Best sunscreen recommended by skin experts

ByNishka Dhawan WABC logo
Thursday, June 13, 2024
Here are the best sunscreens recommended by experts.

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If you're heading out anywhere this summer, you want to make sure you're not leaving your home without applying sunscreen. Sunscreen can protect you from UV rays and prevent you from getting sunburnt. Below, find the best sunscreen to shop for right now and expert commentary on how to shop one.

Best sunscreen buying guide

Ingredients: Check the back of the bottle for active sunscreen ingredients - those are the ones that will provide sun protection, says Dr. Laura Scott, M.D. F.A.A.D. "Look for ingredients like zinc oxide (for mineral sunscreens), and ingredients like avobenzone and homosalate that are chemical sunscreen protectors," she says. "Other great ingredients to look for are antioxidants, Vitamin E and C."

Broad spectrum: Only pick out broad-spectrum sunscreen, according to the CEO of the Melanoma National Alliance, Dr. Marc Hurlbert. "Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect you from UVA rays that age your skin and cause wrinkles and UVB rays which actually burn your skin."

SPF: SPF measures how much sun protection your sunscreen gets you. " As the SPF increases, your relative protection from sunburn increases too," says Dr. Hurlbert. "The higher the SPF, the more protection it offers up to about SPF 50," he adds. "After this point, higher SPF ratings will cost more while only providing a slight additional benefit." Both Dr. Scott and DR. Hulbert say you need at least SPF 30 for good sun protection.

Water-resistant: Most sunscreens are now water resisant. "With water-resistant sunscreens, you'll still need to pay special attention when swimming or sweating to make sure that you reapply sunscreen as directed, but you won't need to worry as often," says Dr. Hurlbert.

Best sunscreens

5% off

Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

  • $16.53
  • $17.49

    This option comes directly recommended by Dr. Scott, as it offers strong SPF protection while also feeling extremely lightweight on your skin. It's zinc-based and the brand says to apply it at least 15 minutes before sun exposure for the best coverage.

    SPF: 50 Size: 3 ounces

    22% off

    CeraVe Hydrating Sheer Sunscreen

    • $13.97
    • $17.99

      CeraVe is recommended by Dr. Hurlbert specifically for sensitive skin. It's fragrance-free and even works well for acne-prone skin. Plus, it's designed to maintain the skin's barrier, according to the brand.

      SPF: 30 Size: 3 ounces


      Bu SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray

      • $24

        Another recommendation by Dr. Hurlbert, this SPF 50 sunscreen can be sprayed directly onto your body - just make sure you cover every inch of your body when you're using a spray sunscreen. It's water and sweat-resistant, and comes with a recyclable bottle and spray, making this one of the most eco-friendly options on our list.

        SPF: 50 Size: 3.3 ounces

        11% off

        Sun Bum Kids SPF 50 Clear Sunscreen Spray

        • $16.40
        • $18.49

          For kids, choose this spray sunscreen which can be sprayed on them whether their skin is dry or wet. "If applied to wet skin, just make sure to let the sunscreen absorb completely (about 15 min) before heading back out into the water/sun, says Dr. Scott. It has a fun, banana/bubble gum scent, making this the only scented option on our list. While it's advertised for kids, adults can use it too.

          SPF: 50 Size: 6 ounces


          La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light Face Sunscreen

          • $36.99

            This is another great pick for sensitive skin and is designed to be used just on your face. It's also zinc oxide based and is an oil-free sunscreen so it won't leave your skin feeling greasy. It's also water resistant up to 40 minutes, according to the brand. That said, if you tend to sweat more, reapply as needed.

            SPF: 50 Size: 1.7 ounces


            Supergoop! PLAY Everyday Lotion

            • $38

              This one is a personal favorite and I love the weightless feel of this sunscreen on my skin. I apply it diligently on my shoulders and back, where I tend to burn more easily, and I have noticed that it does a great job of preventing my skin from turning red. I'm still able to tan since it's water and sweat-resistant and I don't have to reapply it that often.

              SPF: 50 Size: 18 ounces

              Common questions

              What is physical vs. chemical sunscreen?

              "Physical (also called mineral) sunscreens are sunscreens that get their protection from crushed minerals (either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) that traditionally were thought to provide a "physical" barrier on top of the skin and reflect UV rays," says Dr. Scott. "Chemical (also called organic, based on their carbon-based compounds) sunscreens work by converting UV rays to heat that gets released, which protects the skin from UV rays. " Both work well, it's a matter of personal preference as to which one you end up choosing.

              How often should you reapply sunscreen?

              "The higher the SPF, the longer the protection," says Dr. Hurlbert. But the Melanoma Research Alliance also adds that a good rule of thumb is reapplying sunscreen every two hours. "You should use about one ounce when applying it to your body - for reference that's about the size of a shot glass," says Dr. Hurlbert. "Then, you should re-apply every two hours or after you get out of the water which can wash it off your skin sooner."

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