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Nutrisense Dietitians Recommend: Best Sunscreen for all Skin Types

Written by
Team Nutrisense
Reviewed by
Katie Kissane
MS, RD
a person at the beach with sunscreen applied

With summer right around the corner, it’s time to make sure you have the tools you need to protect yourself from sunburn and sun damage. Studies estimate that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the time they’re 70.

One of the causes of skin cancer is the harmful UV rays from the sun, and one good way to ensure you stay safe in the sun is to pick the right sunscreen or sunblock. But how do you choose the right one for adequate sun protection?

Picking a Sunscreen

Last week, we helped you figure out how sunscreen works and the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreens. We also told you more about the active ingredients and how much to apply to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.

This week, we’ve got recommendations to help you buy the right sunscreen for your skin type. Should you pick SPF 40 or SPF 60? Is Amazon a better place to look than Sephora? Can you get a drugstore sunscreen with the same benefits as a fancy brand?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends you look for a sunscreen that contains the following:

  • Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
  • SPF 30 or higher
  • Water resistance

There's a sunscreen for every preference and skin type, from sunscreen for acne-prone skin that prevents breakouts to fast-absorbing and fragrance-free formulations. 

Our Nutrition Team reveals some of their favorites to help you pick a skin-safe sunscreen to address your concerns and prevent sun damage. Read on to find the perfect one for you.

1) The Best SPF 30 Sunscreen

Sun Bum sunscreen

Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Lotion

Recommended by: Amanda Donahue MS, RD, CD

The Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Lotion is a moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects your skin from UVA/UVB rays while enriching it with the antioxidant vitamin E. It’s an environmentally friendly, cruelty-free formulation that’s water-resistant for around 80 minutes.

Why Amanda Loves It

“This sunscreen has one of the most amazing smells, making you feel like you’re immersed in the most tropical paradise (the Maldives, anyone?!). But additionally, it’s also really environmentally and skin-friendly with the following claims: hypoallergenic, oxybenzone free, octinoxate free, cruelty-free, vegan, oil-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, and PABA free.

They also enrich their concoction with vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help fight free radicals to protect against damage to your skin from the sun!”

2) The Best SPF 50 Sunscreen

Bottle of ThinkSport sunscreen on the beach

Thinksport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+

Recommended by: Randi Yow, RDN, LDN

This physical sunscreen has a mineral formulation free of harmful chemicals like avobenzone and oxybenzone. It’s got a high level of broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection (their advertising mentions that this is according to FDA 2012 rules) and claims to be a good mineral sunscreen lotion for sensitive skin.

Why Randi Loves It

“When it comes to sunscreen (and any other thing I put on my skin), I always like to make sure it’s safe and effective. That's why I love Thinksport’s sunscreen lotion (I use their Thinkbaby sunscreen lotion on my son).

This sunscreen goes on smooth, is water-resistant for 80 minutes, and most of all, it’s made with clean ingredients. I also always run my products through EWG’s Skin Deep database to ensure the ingredients are good.”

3) The Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

Mychelle sunscreen

Mychelle Dermaceuticals, Replenishing Solar Defense SPF 30

The Mychelle Dermaceuticals, Replenishing Solar Defense SPF 30, offers broad-spectrum SPF protection and moisturizes and soothes your skin at the same time. It’s got ingredients like red algae extract and Kukui oil, making it a great facial sunscreen for sensitive skin.

Recommended by: Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN

Why Heather Loves It

“Made without parabens, petroleum, phthalates, silicones, sulfates, ureas, artificial fragrances, and artificial colors. This blend is excellent for sensitive skin, and I should know.

My skin is so sensitive, and almost every sunscreen I try will break me out or irritate my skin. But not this one—I’ve been using it for years with great success.

Its moisturizing and age-defying ingredients keep your skin from drying out, but I’ve also noticed it helps manage and prevent excessive oiliness—best of both worlds!”

4) The Best Mineral Sunscreen

Someone applying sunscreen

Badger Active Mineral Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30

The Badger Active Mineral Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30, is a mineral sunscreen that claims to have only five ingredients that are 98 percent organic. The cream is moisturizing and water-resistant for 40 minutes, with an antioxidant-rich formulation perfect for sensitive skin. The sustainable sunscreen also claims to be made with solar power.

Recommended by: Jordyn Wallerius, MS, RD, CD

Why Jordyn Loves It

“This sustainable sunscreen protects with zinc oxide and is waterproof for up to 40 minutes, making it a great option for beach days.

Some mineral sunscreens that I’ve tried have gone on too thick, making them difficult to apply, but Badger sunscreens always go on smooth, thanks to the vitamin E that helps leave your skin feeling moisturized.

This brand also offers safe and gentle yet effective kid and baby sunscreen options!”

5) The Best Face Sunscreen

A person holding CeraVe sunscreen

CeraVe SPF 30 or 50 Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen—Face

A facial sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, the CeraVe Mineral Sunscreen Face Lotion is a broad-spectrum SPF 30 lotion containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to reflect the sun’s rays.

It also has essential ceramides to help with hydration and lock in moisture.

Recommended by: Amanda Donahue MS, RD, CD

Why Amanda Loves It

“This skincare brand is a go-to for me thanks to its skin-loving ingredients. We all know by now how important it is to protect the delicate skin on our face from those damaging sun rays, which can lead to signs of aging or, worse, cancer.

This mineral sunscreen works great because it feels light on my face and has no harsh smells (ideal for sensitive skin). It also has additional ingredients that help moisturize and protect, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide (perfect to top off my skincare routine each morning).

Best of all, it has the National Eczema Association approval and the Skin Cancer Foundation Daily Use Seal of Approval.

6) The Best Broad-Spectrum SPF Sunscreen

A bottle of Bare Republic sunscreen

Bare Republic Mineral SPF 50 Body Sunscreen Lotion

A broad-spectrum sunscreen with 80 minutes of water resistance, the Bare Republic Mineral SPF 50 Body Sunscreen Lotion contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and offers UVA and UVB coverage.

With no chemical actives, synthetic fragrances, or parabens, it’s a great option for sensitive skin.

Recommended by: Katrina Larsen, MS, RD, CDCES

Why Katrina Loves It

“This eco-conscious sunscreen ticks all the boxes for me! The zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide a physical barrier without harsh chemicals to keep both UVA and UVB rays at bay, so I don’t have to worry about getting burned.

It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, non-comedogenic (won’t clog your pores), and compliant with requirements to keep our ocean reefs healthy. I like that it goes on smoothly and doesn’t leave a shiny film behind. For a general use sunscreen, this is the one I reach for.”

7) The Best Spray Body Sunscreens

A bottle of ThinkSport sunscreen

ThinkSport Kids SPF 50 All Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Spray

This spray sunscreen may be made for kids, but it’s a good option for people of all ages. It protects against UVA and UVB sun rays and is dermatologist-tested.

The non-aerosol formulation is reef safe, with non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that’s perfect for sensitive skin.

Recommended by: Randi Yow, RDN, LDN

Why Randi Loves It

“Their sunscreen lotion is my favorite, so it was a no-brainer to look for a spray sunscreen when needed.

This spray sunscreen is good for the whole family- including kids- and is not greasy.

When using a spray sunscreen, one thing to be conscious of is making sure you cover your body well. It’s easy to miss spots, which can lead to sunburns.”

8) The Best Tinted Sunscreen

Two Beautycounter sunscreen bottles

Countersun Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30

The Countersun Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30 is a physical sunscreen that helps you go makeup-free thanks to its range of tints for different skin tones.

It contains non-nano zinc oxide, is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, and is packed in a non-aerosol spray sunscreen bottle that sprays at any angle.

The best part is that it sits on top of your skin without forming a white cast, thanks to its skin-perfecting tint.

Recommended by: Liz McKinney MS, CNS, LDN

Why Liz Loves It

“This BeautyCounter tinted mineral sunscreen mist comes in two shades (light-medium and medium-deep), offering a range for different skin tones. The tint helps mask imperfections and even out your skin tone—a must for the beach or pool when you’re bearing more skin.

It’s reef-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free. Additionally, BeautyCounter has a “never list,” which lists 1,800 chemicals banned from their products. Cleaner beauty and skincare? Yes, please!” 

9) The Best Non-Greasy Sunscreen

Applying Neutrogena sunscreen

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

If you have oily skin, finding the right sunscreen can be challenging. For a non-greasy, matte finish, pick the Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30. This sunscreen lotion is a lightweight option that’s water-resistant for 80 minutes, dermatologist-tested, and non-comedogenic.

The oil-free formulation helps with sensitive skin conditions and keeps you feeling non-greasy all day.

Recommended by: Jordyn Wallerius, MS, RD, CD

Why Jordyn Loves It

“When I’m looking for a cost-effective, broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen that’s not greasy, I reach for this Neutrogena sheer sunscreen.

It goes on so smoothly compared to other drugstore brand products that I’ve tried in the past. 

Not only does this sunscreen offer broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, but it also made EWG’s list of best recreational sunscreens!”

10) The Best Moisturizing and Hydrating Sunscreen

Applying Alba Botanica sunscreen

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Daily Shade Body Lotion with SPF 15

If you have dry skin, you need moisturizing, hydrating sunscreen. One of the best sunscreens for this skin type is the Alba Botanica Very Emollient Daily Shade Body Lotion with SPF 15.

It may not be the best option if you’re an athlete, but it’s a great daily moisturizer with the added benefits of sun protection.

Recommended by: Amanda Donahue MS, RD, CD

Why Amanda Loves it

“You may not think to protect your skin daily with SPF, but especially in the summer with more damaging rays, this lotion can both help provide that protection and moisturize at the same time.

This lotion is very clean, has a pleasant smell, never tests on animals, and never has artificial colors, parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. Its moisturizing and skin hydrating formula includes chamomile, green tea, aloe, and vitamin E, making it more lightweight and suitable for hotter days to come vs. heavier creams that may have shea or cocoa butter.

It also never has oxybenzone or octinoxate, helping to protect our oceans!”

Honorable Mentions

These didn’t make it to the best-of list, but they’re still effective for various skin concerns.

  • LaRoche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin SPF 60 Sunscreen, great for aging skin.
  • Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, which doubles up as a primer.
  • Badger Sport Mineral Sunscreen Cream, SPF 40 for athletes and sportspeople.
  • California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen, SPF 30, for very sensitive skin.

There are so many more types of sunscreen to pick from—you may be looking for the best sunscreen for darker skin tones or one that doesn’t leave a white residue on your skin. No matter how specific your concerns, there’s something for you.

Looking for a sunscreen that’s not on this list? It can be challenging to sort through various sunscreen ingredients to say the safest option for your skin. One way to make this easier is to check out the EWG list of safe sunscreens.

And if you still don’t find your preferred sunscreen on the list, run it through their database to make sure the ingredients are good for your skin and the environment.

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