Welcome to Hype Machine, our hit-list of the top reviewed products across the web — according to a crowd of die-hard shoppers. Call this your 4-star & up only club, with entry granted by our devoted-to-the-goods shop editors.
The sun has certainly set on days of slathering our bods in baby oil to
get that, “bronzed-glow,” complexion. In 2019 we know damn well that using SPF is an essential practice in healthy-skincare, especially when damaging UV rays are part of the equation — and with the arrival of the spending-time-outside season, sun-exposure is almost always involved. Which is why we crafted a skin-protection shopping guide filled with only the top-reviewed and safest sunscreens available.
Refinery29’s SPF-coverage is all-encompassing — from
best-for-your-skin type to situational exposure levels, general explainers, new product releases, and more. But today we’re digging into a batch of customer-approved sunscreens only. We hunted through a sea of product reviews to find the ten best SPFs around, according to the healthy-skin humans who use them IRL. These protective goods aren’t only top-rated buys but they’re also all sensitive-skin friendly, provide long-lasting coverage, and are either completely paraben or oxybenzone-free (a.k.a. reef-safe). Scroll on to lotion-up with the savviest and most sustainable SPF all spring through summer long.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
The Under-Makeup Sunscreen A cruelty-free, water-resistant, and all-natural formula that’s fast-absorbing and ultra-moisturizing for sun-protection that lasts all day — and is also lightweight enough to wear underneath makeup.
The Hype: 4.3 out of 5 stars and 494 reviews on Amazon
SPF-Warriors Say: “I am a ginger and wear this every day for my face and neck, it works well and doesn’t leave my skin feeling super oily or greasy. It sets in well and I can put makeup on on top of it within 5 minutes. I am out in a the sun a lot and just reapply this over my makeup, I usually have to touch up my foundation/blush a tad after reapplying but it’s still quite convenient. A must-try, as no matter your complexion wearing sunscreen everyday will protect your skin.” — Sarah, Amazon Reviewer Supergoop! Everyday SPF 50 Sunscreen For Face and Body, $19, available at Amazon
The Unscented-Spray Sunscreen Gluten, oxybenzone, and aerosol-free, this unscented spray is also water-resistant and boasts anti-aging benefits with its antioxidant-rich formula.
The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars and 1,554 loves on Sephora
SPF-Warriors Say: “Easy application, just spray on quickly and done. Easy to reach your back. Feels great on your skin, moisturizing and not thick. I used on my entire family when we went to Dorney Park: I’ll say 2 kids and 10 people, no joke, and still had a little left. I am super fair skin and did not burn at all, I stayed the same shade!” — LikenAngel5, Sephora Reviewer Coola Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30 (Unscented), $32, available at Sephora
The Super-Sensitive Sunscreen EltaMD’s oil-free and mineral-based formula comes dermatologist-recommended for both calming and protecting sensitive skin that is prone to acne, rosacea, and/or discoloration.
The Hype: 4.3 out of 5 stars and 3,223 reviews on Amazon
SPF-Warriors Say: “I’m absolutely obsessed with this SPF. It works so well for my skin that I’ve now entered it into my skin care daily line up, and it’s an integral part of my line up. I have really bad rosacea, and when I went to a new dermatologist she told me that I needed to use something less oily than the banana boat I was slathering on if I wanted my ease the effects of my rosacea. The EltaMD is so good at protecting my skin from the sun that it doesn’t get dried out at all, and it doesn’t burn like it used to. Also generally speaking, my skin is so much better than it was a month ago and I’m hoping the improvements will just keep going. I definitely recommend this SPF to anyone who’s looking for a lightweight protectant against the sun that won’t clog their pores or cause them to break out.” — J, Amazon Reviewer Elta MD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, $34.5, available at Amazon
The Best-Smelling Sunscreen Infused with wrinkle-combatting vitamin E, this beachy-scented sunscreen is not only water and sweat-resistant but it also comes tested and approved by The Skin Cancer Foundation (a public and medical educational leader in skin cancer prevention).
The Hype: 4.8 out of 5 stars and 131 reviews on Ulta
SPF-Warriors Say: “Smells amazing (coconut/banana) and it is very easy to apply. It doesn’t leave a white residue like some of the others I’ve tried and it kept my pale skin from getting burned, even after spending a week in Disney/Universal. I used the lotion as my base and followed up with the spray mid-day for peace of mind. Highly recommend!” — Sue, Ulta Reviewer Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, $15.99, available at Ulta Beauty
The Tinted Sunscreen This broad-spectrum sunscreen is oil and fragrance-free, and infused with micronized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for a texture that dries with a silky-matte finish.
The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars and 247 reviews on Dermstore
SPF-Warriors Say: “I’ve been using Cotz Face Natural Tint SPF 40 year round for several years. I’ve noticed that I have fewer freckles, a more even skin tone and never, even under extreme conditions, even a hint of sunburn. Have also noticed that my skin has not had a break out for some time and my skin never feels oily. I like how easy it is to apply and how soft it makes my skin feel. The natural tint blends in beautifully with my skin tone-it’s like having a second skin. It is by far the best sunscreen I have ever used.” — Dermstore Reviewer CoTZ FACE Prime & Protect Tinted SPF 40, $23.99, available at DermStore
The Heavy-Duty Sunscreen Both dermatologist recommended and sensitive-skin tested, this antioxidant-rich and paraben-free formula provides fast-absorbing and water-resistant coverage that protects against broad spectrum UV-exposure.
The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars and 504 reviews on Amazon
SPF-Warriors Say: “I applied this first thing in the morning, then proceeded to work outside, all day (about 6 hours), in the blazing heat and bright NC sun. Absolutely no shade, lots of sweat, and wiping at my face throughout the day. Never reapplied it once. And guess what? It kept my very fair, fragile skin protected. Not a trace of sun exposure was visible on my face that evening or the next day. Also, my skin is very sensitive and prone to breaking out, but I had no issues whatsoever. This stuff is the real deal, folks!” — Princess D, Amazon Reviewer La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60, $31.31, available at Amazon
The Stick Sunscreen This dermatologist and ophthalmologist-tested stick is crafted from a paraben-free formula that provides 80 minutes of water-resistant coverage and can be easily applied under OR over makeup.
The Hype: 4.3 out of 5 stars and 4,382 loves on Sephora
SPF-Warriors Say: “This is one of the few products that is so good I always have to have one waiting in the box so I will never run out even if it goes out of stock which (be warned) this one frequently does. This sunscreen applies clear (without using your fingers), is non-greasy, and protects skin beautifully with an SPF of 50. It has protected my skin through entire triathlons where you can’t reapply after swimming–and then you bike and run for a few hours in blazing sun. In my opinion triathlons are the ultimate test for a sunscreen and the Wetforce Stick passes with flying colors. It took me years to find my perfect facial sunscreen and I hope Shiseido never stops making it!” — H. Nicholson, Sephora Reviewer Shiseido Clear Stick Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50+, $28, available at Sephora
The Super-Eco Sunscreen This Australian-born sunscreen brand is proudly mineral-based and completely oxybenzone and octinoxate-free with a rich vitamin E-infused formula that provides broad-spectrum and water-resistant coverage for up to 80 minutes.
The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars and 2,007 reviews on Amazon
SPF-Warriors Say: “I just returned from a trip to sail and snorkel in the FL Keys and I was quite pleased with this sunscreen. I did a lot of research because I wanted a product that was safe for the reefs but was also effective. The physical blocks in Blue Lizard are more recommended than chemical blocks of other products that claim to be safe for reefs. The sunscreen is thick and very white but I was pleasantly surprised at how thoroughly it rubbed it – no white zinc oxide remnants! It was also very water resistant. I reapplied periodically but not obsessively and did not get any burn after a week of sun on my very fair complexion. Two of us used the bottle every day and we had plenty for the week. The color-changing bottle was a fun bonus because I could demonstrate to the kids that even when it was overcast, we still needed sunscreen!” — MT_Momma, Amazon Reviewer Blue Lizard Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Sunscreen, SPF 30, $14.98, available at Amazon
The Travel Sunscreen Four of the popular, certified-organic brand’s bestselling sunscreen goods come together in this cost-effective and travel-friendly set — from a sheer face formula to water-resistant spray, lip-SPF stick, and after-sun exposure lotion.
The Hype: 4.8 out of 5 stars and 85 reviews on Ulta
SPF-Warriors Say: “I love all the products in this bag, including the bag, so much I bought another one. Great for travel. The sunscreen works well and smells wonderful! The lip balm and after sun moisturizer keep me from dying out. Love that it’s natural and organic, better for me and the earth!” — Bobbi, Ulta Reviewer Coola Lip Stain, $39.99, available at Ulta Beauty
The Lip Sunscreen A cruelty-free balm that boasts serious antioxidant-rich lip conditioning benefits on top of SPF protection that never feels sticky or waxy.
The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars and 1,557 reviews on Amazon
SPF-Warriors Say: “This is the best lip balm I have ever used. I wanted something with SPF for motorcycle rides. So many are waxy sticks that reek of fake, plastic coconut scent. I am very pleased with the cool minty scent and sensation of this product (it does not burn). The product is on the thinner side but not runny. It feels great; not sticky or slippery. Although the brand markets toward men this one is great for the ladies. I can even wear it under lipstick without issue. Jack Black is CRUELTY-FREE.” — Munkey, Amazon Reviewer Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25, $7.5, available at Amazon
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