12 best sunscreens to protect your skin, according to skincare experts

Our partners at the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab tested the best sunscreens and SPFs and consulted top dermatologists to find the best sunblock to keep your skin protected, healthy and youthful all year long.

For this test, chemists evaluated 61 body sunscreens and surveyed over 5,500 people in a consumer panel. Based on findings, GH chose products with different active ingredients (chemical, mineral and pure zinc oxide formulas), along with different forms: lightweight lotions, easy-to-use sunscreen sprays and gentle formulas suitable for sensitive skin and kids.

After narrowing the field to the top 24 sunscreens, GH enlisted 580 consumer testers across the country. Each person was asked to use a label-masked product at least two times over the course of a week and give their honest feedback. After reviewing over 12,000 responses, experts narrowed in on the top-performing picks, which you can see below.

1

Best Overall Sunscreen

AntiOxidant+ Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

amazon.com

$14.49

$9.94

The winner of the Beauty Lab’s most recent sunscreen test, this pick from Hawaiian Tropic excelled across the board in evaluations, earning perfect scores for not drying or irritating skin. One tester said it even stayed put during a run and didn’t burn her eyes. Plus, at just $1.50 per ounce, it’s less than half the average price of other products tested.

Testers also liked that it didn’t feel tacky or greasy on their skin and absorbed well with no white residue. Its beachy scent was also a total crowd-pleaser, even with testers who tend to be especially critical about scent. Overall, it earned the highest score for scent of all the products we looked at and was the only one that get an overwhelming Like! from nearly everyone who tried it. 

Active Type: Chemical sunscreen
Packaging: Lotion
SPF Rating: 50 broad spectrum 
Water Resistance: 80 minutes

2

Best Value Sunscreen

Ultra Sport Lotion SPF 50

amazon.com

$14.56

Not only were testers were most satisfied with this sunscreen, it’s the best value among top performers at less than $0.90 per ounce. Banana Boat’s lotion clinched the top spot for the best texture and came in as a close second in nearly every other category. 

It absorbed quickly, didn’t leave skin feeling dry, wasn’t irritating (even around eyes), and once it was rubbed in completely, left no white residue. Testers especially liked that the bottle’s slightly curved shape made it super-easy to dispense sunscreen even with slippery hands.

Active Type: Chemical sunscreen
Packaging: Lotion
SPF Rating: 50 broad spectrum 
Water Resistance: 80 minutes

3

Best Sunscreen Spray

Original Sunscreen Spray SPF 50

amazon.com

$15.98

For those who prefer to spritz on their sun protection, this tropical-scented Sun Bum mist was the clear winner in GH Beauty Lab testing, applying easily and leaving no chalky cast on skin. The formula came out on top for not creating a white residue and provided effective sunburn protection. 

The “continuous and even” spray “covered my skin quickly,” two testers said. “I would definitely buy this,” added one. Good to know: Some users found that it left an oily finish on skin that took time to disappear.
 

Active Type: Chemical sunscreen
Packaging: Spray
SPF Rating: 50 broad spectrum 
Water Resistance: 80 minutes

5

Best Value Sunscreen for Face

SPF 30 Anti-Oxidant Day Cream

ulta.com

$12.99

In our Beauty Lab’s recent test, YourGoodSkin tied for the highest score when it came to leaving testers’ skin hydrated. One even said the chemical formula felt more like a moisturizer than a sunscreen! It also earned the highest score for scent thanks to its fresh, light fragrance which wasn’t overpowering.

This is a great everyday option since you can layer the sunscreen under makeup without worrying about it interfering with your usual products. It didn’t irritate skin, cause breakouts or leave behind a white cast. A few testers with oily skin said it did leave a slight residue that added some unwanted shine, but that was easily covered when they applied the rest of their makeup.

Active Type: Chemical sunscreen
Packaging: Lotion
SPF Ratings: 30 broad spectrum
Water Resistance: Not water resistant

6

Best Mineral Sunscreen

Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50

amazon.com

$39.00

$31.18

This mineral pick from MDSolarSciences is a two-time Beauty Lab test winner. Overall, it provided ample protection for those who prefer a mineral/physical sunscreen and don’t mind paying the extra price for it. 

Testers loved that it didn’t leave a white tint “like all of the other physical (non-chemical) sunscreens [they] have used.” This silicone-based formula goes on silky, but has a tendency to separate in the tube when it’s hot, so remember to give it a shake before use.

Active Type: Mineral sunscreen
Packaging: Lotion
SPF Rating: 50 broad spectrum
Water Resistance: 80 minutes

7

Best Value Mineral Sunscreen

Botanical Sunscreen Mineral Lotion SPF 50

amazon.com

$15.99

$11.24

Mineral sunscreens don’t have to break the bank: This one earned top marks in our tests for less than half the price of other top-performing mineral options. “It applies smoothly, left little residue, and didn’t make me feel too tacky,” said a tester, who is allergic to chemical options.

Caveat: This one may not feel greasy, but it does leave behind a bit of a white cast, which only gets glowier when skin is wet (i.e. after a dip in the pool or a sweaty outdoor run). One tester also said that it stained her bathing suit. 

Active Type: Mineral sunscreen
Packaging: Lotion
SPF Rating: 50 broad spectrum 
Water Resistance: 80 minutes

8

Best Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield SPF 50

dermstore.com

$45.00

Consumer testers say this zinc oxide formula goes on smooth and leaves a powdery, silky finish. One tester described it as “melting into” her skin. Yes, it is a splurge (more than triple the average price of others we tested), but if you want a luxury mineral option, it doesn’t get better than this. 

We also found it was gentle on skin, causing no irritation or stinging even when applied around testers’ eyes. 

Active Type: Mineral sunscreen
Packaging: Lotion
SPF Rating: 50 broad spectrum 
Water Resistance: 80 minutes

9

Best Value Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

Pure & Simple SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

amazon.com

$11.99

$8.97

Everyone’s favorite childhood sunscreen brand also offers a mineral option that’s formulated only with zinc oxide. The updated classic is great for anyone looking for a non-chemical sunscreen that really works — without spending a ton. 

“I liked that it left my skin feeling ‘matte’-like; it wasn’t greasy, it wasn’t oily, and it wasn’t sticky or tacky. It was just like my regular skin, but with a protective coating,“ said one tester. While it was overall easy to apply, some testers thought the formula was too thick and warned that application could get messy.

Active Type: Mineral sunscreen
Packaging: Lotion
SPF Rating: 50 broad spectrum 
Water Resistance: 80 minutes

10

Best Non-Greasy Sunscreen

Activated Sun Protector Sunscreen SPF 50

macys.com

$32.00

$27.20

Tied as the winner in the Lab test from 2017, Kiehl’s lotion, designed for face and body, earned high scores all around. Its best-rated attribute: Not making skin feel greasy, oily, or slippery, even in the hot sun. Consumers said that this water-light lotion was “moisturizing” and liked its “neutral smell.” However, a few testers did note that the sunscreen was runny when coming out of the tube.

Active Type: Chemical sunscreen
Packaging: Lotion
SPF Rating: 50 broad spectrum
Water Resistance: 80 minutes

12

Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

Classic Body Sunscreen Guava Mango SPF 50

nordstrom.com

$32.00

Coola’s fruity sunscreen feels so light on skin that many testers said they forgot they were even wearing it! One compared its texture and feeling to a light skin lotion, rather than a traditional thick sunscreen. Great for people with sensitive skin, it earned perfect scores for being gentle on skin (face and body). 

Heads up: The tropical scent is pretty strong at first. Some testers loved it, while others thought it was way too much — even though it goes away after about 15 minutes.

Active Type: Chemical sunscreen
Packaging: Lotion
SPF Rating: 50 broad spectrum 
Water Resistance: 80 minutes