Best Sunscreen For Runners | 2021 Buyers Guide
When we researched and test the best sunscreen for runners we have a few high-priority criteria to judge each candidate. Things like how long a single application lasts, water and sweat resistance, application type, etc... all came into play when seeking a performance sunscreen. We should note that SPF is a personal choice based on your skin tone and type, so bear in mind that each recommendation comes with different level of UV protection.
Review our top picks and be sure to test what works for you.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Sunscreen protects you from more than just the sun--it prevents wrinkles, signs of aging, and so much more!
The sun produces a broad spectrum of nasty UV radiation. This radiation is broadly classified as UVA and UVB. UVB is the radiation that causes sunburn. A lot of sunscreens only offer protection against UVB radiation, leaving you exposed to UVA radiation. UVA radiation is arguably the more dangerous end of the radiation spectrum.
UVA radiation is responsible for the DNA altering damage that occurs deep in the skin and can lead to melanoma. On top of this, UVA radiation also increasing visible signs of aging in the skin (sagging and wrinkling). Whenever you buy a sunscreen you should be looking for products labeled with something like ‘UVA/UVB protection’ or ‘broad-spectrum.
If it doesn’t have this labeling, don’t even bother. This kind of protection is especially important for runners as you are constantly exposing yourself to sunlight and the potential for serious harm. All of the products Simply-Sun-Safe recommends offer broad-spectrum protection as it’s the only way to ensure complete sun protection.
Not all sunscreens off the same amount of UV protection, check out the SPF before you buy and get the level of protection your skin needs.
Most people have no idea what sun protection factor (SPF) is, even though they base a lot of the protection they get from the sun on this number. Even when it gets explained it’s still confusing. The SPF rating is the number you have to multiply the time it takes you to burn without protection to get the time it’ll take you to burn with that level of protection.
Clear as mud, right? Let’s use an example to get a better idea. If without sunscreen it takes you 5 minutes to burn, an SPF 15 sunscreen will protect your skin for 75 minutes (15 times as long). If you’re more resilient and burn only after 10 minutes, it means that you get 150 minutes of skin protection.
This doesn’t mean a particularly resilient person (say 20 minutes before burning) with an SPF 50 sunscreen will get 1000 minutes (over 16 hours) of protection. No matter how high the SPF, sunscreen won’t last longer than 2 hours. This time is even less when you sweat (like from running) or water (see the water resistance section below).
This makes reapplying regularly, wearing UV-rated clothing, and seeking out shade wherever you can vital elements of effective sun protection. Apart from the fact that it’s confusing, SPF has some other issues:
- It only rates protection against UVB radiation, not UVA. To assess UVA protection you need to make sure you’ve got the right active ingredients (read on to find out more on these).
- The time you’re protected also depends on light intensity and application thickness. This means it’s inconsistent and impossible to predict.
- The ratings naturally lead people to believe that SPF 15 offers half the protection of SPF 30. This isn’t even close to true and companies take advantage of this misunderstanding.
- There is a much better way to look at SPF so you can choose which one to use. All you have to do is look at the amount of UVB radiation each rating level blocks.
So now you’re in the know when it comes to SPF, which one should you be using? You can probably guess the answer from evaluating the procedure. experts recommend that using a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or more. This will provide you with the protection you need and anything above this is just a (small) bonus you shouldn’t be paying through the nose for.
Water-resistant sunscreen will ensure that you stay protected, no matter how much you sweat.
Sunscreen that rubs off with sweat stings when it gets in your eyes, and leaves you squinting for the rest of your run is a huge pain for runners. The solution to this all too common problem experienced by runners is to make sure your sunscreen won’t run. This will stop you having to slow down to try to remove the sunscreen from your stinging eyes.
Changes to sunscreen labeling regulations mean sunscreens can no longer market themselves as ‘waterproof’ or ‘sweatproof’. This is a step in the right direction as no sunscreen could hope to guarantee those claims. Now sunscreens are labeled as ‘water-resistant’ for periods of 40 or 80 minutes depending on the resistance of the particular product.
This ensures people are aware of the requirement to reapply regularly and aren’t misled about the ability of sweat and water to interfere with sunscreen performance. Make sure to keep your preferences and needs in mind--you can find a sunscreen that will work for how often you would prefer to reapply.
Make sure you get a sunscreen that fits your needs and that fits your needs and preferences.
There are lots of different types of sunscreen options available--there is literally something for someone out there. If you don't like certain textures, need more or less protection than others, or just want something that you can reapply easily, we promise there is something on our list of reviews that will work for you!
Lotion or spray
Spray sunscreens are easy to apply which is great for time-poor runners on the go. However, the time saved is not worth it. For years the FDA has been urging people to avoid spray sunscreens, especially for use on children. They have good reasons to not recommend these products. Spray sunscreens increase the chance of accidental inhalation.
Breathing in the chemicals in sunscreens, especially nano-sized and micronized ingredients, is a more direct route of exposure that could lead to lung injury. On top of this, spray sunscreens offer inadequate sun protection as they make it more difficult to create a consistent layer that covers all exposed areas.
Although still legal to sell, the FDA has threatened to ban them in the past. While companies scramble to provide more evidence of their safety, spray sunscreens aren’t recommended on SimplySunSafe.
Appropriate for daily use
Your running sunscreen will likely be getting quite a workout (just like you!). It’s important that the ingredients present combine to create a gentle formulation appropriate for daily use. If you have sensitive skin, all of the products here feature natural and organic ingredients that make them suitable for you.
They shouldn’t cause irritation unless you react to one of their ingredients, so read the product descriptions and ingredient lists carefully before making your purchase.
Before you buy. make sure the sunscreen you are going to get is compatible with what works for you.
We all have different needs, which is why there are so many different types of sunscreens available. We narrowed it down to the top ten, but you need to put your needs and preferences at the forefront of your decision-making process. Check out what we took into consideration when we took a look at the compatibility of each sunscreen we chose.
Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen
Sunscreens are broadly classified as physical or chemical. Physical sunscreens use their active ingredients to reflect damaging radiation away from the skin, while chemical sunscreens use their active ingredients to absorb radiation before it reaches the skin. Physical sunscreens are generally recommended more, as they start to work immediately after being applied on the skin.
They last longer, they are less likely to irritate and even have a longer shelf life. If you need even more convincing against chemical sunscreens, take note that they often contain endocrine disruptors (meaning that they disrupt your hormones). A clear example of this is the all too common and notorious oxybenzone.
To know you are getting the goods, check the label for ‘physical’ or ‘mineral’ wording. If a ‘physical’ or ‘chemical’ classification isn’t clear, read the active ingredients. Physical sunscreens usually use high levels of either zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
Type of skin
Runners are everywhere in the world. Different races, different places of the world and practicing from different areas with different weather conditions. The light skin cannot have the same sunscreen type as a person with hard skin. Different skin race has different skin pigments, example the black have higher skin melanin that the whites, and that makes people from different races use different sunscreens.
Athletes with sensitive skin should consider acquiring a skin sunscreen that goes well with their skin type. Some athletes are even allergic to some products and should see a doctor for proper direction of which ingredients in a sunscreen suits them right. Athletes with damaged skin conditions should do the same, get a sunscreen that is best for your skin state.
Our Favorite Sunscreens for Runners
1. Christina Moss
Peak sunscreen is a solid choice for people seeking a natural sunscreen with no harsh chemicals. With SPF30 and made of minerals, it nourishes the skin while it protects. This sunscreen is different because it sits on top of the skin instead of soaking in like other sunscreens. It is odorless, water-resistant, non-allergenic, safe for all skin types, coral and reef safe, and biodegradable.Read more
A mineral sunscreen, like Peak, stays on top of the skin so there is no build-up in your body. The peak is simply a safer way to protect yourself from the sun. Ingredients are a blend of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, plus aloe Vera gel, green tea extract, and sweet almond oil.
The peak is an SPF30 mineral-based sunscreen - broad-spectrum, Eco-friendly, biodegradable. You will stay safe in the sun while protecting the environment. Conventionally produced sunscreens rely on man-made chemicals to block the sun's UV rays. These chemicals can soak into your skin and build up over the years.
The best part about this sunscreen is that it is water-resistant and you won't have to worry about reapplying until 80 minutes have passed.
For best results, Peak recommends reapplying every two hours. This sunscreen is water-resistant up to 80 minutes, but it's best to reapply immediately after swimming, sweating, or towel drying.
Peak Products are made in the USA, FDA registered, GMP compliant, Environmentally Green, Cruelty-Free, with strict Quality Control guidelines. They do not contain any fillers or dilutes. If you are unsatisfied with their product, Peak asks that you contact them directly for help.
2. SunBum Sunscreen
For great protection from the harmful effects of the sun, you want to reach for a sunscreen that will do a great job and won’t let you down. That is what SunBum has to offer- amazing protection, great application, good durability, and a very affordable price tag!Read more
This unique and powerful sunscreen formula has been designed to guard against harmful UV rays and will also keep your skin moisturized and protected as you run or swim or workout. It protects and causes no additional harm or irritation either!
This sunscreen is made with a high SPF rating with options available up to 70 SPF and is perfect for individuals with sensitive skin as it is allergen free for the most part and is Non-comedogenic, Oxybenzone & Octinoxate Free, Paraben Free, Cruelty-Free, Gluten-Free, PABA free & Oil-Free!
This product is good for active individuals who sweat a lot or who are involved in land and water-based activities. It holds up well to water intrusion but will need to be applied again after a few hours to ensure good coverage and protection are maintained.
The bottom line is that SunBum sunscreen is an amazing choice for a general everyday sunscreen as well as for workout day protection that will not irritate your skin and that also won't break the bank in the process!
This sunscreen is perfect for everyone. You can use sunbum on the whole family and trust that the ingredients are safe and effective for absolutely everyone!
3. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer comes in four forms: Dry Touch Lotion all-in-one sunscreen for the face and body; Body Mist is easy to apply on the hard-to-reach places; Daily Liquid for an effective addition to a makeup routine; Face & Body Stick for the mess-free way to apply sunscreen.Read more
Neutrogena's most rewarded sunscreen comes in four water-resistant, PABA-free, non-comedogenic forms - dry touch lotion, body mist, daily liquid, face & body stick - for whatever the occasion may be. The sunscreen feels clean and the light goes on easily and absorbs quickly for a weightless feel. The oil-free formula leaves a no-shine finish on your skin. And one of the best parts? It won't clog your pores!
With a 100+ SPF coverage, you will be protected from the sun for as long as you are wearing it until you have to reapply.
This sunscreen is water-resistant and will hold up against the water and sweat for up to 80 minutes.
The most popular form of Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer Sunscreen is the Dry Touch Lotion. For best results, you must apply liberally 15 minutes before going out into the sun. Then reapply after 80 minutes of sweating or swimming, immediately after toweling off, or at least every 2 hours.
Neutrogena recommends reading the ingredient list on the sunscreen bottle for the most accuracy. But for the most part, the active ingredients in the Dry Touch Lotion include Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 15%, Octocrylene 10%, Oxybenzone 6%.
4. Think Baby Sunscreen
If you are searching for a sunscreen that offers amazing protection, easy application, good durability, and pleasant aroma then you need to consider the Think Baby Sunscreen! Made for the sensitive skin of babies, adults too can benefit from this great product!Read more
This unique and powerful sunscreen was made for babies and is designed to be mild and gentle on the skin while also offering amazing protection from the damaging effects of full sun exposure. If you would trust it on your baby why not trust it on yourself?
This sunscreen is rated at 50+ SPF and is perfect for individuals with sensitive skin. It uses no harsh chemicals or additives and is free from many of the harmful compounds and ingredients that people want to avoid in the first place!
It has a long-lasting formulation that absorbs as well as coats the skin for double action protection. It is water-resistant and is good for up to 90 minutes in the water, though application sooner is recommended to ensure burning does not occur.
The bottom line is Think Baby Sunscreen is a perfect choice for adults and infants alike. So use it on yourself and your tots when you take them with you on your next run or biking or hiking adventure!
This sunscreen is perfect for everyone--kids, adults, even babies! It is especially great for anyone with a sensitive screen.
5. Blue Lizard Australian
If you want a reliable sunscreen that is formulated with dermatologists to protect and heal sensitive skin from the sun without causing irritations or outbreaks and that is also free of skin-irritating fragrances or parabens then you need to try Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen!Read more
This sensitive sunscreen formula has been designed to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun without clogging pores, making your skin oily, and without annoying fragrances. It protects and causes no additional harm of irritation either!
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen is made for sensitive skin and short term exposure to the sun as it is rated for SPF 30 and doesn’t have some of the other ingredients longer lasting and more powerful sunscreens have But it doe sits job for the short run, just not for a long marathon run.
This product has some water resistance but will wash away faster than others so if you are the water or caught in the run or are running for a while and are sweating a lot you may need to reapply to ensure you are still being protected.
The bottom line is that Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen is a good choice for a general everyday sunscreen that will protect you for a quick run or outing and is made to be safe and effective for all skin types as well.
This sunscreen is perfect for anyone that has sensitive skin and don't want to risk dealing with any irritation, rashes, or blisters.
6. Zealios Sun Barrier SPF 45
Formulated with triathletes in mind, this is high-performance sunscreen that is great for running or any outdoor activity. Zealios comes highly recommended by athletes as a quality product.Read more
The only issue seems to be if you have oily skin to begin with (especially on the face), this sunscreen may make it seem oilier. But if your skin is rather dry, you will probably love this product.
Sun Barrier's other traits include: Broad Spectrum qualification, UVA/UVB protection, micronized zinc oxide, hypoallergenic, oil-free, non-greasy, dries clear, and ginger approved.
Zealios comes highly recommended by athletes as a quality product. One reason being it received the FDA’s highest rating for being water-resistant (80 minutes). Not only that, but it is sweat resistant, won’t clog your pores, and it is clear when applied to the skin.
The active ingredients include Zinc Oxide 8.00%, Octinoxate 7.50%, and Octisalate 3.00%. This sunscreen has hundreds of reviews online. The vast majority rave of the good quality.
Few sunscreens perform better in the water than this. And best of all it goes on clear leaving your skin feeling light but not oily or chalky.
7. EltaMD Sport
One thing many new runners do not think about it getting sunburned. It only takes one bad burn to learn your lesson but what sunscreen is right for you? If you want a sunscreen that will protect you from the UV rays of the sun and also keep your skin soft and healthy then you will want to try EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen!Read more
This sunscreen is designed to lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated while you are out an about on you run or outdoor workout sessions. It is dermatologist recommended and won't irritate your skin or make it oils as other products will.
All sunscreen has some UV protection as that is what it is made to do but you want something that is powerful and covers a range of UV and other light spectrums. EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen is rated SPF 50 and is a broad-spectrum protecting sunscreen.
One of the biggest complaints people have about sunscreen in general is that is washes off quickly with water or sweat. Thankfully new products are being made that are water and sweat resistant and this sunscreen is one of the best out there in terms of staying power!
It is important to find a sunscreen that will protect you and keep you safe from the harmful effects of the sun and EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen does exactly that and more!
This sunscreen is perfect for athletes, runners, and anyone that spends a lot of time out in the sun.
A lot of athletes prefer a spray-on sunscreen to a lotion that you have to spread by hand. It’s more convenient and avoids the potential of asking a stranger to massage your back. Also in many cases, it dries quickly and doesn’t leave you with a greasy feel. All of the above is true about the KINeSYS Performance Sunscreen. Plus it’s easy on touchy skin with a gentle alcohol-free ingredient list!Read more
Also in many cases it dries quicker and doesn’t leave you with a greasy feel. All of the above is true about the KINeSYS Performance Sunscreen. Plus it’s easy on touchy skin with a gentle alcohol-free ingredient list!
With SPF 30 KINeSYS boasts the ingredients of their formula for not only what they put in, but also what they leave out of their performance sunscreen spray. What you won't find in the KINeSYS formula? PABA, oil, paraben, alcohol, and preservatives.
As far as water resistance goes, this one will definitely stay on in the water.
The easy spray application will not leave greasy residue on your hands. Nor will you be leaving unprotected spots that you can't reach.
Whether you are hiking the trails, riding a bicycle, surfing waves, or practicing your tennis swing, KINeSYS will be right there with you.
9. Neutrogena CoolDry Sport
This unique specially designed formula is made for an active lifestyle. Sweat and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. This breathable, non-greasy lotion will help protect your skin from harmful UVA rays.Read more
Helps protects your skin without the use of oil, and it is PABA free. It is lightweight and non-greasy so you won't even know it is on.
This sunscreen is made with a unique Helioplex formula to protect your skin from aging, and burning UVA rays with broad-spectrum SPF 70.
It was specifically designed for athletes and will stay on you in water, and it will not run when you sweat while taking that warm summer run.
Neutrogena CoolDry Sport sunscreen comes to a blue container that is 5 fluid ounces. Neutrogena's Cooldry Sport sunscreen is quite cheap for such a good sunscreen.
It has a micromesh technology that creates a breathable barrier that allows sweat to pass through and evaporate so it isn't running down your face all day.
10. Zinka Colored Sunblock
Some areas of the face are just naturally more susceptive or sensitive to sunburn. They may be more directly exposed, harder to cover with normal screen or the skin in the area may be sensitive. A solution for this problem is an additional coating of sunscreen, such as using Zinka Colored Sunblock to add an extra layer of protection!Read more
Zinka Colored Sunblock is a specially designed subblock that is applied to the surface of the skin where it sits and blocks the sun from hitting the skin. It is commonly used on the nose and cheeks-the two most sensitive areas of the face.
This product is designed to lay over the skin so it can block all sun and UV from hitting the skin under it. Anything not covered will be exposed so most runners apply a general sunscreen to their face and then use Zinka Colored Sunblock as an additional layer on their nose and cheek.
This sunblock is water-resistant and sweat resistant but not waterproof. You will need to keep applying it to get full protection over longer runs and workout sessions. If the coloring starts to fade then it is time to reapply!
It is important to find sunscreen to protect you from the UV rays of the sun but if you need something to give you a little extra protection in some areas, then Zinka Colored Sunblock is the sunscreen you have been looking for!
This sunscreen is perfect for runners looking for sunblock specifically--which offers optimal coverage-- and those of you who need something that is sweat-resistant and water-resistant.