Types of Sunscreen: Choosing Your Summer Go-To


Sun’s out, expired bottles out. It’s time to upgrade the crusty sunscreen lurking at the bottom of your beach bag. But not all sunscreens are created equal. We rounded up the ones that can take the heat.

But first...SPF. Stands for 'sun protection factor.’ It measures the level of protection against UVB rays (the ones that give you sunburn and can cause skin cancer). But you’re going to want a formula that protects against UVA rays, too. Those are the ones that can cause aging and contribute to skin cancer. Look for 'broad-spectrum' to check both boxes. If you’re unsure, the writing’s on the label. Products that are not broad-spectrum are required to carry a warning that they only protect against sunburn – not skin cancer or aging.

For the person who goes to the park to run, not sunbathe…

thinksport SPF 50 Plus Sunscreen

Good for you. Now do something good for the planet. Thinksport SPF 50+ is mineral-based, water resistant, and safer for coral reefs. Plus, unlike a lot of organic sunscreens, this one is less oily and doesn’t leave white streaks behind.

For the person who only takes a trusted recommendation…

Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46

Insert your derm's fave pick. This Elta MD SPF 46 formula is mineral-based and packed with ingredients that fight acne, rosacea, and hyper-pigmentation. Pro tip: reapply after you go in the water. This sunscreen says H2-no.

For the person who wants to be transported to the French Riviera…

La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 60.

Say bonjour to La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 60. Anthelios gives itself a pat on the back for being fragrance and paraben-free. Paging: people with normal, sensitive, or oily skin.

For the person who prefers turf to surf…

Clear Zinc Sport Sunscreen SPF35

There’s nothing fishy about this sunscreen. Badger’s Clear Zinc Sport has 98% organic ingredients, is biodegradable, and coral-friendly. It’s everything you expect from a mineral formula, sans ghost-in-a-bottle look (read: no white residue).

For the person who wants to wear makeup over their sunscreen...

Glossier SPF 35 sunscreen

Meet your new foundation. Glossier’s SPF 35 sunscreen is lightweight and goes on as a clear serum. Meaning you can stick to your regular beauty routine on beach day.

For when you really don't want to put on sunscreen...

Olay Whips SPF

Whip up another option. Olay Whips SPF feels like moisturizer but works like sunscreen. It has SPF 25, goes on light as air, and works well under makeup. You'll want to jump in this whip.

For the person who wants to leave the beach without smelling like seaweed...

Hint sunscreen

Spray it away. Hint sunscreen has a light, fruity smell and can be applied to wet or dry skin. The cap is designed for a 360-degree application. Translation: you get uniform coverage, so kiss tan lines goodbye.

For the person whose skin is peeling...

Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen

Don't flake on this option. Supergoop!’s Everyday Sunscreen goes on like a gentle moisturizer and has anti-aging ingredients to give your skin some TLC. Bonus: it's scented with natural extracts of lemon, orange, and basil. It’s a summer breeze, on your skin.

For the person who hates when sand gets stuck in between their toes...

Banana Boat Sun Comfort formula with SPF 50

Say ‘ahoy’ to Banana Boat’s Sun Comfort formula with SPF 50. It's non-stick and easy to clean off after a day at the beach. Lookin’ at you, sand butt.

For the person whose spray tan went a little too far...

Neutrogena’s Face and Body Stick Sunscreen

Don’t relive it. Neutrogena’s Face and Body Stick Sunscreen has one of the highest SPF counts (70) on our list and offers broad-spectrum coverage wherever you stick it. Plus, the hands-free application gets you out the door and poolside faster.

PS: These are partner products, which means if you purchase, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.

Sign up for the Daily Skimm and join the millions who already wake up with us.