October 30, 2020

Best Sunscreens for Every Situation: Summer 2020

3 min read

Your sunscreen search needs a few filters. First, try using only broad-spectrum options since they block both types of cancerous, cell-mutating ultraviolet (UV) rays. Then, consider your lifestyle and preferred outdoor activities—because dads and climbers have different needs than beach bums and outdoorsmen. To help narrow the field, here are six sunscreens that cover these spectrums.

What’s the SPF sweet spot?

Anywhere between 30 and 50. Above 30, the level of SPF doesn’t increase exponentially. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent, SPF 50 blocks 98 percent, and SPF 100 blocks 99 percent.

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Chris Wellhausen

Coola SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen

The summer sun can incite dread in some people—namely those whose fair skin burns instantly. A mineral SPF 50 sunscreen is the solution, since it blocks 98 percent of UV rays, while a pasty SPF 100 only ups the ante to 99-percent protection. COOLA’s formula is water resistant for 80 minutes, reef friendly, engineered for sensitive skin, and uses a mineral mix of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block UV rays.

[$32; coola.com]

Get it

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Chris Wellhausen

Salt + Stone SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen

For guys who tan easily or who have mid-tone skin, SPF 30 is the bare minimum. Even though it offers slightly less defense against the sun’s rays (97 percent blocked versus 98 percent for SPF 50), this level of protection will still allow for effective tanning at a safe rate. Salt & Stone’s SPF 30 lotion delivers a chemical- and residue-free application that also nourishes skin with aloe, jojoba oil, Vitamin E, and more.

[$18; saltandstone.com]

Get it

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Chris Wellhausen

EltaMD SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen

There’s a myth that darker skin tones need no sunscreen, since they don’t burn so easily. But without any SPF protection, the sun’s cancer-causing and skin-aging UV rays will still seep into the skin. EltaMD’s full-body SPF 50 is the singular best mineral defense and doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin. Plus, the chemical-free formula is water resistant for 80 minutes.

[$26; eltamd.com]

Get it

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Chris Wellhausen

Art of Sport SPF 50 Sunscreen

Art of Sport’s entire skincare assortment is engineered for athletes, and this SPF 50 lotion gives coverage to the heavy sweaters and surfers alike. It has high-grade water resistance up to 80 minutes—and that includes sweat resistance, too, for the runners, golfers, tennis players, and more. It wears light and prevents sweat from drying on the skin. This in turn thwarts painful sweat burns, a phenomenon that outdoor athletes know well.

[$12; artofsport.com]

Get it

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Chris Wellhausen

Jack Black Oil-Free SPF 45 Sunscreen

If you need to pack one full-body sunscreen for repeat applications and thorough coverage, make it Jack Black’s. The lightweight, oil-free, non-greasy formula won’t leave you sweating, plus it uses zinc oxide to help deliver a nearly 98-percent sun shield. It provides 80 minutes of water and sweat resistance, and even nourishes skin with antioxidant-rich Vitamin C and soothing calendula. With it, the sun will complement your getaway, not compromise it.

[$21; getjackblack.com]

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Chris Wellhausen

Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen

Skiers, hikers, and residents of Denver know best: High altitudes yield the worst burns. So it’s worth getting a sunblock specifically for the face, since it has the most sensitive skin. The aloe- and Vitamin E-enriched mineral sunblock is the strongest and most soothing counter to sky-high rays, plus it goes on clear and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Families love it, too, since kids also have sensitive skin—lather it on, every two hours.

[$10; sunbum.com]

Get it


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