The 11 Best Sunscreens for Runners of 2021

Keep your skin safe and sunburn-free

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

man running on a hillside

Getty Images 

Our Top Picks
"The bottle transforms from white to blue in the presence of harmful UV rays, so you’ll know exactly when to apply."
"It goes on clear, so you don’t have to worry about the white mask look when you’re running."
"This lotion provides excellent broad-spectrum sun protection without feeling greasy or leaving a white residue behind."
"The budget-friendly SPF 30 sunscreen leaves behind no white residue or sticky feel, and it's sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes."
"Dermatologist-tested and approved, this SPF 60 sunscreen offers the delicate skin on your face the superior protection it needs."
"Non-comedogenic and oil-free, this sunscreen won't clog your pores and is perfect for acne-prone and sensitive skin."
"This zinc-based SPF pick is perfect for runners who also like to swim because it's water-resistant for up to 80 minutes."
"Runners love that the bottle keeps spraying even when it’s upside down so you can easily coat those tough-to-reach spots."
"Since it’s an invisible gel, it doesn’t leave a white haze behind, and its breathable formula allows sweat to evaporate."
"Powered by zinc oxide and antioxidants, this formula provides top-notch protection without irritating your skin."

Slathering on sunscreen before a run is as essential as wearing a good pair of running shoes, especially in the warmer months when the sun’s strong UVB rays can quickly lead to sunburn. In fact, runners should try to apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before heading out for a run to allow enough time for it to absorb, as well as reapply every hour.

Searching for the best active sunscreen for your skin? From sticks to lotions to sprays, here are the best options on the market.

Best Overall: BLUE LIZARD Sport Mineral-Based Sunscreen

BLUE LIZARD Sport Mineral-Based Sunscreen
Pros
  • Spreads evenly and easily

  • High-quality ingredients

  • Chemical-free

Cons
  • Absorbs slowly

If you’re ever unsure about whether you need sunscreen on a cloudy day, Blue Lizard's mineral-based SPF 30+ sunscreen takes the guesswork out of it. Its unique, patented UV photo-sensitive bottle transforms from white to blue in the presence of harmful UV rays, so you'll know exactly when to apply.

But it’s not just this unique and helpful feature that puts Blue Lizard at the top of our list. The dermatologist-recommended, hypoallergenic formula contains only high-quality, non-irritating, natural minerals to provide highly effective, broad-spectrum UVA and UVB skin protection.

Free of fragrances and chemicals, it’s safe and effective for even the most sensitive skin types. And unlike other mineral-based sunscreens, it’s not thick and spreads onto skin easily and effortlessly.

SPF: 30+ | Application Method: Lotion | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Best Stick: Shiseido UV Clear Stick Protector SPF 50

Shiseido
Pros
  • Goes on clear

  • Leaves skin feeling smooth

  • Ideal for travel

Cons
  • Runs out quickly


    Expensive

If you hate the sticky, shiny residue that some stick sunscreens leave behind, you should give Shiseido Wetforce Clear Stick SPF 50+ Sunscreen a try. Intended for use during outdoor activities and sports, it’s non-greasy, it goes on easily, and it leaves skin feeling smooth.

The sunscreen’s WetForce technology makes its protective veil even stronger once it comes into contact with water or sweat, remaining water-resistant for 80 minutes. It’s also noncomedogenic and turns invisible on any skin tone, so you don’t have to worry about the “white mask” look when you’re running.

Perfect for travel and on-the-go application, this stick is safe to throw in your bag without fear of accidental leaks or spills.

SPF: 50+ | Application Method: Stick | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Best Non-Greasy: Supergoop! Everyday Play SPF 50 Lotion

Supergoop! Everyday Play SPF 50 Lotion
Pros
  • Fast-absorbing

  • Thin and easy to spread

  • Ultra-moisturizing

Cons
  • Expensive

No one likes the feel of greasy sunscreen on their skin, but avoiding SPF altogether isn't a solution, either. According to dermatologists, people are often exposed to harmful rays without knowing it, and "even incidental sun exposure for only ten to 15 minutes a day adds up over time," said Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon in New York.

Luckily, this non-greasy option from Supergoop! is fast-absorbing, highly-effective, and won’t leave runners feeling sticky. While it’s thin and easy to spread, it provides excellent SPF 50 broad-spectrum sun protection without a white residue.

For runners concerned about breakouts, it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic, as well as rich in antioxidants.

SPF: 50 | Application Method: Lotion | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Best Budget: Coppertone Sport Clear SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion

Coppertone Sport Clear SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion
Pros
  • Goes on clear

  • Feels cool on the skin

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Not chemical-free

If you frequently run outdoors and go through a ton of sunscreen, it helps to have an affordable option you can trust. This budget-friendly SPF 30 sunscreen from Coppertone is a clear lotion that feels cool when you apply it and doesn't leave behind any white residue or stickiness.

Despite its reasonable price tag, it’s free of PABA, dyes, and synthetic preservatives, and it's also sweat- and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

SPF: 30 | Application Method: Lotion | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Quick Tip

According to Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon in New York, runners who sweat easily during exercise should apply sunscreen one hour before going outside so that it can absorb properly. "Look for oil-free and water-resistant sunscreen because it won't run as much as other sunscreens when you sweat," she said. "Runny sunscreen can make workouts very uncomfortable, especially if it gets in the eyes."

Best for Face: La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Face Sunscreen-SPF 60

La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Face Sunscreen-SPF 60
Pros
  • Protective and hydrating

  • Ultra-lightweight

  • Non-comedogenic

Cons
  • Small bottle size


    Expensive

Even if your running gear includes a hat or visor, your face still gets plenty of sun exposure. Dermatologist-tested and approved, La Roche's Ultra-Light Face Sunscreen SPF 60 offers the superior protection you need for the delicate skin on your face while also keeping the skin hydrated and helping reduce the appearance of sun damage.

Non-comedogenic and allergy-tested, this sunscreen is perfect for sensitive and breakout-prone skin. It’s ultra-lightweight, non-greasy, and translucent, so it won’t leave your face looking shiny or coated in a white residue. You’ll pay a bit more for it than some other facial sunscreens on the market, but you’re getting a high-quality and effective product.

SPF: 60 | Application Method: Lotion | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Best for Acne: Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen

Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Pros
  • Lightweight and oil-free

  • Powered by Helioplex technology

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Not chemical-free

The combination of sweat and sunscreen can lead to some bad breakouts, but this Neutrogena sunscreen can keep your face both protected and clear.

The SPF 55 sunscreen is PABA-free, non-comedogenic, and oil-free, so it’s perfect for sensitive skin. It won’t clog your pores, aggravate your skin, or cause acne breakouts.

Formulated with clinically-proven Helioplex, an advanced sunscreen technology, the lotion offers superior broad-spectrum protection from skin-aging UVA rays and skin-burning UVB rays. It’s also sweat-proof and water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about it running in your eyes as you get your miles in.

SPF: 55 | Application Method: Lotion | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Best Water-Resistant: All Good Sport Sunscreen Lotion Water Resistant SPF 30

All Good Sport Sunscreen
Pros
  • All-natural ingredients

  • Goes on smoothly

  • Absorbs quickly

Cons
  • Small bottle size

If you want a sunscreen that’s ideal for both running and swimming, this pick is for you. Although it’s zinc-based, it goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly into the skin. The SPF 30 sunscreen is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, after which it should be re-applied.

It's made of all-natural ingredients like organic green tea, aloe, and leaf extract. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, biodegradable, and coral reef-friendly, so you can feel good about using it.

SPF: 30 | Application Method: Lotion | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Best Spray: COOLA Organic Sunscreen Body Spray SPF 50

COOLA Organic Sunscreen Body Spray SPF 50
Pros
  • Easy to use

  • Skin-nourishing ingredients

  • Chemical-free

Cons
  • Expensive

Coola Organic Sunscreen SPF 30 Spray gives you the convenience and effectiveness of a sunscreen spray without all of the harsh chemicals. Runners love that the bottle keeps spraying even when it’s upside down, making it easy to cover those tough-to-reach spots.

Rich in antioxidants like aloe and strawberry seed extract, as well as skin-nourishing ingredients, this sheer formula rubs in quickly without feeling greasy. It's water- and sweat-resistant as well.

SPF: 30 | Application Method: Spray | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Best Gel: Bull Frog Land Sport Quik Gel Sunscreen SPF 50

Bullfrog
Pros
  • Quick absorbing

  • Dries clear

  • Allows sweat to evaporate

Cons
  • Can pill on the skin

Runners need a sunscreen that stays on and can hold up to water, sweat, and swipes of the hand. This BullFrog Quik Gel sunscreen checks all those boxes and more with a non-greasy, ultra-light formula that’s easy to apply.

The SPF 50 sunscreen absorbs quickly and, since it’s an invisible gel, it doesn’t leave a white haze behind. The sunscreen’s breathable Sweat TECH technology also allows sweat to evaporate, so you can stay as cool as possible during those hot weather runs.

SPF: 50 | Application Method: Gel | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Best for Sensitive Skin: EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF50

EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF50
Pros
  • Powered by zinc oxide

  • Invisible once absorbed

  • Free of common skin irritants

Cons
  • Expensive

If sunscreens with any chemical-based ingredients leave your skin feeling uncomfortable and agitated, consider a true sensitive skin-friendly formula like this pick from EltaMD. The water-resistant, mineral-based sunscreen is powered by zinc oxide and antioxidants, providing top-notch UVA and UVB protection.

Free of oils, fragrances, and parabens, this sunscreen is safe to use on your entire body, including your face. The non-comedogenic formula also absorbs well into the skin without leaving a white cast.

SPF: 50 | Application Method: Lotion | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Best Lip Protection: fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30

fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30
Pros
  • Portable

  • Safe for lip and eye area

  • Easy to apply

Cons
  • Runs out quickly


    Expensive

While you're protecting the rest of your body with SPF, don't forget your lips! They can burn and face skin damage just as easily. That's where this balm from Fresh comes in. The durable, water-resistant formula provides long-lasting moisture and UV protection for people with active lifestyles. And while designed for lips first, it's also safe to use on the rest of your face, including the sensitive area around your eyes.

The wide stick design makes it easy to apply, and its pocket size makes it perfect for use while on a run. In addition to sun protection, the balm includes moisture-preserving sugar, and nourishing avocado and black currant seed oils to both soften and hydrate.

SPF: 30 | Application Method: Balm | Water Resistance: 80 minutes

Final Verdict

There are several fantastic sunscreen lotions on this list, but we are partial to BLUE LIZARD Sport Mineral-Based Sunscreen. The formula is clean and non-irritating, it goes on smoothly and stays on even during the sweatiest runs, and the color-changing bottle helps you understand just how often you're exposed to harmful rays.

But there are also times when a spray comes in handy, in which case we recommend giving COOLA Organic Sunscreen Body Spray a try. It feels clean and fresh from the moment it touches your skin, and it's void of chemical ingredients that commonly cause skin irritation.

Last but not least, we love how easily the fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30 fits in our shorts pocket on longer runs, providing high-quality and sensitive skin-safe protection while we're on the move. Reapplying has never been easier.

What to Look for in a Sunscreen for Runners

SPF

If you're a runner who likes to log long miles in the sun, it's important to pick an active sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. This level of "sun protection factor" is what will shield you from sunburn, as well as skin damage that increases your risk of skin cancer, during prolonged periods of exposure.

Application Method

Most sport sunscreens come in lotion, spray, or stick form, all of which are excellent choices. It really comes down to personal preference and which style you find most easy to apply—a major component of using it consistently. So, invest in the one you can picture yourself including in your pre-run routine without fail.

Water Resistance

Running in the sunshine tends to encourage a fair amount of sweating, so you need a sunscreen formula that will continue to protect your skin even on your drenched days. Ideally, your sunscreen remains resistant to both water and sweat for at least 80 minutes, allowing you to train hard without too many reapplications.

FAQs

What is the best SPF for sunscreen?

Most experts recommend using sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 because it blocks 97 percent of the sun's UVB rays, which are primarily responsible for sunburn. Higher SPFs can block slightly more UVB rays, but no sunscreen product can block 100 percent of them.

It's also important to understand that higher SPFs don't protect your skin for a longer period of time. You should always reapply your sunscreen approximately every two hours while outdoors—even on cloudy days.

What are the best ingredients for a sunscreen?

The best sunscreen ingredients are ones that provide effective broad-spectrum UV protection without forming harmful breakdown products, as well as ones that are non-irritating to the skin.

Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms: chemical UV filters and mineral UV filters. The most common sunscreens contain chemical filters, such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. Meanwhile, mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Some sunscreens combine zinc oxide with chemical filters.

While all of these ingredients are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), experts recommend using mineral-based products over chemical-based ones and avoiding oxybenzone-containing sunscreens, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

An avid runner and marathon running coach, Christine Luff prefers a spray sunscreen like Coola Organic Continuous Sunscreen Spray for all-over, easy application. For her face, she uses Neutrogena Clear Face Oil-Free Sunscreen to avoid irritation and sweat-induced breakouts. She’s also a big fan of Blue Lizard sunscreens, especially for her two fair-skinned kids who love to run.

Was this page helpful?
Article 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. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Sunscreen FAQS.

  2. Environmental Working Group. The Trouble With Ingredients in Sunscreens.