Knowing when you should apply sunscreen is easy. Are you stepping outside at any point during daylight hours? Then you need to apply sunscreen. Seven days a week, 365 days a year, the sun’s rays can damage your skin, regardless of the temperature or season.
We all know we should wear sunscreen. The sun’s rays are made of ultraviolet (UV) light that, over time, causes the skin to prematurely age, leaving wrinkles and dark spots. Too much sun exposure can cause painful burns and, in some cases, can contribute to skin cancer. Sun exposure on unprotected skin is terrible. But which sunscreen is best?
When it comes to sun protection, we trust zinc oxide sunscreens. Known as a ‘physical’ sunscreen, zinc oxide sits on top of the skin to provide a protective barrier against UV rays, stopping them from being absorbed by the skin. In contrast, chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin and turn the sun’s rays into heat that is released from the body.
There are many zinc oxide sunscreens available, but it’s recommended to use options that are water-resistant and boast a rating of 30 SPF or higher. We made a list of our favorite zinc oxide sunscreens, but don’t forget – they only work if you apply them!
1. EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen
For a sunscreen that is safe to be used on the entire body, including the face, try the EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen. Recommended as a top brand by dermatologists and awarded the seal of approval by the Skin Cancer Foundation, EltaMD is free from oil, fragrance and parabens. Users can wear EltaMD in the water for up to 80 minutes before having to reapply. The SPF 50 zinc oxide sunscreen is mineral-based and stored in an airless pump container, which helps to maintain the integrity of its ingredients.
Pros: EltaMD is noncomedogenic and can be used on oily and acne-prone skin without aggravating it.
Cons: EltaMD comes with a big price tag. It can also leave a shiny look on the user’s skin.
2. Sun Bum Unisex Clear Zinc
Protect your skin from the sun’s harsh UV rays with the Sun Bum Unisex Clear Zinc. Sun Bum is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and won’t aggravate skin thanks to its hypoallergenic, oil-free ingredients. Users will like that Sun Bum is reef-friendly and cruelty-free. The dermatologist-approved sunscreen is noncomedogenic and is safe for use on the face. The sunscreen goes on clear and should be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure.
Pros: Sun Bum is safe for both adults and kids to use.
Cons: Sun Bum is packaged in a jar, which some users may find messy when applying. The sunscreen does have a slight vanilla smell, which some users may not enjoy.
3. Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen
Avoid the dreaded greasy sunscreen feeling with the Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen, a titanium dioxide and zinc oxide mineral lotion. Tested by dermatologists and pediatricians, Australian Gold has an eco-conscious approach to making sunscreen that is safe for everyone. The cream is Oxybenzone Free, Paraben Free, Phthalate Free, PABA Free, Petrolatum Free, SLS (Sulfate) Free, Dye Free and Oil Free. The hypoallergenic sunscreen is rich with antioxidants that moisturize your skin, including eucalyptus, Kakadu plum and red algae.
Pros: Australian Gold comes in a 70 SPF, the highest on our list.
Cons: Australian Gold has a slight tint to it that may not match all users’ skin tone and can leave stains on clothing and furniture. Like the Sun Bum, Australian Gold also has a scent (citrus).
4. Zealios Sun Barrier
Keep your skin covered when sweating or swimming using the Zealios Sun Barrier. The paraben-free, oil-free sunscreen has 8% zinc oxide for protection against UVA and UVB rays. Vegan and cruelty-free, Zealios is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it ideal for athletes who don’t want sunscreen dripping into their eyes while outdoors.
Pros: Zealios is unscented and dries clear without leaving any white, chalky residue on the skin.
Cons: The Zealios is SPF 45, which is the lowest protection level on our list. It also has a big price tag and doesn’t come with any additional benefits for the skin, like a moisturizing element.
5. Olivina Men Hydrating Facial Moisturizer
Sunscreen should do more than just block the sun. At least, that’s what the people over at Olivina Men think and we’re inclined to agree. Their version of daily sunscreen packs SPF 15 sun-blocking powers with zinc AND some hydrating moisturizer to make sure your face doesn’t dry out, no matter how much sun exposure you get. The sunscreen is free of just about all that other gross junk you see in goopy sunscreens these days (phthalates, petroleum, propylene , glycol, etc). In other words, much more of the good, much less of the bad and it’ll still protect your mug from harsh rays.
Pros: UV-blocking power plus moisturizer to keep your face feeling fresh.
Cons: Lowest SPF rating on our list.