Sunscreens, Ranked Worst to Best: Which Brand Should You Buy this Summer?

woman putting on sunscreen outdoors, at the beach
Shutterstock

If you’re going to be in the sun, you need to bring your sunscreen. Even if you’re going to be wearing normal clothes, sitting under an umbrella, nowhere near a body of water, you still need your sunscreen! 

It’s critical for keeping UV rays off your skin and keeping yourself from getting a sunburn. Here are the top 30 sunscreens you should get to keep yourself from getting burned this summer!

30. Coppertone Sport

Coppertone Sport SPF 50
Amazon

Let’s start at the beginning! Coppertone Sport SPF 50 is about as basic as sunscreen gets, coming in as a good baseline to judge other sunscreen brands by. Coppertone’s known as a reliable and affordable brand, and you really can’t go wrong with this straightforward option. However, do know that you get what you pay for.

If you have special skin needs, like particularly fair skin or certain skin conditions, then this might not be the best fit for you. We just wanted to start with this good baseline sunscreen from which we could compare the rest of the list!

29. Banana Boat Ultra Sport

Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen
Amazon

What do you need from good sunscreen? The first thing is that it needs to be good at keeping the sun from burning your skin. The second thing is that it needs to have some amount of water resistance. Even if you aren’t going to be jumping into the water, you will be sweating if you’re in direct sunlight.

That’s where Banana Boat’s Ultra Sport sunscreen comes in. This is an all-around excellent and affordable sunscreen option that earns its place on this list due to its sheer dependability. Keep it applied evenly throughout the day and you won’t have any sunburn to speak of!

28. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer

Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer
Amazon

There’s always something to be said for saving a bit of money. Neutrogena’s Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer comes in a 2-pack and offers SPF 50 for just $16. Even if it wasn’t such a good deal, this would still be a great entry for a daily-use sunscreen.

There’s no oil in this formula, making it great for people with sensitive skin. Just a thin layer is enough to give you great UV protection! Just make sure you reapply it regularly throughout the day and keep it reapplied when you get out of the pool or ocean.

27. Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Sunscreen SPF 50

Kiehl's Activated Sun Protector Sunscreen
Neiman Marcus

No one wants to apply a greasy, thick, oily sunscreen. The heavy nature of those kinds of sunscreens can clog your pores and leave you feeling sticky and unpleasant all day. That’s no way to enjoy your vacation! Kiehl’s activated sun protector sunscreen, however, avoids this problem, coming with a great, lightweight formula that feels nice on the skin.

Even if you’re a person with particularly dry skin, you’ll love this option thanks to its great coverage and light finish. It’s also got a very neutral scent, which is a big plus for people who can’t stand overly fragrant sunscreen.

26. Julep No Excuses Invisible Facial Sunscreen Gel

Julep No Excuses Invisible Sunscreen Gel
Amazon

With a name like “No Excuses,” you know this one means business. This gel is extremely light and very easy to apply, making it great for anyone who has sensitive skin on their face. If you want a sunscreen that won’t clog your pores, this is the one for you.

We recommend this one for everyday use if you know you’re going to be outside. Just throw it in a bag and apply it regularly to keep the sun from burning your face! Remember, even when it’s not hot out, the sun can still cause your skin problems.

25. Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
Amazon

What makes sunscreen Australian, you ask? Why, the charming accent, of course! Blue Lizard’s sunscreen is excellent, receiving great reviews from consumers and dermatologists alike. It’s got a lot going for it, like its extremely light formula that makes it great for people with sensitive skin.

It’s not even that pricey, considering how gentle it is. It’ll only set you back about $12 per bottle on Amazon. It’s water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, and the bottle turns blue when it’s exposed to UV rays. That’s a great way to know when you should be wearing it!

24. Cerave Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen

Cerave Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen
Amazon

There’s nothing quite as frustrating as wearing sunscreen all day and then finding your skin is totally dried out. That’s not just the chlorine from the pool or the salt from the ocean, it’s often because of your sunscreen.

Cerave’s hydrating sunscreen helps with that, though! It includes a number of great anti-inflammatory properties that help it lock in moisture and act as a moisturizer as well as a sunscreen. People with dry skin issues will love this sunscreen for its great moisturizing properties.

23. Coola Classic Body Sunscreen Guava Mango SPF 50

Coola Organic Sunscreen Guava Mango
Amazon

If you want the lightest sunscreen, you’ve got to go with this option for Coola. Reviews for this entry often note that it’s light enough that you might forget you’ve got it on. That’s perfect for a sunscreen you’ll wear around the pool, at the beach, or just outside when you’re walking around town.

The scent is one point of contention, though. Some people love the powerful tropical fragrance, while others would prefer an unscented option. Your personal preferences will be the deciding factor with this one!

22. YourGoodSkin SPF 30 Antioxidant Day Cream

YourGoodSkin SPF 30 anti-oxidant day cream
Amazon

Some people like to get their moisturizer and their sunscreen in the same bottle. If that sounds like you, check out YouGoodSkin’s Antioxidant Day Cream. It’s a bit on the pricey side, coming in at $30 for a bottle at Amazon, but it’s still a great all-around option for people who want some SPF with their daily moisturizer.

People who like to wear makeup love this sunscreen because you can easily layer makeup on top of it. That allows you to keep your face safe from the sun all day while still sporting your favorite makeup looks!

21. Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Gel-Lotion

Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Gel Lotion
Amazon

If you have very sensitive or oily skin, you might prefer to use mineral sunscreen. Mineral sunscreen uses a unique formula that is very different than usual lotion-style sunscreens and is perfect for people who don’t want to over-moisturize their already-oily skin.

This specific entry is great if you have particularly oily skin, given its unique texture. If you don’t, you might want to pair it with a moisturizer to keep it from having a somewhat chalky finish on your skin.

20. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen
Amazon

No, the name “Supergoop” isn’t the best. But “unseen sunscreen” is an adorable name for a product. It’s perfect for people with dark skin tones, as it doesn’t leave white streaks when you apply it. And, yes, even people with dark or tan complexions should be wearing sunscreen. Direct sun exposure puts you at risk for skin cancer, even if you’re not worried about sunburn.

This brand also goes great on any type of skin, whether oily or dry. That makes it a top pick for anyone with a dark complexion!

19. Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen

Aveeno Protect Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen
Amazon

If you’ve got sensitive skin, you probably know how irritating sunscreen can be. People with sensitive skin often avoid the beach or direct sunlight altogether because of this. However, Aveeno’s Protect + Hydrate sunscreen is perfect for people who want to spend time out in the sun without their skin bothering them.

The secret? Oatmeal. Colloidal oatmeal in the formula of this sunscreen makes it easy and gentle on sensitive skin and helps to hydrate. Who would have guessed that oatmeal would go so well with sunscreen?

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

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen
Amazon

“Milk” might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of sunscreen, but hear us out here. The term refers to the consistency and texture of this unique sunscreen, not its ingredients. Dairy doesn’t really do a lot for your skin, it turns out.

The Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen is accurately named, as the moisturizing solution really does just melt into your skin when you apply it. It doesn’t leave any greasy or oily texture behind. It feels great and it gets all over with no issues!

17. Vanicream Lip Protectant and Sunscreen

Vanicream Lip Protectant/Sunscreen
Amazon

How often do you think about your lips’ exposure to sunlight? The skin on your lips, just like the skin on the rest of you, is sensitive to UV rays. That’s why it’s so important to have a lip balm with an SPF rating! This can keep your lips from chapping as well as keep them from getting sunburnt.

That’s a win-win scenario for people spending time outdoors! This doesn’t just apply in the summertime, either. The sun is always hitting your face and lips, so keeping this stuff on hand year-round is a good idea.

16. Banana Boat Light As Air Reef Friendly Sunscreen Lotion

Banana Boat Light as Air Reef Friendly Sunscreen Lotion
Amazon

If you’re not looking for something fancy and just want a nice-smelling, affordable sunscreen, you can’t go wrong with Banana Boat. Their Light as Air sunscreen lives up to the name, with a lightweight formula that doesn’t clog pores or leave an oily sheen behind.

For those looking for a great all-around sunscreen for use in the summer, this is a great option. It’s also got a delightful scent that reviewers have called out as being particularly nice, so that’s a huge plus!

15. Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick

Sun Bum Sunscreen Face Stick
Amazon

You might have tried a few stick-style sunscreen brands in the past. Sometimes they can be a pain, as they don’t always rub into your skin evenly. However, Sun Bum’s Face Stick isn’t that way at all: it has a great texture and rubs into skin neatly.

It’s perfect to throw into a bag and keep on hand in case you find yourself in the sun. Neat, compact packaging is half of what makes the best sunscreen brands better than their competition!

14. Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Mineral Lotion

Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Mineral Lotion
Amazon

Another mineral sunscreen, this option from Australian Gold is one of the most affordable in that category that we’ve yet seen. For just $15 for a bottle, this sunscreen is among the most affordable of the “premium” options you’ll find online.

This sunscreen is very smooth, leaving behind a nice, even finish that isn’t greasy or heavy. That’s the main draw of mineral sunscreens, which are great for people with dry or sensitive skin. If you’re looking for a mineral sunscreen that won’t break the bank, go with this one.

13. Hawaiian Tropic AntiOxidant+ Sunscreen Lotion

Hawaiian Tropic Antioxidant Sunscreen Lotion
Amazon

Hawaiian Tropic might not be a brand you’re familiar with, but that should change. This excellent sunscreen won’t irritate even sensitive skin, and it’s great at not drying out your skin even over long days with multiple applications.

This product makes the list because it’s very affordable and all-around great. It doesn’t leave a residue on the skin, sidestepping the oily, greasy texture that some lesser sunscreen brands might leave behind. It’s easy to see why this brand gets such rave reviews online, especially when you compare its price to some competitors.

12. MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense

MDSolarSciences Miineral Moisture Defense Sunscreen
Amazon

People with dry skin know the pain of trying to find a sunscreen that works well with their exact skin type. However, you don’t need to look around anymore: MDSolarSciences has made the sunscreen that’s perfect for dry skin.

With a combination of antioxidants and a great formula that uses neither fragrance nor oil, this is a top-quality sunscreen. It’s absolutely perfect for those looking for a lightweight, high-quality sunscreen that doesn’t leave a greasy residue after you apply it.

11. Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen

Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush On Sunscreen
Amazon

Some sunscreen brands just can’t help themselves with the puns. Sunforgettable is one of those puns. Its eye-roll-inducing name aside, Colorescience’s Sunforgettable sunscreen is unique in that it’s brushed on, making it great for people who often need sunscreen over makeup they’ve already applied.

You shouldn’t let your skin soak in unblocked UV rays just because you don’t want to mess up your makeup. Get a brush-on sunscreen like this one and keep your face safe! Remember, powder-style sunscreen is best used as a mid-day touch-up than as your full-spectrum sunscreen for the day.

10. EltaMD UV Elements Tinted Broad-Spectrum

EltaMD UV Elements Tinted Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
Amazon

Some people prefer tinted sunscreen. If you’re one of those people, the best among them is EltaMD’s UV Elements, which offers a great amount of UV coverage. This SPF 44 sunscreen is full of antioxidants, making it great for moisturizing.

For those out of the loop, tinted sunscreen is preferred by people with some uneven blemishes in their skin tone. The tint can help your skin look more even all the way across, which can be great for people who are self-conscious about their skin’s appearance.

9. ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Zinc Oxide and 100% Mineral Sunscreen

ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen
Amazon

This is an all-around great option for people of any skin type or skin tone. ISDIN’s sunscreen is not cheap, coming in at $55, but it covers just about everything. It’s got a very complex formula that includes photolyase enzymes that help repair sun damage. Of course, zinc oxide is also in the mix, as well as vitamin E.

If you’re looking for a sunscreen that just covers everything and has no downsides and don’t mind spending a bit of money, then this is the option for you.

8. Anthelios Melt-in Milk Sunscreen SPF 100

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen SPF 100
Target

Anthelios sunscreen has already come up once before on our list. However, it’s worth singling out the brand’s SPF 100 sunscreen as it’s especially excellent for hitting the beach. Thanks to its melt-in texture and great coverage, it’s perfect for days when you’re going to be in and out of the water often.

The ability to swiftly cover most of your body with this quick-applying sunscreen makes it easier to keep up with dermatologists’ recommendations about regular reapplication. That alone makes this sunscreen worth keeping in your bag!

7. LiftActiv Peptide-C Sunscreen

Vichy LiftActiv Peptide-C sunscreen face moisturizer
Amazon

Even when you’re not in a swimsuit, you still want to apply some sunscreen to the parts of your body that will be exposed to the sun. Dermatologists say this is especially important when it comes to your face, and that’s easier than ever with LiftActiv Peptide-C Sunscreen.

This brand is a great option for people who wear makeup and still want to get SPF coverage on their faces. Reviewers loved the fragrance and ease of application, and it tested extremely well even over the course of long, hot days.

6. Hawaiian Tropic Matte Effect Sunscreen Lotion

Hawaiian Tropic Matte Effect Sunscreen Lotion
Amazon

Another great option from Hawaiian Tropic is this Matte Effect lotion. Like most of the brand’s options, this entry is affordable. That’s a huge plus for such a great, reliable sunscreen, especially when compared to the high cost of some of its competitors.

People with darker skin tones also love this brand because it doesn’t leave white streaks behind. Others have noted that the light fragrance included in this sunscreen is pleasant and inoffensive, while the formula is still gentle on even the most sensitive skin.

5. Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Face Lotion

Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Face Lotion
Amazon

Unlike the Sun Bum Face Stick we mentioned earlier, this entry is a lotion, like most traditional sunscreen you’ve used. This one earns a higher spot than its cousin thanks to its versatility. Unlike a face stick, it’s easy to use a lotion in a variety of circumstances.

Like the face stick, this is also a great sunscreen for people with sensitive or dry skin. It sports great water resistance for up to 40 minutes, it leaves a smooth finish, and it does a great job of keeping skin safe even in direct sunlight.

4. Neutrogena UltraSheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 100+

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry touch SPF 100
Amazon

The SPF on this one might seem like overkill, but hear us out. Dermatologists largely insist that the average person isn’t using enough sunscreen when they go outside. And, even when they do, people tend to only apply it once and fail to reapply it at regular intervals, even when they’re spending time outside.

Starting with a 100 SPF is a great way to keep yourself safe from the direct light of the sun, even if you’re not staying super vigilant about keeping it applied.

3. Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Spray

Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Spray
Amazon

Another entry from Sun Bum, their original sunscreen spray is one of the best spray-on sunscreen options we’ve seen. Like all Sun Bum sunscreens, this one goes on easily and applies all over, leaving little residue and making reapplication a breeze.

The spray is very even, helping to shield you from the sun. This one won’t leave you with spots of exposed skin that get scorched. And, of course, this sunscreen works great for throwing in a bag and using by the pool.

2. Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield
Amazon

Unlike Colorescience’s brush-on sunscreen, this entry is great for all-day use and can function as your main sunscreen. The finish from this sunscreen has been called “powdery” and “silky,” which is a much better alternative to “oily”.

Notably, this is another costly sunscreen, coming in around $46 on Amazon for a tube. However, that’s the price you pay for an excellent all-around sunscreen like this!

1. EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Facial Sunscreen

EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF Facial Sunscreen
Amazon

Do you hate when sunscreen feels heavy on your skin and blocks your pores? Usually, that’s a result of the heavy components in the formula, often things like paraben and fragrance. Believe it or not, that “sunscreen smell” is actually added on purpose!

This sunscreen is great for people who want something light and gentle on the skin. If you’ve got skin that’s prone to acne, you might prefer this sunscreen to keep things light and easy. It’s hydrating and it feels great on your skin, which earns it the highest spot on our list!