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- A true sports sunscreen should be designed with the athlete in mind.
- It needs to offer protection against the sun’s harmful rays as well as water and sweat resistance.
- The EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen SPF 50 meets that requirement with a no-drip, water-and-sweat-resistant formula that’s safe for all skin types and can easily be applied on wet or dry skin.
If you’re taking your workout outside, protection from the sun is a must. While workout gear like UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing, sunglasses, and hats can all provide some protection from the sun, your best defense is a good quality sunscreen that’s formulated to withstand even the most intense workouts.
You may think of sunscreen as a seasonally specific essential, but that shouldn’t be the case. While those harmful rays can be especially intense during the summer months, they can still cause damage on cold or cloudy days. Whatever your activity of choice is, you shouldn’t be stepping outdoors without that layer of protection.
To find a good sunscreen that will withstand the rigors of your workout and provide protection there are a few important things to take into consideration:
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating
SPF stands for “sun protection factor” and helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVB (ultraviolet B) rays that burn your skin and lead to premature skin wrinkling and aging. Leaving your skin vulnerable to these UVB rays can also lead to the development of skin cancer. It may be easy to think the chances of that are low, but according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Taking protective measures like applying a sunscreen with the correct SPF for your skin type is a must – and can literally save your life.
To help you decide which SPF is best, consider how sensitive your skin is, and how long it takes you to burn in the sun. If you’re like me and can burn in a matter of minutes, a higher SPF will be best. A quick trick to determine your perfect number is to take the time it would take you to burn without sun protection and multiply that by the SPF. So, if you burn in 10 minutes, but apply a sunscreen of SPF 15, you’ll be protected for up to 150 minutes.
For the best protection, most experts recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. It’s also best to look for one that provides “broad spectrum” protection, which will protect you from both UVB rays and UVA (ultraviolet A) rays – the latter of which can penetrate the skin more deeply and are associated with premature aging.
Water resistance is key for sport sunscreen
Since you’ll be using this sunscreen while working out, it’s safe to say you’ll be breaking a sweat. The last thing you want to do is sweat off all that sun protection, or have it run and cause your eyes to start stinging right in the middle of that intense move or final push as you wrap up your workout. The same applies if you’re planning on going for a swim. You don’t want that protection washing off the moment you hit the water. Water resistance is a must in a good sports sunscreen, otherwise you’ll be wasting your time with applying it in the first place.
Check the ingredients
It’s important to realize that your skin will absorb anything that’s applied to it. Since you’re applying sunscreen directly to your skin, you’ll want to pay attention to what’s in the formula. Sunscreens typically come in two forms: mineral, also known as physical sunscreen, and chemical sunscreen.
Physical sunscreens reflect damaging rays away from the skin, tend to last longer, and cause less irritation. Chemical sunscreens absorb radiation before it reaches the skin, but some can contain potentially harmful ingredients. Chemical sunscreens can also harm aquatic life, according to studies, so if you’re near or in the water, you should check out our guide to the best eco-friendly mineral sunscreens that are reef safe.
We’ve taken all the above into consideration, done the research, and read the reviews to come up with the best sports sunscreens that will keep you protected from the sun even while your busting out a sweat. You’re already doing something good for your body by making the choice to be active – so why not go the extra step to protect your skin while doing so?
Here are the best sports sunscreens you can buy:
- Best sports sunscreen overall: EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen SPF 50
- Best for your face: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen fluid SPF 60
- Best to protect your lips: Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30
- Best natural spray: Coola Organic Sport Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
- Best sports sunscreen stick: Ocean Potion Suncare Dab-On Sport Stick SPF 50
- Check out our full buying guide to the best mineral sunscreen
Updated on 05/08/2019 by Les Shu: Updated links, formatting, and prices.
Keep scrolling to read more details about our top picks.
The best sport sunscreen overall
The EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen SPF 50 has a no-drip, water-resistant formula that’s suitable for all skin types, making it perfect for active people.
It can be difficult to find a sunscreen that doesn’t feel heavy or oily after applying, which can make you feel like you’re sheathed in an additional layer of clothing. If you have especially sensitive skin, oily formulas can also cause irritation, leaving you feeling more miserable than protected.
The EltaMD UV Sport offers a solution to both problems, with an oil-free formula that goes on feeling light, absorbs quickly, and is appropriate for all skin types – even those with especially sensitive or dry skin.
This is a broad-spectrum sunscreen that will provide protection from both harmful UVB and UVA rays, with an SPF of 50 to ensure the highest level of protection from the sun possible. No sunscreen can provide 100% protection from the sun, but when applied properly, the EltaMD UV Sport comes very close.
It’s also water resistant for up to 80 minutes, with a no-drip formula that will keep it from running into your eyes while working out. The fragrance and oil-free formula also makes it suitable for those with sensitive skin. It’s noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t block pores, making it ideal for use on the face as well as the rest of the body.
If you’re concerned about harmful ingredients, the formula is also paraben free, so you won’t find any of the harmful preservatives that are often contained in cosmetic and personal care products lurking about here.
As indicated by the “MD” in the name of the sunscreen, EltaMD is a company that has specialized in skincare products used and recommended by physicians for more than 25 years. EltaMD UV Sport has been specifically designed for those with active lifestyles, and it shows in the way it performs. The Skin Cancer Foundation also recommends it as an effective broad spectrum sunscreen.
While all these facts are promising on their own, the positive customer reviews reveal that this sunscreen lives up to all it promises. It has received 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with reviewers of all skin types praising its effectiveness. Those with dark skin love that it doesn’t leave a white residue behind after application. Those with sensitive skin found that it was one of the only sunscreens they were able to use that didn’t cause any irritation.
As with most high-quality products, you get what you pay for. The EltaMD UV Sport sunscreen is on the more expensive side, but most reviewers found that “a little goes a long way” and the results are worth the price.
One Amazon reviewer said, “The EltaMD was worth the extra cost. It goes on smoothly, no odor, no stickiness, no sunburn. It’s the only sunscreen that doesn’t make my face break out.”
Pros: Oil-free formula goes on lightly and absorbs quickly, paraben free, broad-spectrum protection, water and sweat resistant up to 80 minutes, sensitive skin friendly, fragrance-free
Cons: On the expensive side
The best sport sunscreen for your face
- La Roche Posay
The La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 60 is water-resistant and it has a higher SPF rating to make it strong enough to withstand intense workouts.
Personally, I can’t stand putting anything on my face that makes me feel like I’m wearing a mask. This is especially tricky when it comes to sunscreen, which tends to feel heavier than most lotions and beauty products. However, your face is especially vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays and is the most susceptible to the premature aging that can occur if you aren’t properly applying sunscreen.
With the La-Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, you won’t have to make the decision between feeling like you’re wearing a mask or protecting your face from the sun. It’s a mouthful to say, but the name says it all: This sunscreen will go on feeling light and absorb quickly, making you feel as though you’re wearing nothing at all.
The light formula designed specifically for your face makes it the ideal sunscreen for daily use. It can be worn alone or under make-up, and it absorbs quickly for fast application. However, this face sunscreen goes an additional step further, providing water-resistant protection for up to 80 minutes, also making it ideal for swimming and working out. It won’t run into your eyes or cause any stinging.
The fragrance- and oil-free formula won’t clog pores and is also ideal for those with sensitive skin. The Cell-OX Shield XL Technology it’s formulated with may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but what it really means is that your skin will be protected from free radicals caused by UV rays, and it’s enhanced to deliver broad-spectrum protection. It’s paraben free, though it is a chemical sunscreen with Oxybenzone and Avobenzone in it (two chemicals that are proven to harm aquatic creatures and be potentially bad for humans, too).
Allure Beauty praised the lightweight formula that “feels like primer” and the magazine’s digital editor was impressed by how quickly the formula dries. However, if you intend to use this daily and are prone to drier skin, she recommends mixing it with your favorite moisturizer for the best results.
If you are planning on saving this specifically for the days when you’ll be working out, you can easily put this sunscreen on by itself-no other products needed-so you can be out the door and getting that heart rate up in no time. For the best results, it’s recommended to apply La-Roche Posay Anthelios 15 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every two hours after swimming or sweating.
This sunscreen is on the more expensive side. Reviewers say it may be pricey, but “it’s amazing.” One reviewer said, “It makes my skin velvety soft and works great as a makeup primer. As someone who wears sunscreen every single day, I can’t recommend this enough. A little goes a long way and justifies the higher price.”
This face sunscreen isn’t just for women, either. Men have also used it and love the results. “I’m an Irishman. In other words, of the fairer skin type. I didn’t have the slightest redness after being in the sun in the Bahamas. Spend the money, save your skin,” said one user.
Pros: Super-lightweight and fast-drying formula, SPF 60 with broad-spectrum protection, water resistant for up to 80 minutes, can be used daily, oil-free and unscented formula makes it suitable for sensitive skin
Cons: Some may not find it hydrating enough for daily use, on the expensive side
The best sport sunscreen to protect your lips
The Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30 will prevent your lips from getting sunburned or chapped, and the water-resistant formula will prevent it from rubbing off.
When applying sunscreen, it can be easy to forget the areas that need it most – like your lips. You may wonder if it’s even worth applying sunscreen here, but your lips are just as vulnerable to the sun as every other part of your face.
The Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment sunscreen provides the protection you need and is formulated without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. Since we ultimately end up ingesting any lip balm, lipstick, or lip gloss that’s applied to our lips (gross but true) a formula with non-toxic, natural ingredients is a must.
This formula is also safe to apply to the area around your eyes or on the rest of your face thanks to the easy to use application stick. In addition to providing protection from UV rays with an SPF rating of 30, the Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen also contains hydrating avocado oil and black currant seed oil to naturally moisturize and soften your lips.
It’s also specifically designed for active lifestyles, with a water-resistant formula that will keep you protected throughout your workout. There’s no need to worry about licking it off, or having it rub off when you go to take a swig of water to stay hydrated during your chosen activity.
For best results, it’s advised to reapply every two hours, or as needed. This is another sunscreen that you can work into your daily routine, or choose to use only when working out – making it more versatile than some. It goes on clear so it can be applied on its own or under makeup.
It does have a light citrus scent, which may not be for everyone, but most reviewers found it refreshing and like the fact that it doesn’t have a “sunscreen” smell to it.
The Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment sunscreen has received a 4.1 out of 5-star rating on Sephora. Reviewers love that “it stays on well even when sweating” and that it “leaves behind no chalky residue like other sunscreen sticks.”
Pros: SPF 30 protection, water-resistant formula, easy application, travel sized container, goes on clear, suitable for daily wear, natural ingredients
Cons: The citrus scent may not be for everyone, not considered a broad-spectrum sunscreen
The best natural sport sunscreen spray for even coverage
The Coola Organic Sport Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 provides fast, even coverage thanks to the spray formula, but it also features ingredients you can feel good about.
Spray sunscreen is convenient to use and goes on quickly. However, the trouble with most spray formulas is they aren’t great for the environment, and often contain potentially harmful chemicals like oxybenzone that shouldn’t be going anywhere near your skin.
If you don’t want to give up the convenience of a spray formula, there is a solution: The Coola Organic Sunscreen Spray contains over 70% organic ingredients, is oxybenzone free, and is naturally scented so you can feel good about putting this sunscreen on your skin. An unscented formula option is also available if you prefer not to smell like a tropical paradise.
This sunscreen isn’t just organic, it’s also designed for active lifestyles with a water- and sweat-resistant formula that will stay in place and won’t run into your eyes. The bottle is designed to keep spraying even when held upside down to help you get to those hard to reach places like your back and shoulders.
It goes on clear and absorbs quickly as well, so you can spray and then be on your way. For best results, it’s advised to spray liberally onto your skin 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating.
The SPF 50 broad-spectrum formula is rich in antioxidants, so you’ll be keeping your skin healthy while keeping it protected from harmful UVA and UVB rays. The formula doesn’t contain oxybenzone, which not only has the scary potential to disrupt hormones, but studies have shown this is one of many chemicals that is potentially harming coral reefs. It does have Avobenzone in it, though, which is also a bit questionable.
One Amazon reviewer said, “This is my favorite sunscreen! Works great, no sunburn, and smells great. Also, love that there are no harmful chemicals.” Another Amazon reviewer also appreciated that this is “among the safest choices for sunscreen,” saying, “I am outdoors daily and purchased this product because it is one of the safer sunscreens according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).”
Pros: SPF 50 formula provides broad-spectrum protection, made with organic ingredients, easy application, water- and sweat-resistant, goes on clear and absorbs quickly
The best sport sunscreen stick for on-the-go protection
- Ocean Potion
The Ocean Potion Suncare Dab-On Sport Stick SPF 50 provides powerful on the go protection, and the dab-on stick formula makes it ideal for covering small, hard to cover areas.
Some of the worse sunburns I’ve ever gotten have been on those hard to cover and easy to forget areas like my ears and the exposed area of my scalp where I part my hair. The scalp sunburns are especially annoying as they heal – all that peeling during the healing process makes for a horrible hair day.
Stick sunscreens like the Ocean Potion Suncare Dab-On Sport Stick provide an easy way to apply sunscreen to these areas. The bingo marker-style applicator allows for even, fool-proof coverage and is also perfect for covering tattoos to keep them from fading in the sun.
The oil-free formula is ideal for the scalp and face area as it goes on clear and won’t leave any residue behind. It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, so you won’t have to worry about your sun protection wearing off as you sweat, and the SPF 50 broad-spectrum formula provides powerful protection to ward off any sunburns.
This is another sunscreen you can feel good about using, too – It’s oxybenzone free and is formulated without parabens. It stays true to its “ocean potion” name featuring a concoction of sea plants and antioxidants to nourish your skin while protecting it. In addition, it’s another sunscreen recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation to help prevent skin cancer. It does have Avobenzone in it, though, which is also a bit questionable.
The portable size of the container makes it the perfect sunscreen to take on the go. If you’re a runner or cyclist, it could easily fit into a storage pocket or belt, so you’ll be able to reapply no matter where you are. For best results, you’ll want to apply 15 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating.
Some reviewers found that it does have a rubbing alcohol scent to it at first, but this didn’t deter them from using and loving the product. Most enjoyed how easy it is to apply, that it doesn’t leave any greasy or sticky residue behind making it perfect for scalp application and that it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin.
While this isn’t a full-body sunscreen, it’s perfect for protecting those small areas like your part that are hard to cover, and provides great spot coverage for tattoos which can easily be damaged by the sun.
Pros: Easy to apply, convenient travel size, SPF 50 broad-spectrum formula provides protection from UVA and UVB rays, goes on clear, won’t irritate sensitive skin, natural ingredients, non-greasy and won’t leave any residue behind
Cons: Doesn’t provide full-body coverage
Check out our buying guides to the best sunscreen you can buy
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Daily use of a good sunscreen like the Coppertone Ultraguard SPF 70 or the Goddess Garden Organics’ Everyday SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen will fend off sunburns today, and help prevent the skin damage that leads to aged, wrinkled, blotchy skin later on in life.
Here are our top picks for the best sunscreen you can buy:
- Best sunscreen overall: Coppertone Ultraguard SPF 70
- Best mineral-based sunscreen overall: Goddess Garden Organics Everyday SPF 30 Natural
- Best spray-on sunscreen: Bare Republic Mineral Spray Vanilla-Coco SPF 50
- Best facial sunscreen: Neutrogena Pure & Free Sunscreen SPF 50
- Best cheap facial sunscreen: Simple Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15
- Best sunscreen for kids: Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50
Mineral sunscreens are highly effective, and far less toxic to small aquatic creatures that can metabolize chemical-based sunscreens, but they usually leave a streaky white mess. We tested dozens of sunscreens to find the best ones that actually work, are eco-friendly, and blend into skin.
Here are our top picks for the best mineral sunscreen you can buy:
- Best mineral sunscreen overall: Thinksport’s SPF 50+ Sunscreen
- Best daily option: Goddess Garden Organics Everyday SPF 30
- Best spray-on sunscreen: Bare Republic Mineral Spray Vanilla-Coco SPF 50
- Best for the face: Raw Elements’ Tinted Facial or Face & Body
- Best for the water: Manda’s SPF 50 Organic Sun Paste with Thanaka
Sunscreen moisturizers blend in more easily with less pilling and white cast than plain sunscreens. Plus, they combine two skin-care steps into one, so you’re simply piling less gunk onto your skin, leaving behind less grease.
Here are our top picks for the best sunscreen moisturizers you can buy:
- Best sunscreen moisturizer overall: Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30
- Best sunscreen moisturizer under $15: CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
- Best sunscreen moisturizer for oily skin: Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with Sunscreen
- Best mineral sunscreen moisturizer: Biossance Squalane Mineral SPF 45
- Best tinted sunscreen moisturizer: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30