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Best sunscreen for 2020: Neutrogena, EltaMD, Supergoop and more

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Sunscreen formulas have never been better. Here are some of the best you can buy.

Any dermatologist will tell you that the secret to great skin is using sunscreen. Not only does the best sunscreen help prevent skin cancer, but it also stops the sun’s damaging rays from breaking down the collagen in your skin. Sun damage leads to premature aging and causes wrinkles and sagging.

Thankfully, there are a multitude of companies that are making all types of sunscreens that you’d actually want to use. I’m talking lightweight lotions you’ll reach for every day, facial sunscreens that you can apply and blend like makeup primer, and spray sunscreens you can reapply to your kids right after they jump out of the swimming pool.

But there are so many brands and options out there that choosing a sunscreen can be daunting. The list below scratches the surface of both mineral and physical sunscreens, highlighting some of the best-selling sunscreens on Amazon, plus a few formulas that make sunscreen much more palatable to wear. 

Note that these products are independently chosen by our editors and based on extensive research into the available options in the marketplace. The prices are accurate as of publishing time, but may change.

This is the lotion sunscreen I currently have and use because it feels lightweight and rubs in easily. It’s like putting on lotion, and it moisturizes dry skin like lotion because it has shea butter. Be forewarned this has a subtle shimmer to it, so you’ll look ever-so-slightly glittery.

Hate any and all glitter? Try Banana Boat’s Sun Comfort Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 50, $7.92 for 6 oz. at Amazon) for a similar hydrating option with UVA protection and UVB protection.

Kids rarely want to sit still long enough for you to apply (and reapply) sunscreen. But this sunscreen for kids formula goes on quickly and is meant to work on wet skin. The spray cuts through water to adhere to skin, so applying sunscreen is easy and your kids stay protected even as they spend all day getting in and out of the pool.

If you have ever struggled to rub in the white cast left behind by mineral sunscreens, only to end up looking like a ghost, this is your new face sunscreen. In recent years, Supergoop has been cranking out new formulas for any need — like powder sunscreen you can swipe on over your makeup during the day — great for oily or acne-prone skin! — or a sunscreen oil that holds in moisture on your skin. (Note that Supergoop is totally unaffiliated with Gwyneth Paltrow’s similarly named Goop brand.)

I picked up the brand’s Smooth and Poreless at Sephora on a whim, and it’s what I currently use on my face. Of any facial sunscreen I’ve used, I’ve loved this the most because it feels like a primer, blurs my pores and has a matte finish — all bonuses when the product’s main purpose is to protect your skin from sun exposure.

 It’s definitely not cheap, but it’s worth the cost for me. For a cheaper facial sunscreen, check out the Asian sunscreen pick below.

This EltaMD mineral-based sensitive skin sunscreen is well-loved because despite the fact that it uses zinc oxide, it goes on clear and blends into your skin without leaving a white cast. I’ve tried it firsthand and it glides on so well, you don’t feel like you’re wearing sunscreen.

Just be careful when shopping to make sure you buy it directly from Amazon, not a third-party seller, because there are Amazon shoppers who’ve reported receiving counterfeit products. (Shown is the SPF 40 version, but I’ve linked to the SPF 46 version.)

Doctors recommend that you limit your baby’s sun exposure with a wide-brimmed hat, sun-protective clothing and shade and that you not use chemical sunscreen products on infants under six months. Once they reach the six-month milestone, you can use sunscreen, but stick to formulas that are free of dyes and scents and that use minerals (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) for sun protection.

This Blue Lizard formula checks all of those boxes for sunscreen for babies and the bottle turns pink in the sun, to give you a nudge to reapply.

Sport and water-resistant sunscreen products can feel thick and greasy, but I like Neutrogena’s Beach Defense line because it’s more lightweight, it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and it smells like a tropical beverage. The spray is easy to apply and comes in SPF 70. The line is also available as a lotion sunscreen or stick.

If you want or need something without a scent, try Banana Boat’s Simply Protect Sports sunscreen, which doesn’t have any added fragrance.

Okay, if you’re a skin care nerd like I am, prepare to fall down the Asian sunscreen product rabbit hole. South Korean and Japanese skin care brands have become well known for sunscreens that use different chemicals than what’s approved by the FDA in order to provide superior protection from sun damage.

One of the most wildly popular Asian sunscreens is Biore’s, which is a thin, light formula with hyaluronic acid that blends in easily and doesn’t clog pores, which is great news for oily skin. While you can’t find it in US stores — because of the FDA — it’s readily available on Amazon and other retailers, like YesStyle

Just know that these products will ship from Asia, and have to go through customs, so they will almost certainly not arrive within the two-day Prime window.

If Biore isn’t your brand, another great option for an Asian sunscreen is the COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50 PA+++. It applies like a lightweight moisturizer and provides hydration too. It protects your skin’s moisture barrier and combats both UVA and UVB rays. 

Reviewers say this sunscreen isn’t greasy, doesn’t leave a white film and absorbs quickly. If you have sensitive skin, give this aloe vera formula a try.

Sunscreen is a contentious product because there’s often a lot of disagreement on which sunscreen chemicals are safe, what SPF is appropriate and whether or not sunscreen harms coral reefs.

Here’s what you should know about sunscreen in 2020:

1. Everyone should wear sunscreen, regardless of your skin color, because anyone can get skin cancer.

2. Sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB skin damage and wrinkles.

3. Both chemical and physical sunscreens are considered effective and safe. Chemical sunscreens contain active ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate and octocrylene that absorb UV radiation.

4. Physical sunscreens — with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both as active sunscreen ingredients — are good for those with sensitive skin and acne-prone skin, and new formulas are much easier to blend than earlier, chalky versions.

5. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using broad-spectrum protection with SPF 30 sunscreen, which blocks UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays speed up the aging process of skin cells and promote wrinkles, while UVB rays damage skin cells, cause sunburns and are believed to cause skin cancer.

6. No sunscreen can block 100% of UV exposure. SPF 30 sunscreens block 97% of UVB rays, and at SPFs above that, the increased protection is negligible. 

7. All sunscreens, regardless of SPF, rub off or break down on your skin in the course of 2 hours — even faster if you’re swimming or sweating.

8. The state of HawaiiKey West, Florida; and a few island nations have banned sunscreens with oxybenzone because a scientific study found that it can kill coral. Currently, none of these bans are in effect — the two in the US start in 2021. Some companies are selling “reef-safe” sunscreens that abide by the ban.

Originally published earlier.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. We delete comments that violate our policy, which we encourage you to read. Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion.

This Article was first published on cnet.com

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