The best body sunscreen

Sun & Tanning

Children under 6 months old should not wear sunscreen due to their ultrasensitive skin.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which body sunscreen is best?

It’s good for the skin to soak up a little vitamin D now and then. Not only can the sunshine benefit your skin in small doses, it can also benefit your immune system. Moderation is key. Overexposure to the sun can be very dangerous and lead to various forms of skin cancer and prematurely age the skin. When purchasing a good body sunscreen, it’s important to consider the SPF, ingredients and formula. 

If you’re looking for a body sunscreen containing all-natural ingredients that helps prevent sunburns, SunBum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 is the top choice.

What to know before you buy a body sunscreen 

SPF

SPF is a measurement that defines how long a product will protect your skin from the sun. It has long been believed that the higher the amount of SPF in a product, the greater the protection. To be considered a highly protective SPF, the product must contain 30 SPF or above. The SPF ingredients in products are what protect the skin from damaging sun rays that can prematurely age the skin and contribute to various forms of skin cancer overtime. The active SPF ingredients change with the type of sunscreen. By applying SPF daily, no matter the temperature, you can reduce the early effects of fine lines and wrinkles as well as improve your chances against skin cancer.   

Liquid formula

Body sunscreens are available in liquid, spray and stick formulas. Liquid formulas are easy to apply and re-applicate. They absorb less quickly than a spray or stick formula but provide the maximum amount of coverage. Due to the fact that they take longer to absorb, this product will be less effective in the water. Some do not like the white color that remains on the skin for a while when applying liquid forms of sunscreen. When on the go, users should pack this item in a separate bag to ensure it doesn’t get other items dirty in the event of a leak. 

Spray formula

Spray formulas provide a quick, easy application. Most spray sunscreens are clear and dry faster than liquid formulas. Controlling the spray can be difficult, and it can get in your eyes and on your clothes if you’re not careful. This is not the cleanest form of application, but it does provide a good amount of coverage and saves the user time. 

Stick formula

Stick formulas are very compatible and easy to fit in any location when on the go. This formula won’t leak or spray, but it can be difficult to spread onto the skin due to the overly sticky formula. You may also have to pull at the skin repeatedly. Some buyers only use these products for specific areas of the body that may get more burnt than the rest such as the lips, nose and shoulders. 

Physical vs. chemical 

Depending on your skin type and what you hope to get from a good body sunscreen, you will be using either a physical or chemical sunscreen. 

Physical sunscreen: This sunscreen contains minerals and works to coat the skin in a protective barrier from the sun, reflecting UV rays. The active ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which serve to block UVA and UVB rays from the sun. These types of sunscreens should be worn daily to protect the skin from aging. They blend well with other skin care products in a makeup routine and look good under foundation. This is the most natural form of sunscreen. 

Chemical sunscreen: This sunscreen protects the skin by absorbing the UV rays. The formula penetrates the outer layer of skin to bring in the rays rather than reflect them. Active ingredients in chemical sunscreen may include avobenzone, oxybenzone or octinoxate. These will most likely come in the form of a spray sunscreen and will be easy to apply and will absorb into the skin dry and clear.  

What to look for in a quality body sunscreen 

Cruelty-free 

Many brands have adopted a more natural, eco-friendly way of life, including a reduction of animal testing on products. Just because a product claims to be natural and organic doesn’t mean it’s cruelty-free though. To make sure an item isn’t tested on animals, look for a PETA-approved bunny, a leaping bunny or the words “not tested on animals” on the packaging. These products typically contain less toxic chemicals, are hypoallergenic and provide less irritation for those with sensitive skin.

Water-resistant 

If you’re going to spend the day at the beach or pool and expect to get wet or sweat, consider purchasing a water-resistant sunscreen. If your sunscreen isn’t waterproof and doesn’t absorb by the time you get wet, it can wipe off, becoming useless and allowing you to get sunburned. Water-resistant formulas are designed to stay on the skin even when wet for long periods of time. This style of body sunscreen is harder to scrub off in the shower, and the smell lingers longer than with other formulas.

Noncomedogenic 

This simply means a product that will not clog the pores. Noncomedogenic body sunscreen is recommended for those with oily or acne-prone skin. Sunscreens containing minerals are used to repel UV rays, which don’t clog the pores as much as chemical sunscreens that are used to penetrate the skin. For more information, take a look at the full body sunscreen buying guide from BestReviews.

How much you can expect to spend on a body sunscreen

Body sunscreens range in price from $6-$40. A product with fewer natural ingredients will be around $6-$10, while more expensive sunscreens with all the best features and ingredients will be $40 and above. 

Body sunscreen FAQ

What is the difference between UVB and UVA rays? 

A. UV stands for ultraviolet, and it’s a natural form of energy produced by the sun. UVA rays have long wavelengths and cause skin aging while UVB rays are shorter. UVB rays are what cause sunburn and irritation associated with prolonged exposure to the sun. 

How often do you need to reapply sunscreen? 

A. It’s recommended sunscreen be reapplied every two hours, especially on sections of the body that are easily burnt. Even if a sunscreen is waterproof, it’s important to reapply after you get out of the water to ensure you’re protected from sunburn. 

What’s the best body sunscreen to buy?

Top body sunscreen

SunBum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

SunBum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

What you need to know: SunBum Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 is a moisturizing sunscreen formula that protects the skin while firming with vitamin E. 

What you’ll love: The vitamins contained in this product work to neutralize free radicals and stop premature skin aging. 

What you should consider: Some users have experienced sunburn even after reapplying this product.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta and Amazon

Top body sunscreen for the money

Hempz Daily Herbal Lotion SPF 30

Hempz Daily Herbal Lotion SPF 30

What you need to know: This herbal lotion contains enough SPF to be considered a sunscreen and costs half the price.

What you’ll love: This product protects the skin from harmful rays while leaving the skin soft and smelling floral. It’s vegan, THC-free, paraben-free, gluten-free and will not dry or irritate the skin. It’s lightweight, streak-free and absorbs quickly into the skin. 

What you should consider: It isn’t waterproof or sweat resistant. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Pacifica Beauty Sun & Skin Care Mineral Body Butter Pineapple Flower SPF 50

Pacifica Beauty Sun & Skin Care Mineral Body Butter Pineapple Flower SPF 50 

What you need to know: This product is vegan and cruelty-free and is formulated without petroleum, parabens, silicones, retinyl palmitate, phthalates or chemical UV absorbers.

What you’ll love: It’s water absorbent for up to 80 minutes and contains balanced minerals to provide an even application.

What you should consider: The smell is strong, and it takes a long time for the product to absorb.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Logan DeLoye writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.