We all have that one summer night, where we can’t sleep because of unexplained skin rashes and an excruciating burning sensation. Going back to the early morning, we realize we forgot to put on our sea and ski sunscreen, or we simply didn’t care. Does it sound familiar?
As much as our body needs sunlight, too much exposure can lead to various skin diseases, including skin cancer. Whether you’re spending a relaxed day by the beach or going on an adventurous hike, sunscreen is just as essential as water and food. Yet, choosing the best sunscreen that provides maximum protection and comfort remains a challenge. In this article, we are giving you tips on how to choose the best sunscreen, as well as our top 13 picks for the best sunscreen products.
How To Choose The Best Sea and Ski Sunscreen
Sunscreen helps protect what hiking hats can’t. Before we talk about the best sunscreens, we want to briefly mention some key factors you need to consider when choosing your sunscreen. Whether it’s for kids, for hiking, or special protection for face, there are some common denominators that determine the quality of every sunscreen.
The SPF number is the first thing that meets the eye when we look at the packaging of sunscreen, but what does it actually mean? Standing for sun protection factor, SPF determines the capacity of the sunscreen to filter UVB rays. Obviously, the higher the SPF, the better. While many sunscreens filter more than 90% of UVB rays, you should opt for SPF30 or SPF50, with filtering capacities of 97% and 98%, respectively. If you are genetically prone to skin cancer, play it safe, and pick SPF50 or higher.
Just because your sunscreen has a high SPF doesn’t mean it shields you from skin cancer altogether. Besides UVB, which causes burns and skin cancer, the sun also emits UVA rays that cause premature aging as well as skin cancer. Sadly, not all sunscreens can protect against both types of rays, so you should always look for a broad spectrum label on the product you choose.
If you see a trail of oily surface in a swimming pool, there must be at least one person in the pool, whose sunscreen isn’t water-resistant. If your sunscreen is not water-resistant, it will wash off quickly when you’re swimming or sweating. A decent sunscreen should last for at least an hour on wet skin. Don’t worry; many water-resistant products will indicate the duration.
Sunscreen vs Skin Type
Just like the way we choose a different shampoo depending on our hair type, we should also choose the sunscreen that fits our skin type. Each sunscreen is suitable for a different skin type depending on its formulation. Without getting into the MIT-level chemistry details, here are some simple tips for you to choose the right product based on your skin:
- If you have dry skin, you should always choose a sunscreen that contains a moisturizing agent, such as ceramides or hyaluronic acid.
- For oily skins with acne issues, your sunscreen should have the non-comedogenic label so that it doesn’t block your pores.
- If your skin is sensitive, you should find a physical sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These products form a strong barrier on top of the skin without irritating it. A side benefit is that they don’t burn or sting your eyes.
- Another successful type of sunscreen, often called chemical, contains avobenzone and oxybenzone. As opposed to physical sunscreen that reflects the UV rays, they absorb them to prevent penetration into the skin. While they can irritate sensitive skin, they are much easier to apply. In other words, you don’t have to deal with the white residues that will make you look like a clown.
We know; it looks like a lot of information to process! Worry not; all you have to do is decide what’s best for your skin, and look at the content of the sunscreen.
Type of Application
Sunscreens can come in various sorts like spray, gel, cream, or lotion. While any of them will do the trick, we summarized the advantages of each form.
- Lotions are by far the most user-friendly options. They are thinner and less greasy, which makes it easier to apply it evenly.
- Creams are more viscous and can take more time for the skin to absorb, but they are better moisturizers.
- Sprays offer fast and easy application, but they leave you with the risk of inhalation.
- Hairy people, we feel you! If you don’t want clumps of cream sticking to your chest or legs, you should opt for gels.
SEA AND SKI SUNSCREEN Beyond UV
Sea and Skin Sunscreen is the rising star of America’s cosmetic industry, and a pioneer in eco-conscious sunscreen products. Beyond UV Sunscreen is one of their superior products with an SPF70 that almost guarantees to eliminate UVB lights. There’s more; the broad spectrum also ensures protection against UVA rays, and consequently, premature aging. As with every other Sea and Ski Sunscreen products, water resistance is outstanding for 80 minutes after application.
What We Love
When you look at the list of Sea and Ski Sunscreen ingredients, you’ll never see oxybenzone, which means it’s perfectly safe for the marine life even when it washes out.
- SPF70, Broad Spectrum
- Water-resistant formula
- The scent can be overwhelming after facial application
EltaMD UV Daily Facial Sunscreen
Our face is the part that is perhaps the most vulnerable to UV rays, yet we hate rubbing sunscreen on our faces the most! If you hate the discomfort on your face after applying sunscreen, EltaMD’s Facial Sunscreen is the ultimate option for you. Not only can it combat against UVB and UVA rays with its broad-spectrum, but it also alleviates the effects of free radicals from IR radiation. Besides, it also moisturizes the skin and prevents wrinkles. For such a multifunctional sunscreen, it is so lightweight that you barely feel its presence on your face.
What We Love
In terms of sunlight-protection, EltaMD UV Daily Facial Sunscreen is one of the best chemical sunscreen products. It offers superb protection against UV and IR rays while keeping your skin soft and moist. Its light formula allows a smooth glide and fast absorption. Quite frankly, EltaMD has the whole package.
- SPF46, Broad Spectrum
- The moisturizing effect due to hyaluronic acid
- Transparent and easily absorbed due to zinc oxide
- It contains octinoxate, which is considered harmful to marine life.
Aveeno Protect + Hydrate
With increasing controversy around the side effects of chemical sunscreens, even Sea and Ski Sunscreen, manufacturers are seeking new formulations that are friendly for even the most sensitive skin. Aveeno’s Protect+Hydrate SPF70 Sunscreen stands out for its unique combination of natural ingredients. The colloidal oatmeal, in particular, helps to maintain the skin’s moisture level by forming a barrier that prevents the escape of too much water. Because it is non-comedogenic and oil-free, it always leaves the air for your pores to breathe. This natural formula is just as effective as its chemical counterparts, as it provides broad-spectrum protection and water resistance up to 80 minutes.
What We Love
Aveeno is more than just a sunscreen; it does the job of multiple skincare products. With its protective and nourishing qualities, Aveeno is one of the favorites among dermatologists.
- Very high SPF factor, broad-spectrum
- Water and sweat-resistant up to 80 minutes
- Moisturizing effects
- Helps the skin pores to breathe
- Its sticky and powdery texture can leave you looking like a corpse, but you can save up on your next Halloween make-up.
CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen
Protecting the face is essential, but there aren’t many sunscreen products that can work equally well on both your face and your body. CeraVe’s Mineral Sunscreen has a lightweight formula that is suitable for all parts of the body! Containing three essential ceramides, it helps to restore the natural protective barrier of the skin and traps in the natural moisture. Being free of chemicals like paraben, oxybenzone, and oil, it’s suitable for all types of skin without exception. If you’re afraid of allergies from sunscreen, this is the product for you!
What We Love
Its formulation is rich in minerals that reflect UVA and UVB rays while retaining your skin moisture. The absence of chemicals makes it safe for even the most sensitive skin type.
- Superb moisturizing effect with three ceramides
- Perfect for the sensitive skin
- Broad Spectrum, SPF 50, reflects UVA/UVB rays.
- Allergy tested
- It leaves a white cast, so it’s another substitute for your next Halloween make-up kit.
EltaMD UV Aero Broad-Spectrum SPF45
Let’s face it; we all feel embarrassed when walking around like a member of Adam’s Family after putting on sunscreen. While EltMD’s spray product UV Aero comes out as white, it quickly turns transparent when dried. This broad-spectrum product reflects the UV rays with transparent zinc oxide in its formula. Also containing vitamin E, it fights against free radicals and premature aging. As a cherry on top, it has water and sweat-resistant quality that lasts for 80 minutes.
What We Love
It becomes transparent when dry, so you won’t have to worry about looking pale. Besides, it’s super-effective against skin cancer and aging, not to mention its water-resistant quality.
- Transparent, easy to apply
- Broad Spectrum, SPF45
- Contains Vitamin E, effective against aging
- Can irritate eyes when sprayed from a short distance
La Roche-Posay Anthelios
La Roche-Posay is known for its eco-conscious skincare products, and their sunscreens are no exception. The formulation of Anthelios SPF60 is free of octinoxate, which is the number-one enemy of coral reefs. Its Cell-Ox Shield Technology has everything you can expect from the best sunscreen: non-comedogenic, water-resistant, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, antioxidants that reflect free radicals. Approved by dermatologists, it’s considered suitable for all types of skin without any risk of allergy. This makes it a great alternative to Sea and Ski Sunscreen.
What We Love
It has all the required features of a decent sunscreen, as well as being eco-friendly. It also comes in many forms- spray, lotion, gel; you name it.
- Broad Spectrum Protection with SPF60
- Fast-absorbing, non-greasy
- Water-resistant for 80 minutes
- The allergy-tested formula, suitable for sensitive skin
- It can sting a lot in case of eye contact.
- It’s not sweat resistant, can form residues on your skin when you sweat.
Vanicream Lip Protectant SPF30
Having dry and cracked lips is a painful experience both for us and the ones we kiss. Lipgloss can help to keep them moist, but our lips still need intensive treatment for sun exposure. Vanicream’s Lip Protectant sunscreen is ideal for you if your lips are sensitive to sunlight and extreme weather. The combination of zinc oxide and titanium oxide in its formula creates a barrier impermeable to UVA/UVB rays, while the dimethicone content regulates the moisture. Because it is free of chemical irritants and preservatives, you don’t have to worry about accidentally swallowing it. Don’t let the word lip protectant fool you, as it works perfectly for the rest of your face.
What We Love
Despite being free of chemical additives, it successfully protects the face, especially the lips, not only from UV rays but also from wind, extreme cold, or heat.
- Reflects both types of UV rays
- Free of chemical irritants
- Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
- It keeps the lips moist and prevents cracks and bleeding.
- It dispenses as white and takes long to dissipate.
- Can leave stickiness on the lips
Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF40
By now, you must have figured that finding a non-greasy and white-cast-free sunscreen is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen tackles this issue without compromising the skin-friendly natural formula. This oil-free product stands out for its key ingredients, which have benefits that a lot of products can’t offer. The red algae content, for instance, protects not only against UV rays but also the blue light emitted by your electronics. The hydration effect comes from the combination of meadowfoam and frankincense. Overall, Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen is a lifesaver for all skin types, especially the darker ones that suffer from white casts.
What We Love
It’s unique for being effective against the blue light from electronics, which is just as harmful to the skin as the UV rays.
- Blue light protection
- SPF 40, broad spectrum
- Effective hydration
- Not suitable for skin prone to acne and breakouts
Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 50
Efficient broad-spectrum protection in sunscreens requires advanced technology. The key player of Neutrogena’s Healthy Defense is its Helioplex technology, which shields not only the surface but also the five layers beneath from UVA rays. Implementing less is more as its mantra, Healthy Defense comes with an unbelievably light formula that soothes and hydrates the skin without the risk of allergies or acne.
What We Love
Healthy Defense is one of the best chemical sunscreens against aging, as well as one of the best-absorbed by all skin layers.
- Helioplex technology is super-effective against aging.
- Regulates facial moisture
- Does not leave a white trace
- Contains 6% oxybenzone
ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Zinc Oxide
Most of the products on our list of best sunscreens, including Sea and Ski Sunscreen, are for preventative care, but what about the damage previously done? ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica comes into the play with its ground-breaking formula containing photolyase. Photolyase enzymes are known as DNA repairsomes that repair the DNA damaged by the sun. This novel feature gets accompanied by a 100% mineral formula, which contains Zinc oxide for the ultimate broad-spectrum protection, and vitamin E for boosting the natural protective barrier of the skin.
What We Love
Unlike many successful sunscreen products, ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Zinc Oxide tends to the existing sun damage. It’s fast-absorbing, water-resistant, ideal as a makeup base, and leaves no white trace. Need we say more?
- DNA repair by the photolyase content
- 100% mineral formula to reflect UV rays
- Free of white cast
- The coconut scent can be overpowering for some people.
- Not the most water-resistant product on the list (only for 40 minutes)
Banana Boat Ultra Sport
For outdoor enthusiasts and occasions like the sea and ski, sunscreen usually means oily skin and burning eyes. Banana Boat’s Ultra Sport Sunscreen is the solution to all these problems. Its lightweight formula provides endurance not only against water but also against sweat, mud, and sand. Without washing off, it will shield your skin from UVA/UVB rays while adjusting its moisture according to the weather changes.
What We Love
It has superb endurance in seven conditions: sun, ocean water, pool water, wind, sweat, sand, and extreme heat. We also love the curvy grip of the bottle, which makes it easy to dispense the cream even with sweaty and oily hands.
- SPF50, broad-spectrum
- Water-resistant and sweat-resistant
- Lightweight, ideal for outdoor sports
- It can get slimy on wet skin.
YourGoodSkin SPF 30
Many of the best facial sunscreens can be problematic when they interfere with your makeup material, which ends up clogging your pores. YourGoodSkin’s SPF30 option is almost immiscible with your makeup, as your skin absorbs it in the blink of an eye. This lotion is amongst the best moisturizers on our list, as it nourishes the face with the high antioxidant and vitamin C content. The final touch of green tea leaves a scent that is more relaxing than overwhelming.
What We Love
YourGoodSkin helps to combat not only sunburns but also various skin diseases by boosting the natural defense mechanism of the skin.
- Broad Spectrum
- Excellent moisturizing quality
- Easily absorbed
- Contains vitamin C and antioxidants
- Not water-resistant
MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense
When it comes to environmental consciousness, nothing can beat MDSolarSciences since they never rely on animals for testing their products. Their products are also free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, both of which are harmful to coral reefs. Despite the absence of these chemicals, Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 proves that a sunscreen can be just as effective without any harm to nature. Thanks to its zinc oxide and titanium oxide content, it forms a barrier that reflects both UV rays. Instead of preservatives, it contains a variety of antioxidants, including extracts of green tea, pomegranate, and cranberry.
What We Love
We always admire an eco-friendly sunscreen, and Mineral Moisture Defense is at the top of its game. Your skin will also be in safe hands, as its formula caters to all skin types without any risk of acne, allergies, or skin rash. Dermatologists often rate it is as one of the best mineral sunscreens in the market.
- SPF 50, broad spectrum
- Free of harmful chemicals
- Contains a variety of antioxidants
- Water Resistant up to 80 minutes
- Doesn’t leave a white cast
- The contents separate in hot weather, so you will need to give it a shake every time you use it.
Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Mineral Lotion
The biggest downside of mineral sunscreens is how expensive they are, compared to their chemical counterparts. Australian Gold’s Botanical Sunscreen defies this generalization, as it is half the price of the best mineral sunscreens in the market. Don’t let the low price fool you; it is still a fierce competitor with its broad-spectrum protection and 80 minutes-long water resistance. As its name suggests, it is incredibly rich in a variety of indigenous Australian botanical extracts, such as eucalyptus, Kakadu plum, and red algae.
What We Love
Botanical Sunscreen Mineral Lotion has the whole package: excellent protection from UVA/UVB rays, water-resistance, a touch of therapeutic Australian herbs, no harmful chemicals, no animal testing, AND it is much cheaper than other mineral sunscreens. It is the best value-for-money product on our list.
- SPF50, broad spectrum
- Water-resistance (80 minutes)
- Powder-like, non-greasy finish
- Rich in indigenous Australian antioxidants
- Some customers complained that it stained their towels.
- Another complaint was – yet again – about the issue of white cast that left the skin too glowy.