The Best Drugstore Sunscreens
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Much like brushing my teeth or turning off my curling wand, applying sunscreen is something I wouldn't dream of leaving the house without doing first. And just like you wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money on a daily essential like toothpaste, the same goes for sunscreen. Luckily, there are tons of great drugstore sunscreens out there these days. The best drugstore sunscreen for you will largely be determined by your sun exposure and activity levels, the weather, and your skin type. For instance, in the winter months when you're bundled up, you may just need a facial sunscreen — one that’s on the creamier and more hydrating side, since the cold weather tends to make our skin dry — while spring and summer will also see you reaching for a lightweight body sunscreen. Skin concerns such as dryness, dullness, acne, or hyperpigmentation will influence the sunscreen you choose, too. Regardless of your personal preferences, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Generally, sensitive skin types will want to look for physical (aka mineral) sunscreens, whose active ingredients will be listed as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (as opposed to chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octisalate). Physical sunscreens tend to be better tolerated by sensitive skin because they sit on the skin's surface, whereas chemical sunscreens are absorbed by our skin. Meanwhile, people with oily and/or acne-prone skin will want to stick to sunscreens that are oil-free and noncomedogenic. To combat that dry, chalky feeling so often associated with sunscreens of the past, look for moisturizing ingredients like panthenol, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and shea butter in the formula.
With the basics down, you're ready to find your perfect sunscreen match. Whether you're looking for an SPF lotion that can hold up against swimming or it's a new daily face moisturizer you're after, these are the best drugstore sunscreens to add to your cart.
1. My Personal Favorite
A dermatologist recommended this to me years ago, and it has remained in my morning SPF rotation ever since. CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion With Sunscreen gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to offering up sun protection and plenty of hydration. Combining physical and mineral sunscreens, this SPF 30 lotion blends right into my skin without leaving any white cast behind. On the moisturizing front, the formula contains hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and the brand's own patented technology that uses encapsulated ceramides to support a healthy skin barrier. The formula is also fragrance-free, noncomedogenic, and oil-free, and I can personally attest that it has never irritated my fairly sensitive skin.
2. Editor's Pick
“Okay — though this sunscreen does come from a (French) drugstore brand, I’ll admit that it doesn’t have a traditional drugstore price tag. But it’s so, so good, and worthy every penny — especially if you’re like me and hate most sunscreens that fall into the cream or lotion category. This sunscreen, on the other hand, is a serum. It’s super light and neither heavy nor greasy; once it’s absorbed (which happens in like, 20 seconds), you won’t feel like you’re wearing anything on your face at all. As a bonus, this SPF 50 sunscreen is made with multiple antioxidants to keep your skin extra protected throughout the day.” — Adeline Duff, Elite Daily beauty editor
3. Best Drugstore Sunscreen For Acne-Prone Skin
It can be especially challenging to find an affordable sunscreen that doesn't aggravate acne-prone skin. Yet many of the topical ingredients dermatologists commonly prescribe to help fight acne (like retinoids and AHAs) make your skin even more sensitive to the sun, making proper sun protection a non-negotiable. Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer With SPF 30 was developed with acne-prone skin in mind, providing broad-spectrum sun protection in the form of a noncomedogenic, oil-free, and fragrance-free moisturizer. The lightweight lotion contains soothing and moisturizing ingredients like allantoin, glycerin, and panthenol to combat the drying effects from any topical acne treatments you may be using, and the brand's micropearl technology helps absorb excess oil to keep your skin matte all day long.
4. Best Drugstore Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin
One way to ensure your sunscreen won't irritate your sensitive skin is to go for something that's been formulated for babies. That's because products like Sun Bum’s Baby Bum sunscreen use gentle minerals to block the sun’s rays, and are typically free of fragrance and other common irritants. Sun Bum uses zinc oxide in its baby-friendly formula, while coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter provide plenty of moisture.
5. Best Hydrating Drugstore Sunscreen
If your chief sunscreen complaint is that it leaves your skin feeling chalky and dried out, you need an ultra-lightweight formula made with plenty of hydrating ingredients. Neutrogena's Hydro Boost sunscreen is an oil-free, water-gel formula that quickly sinks into skin, rather than sitting on top of it and leaving a greasy film behind. But the broad-spectrum sunscreen's biggest flex is that it hydrates skin for eight hours with ingredients like glycerin, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid. It feels decidedly refreshing, too, making it perfect for summer.
6. Drugstore Sunscreen That’s Water & Sweat Resistant
If you're big on outdoor activities in the warmer months, you need your sunscreen to be water- and sweat-resistant and fast-absorbing so that it won't run into your eyes. Banana Boat’s Sport Ultra Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ is all of those things, and it’s housed in a giant 12-ounce bottle that will last you longer (and save you a few bucks in the process). The lightweight formula provides a high level of sun protection with broad-spectrum SPF 50, and it promises to keep working even through your sweatiest sporting adventures.
7. Best Travel-Size Drugstore Sunscreen
If you've ever gone on vacation and thought you'd save precious liquid space in your Ziploc bag by purchasing your sunscreen at the hotel, you know that's a costly mistake. Instead, try packing a mini sunscreen in your bag, like this sport sunscreen from Coppertone. The 3-ounce bottle passes the TSA test, and the formula covers all your outdoor bases, as it offers broad-spectrum sun protection and water-resistant coverage. It also contains moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and vitamin E to help keep your skin smooth.
8. Best Drugstore Sunscreen Stick
Of course, you can use this stick when traveling, too. But stick formulas, like this Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Face Stick, are especially convenient when it comes to applying sunscreen around your eyes because they’re easy to work with and less likely to run (and they’re obviously great for keeping in your bag for mess-free touchups throughout the day). This formula uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection without the risk of irritation. Created with the sensitive skin of babies in mind, but great for adults, too, Aveeno's stick sunscreen is also fragrance-free and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
9. Best Drugstore Sunscreen Powder
If you're bad about remembering to cover your part line with sunscreen (hi, same), this Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen powder makes the application process a lot easier — especially if you're on the go. The translucent powder combines oil-absorbing sea minerals with broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection, and is dispensed directly onto the enclosed brush. Not only does this make it great for touchups throughout the day, but it's also a great way to protect your scalp. Whereas sunscreen lotions leave your hair greasy, this powder actually soaks up oil, similar to a dry shampoo. Because it’s translucent, the powder doesn't leave a tint, and like all Hawaiian Tropic products, it has a fresh tropical scent.
10. Best Drugstore Lip Sunscreen
Your lips need daily protection from the sun, too, and Aquaphor’s Lip Protectant + Sunscreen both moisturizes and prevents sun damage. Like its classic Lip Repair formula, this Aquaphor balm contains castor seed oil, panthenol, shea butter, and vitamin E to nourish your lips and soothe any dryness or cracking. Plus, you'll find broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection in the fragrance-free formula, which makes it just as effective at shielding your lips from sun damage as it does against cold and windy conditions.