The Best Sunscreen

Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion

Our Top Pick for 2016: Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $9.56*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

A relaxing day at the beach can become a painful reminder of the importance of sunscreen when you wake up the next day with a red, angry sunburn. Science and medicine repeatedly tell us about the harmful effects of too much sun. Protecting your skin with clothing and sunscreen is the only way to prevent irreparable skin damage. Sunscreen lotion has come a long way from greasy beginnings. With everything from organic formulas to sports sunscreens, there is a type that will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays yet still have the features that make you happy. Whether that be an appealing scent or a lotion that doesn’t leave your skin feeling sticky, you will be able to find something that when used properly, will protect your skin.

Table of contents

10% Zinc Oxide Concentration
Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection
Blocks Both UVA An UVB Sun Rays
Water Resistant
Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Formula
Anti-aging Agent
80 Minutes
Prevents Sunburn And Skin Damage
Vitamin E
Water And Sweat Resistant
Vitamin B-5
Will Not Clog Up Your Pores Or Cause Breakouts
Available In SPF 15, SPF 30 And SPF 50

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion

Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $9.56*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerSun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion (Sun Bum) has four SPF’s to choose from – SPF 15, 30, 50, 75. Unless you are at high risk of burning such as fair skin or your’retaking a medication that makes the skin sensitive to the sun, an SPF of 15 should be sufficient. Sun Bum offers broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Sun Bum is a chemical sunscreen that uses Parsol 1789, also known as avobenzone. This chemical is the latest in sunscreen technology. It has been designed to broaden its spectrum of protection and increase its staying power. This particular chemical is absorbed into the skin to provide protection. Parsol 1789 is photostabilized so that it does not break down when exposed to the sun.

Water resistance is an important factor in providing good sun protection. Swimming and perspiration can both cause sunscreen to wear off more quickly. To address this problem, Sun Bum has been designed to provide protection in the water and/or while perspiring for up to 80 minutes. After 80 minutes, you’ll need to reapply to get continued protection.

The concern about exposure to chemicals and unnecessary artificial ingredients has made sunscreen manufacturers rethink their approach to sun protection. Today, it is not uncommon to find sunscreens, like Sun Bum, that advertise not only the chemicals they use but also the chemicals and substances they do not contain.

Sun Bum is paraben free. While parabens have been directly linked to cancer, they have been found in cancerous tumors in the breast and other body tissues. It has been used in cosmetics for years but is being phased out as worries of cancer have increased.

Sun Bum does not use Paba. Paba is an effective means of reflecting the sun’s rays off the skin. However, to be made useful in sunscreen, it required a host of other chemicals that cause skin irritations and even discolorations.

A gluten free, hypoallergenic product, like Sun Bum, protects your skin without setting off an allergic reaction.

Protecting your skin can cause breakouts. A sunscreen like Sun Bum that is oil free can decrease your risk of breakouts due to pores clogged by sunscreen. Another common complaint about sunscreen is the greasy feeling it leaves on your skin. Sun Bum does not leave a white residue or cause the skin to feel or look greasy. It absorbs nicely into the skin for long term protection.

Sun Bum is also 100% vegan, which means it does not use any animal products nor has it been tested on animals. Environmentally friendly and eco-conscious products are on the rise as consumers become aware of the costs of damaging natural resources and animals to make products for people.

The sunscreen has a slight coconut scent that many users find pleasing. There is no fragrance-free option available. It also has vitamin E for moisturizing and replenishing sun dried skin.

Sun Bum has been tested and approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Andre Lorent Sport Sunscreen Lotion

Andre Lorent Sport Sunscreen Lotion

View it on Amazon for $31.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerAndre Lorent Sport Sunscreen Lotion (AL) is a high-quality product that will keep your skin protected. AL sunscreen creates a protective physical barrier to block the sun’s harmful rays. It is SPF 30 so it will provide adequate sun protection but should still be reapplied every two hours.

Unlike a chemical sunscreen that is absorbed into the skin, physical block sunscreens, like AL, use ingredients to absorb or reflect the sun’s rays without being absorbed into the skin. AL uses a 10% zinc oxide formula to effectively prevent damaging rays from penetrating your skin. Zinc oxide has been used in sunscreens for many years and continues to prove its worth. The physical barrier created by AL blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Now that science has concluded the harmful effects of both of these kinds of rays, you should not consider a sunscreen that does not block both.

The zinc oxide particles in older sunscreens used to be large and cause a pale, ghostly pallor on users. These particles would also rub off on clothing and anywhere else the user sat. However, technology has made zinc oxide a viable way to protect the skin without these two side effects. Once applied, AL does not leave an oily residue or chalky substance on the skin.

AL not only protects the skin but also has ingredients that are intended to decrease the signs of aging and prolong the health of your skin. AL contains vitamins E and B5. Vitamin E is a long lasting moisturizer to help battle the dry skin that sometimes accompanies summer. The B5 boosts rapid tissue repair. It also uses Sundrisol7 to reverse the effects of aging. One reason many people use sunscreen is to prevent damage by the sun that can increase fine lines and wrinkles. When you use AL, you can save yourself time because you won’t have to apply any addition lotion to your face before applying sunscreen.

A good sunscreen needs to be able to protect you from the sun even while sweating in the summer heat or when swimming. AL provides 80 minutes of water resistant protection. If AL runs into your eyes during or after an activity it won’t sting, eliminating another common sunscreen complaint. After 80 minutes, you will need to reapply to continue protecting your skin.

AL goes on smooth and is non-greasy. Many people dislike the shiny, sticky face left behind with other sunscreens. AL absorbs nicely into the skin and is non-comedogenic. If you take proper care of your skin, using AL should not add to the number of your breakouts. Those with sensitive skin should also be able to use AL as it is gentle on all skin types. It has a light feeling after application that is less like a sunscreen and more like a light moisturizer.

It has a light scent that is not overwhelming.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Banana Boat Sport Performance Lotion Sunscreen

Banana Boat Sport Performance Lotion Sunscreen

View it on Amazon for $6.49*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardBanana Boat Sport Performance Lotion Sunscreen (BB) is an inexpensive sunscreen that provides good coverage and protection. It comes in SPF 15, 30, and 50 all of which provide adequate protection.

This is a chemical sunscreen that uses avobenzone, homosalate, and octocrylene to absorb into the skin and protect from within. These chemicals provide broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. When rubbed on, it absorbs quickly and does not leave any chalky residue.

Specifically designed for athletes, this formula provides the protection you want without sunscreen running in your eyes during heavy activity. Banana Boat boasts the ability to withstand seven of the most common summer activities and conditions – ocean, wind, pool, sun, sweat, heat, and sand. Their POWERSTAY technology locks the ingredients in place during these activities. These claims have not been tested independently but it does meet the standards of withstanding the normal summer elements.

BB is water resistant for up to 80 minutes of exposure to water and/or sweat. That is a good amount of time to enjoy swimming in the pool, splashing at the beach, or participating in any outdoor sports activity before you’ll need to reapply. Water resistance also helps to prevent BB from running into your eyes where it can cause discomfort and stinging.

Sunscreen has long had the reputation of being heavy and sticky, making many people avoid it during the hot summer months when they need it most. BB is specially formulated to go on light and absorb quickly into the skin. It does not leave a sticky residue behind nor does it leave your face shiny. It is light enough to be applied before putting on makeup for everyday use if you wanted.

There are no added fragrances to cover the slight sunscreen smell. While some prefer to cover this smell, without any fragrance added there are fewer chemicals added to the lotion. For those with sensitive skin, the lack of fragrances make this sunscreen less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

It is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Banana Boat Sunscreen Ultra Mist Sport Spray

Banana Boat Sunscreen Ultra Mist Sport Spray

View it on Amazon for $3.70*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickBanana Boat Sunscreen Ultra Sport Spray (BB Spray) is an inexpensive spray lotion that can be used for protection during heavy activity and is easy to apply on children. It comes in SPF 15, 30, 50, and 100 to give you a wide range of SPFs. Anything over SPF 15 or 30 would only be beneficial to those with the most sensitive skin or that are taking medications that increase sun sensitivity.

The BB Spray has Banana Boat’s patented Avo-triplex technology. This technology combines the power of avobenzone as a UVA absorber with a stabilizer to prevent it from breaking down. Then it is enhanced to provide more efficient protection. While BB Spray protects from both UVA and UVB rays, it pays special attention to damaging UVA rays that are present year round.

Sprays are often a favorite for parents. Wiggly, impatient children can be difficult to get covered properly. With a spray, you can apply quickly. When using a spray, be sure to cover the mouth, nose, and eyes so that no sunscreen is inhaled or ingested. Also apply liberally so that there is adequate coverage.

To aid in spraying, there is a new actuator design to get the best possible spray every time you use the sunscreen. The BB Spray also sprays at an angle making application easier. When you have to tip a can, it can cause the spray to lose its pressure. With the angled nozzle, the container stays upright while you apply the sunscreen.

The BB Spray goes on with a lightweight spray that is not greasy and absorbs quickly into the skin. You may need to spray it on your hand to rub into the face so as to not get in sensitive areas. Otherwise, it is a non-rub spray product.

Once dried, BB Spray is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. A spray sunscreen can be particularly useful when participating in water activities because it is easy to reapply. Respraying children won’t take long and then they can continue with their activities.

It also comes with a twist and lock top so that there is no lid to lose or misplace. When you have children, the fewer items you have to lose the better.

It is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Pre-purchase considerations

Understand Sunscreen Terms

Understanding the terms used to rate a sunscreen will help you to purchase the right product for you. All sunscreen has an SPF rating. SPF stands for sun protection factor. In theory, the SPF factor tells you the amount of time you will be protected past when you would normally begin to burn. For example, if you used an SPF 15 sunscreen and you normally burn in 30 minutes, the sunscreen would protect you for 7 ½ hours.

However, this number is calculated assuming that you apply the correct amount of sunscreen. For an adult to cover the body and face that should be about two tablespoons. Most people, however, only use half that amount. Perspiration and swimming also cause sunscreen to wear off faster.

It is recommended that you put on sunscreen 10-15 minutes before going outside to allow it to be fully absorbed into the skin. You should also reapply every two hours regardless of the SPF to assure that you are fully protected.

Broad Spectrum Protection

Look for a sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection, which means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

UVA rays have a longer wavelength and make up most of the harmful radiation in the atmosphere from the sun. They are present year round and can penetrate clouds and glass. They penetrate the deep layers of the skin and are thought to cause most of the damage that results in fine lines and wrinkles. Some sunscreens focus more attention on blocking UVA than UVB rays.

UVB rays are shorter and cause tanning and burning of the skin. It also plays a role in causing skin cancer. Unlike UVA rays, UVB rays have a higher concentration during certain times of the year. In the United States, they have the heaviest concentration between April – October during the hours of 10am – 4pm. The can also penetrate glass.

Chemical vs. Physical Block

There are two basic methods for counteracting the damaging rays of the sun. The first is chemically blocking the rays. With chemical blocking, chemicals are absorbed into the skin. These chemicals repel the rays or absorb them so that they do not harm the skin. Chemical blocking works well but there is some question as to its long term effects. Any chemicals that are absorbed by the skin also have the potential to be absorbed into other body tissues. There is no direct evidence at this point that the chemicals found in modern sunscreens directly cause cancer, but the potential is there.

Physical blocks create a physical barrier on the skin that repels and absorbs harmful rays. Zinc oxide is a popular physical blocker. Many physical sun barriers have fairly large particles that can often leave a white film on the skin. This white film can be transferred to clothing and any objects with which the wearer comes into contact.

Nanotechnology creates physical blocking particles that are so small that they pose the risk of being absorbed into the skin and tissue just as chemical blockers can. Today, there are technologies that allow physical blocking to occur without leaving the telltale white film, yet do not pose a risk of absorbing into the deep tissue, as with nanotechnology, where they may cause cancer.

Water/Sweat Resistance

Summer is hot. You should look for a sunscreen that has some resistance to water. Even if you don’t plan on swimming, sweat can cause sunscreen to wear off faster. With some water resistance, you’ll be able to reduce the frequency with which you’ll need to reapply. Some sunscreens can resist water for 60 minutes while others can last up to 80 minutes. Be sure to the read the label of your sunscreen so that you know how often to reapply. If you towel dry before the time limit is up, you’ll need to reapply as the moisture of the water and the scrubbing of the towel will remove the sunscreen.

Many sports sunscreens are particularly adept at resisting sweat. If you don’t want your sunscreen to drip into your face when it gets too warm, look for a sports sunscreen that keeps this aspect in mind.

Absorbency and Feel

A sunscreen that is hard to rub in may leave a visible film behind. Aesthetically, many people do not like to look like they are wearing sunscreen. Most modern sunscreen formulas are designed to be rubbed in and become invisible to the naked eye. There are a few sunscreens with zinc oxide that may still leave a white or colored film behind.

Along with absorbency is the feel of the sunscreen. Greasy, sticky skin is the mark of summertime that many people want to avoid. But that isn’t true anymore. Look for sunscreens that address this issue. Read reviews if possible because even if it is advertised, it may be stickier than you would like.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Sun protection is a must now that we know the dangers of leaving the skin uncovered. There are many good products available that will protect the skin without leaving it feeling sticky or greasy. Be sure to purchase a sunscreen that has broad spectrum protection with an SPF of at least 15. Once you’ve purchased, you should wear sunscreen every time you go in the sun, particularly between the hours of 10am – 4pm.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!


  1. Dr. Doris Day, What to Look for in a Sunscreen,, June 10, 2009
  2. Eleni N. Gage, What are Parabens – and Do I Need to Worry About Them?,
  3. Dr. Jessica Wu, What to Look for in a Sunscreen,, March 17, 2008
  4. Nicole Sarrubbo, Three Things to Look for When Buying Sunscreen,, May 23, 2013
  5. R. Morgan Griffin, What’s the Best Sunscreen?,, June 1, 2007
  6. Sun Tips,

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