Dermatologists Share The Sunscreens You’ll Actually Want To Reapply All Year

By | January 27, 2022

This article was medically reviewed by Mona Gohara, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and member of the Prevention Medical Review Board.

No matter the forecast, sunscreen is the one step you should never skip before heading outdoors for the day. Applying sunscreen (and reapplying sunscreen!) protects your skin from the sun’s powerful UV rays, minimizing your risk of painful sunburns, skin cancer, and premature signs of aging, such as dark spots and wrinkles.

But when shopping for the best sunscreen, there’s a lot to choose from. Do you go for chemical or physical sunscreens? Lotions or sprays? That’s why Prevention consulted top dermatologists to recommend the best sunscreens of 2022. Whether you’re looking for the best natural sunscreen, the best sunscreen for babies and kids, tinted sunscreens, or the perfect SPF just for your face, there’s an option for you.

Important reminder: Sunscreen can expire, which makes it less effective. Even if last year’s bottle hasn’t hit its expiration date, that date is only valid if the product is stored in a cool, dry place, says board-certified dermatologist Lauren Ploch, M.D., fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). So, be prepared to pick up a fresh bottle for the warmer months ahead.How to choose (and use) the best sunscreen for your skin

Look for broad spectrum on the label: This ensures your SPF protects against both harmful UVA and UVB rays. (UVA rays prematurely age skin and UVB rays burn; both can cause skin cancer.) Our experts recommend choosing SPF 30 or higher.

Go for water-resistant options: Even if you won’t be jumping in for a swim, a water-resistant sunscreen will stay on longer while you’re sweating. If you are doing extensive outdoor activity, choose an SPF of 50 or higher to ensure you stay protected, recommends Henry W. Lim, M.D., immediate past president of the AAD.

When in doubt, choose lotions: They’re easy to apply generously and evenly—which is key in order for them to work effectively. If you use a stick sunscreen, it requires at least four swipes on each area of your skin to get the job done. On the other hand, many “sprays are inconsistent” Dr. Ploch says. If you opt for a spray, be sure to apply an even coat and rub in well.

Formula matters: Physical or mineral sunscreens (made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) sit on top of the skin and deflect UV rays, while chemical sunscreens (made with ingredients like oxybenzone or avobenzone) work by absorbing them. If your skin is sensitive or acne-prone, mineral sunscreens are typically your best bet, says Ramsey Markus, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Westside Dermatology. Plus, they’re a great option if you prefer a more “natural” product (they’re reef-safe!). “All that said, there is no denying that the chemical sunscreens are more transparent, which sometimes trumps everything. It’s really a personal choice more than anything,” he says.

Rub it in well: “Apply the amount of sunscreen you can rub in first,” says Heidi Waldorf, M.D., founder of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics. “Let it sink in, then apply a second time. That’s the easiest way to get the full recommended amount of sunscreen to ensure you get the protection on the label.” Ideally, you want to apply a shot glass-sized amount to your whole body and you should always reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.

We did the work for you and rounded up the best sunscreens, all recommended by board-certified dermatologists.

Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen With SPF 60

This oil-free and noncomedogenic sunscreen from Aveeno earns a stamp of approval from Meghan Feely, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey and New York City who serves as a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai. The super-hydrating lotion keeps skin smooth and soft without feeling heavy. “This sunscreen is enriched with colloidal oatmeal to help hydrate and protect the skin barrier. It can be used by anyone, including people who have dry skin or eczema,” adds Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive SPF 30+

This mineral sunscreen from Blue Lizard is super gentle, since it’s free of potentially irritating chemicals, parabens, and fragrances. “My patients with the most sensitive skin are able to tolerate this,” Dr. Ploch says. “Plus, the bottle turns blue when there is UV exposure, so it’s a great reminder to reapply.” Water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, it soaks in quickly and doesn’t have a strong sunscreen smell.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 100+

“I tell patients to choose a product with the highest SPF possible,” says Dr. Zeichner. “In the real world, we do not apply as much sunscreen as we should. Starting out with a higher SPF acts as an insurance policy to give the highest level of protection for the longest period of time.” This non-greasy, fast-absorbing option from Neutrogena will get the job done during those long beach days.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60

“This is one of my favorite broad spectrum, cosmetically elegant sunscreens for face and body,” says Shari Marchbein, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Downtown Dermatology in New York City. The best part? It’s seriously fast-absorbing, so it’s easy to apply all over the body without the greasy feeling. 

Cerave Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

“This oil-free, paraben-free, noncomedogenic sunscreen contains the anti-inflammatory antioxidant niacinamide, as well as ceramides, which help the skin to retain moisture,” says Dr. Feely. CeraVe’s gentle mineral formula is a great go-to option for both your body and face, as it doesn’t feel heavy and provides top-notch broad spectrum protection.

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen SPF 46

Recommended by several dermatologists we spoke to, this fragrance- and paraben-free lotion feels lightweight on the skin and won’t clog pores, making it a top choice for anyone with acne-prone skin, says board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Joel Schlessinger, M.D., president of LovelySkin.com. What’s more, it’s formulated with hyaluronic acid (a humectant that pulls water to the skin) for an extra dose of hydration. “Ninety-nine percent of patients I recommend it to say it’s the best sunscreen they have ever used,” adds Dr. Markus.  

Vanicream Lip Protectant and Sunscreen SPF 30

Applying a lip balm with SPF is crucial year-round, since your lips have very thin skin with little melanin, making them more susceptible to sun damage. This fragrance-free, mineral lip sunscreen is even gentle enough for people with eczema, says Julia Tzu, M.D., founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology. It’s dermatologist-tested, noncomedogenic, and free of chemicals, flavoring, dyes, and parabens. Water-resistant for 80 minutes, it can be used on both your body and face.

Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick

It’s hard to find a stick sunscreen that rubs in clear, but this one earns a stamp of approval from board-certified dermatologist Heather Woolery-Lloyd, M.D., director of ethnic skin care for the University of Miami Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery. The silky, lightweight formula has a matte finish, and the packaging is perfect for on-the-go use. (Remember: Give it a few swipes on each area of application.)

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

If you have a darker skin tone, finding a sunscreen that doesn’t leave white streaks behind can be a struggle—but this lightweight Supergoop! formula has you covered. Not only does it apply completely sheer, but it’s also fragrance- and oil-free. “This merk is cosmetically elegant, easy to layer, and great on oily, combination, or dry skin,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine and member of Prevention’s Medical Review Board.

MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen

This broad spectrum mineral sunscreen contains antioxidants (such as vitamin C and green tea) to provide an extra dose of protection against skin-damaging free radicals. The oil- and fragrance- free lotion also works wonders on dry skin, thanks to a pro blend of moisturizing humectants (which attract water to the skin) and ceramides (natural fats that help form the skin barrier and retain moisture). Noncomedogenic, ultra-gentle, and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, it’s also a safe sunscreen for kids.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 30

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