9 Best Sunscreens for Every Kind of Activity

Running outdoors

vanicream via, Olga Skorobogatova/Shutterstock“I always recommend picking sunscreens with mineral active ingredients over a chemical sunscreen, as they are less irritating and offer excellent broad spectrum coverage,” says Samer Jaber, MD, of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City. “My favorite is Vanicream SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen. It has zinc and titanium, is great for sensitive skin, and it’s non-irritating, as it free of dyes, fragrance, masking fragrance, lanolin, parabens, formaldehyde, and other preservatives.” (Not sure what “broad spectrum” means? Here’s how to decode your sunscreen label.)


via, Olga Skorobogatova/Shutterstock“Outdoor enthusiasts have a higher rate of skin cancer because reapplication is an issue,” cautions Mona Gohara, MD of Advanced Dermcare in Connecticut. That’s why she recommends a stick for around the eyes, and a powder for the face. “It doesn’t run into your eyes with activity, plus it is absorbent,” she says. It’s also easy to stash in your pocket or backpack for easy applications on the go, which Dr. Gohara says you should be doing every two hours. (Check out the Badger Sport Sunscreen Stick SPF 35 and Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Powder SPF 45.) “I also recommend using an antioxidant cream after your time in the sun, such as Manuka Doctor’s Drops of Crystal Cashmere Touch Cream. It’s enriched with anti-oxidant properties, thus giving extra protection,” Dr. Gohara says.

For every day

via, Olga Skorobogatova/Shutterstock“It’s important to apply sunscreen every day, no matter what your skin type is,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FASDS, FAAD of Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Centers in New York City. “Many times I have patients come to me asking if there’s really a benefit to wearing an SPF all the time, because they hate the way it smells, feels, or reacts with their makeup. I recently discovered the ISDIN Ultralight Emulsion SPF 50+, which is an ideal every day sunscreen. It’s formulated with 11 percent zinc oxide, vitamin E, and DNA Repairsomes®. It absorbs almost instantly into the skin, without any tacky and sticky residue,” she says. If you plan on wearing foundation, it’s also helpful to find makeup formulated with SPF, like ISDIN’s Skin Drops.

When golfing

via, Olga Skorobogatova/Shutterstock“For children and even adults, I love Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Sunscreen,” says Shari Sperling, DO, FAAD, FAOCD and Board Certified Dermatologist of Sperling Dermatology in Florham Park, New Jersey. Though zinc and titanium are both physical blockers from the sun that may remind you of the traditional lifeguard with a white nose, she says these sunblocks have come a long way. “Nowadays, there are invisible preparations that rub in well and don’t appear white,” Dr. Sperling says.

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After a medical procedure

via, Olga Skorobogatova/Shutterstock“As a plastic surgeon, I’m always wary when a patient of mine goes out into the sun post-op, so I recommend they cover any scars with Mederma Scar Cream Plus SPF 30. The best thing you can do for your scar is protect it from the sun and this product is clinically shown to reduce discoloration, improve overall appearance, softness, and texture of scars,” says Jennifer Levine, MD, PLLC and top Plastic Surgeon in New York City. “Another great product is Neocutis JOURNÉE 30. It is great to use post-procedure as it has UVA/UVB SPF 30 sun protection and works well with all skin tones,” Dr. Levine adds. Learn about the new anti-aging ingredients that are game changers.


COOLA via, Olga Skorobogatova/Shutterstock“The Coola Mineral Sport Sunscreen Stick is easy to apply, sweat-resistant, and contains a mineral formula that gives the broadest durable coverage,” says Annie Chiu, MD, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist of The Derm Institute in North Redondo Beach, California. When cycling, use this stick all over your face, as well as a cream such as Blue Lizard PF 30+ Sensitive Sunscreen on your body. (Believe it or not, you can buy this Australian active wear sunscreen by the gallon.)

Outdoor wedding

via, Olga Skorobogatova/ShutterstockIf you know you’ll be attending an outdoor wedding in the near future, don’t worry about having to ruin your makeup with a creamy facial SPF. “The Colorscience Colorscience Sunforgettable SPF Powder 50 is great to use to retouch on top of makeup throughout the hours of an outdoor wedding,” says Dr. Chiu. This pocket-sized brush will fit perfectly in your clutch and goes on as flawlessly as your favorite powder foundation. Not sure what to wear to the wedding? Here are common wedding dress codes decoded.

At the beach or pool

iS Clinical via, Olga Skorobogatova/ShutterstockSpend as much time as possible under an umbrella, sport a large brimmed hat and clothing that offers sun protection, and slather on the sunscreen. “Extreme Protect SPF 30 takes sunscreen protection to an entirely new level,” says Bryan Johns, president and CEO of iS CLINICAL by Innovative Skincare. “Not only does “EP30” provide SPF protection from the sun, it is a true treatment product for the skin. It moisturizes as it delivers huge levels of antioxidants to protect the skin in a much deeper and more thorough level… It is so effective that even if you apply it after sun exposure, it helps calm and soothe red, inflamed skin associated with sunburn.” Even if your careful with sunscreen these strange things can increase your risk of a sunburn.

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Wear non-greasy body and facial sunscreens to a picnic

via, Olga Skorobogatova/Shutterstock“I love the Elta 46 UV Clear, an incredibly lightweight, non-greasy SPF that layers well with moisturizers and makeup,” says Dr. Chiu. For exposed parts of your body, “the Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF 50 is a feather-light formula with broad coverage and antioxidants to prevent photo damage and premature aging,” says Dr. Chiu. If you only take sunscreen application seriously in the summer, remember, these practices need to be maintained year-round.

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