The 15 Best Body Sunscreens to Match Your Every SPF Need

Sayonara, sunburns.

women tanning their bodies
(Image credit: Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Getty)

It's unfortunate that sunscreen (perhaps the most important beauty product?) has so many myths surrounding it. The best body sunscreens won't prevent you from tanning (note: self-tanners are great for getting a perfectly bronzed look) and they don't only exist to prevent sunburn. In fact, the best new sunscreens go a step further—they're your number one line of defense against skin cancer, hyperpigmentation, and long term sun damage.

"The skin on our body can age more rapidly than our face due to structural differences, often requiring more treatments to achieve the same results with the same anti-aging procedures," explains Dr. Nicole Y Lee, M.D. MPH FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and owner of Epoch Dermatology. "Protecting the skin from head to toe with sunscreen is the easiest and simplest thing that we can do to slow down the aging process and to maintain healthy, youthful skin."

But in order to actually get the protection, SPF application can’t be done haphazardly. “We typically tell people the appropriate amount of sunscreen is roughly what you would fill a shot glass with,” explains Dr. Robert Finney, M.D. board-certified dermatologist at Entiére Dermatology. “Many people are good about applying sunscreen at the outset of a beach day, but slack off on reapplying every two hours or sooner if you sweat or swim.”

Sound familiar? Keep reading for a list of the best body sunscreens you’ll want to reapply all day long—tested by our editors over many long beach, pool, lake, and desert camping trips. From gels with a little shimmer and sprays with no white cast to mineral and chemical sunscreens that feel weightless, these SPFs all deserve a spot in your bag.

The Best Body Sunscreens

Writer Sophia Vilensky holds up Vacation's Shimmer Oil, one of the body sunscreens tested for this story, in the Southern California desert.

Vacation's Shimmer Oil shimmering in the Southern California desert.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Supergoop! Play, Unseen Sunscreen Body, and GlowScreen Body sunscreens next to each other on a tree trunk.

Our Supergoop! testing lineup. While all great in their own way, Glow Screen Body was the favorite of the bunch.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Sophia Vilensky spraying MDSolarSciences quick dry body spray in a forest.

MDSolarSciences Quick Dry Body Spray in action.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Also Recommended

Sun Bum's Daily Body sunscreen on a glittery, textured background.

Sun Bum's Daily Body sunscreen photographed with a glittery swimsuit coverup—both necessities during a tropical vacation.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Versed Total Package Replenishing Body Lotion on a white background.

A bottle of Versed Total Package Replenishing Body Lotion resting on a pontoon sundeck. Great for when your skin is feeling a bit dry after toweling off lake water.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

A smear of Sol de Janeiro Rio Radiance SPF 50 Mineral Body Lotion Sunscreen on Sophia Vilensky's arm.

A lovely smear of Sol de Janeiro's Rio Radiance SPF 50 Mineral Body Lotion Sunscreen lotion. (It smells better than it photographs, promise.)

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Sophia Vilensky's spraying Banana Boat Kids 360 Coverage Sunscreen in a forest.

Banana Boat's great non-aerosol spray bottle in action.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

Before and after photos of Coppertone Sport sunscreen on an arm.

Coppertone Sport sunscreen before and after being rubbed in.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

What to Look For in a Body Sunscreen

  • SPF Rating

"The most important thing to look for is a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater," explains Dr. Ryan Turner, a board-certified NYC dermatologist and co-founder of Trnr Skin. "Broad spectrum means that the formula will help protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. SPF 30 is the minimum recommended by all dermatologists and the AAD; an SPF 30 formula will block about 97 percent of UV rays. SPF 50 will block about 98 percent of the sun’s rays."

Still, it's worth noting that no SPF can block 100 percent of UV. Thus, you need to be diligent with application. "I always recommend 50+ SPF because we do not wear makeup as sunscreen on the body or reapply it as often as we should," adds Dr. Lee.

  • Format

Chemical or mineral? Spray or oil? That's for you to decide. As Dr. Turner says, there are so many different formats to choose from, so all that really matters is that you like your choice enough to use it and reapply regularly.

"So long as you’ve checked those two boxes (broad spectrum and SPF 30+), your choice of sunscreen comes down entirely to preference," explains the dermatologist. "Those with sensitive skin frequently prefer mineral sunscreens as they tend to be gentler and non-irritating; chemical sunscreen formulas are often selected by those with sensitive skin or redness-prone skin or by those who don’t want to risk experiencing a chalky or ghostly cast on their skin when applying SPF."

  • Water Resistance

If you plan on getting in water or playing a sport, you'll need a sunscreen that can handle the waves and sweat. Just remember that your water resistant sunscreen will need to be reapplied more frequently than the recommended every two hours.

Do I Really Need Body Sunscreen?

In short—yes. While applying sunscreen to your body certainly has long-term cosmetic benefits, it’s also the best defense for preventing skin cancer, which most frequently pops up on the body. “Melanoma is most commonly diagnosed in women on the legs and the trunk in men,” explains Dr. Finney. “Other skin cancers are more commonly diagnosed in areas of chronic sun exposure, like the head, neck, tops of the hands, and forearms.”

Body sunscreen is also helpful for people concerned about "hyperpigmentation, uneven pigment, or other signs of chronic sun damage, such as wrinkly or crepey skin," Dr Finney says.

Is a Spray or Cream Sunscreen Better?

The best sunscreen is the one you’ll wear. That said, applying a consistent amount with cream is easier than a spray formula. Dr. Finney explains that while spray sunscreens can be just as effective, getting an even, all-over application is a bit trickier. “Make sure you shake the bottle enough, keep it no more than six inches away from your body, and spray evenly,” he advises. “Make sure to let it dry before sweating, swimming, or putting clothing on.”

What's The Difference Between Face and Body Sunscreen?

First things first: If you're in a pinch and only have face sunscreen, you should apply it to the rest of your body. As Dr. Turner advises, "Body sunscreens usually feature richer or oilier textures than facial sunscreens. It’s generally recommended to use separate formulas for face and body as a heavy body SPF could cause breakouts if used on the face, but it is absolutely better to use the 'wrong' sunscreen than to wear no sunscreen at all."

How We Tested

An image of the desert landscape near Lake Arrowhead, California.

The best body sunscreen testing setting. UV index: 11.

(Image credit: Sophia Vilensky)

While rigorous testing is always the way at Marie Claire, it just so happened that freelance beauty writer Sophia Vilensky had a late-June camping trip to the Californian desert planned, followed by a Vegas trip and then a couple of days at a lake in Minnesota. Each sunscreen had its (literal) day in the sun, with timed full-body reapplications to seal the deal. At the end of the weeks-long testing period, there were no sunburns or slight rosiness.

Meet the Experts

judges for marie claire skin awards
Robert Finney, M.D.

Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Dr. Finney completed his undergraduate and medical degrees at Pennsylvania State University. He completed his internship and dermatology residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA where he served as chief resident during his final year. He also performed a postdoctoral research fellowship in eczema and allergic contact dermatitis at Rockefeller University in addition to an advanced fellowship in aesthetics, hair restoration, and skin surgery with renowned hair surgeon Dr. Marc Avram in New York. Dr. Finney is a clinical assistant professor at New York University Langone and teaches future dermatologists at Bellevue Hospital. Dr. Finney is an expert in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology and is regularly asked to contribute to various media outlets, including Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Esquire, and Women’s Health. He does not approach aesthetics from a cookie-cutter approach, rather he works closely with each patient to design a customized treatment regimen to achieve his or her desired aesthetic outcomes that appear natural and refreshed, never over-done.

A doctor in a white lab coat.
Dr. Ryan Turner

Dr. Ryan B. Turner, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City who practices cosmetic dermatology, general dermatology, surgical dermatology, and laser surgery. He uses the latest scientific research to guide his approach to the management of numerous dermatologic concerns. 

He has been named repeatedly as a New York Rising Star in the publication of the New York Times Magazine Super Doctors edition. He has recently been featured in publications which include Bustle, GQ, Allure, Byrdie, and Vanity Fair.

Dr. Turner graduated summa cum laude and valedictorian of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He received his Doctor of Medicine with honors from Harvard Medical School receiving the Henry Asbury Christian Award for his research accomplishments. He completed his internship in medicine and his dermatology residency at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital, respectively. He has also completed an ACGME-accredited fellowship in Procedural Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

A woman, Dr. Nicole Lee, raises her hand mid-conversation.
Dr. Nicole Y Lee

Dr. Nicole Y Lee is a board-certified dermatologist with advanced fellowship training in cosmetic and procedural dermatology. She completed her undergraduate at Georgetown University and then pursued her Doctorate in Medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where she also obtained a Master of Public Health degree.  Upon completing her medical education, Dr. Lee returned to Georgetown University for her internship in internal medicine, followed by her dermatology residency at the University of Alabama in Birmingham where she served as chief resident in her final year.

Sophia Vilensky
Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a Freelance Beauty Writer at Marie Claire with a beauty, wellness, and entertainment journalism portfolio that includes contributions to Byrdie, Bravo, Teen Vogue, and Us Weekly. Growing up in a family of beauticians—and through her own personal studies—she developed an in-depth understanding of aesthetics, cosmetic product formulation, and beauty treatment development and has also held roles as a senior copywriter, content strategist, and proofreader for top beauty and wellness brands. Even so, you'd be hard pressed to find her with her hair and makeup actually done. Sophia is based in Minneapolis and is a 2019 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she majored in English and minored in cinema studies. During her time at the university, she was the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Minnesota Daily, earning the 2019 Editor of the Year award for her work. She connected deeply with the Twin Cities arts scene, collaborating with leading beauty professionals, designers, and artists. Graduating Summa Cum Laude, her thesis—a close-reading of Vanderpump Rules—was featured on NPR. When not immersed in writing or testing new products, Sophia enjoys watching reality TV, reading, and exploring the newest woo-woo wellness trends. Keep up with her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.