The 10 Best Body Sunscreens Dermatologists Recommend for Year-Round Protection
Despite its importance, sunscreen application isn't always prioritized, especially when it comes to the body. But just like the face, your chest, arms, back, and legs need to be protected from the sun's damaging UV rays. "A shot glass worth of sunscreen should be applied if you are out in the sun to your entire body, every two hours and whenever you get out of water," says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Rita Linkner, MD.
But finding the best body sunscreen requires a lot of consideration, starting with the type of sun protection you want. Sunscreens are broken up into two categories: mineral and chemical.
"Mineral sunscreen (often referred to as physical sunscreen) uses minerals including zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the active ingredients to protect the top layer of skin by deflecting UVA and UVB rays from the skin," explains Laura Dyer, a New York City-based physician assistant specializing in aesthetic and clinical skincare. On the other hand, chemical sunscreens contain organic carbon-based compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone; these ingredients create a chemical reaction and protect the skin by changing UV rays into heat and then the heat is released from the skin, adds Dyer.
As for when you should use each, board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeon Michele Koo, MD, FACS, says there's no right answer. "Everyone has their own preferences and their own threshold of how much skin protection they desire," she says. "I personally use both. I use chemical sunscreens when I know I'll have intense prolonged sun exposure during hikes, trips to the beach, skiing, etc. Your skin will let you know how effective it is."
From there, you have your choice of lotion, spray, and stick formulations, which can then be further broken down based on ingredients, water resistance (more on that in a second), broad-spectrum SPF level (as a general rule of thumb, Dyer recommends to always use an SPF of 30 or higher), and other factors. It's important to understand sunscreen verbiage, and if you foresee yourself swimming or sweating while wearing sunscreen, know that water resistant formulas do not mean waterproof, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "Sunscreen will stay on your skin for 40 to 80 minutes, depending on the product and what's on the label," he notes. That means you still need to reapply after getting out of the water; just be sure to pat dry before applying, so it doesn't drip off the skin, adds Dr. Zeichner.
What's more, deciding which sunscreen is right for you is totally dependent on your skin type, notes Dyer. "Acne-prone skin does better with physical sunscreen over chemicals, because both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are non-comedogenic (won't clog pores)," she points out. For those with darker skin types, a chemical sunscreen may be easier to apply, however there are great tinted mineral sunscreens that won't make the skin appear pasty or white. And if you have skin sensitivities like rosacea, avoid alcohol as an ingredient, since it can be harsh and drying, warns Dyer.
All in all, it really just comes down to what works for you, your skin, and your lifestyle. "The best sunscreen is ultimately the one you are actually using," says Dr. Zeichner. "With so many textures and delivery systems on the market, there's something out there for every personal preference. But, the sunscreen only works if you actually put it on," he adds.
Looking for a new body sunscreen? Below, explore the best sunscreens for the body that not only offer adequate sun protection but also cater to a variety of skin types and concerns to provide comfortable coverage.
The 10 best sunscreens for the body, according to dermatologists
- Best Overall: Supergoop Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50
- Best Mineral: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield SPF 50
- Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Sunscreen SPF 30
- Best for the Neck and Chest: Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Activewear Lotion Sport Body Sunscreen SPF 60
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 35 Body Sunscreen
- Best for Dark Skin: Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
- Best for Mature Skin: Rodan + Fields Reverse Brightening Defense Fluid Lotion SPF 50+
- Best for Everyday Use: Solara Sunscare Clean Freak Nutrient Boosted Daily Sunscreen
- Best for Kids: Babo Botanicals' Broad Spectrum Daily Sheer Sunscreen SPF 40
Best Overall: Supergoop Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50
Not only is the Supergoop Play Everyday Lotion recommended by Ohio-based dermatologist Hope Mitchell, MD, for its broad-spectrum SPF 50 coverage, but it's also at the top of her list for its skin-healthy ingredients, including hydrating glycerin. Dr. Mitchell also loves that it's available in a large, easy-to-dispense bottle, and "its hydrating formulation absorbs quickly into the skin as you rub it all over your body." Plus, this broad spectrum sunscreen is water resistant and perfect for swimmers, runners or any outdoor activity, she adds.
"Have been buying this sunscreen for years," shared one shopper. "It's the only sunscreen I can get my kids to put on without complaining! We all love that it goes on smoothly, making your skin feel moisturized without feeling greasy and we love the scent."
Best Mineral: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield SPF 50
Featuring 12% zinc oxide and formulated with hydrating, antioxidant-rich ingredients, this SPF 50 sunscreen from Colorescience is equal parts protective and nourishing, which translates to healthier skin over time. For California-based aesthetician Karen Fernandez, this mineral sunscreen is a favorite because of its wide-reaching coverage. "It provides invisible, 100 percent mineral protection from environmental aggressors such as UVA and UVB, pollution, blue light, and infrared radiation," she explains. Also great? According to reviewers, it doesn't leave a white cast behind or irritate the skin.
"This SPF is the best for my family's sensitive skin. It is extremely sheer and moisturizing. It leaves your skin super soft. This is by far my favorite spf lotion," raved a customer.
Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Sunscreen SPF 30
Another pick from Dr. Mitchell, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Sunscreen offers SPF 30 protection while enriching the skin with lasting hydration, thanks to its suncare-meets-skincare approach. "It's affordable and its silky consistency is perfect for the body," she says. "Quick, even absorption and does not leave a white cast on the skin." Key ingredients include hyaluronic acid and glycerin to add moisture to the skin—which is essential since the sun and saltwater can be very drying
One reviewer wrote: "Lightweight. Non-greasy. Invisible on the skin. Doesn't burn. It has become my favorite sunscreen to date!! I enjoy it enough for everyday use."
Best for the Neck and Chest: Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen
Recommended by Dr. Zeichner for its blendable, non-irritating, and noncomedogenic formula, the Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily sunscreen makes a great SPF for more than just your face. "This all mineral sunscreen has the slightest tint that evens skin tone," he explains. "It uses zinc oxide in a mild formula that is great for the face as well as the neck and the chest." The SPF 30, UVA and UVB ray-blocking sunscreen contains 4.1% titanium dioxide and 11.5% zinc oxide and leaves skin with a matte-like finish, according to reviewers, who also noted that it wears well under makeup.
"This stuff blends effortlessly into the skin and doesn't feel greasy," said a fan. "My skin didn't burn even in the mountain sun! I used it on my kids' faces too and we all were impressed."
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Activewear Lotion Sport Body Sunscreen SPF 60
Thanks to its unique sweat-minimizing formula, this sunscreen prevents clogged pores and body breakouts as it defends against UVA and UVB rays, making it excellent for acne-prone skin types. "The La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Sunscreen is fragrance- and oil-free and great for those with acne-prone or sensitive skin as it won't clog the pores," explains Dr. Mitchell. Plus, the lightweight, oil-absorbing formulation leaves a shine-free, matt finish—perfect for oily, acne-prone skin. What's more, the oxybenzone-free sunscreen is water- and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes and further improves the health of your skin with antioxidant-rich ingredients, courtesy of the brand's Cell-Ox Shield Technology, which Dr. Mitchell says is non-irritating to those with sensitivities.
"My teen and I both have fair, sensitive skin and have had excellent results with Anthelios activewear sunscreen. We've spent time outdoors, and it definitely prevented sunburn, neither of us experienced irritation and my son hasn't had an acne breakout," reported a shopper.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 35 Body Sunscreen
A favorite of dermatological nurse and celebrity aesthetician Natalie Aguilar for its gentle fragrance-free, dye-free, and non-comedogenic formula, this sport sunscreen from Vanicream caters to those with sensitive skin and offers 80 minutes of water-resistant sun protection. To further prevent irritation and discomfort, the zinc oxide sunscreen also features a hydrating blend of glycerin and vitamin E (read: has antioxidant properties that block free radical damage), which reviewers say contributes to its lightweight, non-greasy feel.
"My dermatologist recommended this product and I am so thankful for it. Most sunscreens cause all sorts of skin issues, particularly on my legs, but this lacks the harsh chemicals while effectively protecting my skin. It does go on white, but the color quickly dissipates, just give it a few minutes," shared a customer with sensitive skin.
Best for Dark Skin: Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Perfect for the face and body, the Black Girl Sunscreen Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 uses a hydrating blend of jojoba, cacao, and avocado to create a moisturized base for your skin. Its signature sheer and fast-absorbing formula also makes this pick excellent for those with dark skin, according to Dr. Mitchell. "It disappears into the skin without leaving a white cast," she assures, adding that the formula is cruelty-free, vegan, and fragrance-free.
Several reviewers vouched for the sunscreen's no-white cast formula in their reviews. "I've been looking for a sunscreen that works best for my brown skin, being that most products we see in retail only cater to fair skin tones," said one Ulta shopper. "It's lightweight, which I love because I'm a sweater and heavy products aren't my thing, and there's no white residue."
Best for Mature Skin: Rodan + Fields Reverse Brightening Defense Fluid Lotion SPF 50+
Combining the benefits of SPF with skincare, this brightening sunscreen from Rodan + Fields uses a blend of antioxidant-rich ingredients to fade discoloration, prevent the formation of acne, and fight premature aging while defending the skin from the sun's UVA and UVB rays. The SPF 50+ formula even leaves the skin with a dewy glow thanks to moisturizing licorice extract. "At an SPF 50, this is right where you want to be in terms of UV protection," Dr. Linkner says.
"The built-in antioxidants also combat the reactive oxygen species that causes our skin to age, so it's a great way to keep your skin anti-aged while in the sun."
Best for Everyday Use: Solara Sunscare Clean Freak Nutrient Boosted Daily Sunscreen
Another pick from Dr. Zeichner, this sunscreen boasts a lightweight, non-greasy formula that feels comfortable and is undetectable on the skin, making it excellent for everyday use. "This all-natural sunscreen uses mineral only UV blockers in a gentle formula that can be used across all skin types," he shares. "Plus, it rubs in without leaving behind a white cast on the skin." In addition to protecting your skin from the sun, it also combines antioxidant-rich superfoods like kakadu plum, pomegranate, ashwagandha, and raspberry leaf extract with moisturizing squalane and shea butter to create hydrated, calmed, and nourished skin.
"It rubs in better than any other zinc-based sunscreen I have purchased over the years," reported a fan. "Even my kids are happy to use this product, which is a huge win."
Best for Kids: Babo Botanicals' Broad Spectrum Daily Sheer Sunscreen SPF 40
While this fragrance-free mineral sunscreen is technically designed for the face, Aguilar loves applying it all over. Thanks to the extremely lightweight formula (which contains powerful antioxidants like rosehip and green tea), this non-greasy SPF is ideal for the body, since it will not leave oily residue all over your clothing. points out Aguilar. "I like applying SPF prior to getting dressed, and reapplying on any areas that are exposed to the sun throughout the day—doing my best to never forget the back of my hands," she adds.
Not only is it expert-approved, but it also has the seal of approval of parents and kids alike. "It goes on white and then is easy to rub in and becomes invisible," one Amazon customer wrote. "Doesn't irritate my eyes or my children's eyes."