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Let’s kick things off with some myth busting, shall we? The best sunscreen products aren’t going to prevent you from getting tan and they’re not going to feel all kinds of greasy and goopy. Perhaps the most important myth to bust however is that sunscreen only exists to prevent sunburn. The best body sunscreens go a step further: They're your best defense against skin cancer, hyperpigmentation, and long term sun damage.
But in order to actually get the protection promised on the bottle, 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, 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 like you? Keep reading for a list of the best body sunscreens that you’ll actually want to reapply all day long. From gels with a little shimmer and sprays with no white cast to mineral creams that feel weightless, these SPFs all deserve a spot in your beach bag.
Do I Really Need Body Sunscreen?
We’ll shout it from the rooftops: 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 who are concerned about "hyperpigmentation, uneven pigment, or other signs of chronic sun damage, such as wrinkly or crepey skin," Dr Finney says.
Is a Spray Sunscreen or Cream Sunscreen Better?
The best sunscreen is the one you’re actually going to wear. That being said, it’s definitely easier to apply a consistent amount with cream. 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 a bit before sweating, swimming, or putting clothing on.”
The Best Body Sunscreens
The Best Water Resistant Body Sunscreen
If you’re going to make the most of a beach day by jumping in the ocean or playing sports in the sand, a water resistant sunscreen is a must. This Elta MD option promises protection for 80 minutes—just make sure to reapply. As for the texture? It feels extremely lightweight, which is a bit surprising given it’s a zinc oxide-based sunscreen.
The Best Fragrance Free Body Sunscreen
Burn prone? Easily irritated? Allow us to direct your attention to this very elegant, highly rated SPF. It’s free of fragrance, parabens, alcohol, and toxins, making it ideal for those with reactive skin. While the spray bottle helps you steer clear of messy explosions in the beach bag, the SPF still comes out white so you can see exactly what areas you’re covering.
The Best Body Sunscreen for Glow
If you want to look all kinds of shiny and glowy while sitting on the beach, this baby should be at the top of your list. It gives a reflective, shimmery sheen reminiscent of body oil. The SPF is formulated with an ingredient called narcissus bulb extract, which is credited with slowing down hair growth, as well as aloe vera, which has soothing properties. While this formula is *chef’s kiss,* it’s only water resistant for 40 minutes, so make sure to set your reapplication timer if you don’t want to get burnt.
The Best Body Sunscreen Oil
We’ll never be able to get behind a tanning oil (we’re anti sun exposure over here), but a sunscreen oil? That has our stamp of approval—and there’s nothing better than this luxe option. With flecks of bronze and a silky, smooth consistency, this SPF is a winner on all accounts. It’s hydrating, has anti-inflammatory properties (thank you, aloe vera), and offers a boost of antioxidants like vitamin E.
The Best Body Sunscreen for Dry Skin
If flaky, dry skin is your status quo in the summer, it’s due time to incorporate some mega hydration. Our go-to? This Glytone daily moisturizer. Not only is the glycolic acid-infused formula going to resurface, but the shea butter is going to deeply hydrate the skin. Add the SPF 15 into the mix, and you’ve hit the trifecta. While this makes for a great everyday option, we do recommend seeking out something stronger if you’ll be laying out in the sun.
The Best Drugstore Body Sunscreen
This baby is a cult favorite for a reason. It feels non-existent on the skin, is ideal for oily and acne-prone skin, and, in my humble opinion, smells like the epitome of summer. It does double duty too—it’s totally safe for use on your face.
The Best Body Sunscreen for a Subtle Shimmer
The OG Supergoop! Glowscreen is one of our longtime faves for the face, so it’s no surprise that the newly released bodycare version is also a summer staple. It has a whipped texture (read: light and fluffy without feeling sticky), absorbs in seconds, and leaves a gorgeous shimmer on the skin. It’s obviously a must for a beach day, but it’s also a great way to get a little body glow for a night out.
The Best Roll-On Body Sunscreen
If a spray or a cream doesn’t suit you, don’t worry. SunBum has options—and lots of ‘em. One of the major standouts? This roller ball dispenser, which gives a sheer layer shine and complete protection to the skin. It’s mess free and easy to apply, making a great option for little ones. While it certainly can be used on the face and is non-comedogenic, it’s not recommended for anyone with sensitive skin as it contains fragrance.
The Best Luxe Body Sunscreen
If you’re in the market for a multi-purpose protector that’s going to prevent a burn and provide other skin benefits, this splurge-worthy option is the way to go. With an intense antioxidant complex, the formula wards off free radicals to keep skin looking youthful.
The Best Smelling Body Sunscreen
With a scent profile of coconut and pineapple, there’s no denying that this SPF smells intoxicating—in the best way possible. Seriously, people will be stopping you on the beach to ask what you’re wearing. And, while the fragrance is a major selling point here, the formula also delivers. It’s doesn’t leave a chalky film behind, so it won’t pill during reapplication.
The Best Soothing Body Sunscreen
Whether you’re recovering from a sunburn (now you know better!) or simply have sensitive skin, check out this soothing and nourishing mist. It’s packed with calming and hydrating ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil, as well as antioxidants like white tea and rosemary. It’s vegan and free of synthetics too, so you can feel good about applying the product.
The Best Body Sunscreen for Extra Hot Days
While we could easily go into a skincare science tangent, we’re going to keep it brief. Shiseido created a special (and very cool) technology that reinforces SPF protection in extreme heat. That way, you can feel confident that you won’t end up like a lobster after two hours in the sun. It also feels like a dream on the skin. It’s weightless, hydrating, and leaves no white cast behind.
The Best Spray Body Sunscreen
Sometimes a spray sunscreen is just easier. Because let’s be honest: There’s nothing more irritating than trying to rub on a cream with sandy hands. When it comes to a misty formula, this is a dermatologist-approved go-to. It’s dry to the touch (seriously, it’s not sticky in the slightest) and goes on clear, which makes it a great option for those with darker skin tones. While the invisible hue is a positive, pay extra attention to cover every spot exposed to the sun.
The Best Body Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
This sunscreen is the definition of a do-it-all SPF. Not only does it reduce the look of pre-existing sunburn and prevent future redness, but it also hydrates and smoothes the skin while reducing the look of fine lines. While the powerful formula can’t be beat, it’s worth noting that this does have a thicker texture.
The Best Body Sunscreen for Darker Skin Tones
If a lingering white cast is your biggest pain point, scoop up this SPF, ASAP. It’s completely invisible—and has a top notch formula. It’s extremely moisturizing thanks to jojoba and avocado, and dries down in no time (we’re talking five seconds flat).
Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.
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