The 17 Best Sunscreens of 2021

Stay protected with these picks

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Sunscreen is a must-have in any skincare routine. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is—if you’re going outside, you need to put sunscreen on. And according to the CDC, that rule still applies even if it’s cloudy out or you’re standing in the shade. 

Slathering on some sunscreen before going anywhere may seem a little tedious. But since sunscreen can help you cut down on damaging exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, you’ll thank yourself later. Plus, there are so many options on offer that you can easily find a sunscreen that suits you perfectly—no matter your skin type or skin tone. 

Try out a few, and stock up on your favorites. When you’re buying a product designed to keep you safe and healthy, you might as well shop with abandon.

Here is the best sunscreen on the market.

Our Top Picks
Lightweight, fragrance-free, and fit for wearing anywhere, it promises to keep your skin hydrated without clogging your pores.
The budget-friendly pick promises a weightless feel and a shine-free finish, as well as 80 minutes of water resistance.
The sunscreen can be used like a makeup primer and promises not to leave behind any pesky white residue.
Best for Sensitive Skin:
CeraVe Hydrating Body Sunscreen at CVS
Ideal for those with sensitive skin, it contains three essential ceramides to strengthen and maintain your skin barrier.
Made by women of color for people of color, it's packed with avocado, sunflower, and jojoba oil, making it double as a lotion.
Ingredients like glycerin and propylene glycol hydrate the skin while beeswax works to lock in moisture.
It's loaded with lightweight, oil-free moisturizers that strike the right balance between hydration and oil control.
Perfect for those suffering from acne, the lactic acid acts as an exfoliant, clearing the pores and cutting down on excess oil.
The reef-friendly, eco-conscious choice is safe to wear into the ocean and promises to be lightweight and fast-absorbing.
Usable as a tinted moisturizer and an everyday sunscreen, it moisturizes your skin without clogging your pores.

Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Cooling Water-Lotion Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Cooling Water Lotion Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Sunscreen is lightweight, fragrance-free, and fit for wearing anywhere. And since it delivers broad-spectrum SPF 60 protection, it’s a solidly strong pick. The chemical sunscreen draws on classic ingredients—like avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone—to provide sun protection that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. And since the sunscreen is also loaded with lightweight moisturizers, it promises to keep your skin feeling hydrated—without clogging your pores. 

La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Sunscreen is also available as a physical sunscreen, which draws on zinc oxide and titanium oxide—rather than chemicals—to offer broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection.

What Experts Say

Most sunscreens fall into one of two categories: They’re either chemical sunscreens or physical sunscreens. “Chemical sunscreens create a chemical reaction that changes UV rays into heat, and the heat is then released from the skin,” Dr. Hadley King, a New York City-based dermatologist says. “With physical sunscreens, the mineral ingredients sit on top of the skin to scatter and deflect UV rays, physically blocking them from penetrating the skin.”

Dr. King says she generally recommends physical sunscreens over chemical sunscreens, as they’re less likely to irritate or harm the skin

Best Budget: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen with SPF55

Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen promises a weightless feel and a shine-free finish. And since it offers broad spectrum SPF 55 protection, you don’t have to worry about sacrificing strength for texture—or vice versa. The fast-absorbing sunscreen draws on classic ingredients—like avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone—to provide protection that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. And since the sunscreen promises to be oil-free and non-greasy, you don’t have to worry about it clogging your pores or gumming up your hands.

Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen is also available as a physical sunscreen, which uses zinc oxide to offer broad spectrum SPF 50 protection.

Best for Face: Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40

Sunscreens can get thick, greasy, and very makeup-unfriendly. But Supergoop!’s Unseen Sunscreen promises to avoid these common pitfalls. The face sunscreen draws on go-to ingredients—like avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, and octisalate—to offer broad spectrum SPF 40 protection. And because it’s lightweight and free of oils, it promises to be a particularly great pick for everyday use. Treat the sunscreen like a primer, and wear it under your makeup. It promises to keep oily skin feeling matte, and it was designed not to leave any pesky white residue behind.

If you’d prefer a physical face sunscreen, you can try Supergoop!’s Mattescreen. The face sunscreen was also designed to be worn under makeup, and it draws on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to offer broad spectrum SPF 40 protection. 

Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe Hydrating Body Sunscreen

CeraVe Hydrating Body Sunscreen

Looking for a sensitive skin-friendly sunscreen? You’ve found it in CeraVe’s Hydrating Body Sunscreen. The sunscreen has received the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance and the Skin Cancer Foundation “Daily Use” Seal of Recommendation, and it promises to be gentle on the skin.

The physical sunscreen draws on a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to offer broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection. And like all of CeraVe’s products, the sunscreen contains three essential ceramides (specifically, ceramides 1, 3, and 6-II), which will work to strengthen and maintain your skin barrier.

Good to Know

Ceramides are fat molecules that are naturally found in your skin. These molecules help to form the skin’s natural barrier, which keeps your skin hydrated by locking in moisture.

Best for Darker Skin Tones: Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

Black Girl Sunscreen

Black Girl Sunscreen has quickly become a favorite in the sunscreen space. The sunscreen, which is made by women of color for people of color, draws on classic ingredients—like avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene—to offer broad-spectrum SPF 30 that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

The sunscreen promises to dry completely clear, making it a great pick for everyday use. And since it’s packed with moisturizing ingredients—like avocado oil, jojoba oil, and sunflower oil—it effectively doubles as a lotion. 

Best for Dry Skin: Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70

Aveeno’s Protect + Hydrate Sunscreen is designed to protect and moisturize in equal measure. The chemical sunscreen draws on go-to ingredients—like avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone—to offer broad-spectrum SPF 70 protection that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Though the sunscreen promises to be lightweight and oil-free, it’s loaded with classic lotion ingredients. Moisturizers, like glycerin and propylene glycol, will hydrate the skin—while dimethicone and beeswax will work to lock that moisture in, making sure the hydration lasts.

Best for Oily Skin: Murad Oil and Pore Control Mattifier SPF 45

Murad Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45

When you have oily skin, it can be hard to find sunscreen that leaves your skin feeling matte while keeping it hydrated. But Murad’s Oil and Pore Control Mattifier promises to do just that. The chemical sunscreen draws on classic ingredients—like avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene—to offer broad-spectrum SPF 45 protection.

But it’s also loaded with lightweight, oil-free moisturizers that strike the right balance between hydration and oil control. The result is a sunscreen that doubles as a mattifying primer—one that promises 10 hours of oil, shine, and pore control.

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: EltaMD UV Daily Face Sunscreen SPF 46

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen

Like many sunscreens, EltaMD’s UV Broad Spectrum Sunscreen offers broad-spectrum SPF 46 protection—and draws on a combination of classic ingredients, like octinoxate and zinc oxide, to do it. But the sunscreen doesn’t stop there. It also promises to hydrate and exfoliate, which is exactly what makes it so great for acne-prone skin.

The sunscreen uses sodium hyaluronate to moisturize, and it draws on Cyclomethicone to lock that moisture in. While these ingredients work to hydrate the skin, lactic acid acts as an exfoliant—clearing the pores and cutting down on excess oil. The sunscreen basically does the work of an entire skincare routine, and all you have to do is put it on.

Best Reef-Safe: Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+

Thinksport Safe Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+

Thinksport’s Safe Sunscreen is a solid physical sunscreen. And the fact that it’s reef-friendly makes it even better. The sunscreen draws on zinc oxide to deliver broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. The sunscreen promises to be lightweight and fast-absorbing, and since it’s loaded with natural moisturizers (like vegetable glycerin, vegetable-based hyaluronic acid, and aloe extract), it will hydrate and soothe while it protects.

Of course, one of the biggest selling points of Thinksport’s Safe Sunscreen is that it’s totally reef-safe. That means the sunscreen doesn’t contain any chemicals that are known to harm coral reefs—meaning you can wear it in the ocean without giving it a second thought.

Best Tinted: EltaMD UV Elements Tinted Face Moisturizer

Physical sunscreens often leave behind a pesky white residue. But because EltaMD’s UV Elements Tinted Face Moisturizer is tinted, it promises to avoid this common pitfall. The physical sunscreen draws on a blend of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to offer broad-spectrum SPF 44 protection that’s water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.

The sunscreen’s hydrating base promises to moisturize your skin without clogging your pores. And its beige tint makes it easy to use the product as an everyday sunscreen—or as a tinted moisturizer.

Best Tinted for Darker Skin Tones: Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen

Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen

Many tinted sunscreens are beige or tan. But Unsun’s Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen was designed with darker skin tones in mind—meaning you won’t have to worry about pesky white residue, or pesky beige residue, either.

The physical sunscreen draws on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to offer broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection. And it’s moisturizing base is loaded with natural ingredients—like shea butter, vitamin E, coconut oil, and beeswax—which will hydrate and soothe your skin, while the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide go to work. 

Best Powder: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50

Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral Powder

Colorescience’s Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen is a physical sunscreen that goes on like a powder—making it an easy addition to your everyday routine. The sunscreen draws on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to deliver SPF 50 protection that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. And since the sunscreen is loaded with moisturizing ingredients, it will hydrate while it protects.

The portable sunscreen is easy to take on-the-go, allowing you to reapply whenever you need to. And thanks to its matte finish, the sunscreen powder can easily be used on its own—or worn over makeup. 

Best Spray: Sun Bum Sunscreen Spray SPF 50

SunBum Moisturizing Sunscreen Spray

Spray sunscreens make getting sun protection easy. And Sun Bum’s Original Sunscreen Spray is one of the most popular options around. The chemical sunscreen draws on classic ingredients—like avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene—to provide SPF 50 protection that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

The spray is oil-free and hypoallergenic, and since it comes in a spray bottle, it’s incredibly easy to apply. And of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the sunscreen’s signature banana fragrance, which is one of its most beloved characteristics. 

Best Stick: Shiseido UV Clear Stick Protector SPF 50

Shiseido

If you’re a fan of stick sunscreen, consider giving Shiseido’s Clear Stick UV Protector a try. The chemical sunscreen stick draws on go-to ingredients—like avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone—to deliver SPF 50 protection that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Since it promises to go on clear, you can easily wear it every day—either under or over your makeup.

Best Mousse: Supergoop! PLAY Body Mousse

 Supergoop! Super Power SPF 50 Sunscreen Mousse

Supergoop!’s PLAY Body Mousse isn’t a spray sunscreen—but it isn’t a traditional sunscreen lotion, either. Instead, it’s a whipped body mousse that makes it easy to see where you’ve applied sunscreen (and which spots you’ve missed).

The chemical sunscreen draws on classic ingredients—like homosalate, octisalate, and avobenzone—to deliver SPF 50 protection that’s water- and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes. And since it’s packed with soothing ingredients—like shea butter, olive oil, and vitamin E—the mousse promises to feel soft, rather than sticky. 

Best Lip Protectant: Aquaphor Lip Protectant & Sunscreen Ointment SPF 30

Aquaphor Lip Repair + Protect Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Remember, your face and body aren’t the only things that need sun protection—your lips need it, too. And Aquaphor’s Lip Protectant is here to ensure they get it. The lip gel draws on classic sunscreen ingredients—like avobenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone—to deliver SPF 30 protection.

But at its core, it’s still an intensely hydrating lip balm. Shea butter soothes, while glycerin moisturizes—and beeswax and petrolatum lock moisture in. The result is a lip balm that’s perfect for dry, chapped lips—and that’s equipped with SPF 30 protection to boot. 

Best for Kids: Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen

It’s hard to get adults to remember to reapply sunscreen. And with kids, it can be even tougher. But Blue Lizard’s Mineral Sunscreen manages to turn the chore into a game. The physical sunscreen comes in a Smart Bottle, which turns blue any time it’s exposed to UV light. This color cue can help little ones (and not-so-little ones) remember to regularly apply the sunscreen.

Blue Lizard’s Mineral Sunscreen draws on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to offer broad SPF 50 protection, which is sweat- and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. What’s nice? Blue Lizard’s Mineral Sunscreen is also reef-friendly, which means it doesn’t contain any chemicals that are harmful to coral reefs.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a physical sunscreen, CeraVe’s Hydrating Body Sunscreen is an excellent pick. The sunscreen is equipped with SPF 50 protection, and it promises to be incredibly sensitive skin-friendly. If you’d prefer a chemical sunscreen, Supergoop!’s PLAY Body Mousse is a solid choice. The sunscreen boasts a unique, mousse-y texture that makes it particularly easy to apply—so you won’t have to worry about missing a spot.

What to Look for in a Sunscreen 

Chemical vs. Physical

There are two primary kinds of sunscreen: chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens use chemicals to deflect the sun’s rays, while physical sunscreens use minerals to block the sun from penetrating your skin. Many dermatologists—like Dr. Hadley King, a New York City-based dermatologist—recommend physical sunscreens, because they contain fewer potential irritants than chemical sunscreens. But mineral-based sunscreens may leave behind a thick, white residue, and they’re rarely available in sunscreen spray form. 

SPF

Different sunscreens are equipped with different levels of SPF protection. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) currently recommends choosing a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, because this will block 97% of the sun’s harmful rays.

Texture:

Sunscreen is available in many different forms: lotions, sprays, sticks, and more. No texture is necessarily better than another—it all comes down to personal preference. Find a sunscreen you enjoy wearing. After all, you’ll be wearing it every day.

FAQS

What does SPF stand for?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This number acts as a rating and measures how effective a sunscreen is at blocking harmful UVB rays. (A higher number offers more protection from UVB rays, while a lower number offers less).

What SPF do I need?

Currently, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that you choose sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Since SPF describes a sunscreen’s ability to protect your skin from UV rays, you might be confused why they’re not recommending a much higher SPF. So what, exactly, is going on here?

An SPF-30 sunscreen will block 97% of the sun’s UVB rays. That’s a lot of protection. And the amount of protection you’re getting doesn’t increase very dramatically as you go up in SPF. “If adequately applied, sunscreens with sky-high SPFs offer only slightly better protection from sunburn than an SPF 30,” Dr. King says. According to her, an SPF-50 sunscreen should block 98% of UVB rays, while an SPF-100 sunscreen should block 99%. To put it simply: “The difference in UVB protection between an SPF 100 and an SPF 50 is marginal,” she says. So while a higher SPF is technically better than a lower one, SPF 30 is a great baseline to work from.

And remember, a higher-SPF sunscreen won’t last longer than a lower-SPF sunscreen. You’ll need to apply a lot of both, and you’ll also need to reapply frequently. “Most people only apply 25 to 50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen,” Dr. King says. Remember, you’re supposed to use 1 ounce of sunscreen to cover your body. (That’s enough to fill a shot glass.) And you need to reapply at least every two hours. 

Why Trust Verywell Fit? 

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. She is careful to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them.

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3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sun safety. Updated April 28, 2021.

  2. Lueangarun S, Tragulplaingam P, Sugkraroek S, Tempark T. The 24-hr, 28-day, and 7-day post-moisturizing efficacy of ceramides 1, 3, 6-II containing moisturizing cream compared with hydrophilic cream on skin dryness and barrier disruption in senile xerosis treatment. Dermatol Ther. 2019 Nov;32(6):e13090. doi:10.1111/dth.13090

  3. American Academy of Dermatology. Sunscreen FAQS.