you’re sweating, too.

You might not have realized it, but there are actually two major types of sunscreen: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreen is likely what you’re most used to, and it’s the most popular option, by far. But mineral sunscreen has been catching up. Chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin, protecting you from the more harmful elements of sunshine. Mineral sunscreen sits on top of the skin, bouncing harmful rays off your skin.

Chemical sunscreens have a few key advantages. They’re widely available, so it’s easier to pick one up in a store for not much money. The best ones absorb quickly, protecting your skin without leaving a greasy sheen.

If your skin has a negative reaction to sunscreen, then it may be worth considering a mineral sunscreen. Mineral sunscreen is less irritating, making it a good option for those with sensitive skin or those who are acne-prone. However, mineral sunscreens aren’t always as protective. And, since they sit on top of the skin, they can leave a residue.

Of course, many shoppers consider more than just how well a product works and how much it costs. They also consider the impact a product will have on the environment. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to both protect your skin and completely protect the environment, but a good start is to find sunscreens that are free from both oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can be damaging to aquatic life. Mineral sunscreens can potentially be less damaging than chemical sunscreens.

What We Looked for When Choosing the Best Sunscreen

It’s important to find a sunscreen that works for your skin and is easy to apply every day. Like all skincare products, there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why it’s important to consider a few different options and pick out the one that works best for you.  We’ve rounded up four of our favorite sunscreens, including options that are designed for users with sensitive skin, users who don’t like the feel of lotions, and users who need a sunscreen that can be applied quickly. Plus, we looked for brands that prioritized environmentally friendly practices. Whichever sunscreen you choose, make sure you apply it (and reapply it) regularly.

1. Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion

Moisturize your skin and protect it at the same time with the Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion. Safe for sensitive skin, Sun Bum is hypoallergenic, oil-free and non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores and cause breakouts like other sunscreens. Sun Bum is coral reef-friendly and made without oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten and parabens. Providing UVA/UVB protection, the water-resistant sunscreen will last up to 80 minutes when swimming or sweating and should be reapplied every two hours.

Pros: Sun Bum is made with vitamin E and leaves skin feeling moisturized.

Cons: Some may not like the strong coconut smell.

Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion Image courtesy of Amazon

2. Blue Lizard Mineral Sunscreen

Mineral sunscreen is a good option for those with sensitive skin. This sunscreen from Blue Lizard uses zinc oxide as its mineral ingredient to deflect the sun’s harmful rays without causing irritation. The strong SPF 50 protection makes it great for long days in the sun. It’s sweat and water-resistant to keep up with workouts and ocean adventures.

Pros: Mineral formula makes it good for sensitive skin. 80 minutes of water resistance. Broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection.

Cons: Small 5 oz size.

sunscreen Image Courtesy of Amazon

3. Coppertone Sunscreen Sport Spray

This spray from Coppertone is a sport option if you’re at the beach or outdoors and looking for something easy to apply. It comes in spray form, making it easy to get full coverage and protection. It comes in a pack of two, and the formula offers SPF 50 protection and 80 minutes of water resistance.

Pros: Convenient option for sports activities. High SPF for protection. Comes in a pack of two.

Cons: Not ideal for the face.

sunscreen Image Courtesy of Amazon

4. CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

If you’re looking for an option specifically for your face, CeraVe’s AM moisturizing lotion is one of the best options to get. It’s affordably priced, and has essential ingredients to moisturize your face and protect your skin. While it looks and smells like sunscreen out of the tube, it won’t leave a sunscreen smell or residue on your skin.

Pros: Good option for face moisturizing. Doesn’t leave an oily sheen. Designed for all skin types.

Cons: More for daily use than long sun exposures.

sunscreen Image Courtesy of Amazon

5. Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

In addition to their classic original formula, Sun Bum also makes a great mineral sunscreen option that’s formulated to be friendly to sensitive skin. It’s friendly to ocean health, too. It’s formulated without chemicals that are known to damage coral reefs. The zinc-based formula provides 80 minutes of water resistance and SPF 50 protection for long, sunny days.

Pros: Mineral formula is good for those with sensitive skin. Formulated without chemicals that damage coral reefs.

Cons: 3 oz size is small.

sunscreen Image Courtesy of Amazon

6. EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen

The EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen is one of the best options for users with sensitive skin. The oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreen is made with zinc oxide and reflects the sun’s rays away from the skin, but unlike most zinc oxide sunscreens, the EltaMD goes on clear and doesn’t leave a flaky white finish. EltaMD protects users from harmful UVA and UVB rays and helps to calm the skin. EltaMD also contains hyaluronic acid, which pumps moisture back into the skin, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and making skin appear more youthful.

Pros: The EltaMD is ideal for users with sensitive skin.

Cons: Best for the face and not the entire body.

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Image courtesy of Amazon

7. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion

Protect your skin with Neutrogena and their Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion. Ideal for anyone who doesn’t like the feel of lotion, the matte finish of the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer sunscreen dries quickly and leaves no greasy residue. Safe for use up to 80 minutes in water, the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer is formulated with Helioplex for superior sun protection. Safe for use on the face (it’s non-comedogenic) and body, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer offers UVA and UVB protection.

Pros: At 100 SPF, the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer has the strongest sun protection of all the options on our list.

Cons: The small container can be used up quickly and the sunscreen may be too heavy for users with oily skin.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion Image courtesy of Amazon

8. Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray

For an affordable sunscreen that is easy to apply, try the Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray. The SPF 50 sunscreen is recommended by the Skin Care Foundation and is made with coconut extract, shea butter and avocado oil for a sunscreen that leaves skin smelling fresh without drying it out. Alba is free from oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten or synthetic fragrances and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Pros: Like Sun Bum, Alba markets itself as coral reef-friendly and is biodegradable.

Cons: It can leave a sticky residue on hands and must be reapplied more often than other sunscreens.

Alba Botanica Sunscreen Spray Image courtesy of Amazon