theSkimm’s Guide to Sunscreen

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PUBLISHED JUN 14, 2018

Your want to soak up the sun. But it’s time to upgrade whatever's at the bottom of last year’s beach bag. The best sunscreen is the one you’ll grab again and again. Kind of like your favorite movie. Yep, we compared them to movies. Because nothing says ‘summer' like beaches...and sitting in a dark, air conditioned theater.


But first, SPF: Stands for 'sun protection factor.’ It’s a calculation that indicates the level of protection against UVB, aka rays that give you sunburn. Turns out a high SPF number does not a great sunscreen make. You’re gonna want to look for something that deflects UVA, too. Those are the sun rays that cause aging, and can also play a role in the formation of skin cancer. Keep your eyes peeled for 'broad spectrum' to check both boxes. Aaand action.

ELTA MD

For the person who only takes a trusted rec…
Insert your derm's fave pick here. One Skimm HQ’r swears by this sunscreen too. This Elta MD SPF 46 formula is packed with goodies that fight acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation while leaving your pores at 100. But maybe reapply after you go in the water. This screen says H2-no.

theSkimm: Meet the documentary of sunscreens. This formula is heavily researched and backed by dermatologists for soothing sensitive skin problems.

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For the person who wants to wear makeup over her sunscreen...
Show some face. This Glossier SPF 35 sunscreen goes on as a clear serum and is super lightweight so you can still wear makeup on hot summer days. Women of color love it because it doesn’t leave white streaks on your face. It absorbs right into your skin after applying, like magic. Ten points for Gryffindor.

theSkimm: Watch this fantasy film. It’s like a unicorn of sunscreens and will be gone before you know it (on your face and off the shelves).

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For the person who wants a sunscreen that looks and sounds chic…
Say bonjour to La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 60. Anthelios gives itself a pat on the back for what it nixes. Think: fragrance and paraben-free sunscreen. It’s also lightweight, making the thirst real for people with normal, sensitive, and oily skin.

theSkimm: Meet the indie film of sunscreens. It’s subtle, packed with clever references, and being able to pronounce its name at a party will give you major points.

Hint sunscreen

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For the person who wants a sunscreen that does double duty...
Get you a screen that can do both. As in, double as a scent. Hint sunscreen has a light, fruity smell. It goes on sheer, will keep you moisturized, and it's spray-on to make sure you don't miss a spot. Bye, awkward tan lines.

theSkimm: Meet the musical of sunscreens. It’s fun, colorful, and you’ll be singing along in no time.

For when you really don't want to put on sunscreen...
Whip up another option. Olay Whips SPF feels like moisturizer but works like sunscreen. It has SPF 25, goes on light as air, and works well under makeup. You'll want to jump in this whip.

theSkimm: Meet the romcom of sunscreens. You, your mom, and your sister are going to watch this one on repeat.

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For the person who hates when sand gets stuck in between their toes...
Say ‘ahoy’ to Banana Boat’s new formula with SPF 50. It’s main attraction is that its non-stick, making it easy to clean off after a day at the beach (we’re looking at you, sand butt).

theSkimm: Meet the comedy of sunscreens. Cue a little nostalgia and banana peel joke.

Clear-Zinc-Sport-Sunscreen-SPF-35

For the person who prefers turf to surf…
There’s nothing fishy about this sunscreen. Badger’s Clear Zinc Sport does everything you’d expect from an environmentally-friendly formula — except leave you looking like a ghost (read: no white streaks). It’s biodegradable, not harmful to coral reefs, and is water-resistant. Pro tip: it only lasts for 80 minutes, so make sure to re-apply.


theSkimm: Meet the Historical Period Drama of sunscreens. You’ll want to read up on ‘screens like this, and their impact.

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For the person who has trust issues with their beauty products…
Put a ring on this one. Supergoop! SPF 50 has gone from being that sunscreen your co-worker can’t stop talking about to the one you see in beach bags everywhere. We think it’s because the formula rubs you the right way. Literally. It goes on like a gentle moisturizer and its fancy ingredients make your skin soak it up in a hot second.

theSkimm: Meet the feel good flick of the summer. People love how this one feels on their skin a
nd how it makes them feel about Captain Planet. Bonus: it’s been said that this one won’t damage coral reefs.

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For the person who always has the latest iPhone…
Say iWant to this sunscreen. Biore’s Aqua Rich SPF 50 is our international pick. It's water-based, but also waterproof, and has citrus extract to give your skin a serious boost. Sensitive skin buyer beware: this one can be a little drying.

theSkimm: Meet the sci-fi film of sunscreens. It’s water-based and yet waterproof? The future is now.

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For the person looking to avoid a Selena-at-the-Met level tan…
Neutrogena’s Face and Body Stick Sunscreen has of the highest SPF count (70) on our list and offers broad spectrum coverage wherever you stick it. Plus the hands free application gets you out the door and onto that swan floatie fast.

theSkimm: Meet the action movie of sunscreens. This will work perfectly for those who think a nice Sunday morning means waking up to run a 10K ‘jaunt.’

PS: These are partner products, which means if you purchase, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.

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