Let me be blunt: There is absolutely no excuse for not wearing sunscreen. If you aren’t applying an SPF 30 or higher, especially during summer months, you are putting yourself at risk of sun damage and skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, three million Americans are diagnosed with basal and squamous cell skin cancers each year — and that number is increasing — while more than one million Americans are currently living with melanoma. And keep in mind that this statistic includes everyone, regardless of skin color.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk sun protection. Your first defense against skin cancer is sunscreen — not to mention, a good sunscreen is the best anti-ager you can buy — and, happily, formulas have come a long way over the last few years. There are sheer lotions that disappear on any skin tone, sweat-absorbing options for athletics, and even zinc-based aerosols sprays — none of which leave you sticky, greasy, or running for the shower. Hell, there’s even sunscreen with glitter in it. And because all sunscreens are held to the same FDA standard, given you apply correctly, whatever formula you choose will provide protection. Just look for labels like “broad spectrum” and “water resistant.”
To help you up your sun protection factor, I’ve rounded up the best new sunscreens below.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturizing Lotion SPF 50 ($11; target.com)
Trust me when I say that this water-gel formula is so refreshing, you’ll want to apply and reapply it throughout the day. The light blue gel is cooling on contact, disappears into skin, and provides long-lasting hydration without any slip. Formulated with the brand’s Helioplex technology, which is favored by dermatologists and backed by scientific studies, it maintains over 85 percent of UVA protection after five hours. (Still, there’s no harm in reapplying every two.)
BeautyCounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 ($39; beautycounter.com)
Natural beauty gurus, this one’s for you. BeautyCounter shines when it comes to creating safe, effective, and elegant products, and this sunscreen is no exception. The lightweight lotion is formulated with non-nano zinc, which sits on the skin to reflect the sun’s rays, and antioxidant-rich California poppy to neutralize free radicals. What’s more, it’s shockingly transparent for a mineral block.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Activewear Lotion Sunscreen Sport 60 ($30; ulta.com)
Convincing an athlete or fitness fanatic to slather on sunscreen is harder than peeling yourself out of sweaty spandex. But experts reiterate that it’s a nonnegotiable for anyone spending time outside in the sun, be it running, hiking, swimming, rock climbing, etc. Enter this sunscreen: Formulated with a top-notch sun filtering system known as Cell-Ox Shield, this heavy-duty formula can take the heat. It also contains perlite, a naturally-occurring volcanic glass that is able to absorb up to two and half times its weight in water, and silica, which is known for its mattifying effects, to literally wick away sweat while you work out.
ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Ultralight Emulsion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ ($50; isdin.com)
Studies show that UV rays trigger skin cells to create molecules that break down collagen at a higher rate than normal aging, causing skin to look spotted and wrinkled sooner than it should. This sun-smart formula works to not only protect skin with zinc oxide, but also repair the actinic damage (aka skin changes due to excessive sun exposure) with encapsulated photolyase enzymes. Did I mention that the lightweight liquid goes on smooth and has a sheer dry down?
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion WetForce SPF 50+ ($50; sephora.com)
Okay, this stuff is pretty cool. Shiseido’s WetForce is formulated to become more effective when exposed to water or sweat, making it ideal for days at the beach or by the pool — or, if you’re anything like me, walking anywhere in this heat and humidity. The clear, gel-like lotion blends quickly into skin and goes to work against rays 15 minutes after being exposed to water.
COOLA Full Spectrum 360° Sun Silk Drops SPF 30 ($46; sephora.com)
For those days when you really don’t want to slather on sunscreen, add several drops of this elixir to your moisturizer or makeup. With an SPF 50 and plant stem cells, it protects against UVA/UVB rays, infrared, and high energy visible light (aka the screen you are staring at right now).
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 70 ($12; ulta.com)
It’s the same dermatologist-recommended formula, but with a brand-new delivery. The continuous spray works at any angle and the handle allows you to hold bottle in different ways while spritzing, so you can get those hard-to-reach areas like your back and booty. As the name implies, the mist is completely sheer and feels like nothing has been applied to your skin.
eos Active Lip Balm SPF 30 ($3; target.com)
Lip cancer is not uncommon, but it’s often overlooked as early signs can come across as lips that are simply chapped, which is exactly why skin docs recommend using a lip balm with SPF. Everyone’s fave balm brand, eos, formulates theirs with jojoba oil, shea butter, and antioxidant-rich vitamin E, plus an SPF 30. The best part, though: Similar to typical sunscreens, it is sweat and water resistant for 80 minutes, so you can sip as many margaritas as you’d like.
Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Leave-On Day Mask Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($22; ulta.com)
Formulated more like mask, this day cream with SPF 30 is supercharged with antioxidants, such as moringa and blackberry, and anti-aging ingredients to help decrease early signs of skin aging. But don’t let this fool you — unlike a mask, it absorbs in seconds and instantly imparts this youthful radiance. You can wear it alone or under makeup.
For even more sun protection, check out these stylish clothes and accessories with UPF 50+.