The Best (& Worst!) Performing Sunscreens For Summer
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The best sunscreens won’t burn your summer fun budget. ☀️
You want a quality sunscreen, but don’t want to spend a fortune on skin protection – we hear ya! We’ve got you covered with the best sunscreens to buy (that are also affordable!), and ones to absolutely stay away from.
Always use your sunscreens as directed to help prevent premature skin aging and risk of skin cancers. It’s also important to check the expiration date before using it. According to SkinCancer.org, you should apply sunscreen every day, apply 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every 2 hours.
Hip Tip: SPF Sunscreen is eligible for reimbursement with FSA, HSA, and HRA accounts. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF15+ protection (and above) is FSA and HSA eligible! And to make shopping for these products even easier, Amazon now has an FSA & HSA Store!
Here are the best sunscreens starting at just $6!
1. Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+
As if we could love Trader Joe’s even more. Their sunscreen provides UVA & UVB protection, contains skin-nourishing ingredients like aloe, vitamin E, and coconut oil, and it’s water-resistant!
The best part?… It’s only $6 a can! 😱 All the more reason to love Trader Joe’s!
2. Banana Boat Light As Air UltraMist Spray SPF 50+
Banana Boat Light As Air UltraMist Spray SPF 50+ – $10.89 (regularly 11.99)
This great aerosol option offers excellent UVA and UVB protection. True to its name, its formula has a light and natural feel. It leaves minimal residue so it won’t feel sticky or tacky (perfect for the beach)! Along with this spray’s water resistance, you’ll enjoy the nice coconut and tropical fruit aroma. 🏝
3. Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 – $12.97 for a 2-pack (just $6.49 each!)
This popular sunscreen spray is super easy to apply and can block up to 98% of harmful UV rays! It’s also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes so you can swim or sweat while wearing it. We love that it barely has a scent and contains no oxybenzone, octinoxate, phthalates, PABA, or dyes. If you prefer a lotion-type sunscreen over a spray, Coppertone offers that too. This brand is tried and true for a reason!
“We really like the Coppertone sunscreen. Our entire family is Casper-white redheads and we need superior protection and this stuff works!” – Stacy, Hip2Save reader
4. Equate Ultra Protection Lotion SPF 50
Yep, that’s a generic brand ranking near the top of this list. Walmart’s Equate brand lotion offers excellent UVA/UVB protection sunscreen performing up to its 50 SPF claim. The scent is a classic, beachy fragrance of floral and citrus.
Hip Tip: Hoping to make it to the beach soon? You have to see these genius beach hacks we shared!
5. Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 – $14.99 (regularly $18.99)
Year after year, Blue Lizard makes our list of the best sunscreen for kids. It’s great for adults too! This effective formula is free of parabens, fragrances, and active chemical ingredients. Instead, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work together to protect you from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
This mineral sunscreen is safe to use when near reefs and stays water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Best of all, it comes with smart technology that makes the cap turn blue when you’re in the presence of harmful sun rays.
6. Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30
Equate is not a force to be reckoned with (this is the SECOND time they’ve made the list)! This spray version of their sunscreen has solid UVA/UVB protection while also having a pleasant, beachy aroma and a wide spray application (helpful with antsy kids running for the sun and surf).
“I was so tired of paying for pricey sunscreen and decided to try the Equate Sport spray. Now it’s the only kind of spray we ever use! It works great for our whole family and we hardly ever have issues with sunburn when we use it correctly. Plus, you can’t beat the price! Full disclosure – we don’t use this on our faces. For that, we use Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 60+.” – Holly, Hip2Save reader
Now here are some sunscreen products to avoid…
1. Banana Boat Kids Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
Don’t let the advertised “SPF 50+” fool you. This children’s lotion has been known to lack in actual sun protection even with its 50+ claim. It can also leave a white cast and film on the skin.
2. Babyganics Mineral-Based Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Even with some positive reviews on Walmart.com, this sunscreen formulated for babies fell wildly short of the 50 SPF claim as it once tested under SPF 10! It was also reported to have below-average protection against UVA rays and cast a white, greasy film on the skin. No, thank you!
Looking to splurge? This sunscreen is the best!
La Roche Posay Anthelios 60
If the budget-friendly options we already shared don’t quite meet the criteria you’re looking for, this one’s rated the best of them all!
The La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk rings in around $25 bucks for a 3 oz. bottle ($36 for a 5 oz.), but is dermatologist tested, allergy tested, paraben-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and contains antioxidants to protect skin from free radicals.
Oh, and did we mention it has superior UV protection? The only thing this lotion can’t do is shake the beach sand from your towel.
Looking to get out of the summer? Head indoors and bowl free all summer long!
I am surprised to see the Babyganics listed here with such a poor rating. That is all I have ever used on my extremely fair skinned 4 year old – and have also used it myself (I am, suprise, also very fair). Neither of us has every burned while using it, including many trips to the beach, park, and zoo!
We use that kind too. 🤷🏼♀️
I love babyganics! Especially the spray one (NOt aerosol). Have been using it for a couple years on adults and kids
There is some controversy among dermatologists over the CR rating method — ALL mineral sunscreens did badly under it. That caused a lot of raised eyebrows. CR wouldn’t release some details of the testing methodology, and so the derms I have talked to are pretty skeptical because the protocol can’t be examined and may have a flaw with regard to accuracy with mineral sunscreens — nobody can figure it out. The derms I know use mineral sunscreens themselves and recommend them, despite CR.
Thanks for sharing, Maggie!
Thanks so much for the information!! Very helpful as nicer weather comes around. Thank you Hip2Save for all that you do!
You’re most welcome, Cstal! SO glad this post was helpful! 🤗
Love this post- as a Floridian we go through a ton of sunscreen year-round. Does anyone know if off hand ifany of these score well on the ewg safety ratings?
I don’t think any of these are highly rated on the EWG if I remember right. I always go for a 1 or 2 score and I don’t think any of these were on that list. I swear most of the 1s and 2s on the EWG are freaking expensive.
Nearly all of these score pretty poorly, I think. Most Coppertone and Banana Boat score low.
NO! It’s opposite land because all the EWG good sunscreens are mineral, and all the mineral ones did terribly under the mystery-CR protocol. CR only scores chemical sunscreens high under their system. I had a long convo with a derm about this — there is NO overlap between the “good” ones on EWG and the “good” ones on CR, which is frustrating. I emailed CR about it (and EWG), and both of them ignored my email. See my post above.
Try alba botanicals…I use it on myself and kids and it does great. Also good on ewg.
I have had several samples of La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk IT IS AMAZING!!! I can’t really afford it right now, but mother’s day is on Sunday and my mama needs it!!! thanks for the tip!! (fyi- amazon is price matching with wal-mart’s price with a $5 off coupon, too!!!!!)
One way to get la roche possey inexpensively, is to buy it at cvs. It’s the same regular price, but if you wait until you have a percent off coupon, you can get a really great price.
Yes it’s the best!
Try Walgreens online. They have a buy one get one 50% off so you get two 3oz. (total of 6oz) for $32.98 plus a “free gift” while supplies last of La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Oil-Free Cleansing Towelettes Face Wipes! No promo code needed.
I use La Roche Posay mineral sunscreen for my face/neck only. For my arms, legs, I use a cheaper mineral sunscreen. And yes, CVS with 43% off coupon is the way to go, plus the monthly $10 I get for the EB subscription, it becomes affordable.
Nice post. Do you want a great idea for kiddos to do an experiment while they are home? My son did it as his science project years ago. Buy some UV pony beads, which can be found at Walmart, Michaels, or many other places. Put different brands of sunscreen on the beads and compare to see how effective or how long lasting the sunscreen is. He was able to move forward in his science project to the state level with this experiment. Plus, you could always use the beads to make necklaces or bracelets. When they are colorful it means there is UV light and you need to use sunscreen. It also shows how some UV still gets through windows or shady tree areas. It may help those kids resistant to letting you put it on them by proving with the colorful beads that they need to sunscreen, and when to re-apply. It is much easier to see colorful beads as a reminder than wonder when you last applied. Please get skin checks. Not all skin cancer is created equal. I still have people amazed you can lose your life from it. I lost my husband to melanoma. Please be safe.
I’m sorry about your husband…We are all fair in my family and the idea of melanoma is a reality…Thanks for the tip about the uv beads! I would never have thought to compare, but since it matters it’s a huge idea!
Condolences on the loss of your husband Suz 🙁 Thank you for this vital and informative post. I had no idea UV pony beads existed. What a good idea to show my kids the real effect of UV rays! It’s so easy to forget how damaging those rays are except when you start to see the cumulative effects on aging or G-d forbid suffer from skin cancer.
Thank you. Any way to turn learning and safety into a fun/cool project the better.
My heart goes out to you! I am so sorry to hear that you lost your husband. I lost my sister to melanoma.
Some insurance may cover the cost of sunscreen. If we have money left over in our medical spending account at the end of the year, we stock up! We go through it quickly since we’re outside a lot.
What’s up with all the spray sun screen, I thought that was bad not only for those who inhale it but also our environment. Am I missing something? Has manufactures found a way to make this safe? Not trying to be negative here, I’m really interested to know.
maybe short term protection versus long term consequences?
I have some spray sunblock to spay a hair part line, but usually use the rub-in lotion sunblock.
I got Blue Lizard a couple of years ago cause of a similar post on here that long ago. I don’t c it mentioned at all this time. How long does sunscreen last? Should we buy new ones every summer?
Hi Kay. For the expiration of your sunscreen, it may be a good idea to stick to what expiration date is on the packaging. Great question!
One of the best sunscreens we have found is made for CVS and Walgreens. It is the clear zinc under both labels. We found it in San Diego a few years ago. We can’t get it all the time on the East Coast, so we order on line. It goes on white but turns clear as you lightly apply. Never a reaction, good coverage, good price. My sister and Dad were redheads and very fair and both had skin cancer. My sister uses La Roche-Posay Anthelios on her face as she has had Mohs surgery twice on her nose and forehead. She uses the clear zinc on her body. She swears by EWG ratings!
Thank you for taking the time to share your personal review of those products, acgold! It’s always great to learn of products through our Hip community!
I agree completely about Equate! I’ve had very good experiences with their sports sunscreens–and I tend to burn from just thinking about the sun. 🙂
I may be mistaken, but I’m not seeing either of the equate products on the CR list, nor any mention of it.
My bad… Not in the main list, but found when searching.
Same here! I burn very easily, but Equate seem to protect me really well, even during sweaty runs or working hard in the garden.
Banana boat had a dry spray couple years ago that I just loved it wasn’t greasy, covered great but now I can’t find it. I wonder if sun comfort replaced it? I hate greasy feeling sunscreens
Maybe their dry balance spray? It’s available online and I love it – goes on light and not greasy at all. Also smells tropical. 🙂
If you are going to be swimming at the beach, please be sure to use products that are safe for the reefs. Hawaii is banning the sale of sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate effective January 1, 2021. Also avoid products containing petrolatum (mineral oil) and a high content of titanium dioxide. You can google reef safe products. Let’s save our oceans and marine life.
LOVE targets up & up brand. We’ve been using it exclusively for a couple years (spray and lotion not listed in the post) and it has worked so well!
That Babyganics sunscreen works great, and I’ve been using it on mine and my kids’ fair skin for years. I hardly tan, and have been using sunscreen my whole life, and I can vouch for the fact that this works. It does cast a white film, but it’s mineral so that’s typical. Even if it’s not the best sunscreen out there, it’s FAR from the worst! One of the cheapest sunscreens that scores well on the EWG that I’ve found.
Hoping someone has a good brand they like that is reef safe, but also rubs in nicely? We are headed on a trip, would like to purchase here as it will be way more expensive to buy on vacation..but it has to be reef safe…of the ones listed here, I think Blue Lizard is the only one..anyone have any other ones they like, reef safe, rub in/work well, decent price?
I know Blue Lizzard is also on sale on Amazon
Thank you for this post! I was recently diagnosed with melanoma (fortunately stage 0). My dermatologist advised me to use mineral based sunscreens moving forward. I found that Trader Joe’s mineral based sunscreen offered great sun protection for my family and myself on a recent beach vacation. SPF makeup, long sleeve rash guards & wide brim hats have been great tools in my skin protection tool belt as well. If you’re on the fence about getting a head to toe skin assessment by a dermatologist, just do it. My annual dermatology appointment saved my life.
Does anyone else experience spray sunscreens stop spraying after using a few times? I’ve tried different brands and rinsing the nozzle under warm water, but it keeps happening.
I haven’t had issues with the propellent-type sprays, but definitely with the non-aerosol pump sprays. It’s annoying, I end up screwing off the cap and pouring into my hand.
Love Trader Joe’s!!! Definitely the best and priced right!
Thanks for the helpful suggestion! Good to know! ❤️
Strange, that Babyganics spf 50 seems to work well for us. Never had an issue. I live in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area, so we have sunlight year-round.
I make my own all-natural sunscreen SPF 30. Research the chemicals in this stuff and what it does to your body.
La Roche posay mineral sunscreen at Walgreen’s is $25, and buy 1 get 1 50% off. Regular price is $34.
Thanks so much for letting us know, Riss!