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Best Sunscreen Creams in 2024: Protect Your Precious Skin from the Sunlight

  • ByMedical Content Team
  • Medically Reviewed byDr. Sabine Kulhanek
  • Fact checked

Best Sunscreen Creams in 2024: Protect Your Precious Skin from the Sunlight

As global warming increases, so does the negative impact of sunlight on our skin. Naturally, by this point, most of us know the necessity of applying sunscreen cream whenever we leave the house. But even then, those with particularly sensitive skin types may be faced with a wide variety of choices that make them confused. Choosing the wrong sunscreen cream can lead to ineffective operation, and in certain cases, they make no difference compared to if you had not applied them at all. Today, we will go over the top ten best sunscreen creams in the market for 2024 to enable you to pick the best sunscreen cream for you regardless of your skin type!

How Does the Sun Damage the Skin?

Before we get into the top ten list of the best sunscreen creams, there are a few questions that we need to answer to enable us to make a more informed choice. Let’s start by discussing how the sun actually damages our skin. First, we need to learn that sunlight actually comes in two forms, known as UAV and UVB. Each of them causes different types of damage. UVB rays are responsible for causing sunburn and play a key role in the development of skin cancer. These rays primarily affect the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis). 

UVB rays are more intense during the midday and summer months. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays, reaching the middle layer (the dermis). They are present with relatively equal intensity during all daylight hours and throughout the year. UVA rays contribute to premature aging (photoaging) by breaking down collagen and elastin fibers in the skin.

How-Does-the-Sun-Damage-the-Skin?

Apart from these damages, both rays cause a breakdown in the collagen of your skin and damage the DNA directly, which then dramatically increases the chance of cancer.

Read MoreSun Protection: All You Need to Know About SPF, UVA, and UVB

Knowing all of these dangers makes you want to immediately go for one of the best sunscreen creams right?

Side Note: If you happen to have wrinkly and spotted skin, our elite cohort of medical professionals is here to help you with special rejuvenation techniques, such as laser skin resurfacing!

How Do Sunscreen Creams Work?

Sunscreen creams function by forming a protective barrier on the skin, working to absorb, reflect, or scatter ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. There exist two primary categories of active ingredients in sunscreens: chemical (organic) filters and physical (inorganic) blockers.

Chemical (Organic) Filters

Containing organic compounds, chemical filters absorb UV radiation, converting it into heat, and subsequently releasing it from the skin.
Effectiveness against either UVA or UVB rays, or a combination of both, characterizes these compounds.
Common chemical filters include avobenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, and oxybenzone.

Physical (Inorganic) Blockers

Active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in physical blockers establish a physical barrier on the skin, reflecting and scattering UV radiation to prevent its penetration. Effectiveness spans both UVA and UVB rays.

Broad-Spectrum Protection

The majority of contemporary sunscreens are labeled as "broad-spectrum," signifying protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
Ensuring comprehensive sun protection is essential.

Sun-Protection-Factor-SPF

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

Sunscreens are labeled with an SPF, denoting the level of protection against UVB rays.
The SPF number represents the factor by which the sunscreen extends the time it takes for UVB rays to cause sunburn on the skin. For instance, if one typically sunburns in 10 minutes without sunscreen, SPF 30 theoretically allows staying in the sun 30 times longer (300 minutes) without burning, assuming correct application and reapplication.

Water Resistance

Certain sunscreens are labeled as water-resistant, indicating their ability to retain effectiveness after exposure to water, such as swimming or sweating.
It is crucial to note that being water-resistant does not equate to being waterproof, and reapplication after swimming or sweating is recommended.

What to Consider Before Buying a Sunscreen Cream?

Finally, before purchasing one of the upcoming top ten best sunscreen creams, it’s important to know exactly what to look for. Some of the best sunscreen creams in this list will have specialized use cases that you may want to know beforehand, and here, we will cover everything that you may want to know. 

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

Assess your skin type, sun exposure intensity, and planned activities. Choose an appropriate SPF based on these considerations. For everyday use, SPF 30 is generally recommended, but prolonged sun exposure may necessitate higher SPFs.

Broad-Spectrum-Protection

Broad-Spectrum Protection

Verify that the sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection, safeguarding against both UVA and UVB rays. This helps prevent sunburn (UVB) and premature aging (UVA).

Skin Type

Tailor your choice to your skin type and any specific conditions. Some sunscreens cater to sensitive skin, while others suit oily or dry skin. Choose a product aligned with your skin's requirements.

Also Read: All You Need to Know About Skin Tone and Undertone

Ingredients

Scrutinize the ingredient list for both active and inactive components. Individuals with sensitive skin might want to avoid certain chemicals, such as oxybenzone or fragrance. Physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are often suitable for sensitive skin

Texture and Formulation

Opt for a sunscreen with a texture and formulation that you find comfortable. Various options include lotions, creams, gels, sprays, or sticks. Certain formulations may be more suitable for specific activities or skin types.

Texture-and-Formulation

Ease of Application

Consider the practicality of the application. Factors such as packaging, dispenser type, and the consistency of the product can influence the convenience of use.

Expiration Date

Check for the expiration date on the sunscreen. Expired products may not offer adequate protection. Store your sunscreen in a cool, dry place to preserve its effectiveness.

Fragrance

Opt for a fragrance-free or hypoallergenic sunscreen if you have fragrance sensitivities, preventing potential skin irritation.

Brand Reputation

Take into account the reputation of the brand. Established and reputable brands often prioritize research and development to create effective and safe sunscreen products.

Cost

While cost should not be the sole consideration, find a sunscreen within your budget. Effective sunscreens are available at various price points.

Top Ten Best Sunscreen Creams in 2024: The Best of the Best for You!

Finally, it’s time to rank the top ten best sunscreen creams of 2024 for you! We did our best to represent all sorts of different use cases in our list so that regardless of your skin type or special need, you will find at least one reliable option for your precious skin. Let’s get that sun protection going!

Equate Sport Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Value Size SPF 50

As the name implies, Equate Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Value Size SPF 50 is not only a very potent sunscreen cream with an SPF value of 50. It is also one of the best budget sunscreens on the market. It is one of the cheapest sunscreens on the market. However, don’t let this economic price fool you. It is an extremely comforting, smooth, and nongreasy as possible. It is also a great choice for athletes since it doesn’t react poorly with sweat and is very potent against the sunlight in the water, lasting over 80 minutes per use in the water.  It is also a great choice for outdoor sports. 

Equate-Sport-Sunscreen-Lotion
Equate Sport Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Value Size SPF 50

We put a lot of emphasis on broad-spectrum as being one of the most important factors in sunscreen, and this cream also qualifies in that regard. The cream is also oxybenzone-free, which means there is very little chance of allergies. While the performance of the sunscreen itself is incredible, there are a number of downsides to it. This sunscreen can only be bought at Walmart and only has a single bottle size containing 32 ounces. Despite this, the incredibly low price of 39 cents per ounce ($12 total) makes it one of the undisputed best sunscreen cream for face choices for 2024.

Thrive Bodyshield SPF 50

Are you looking for an all-natural, potent, water-resistant sunscreen cream? Then Thrive Bodyshield SPF 50 is for you. The most apparent advantage of this sunscreen is its advanced natural formula, which is composed of mostly colorless zinc oxide. The reason this is important is that most natural sunscreens leave a clear white mark upon use. This is absent from this cream, with widespread customer reports of no white signs after use. Thrive Bodyshield SPF 50 also has a much higher thickness in consistency compared to most other candidates for the best sunscreen cream, making it have an above-average performance in per-minute efficiency. 

Thrive-BodyShield
Thrive Bodyshield SPF 50

All of this may sound like Thrive Bodyshield SPF 50 is the ultimate sunscreen with little to no competition, but the reason this is not the case is because of the sunscreen’s pricing. Considered an elite brand, the performance and brand name of Thrive mark up the price considerably compared to other sunscreen creams on the list. Overall, it is definitely one of the best sunscreen creams of 2024 if you are willing to pay $25 per 6-ounce bottle (10 times more expensive compared to Equate Sport Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Value Size SPF 50).

Vichy Solar Protective Water Hydrating SPF 50

If you do not want to spend several minutes rubbing the sunscreen every time you want to apply the cream, then Vichy Solar Protective Water Hydrating SPF 50 is a great option for you. Since it uses a spray-on application method compared to pressure tubes, it absorbs into your skin almost immediately upon contact. So the application consists of a few seconds where you just spray it in different areas. Quality-wise, this product has a unique, water-based formula mixed with active hyaluronic acid. It is more than suitable for sensitive skin types; it does not leave behind a mark on skin or clothes, and it is Hypoallergenic. Furthermore, its water-based formula also provides hydrating benefits for your skin. 

Vichy-Solar-Protective-Water
Vichy Solar Protective Water Hydrating SPF 50

The Vichy Solar Protective Water Hydrating SPF 50 is a UK product, so most of the customers are going to be people from the country, and Europe is going to be able to purchase it, with limited market access in the US. The price is rather high, with a single 7-ounce bottle costing nearly 20 pounds. All in all, the innovative formula and the easy application coupled with prolonged effect make it cost-effective and one of the best sunscreen cream choices in 2024. 

Coco & Eve Body Sunscreen SPF 50+

One thing that is consistent in the sunscreen world is that added benefits come at added costs. While there are cheaper options like Equate Sport Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Value Size SPF 50, the more you want, the more you have to pay. Coco & Eve only recently unveiled their new silicone-free, gluten-free, toxinless, paraben-free, and environmentally friendly sunscreen that seems to also boast an incredible sun-blocking performance. But all of these great perks, anti-allergy measures, and performance quotas come at a cost. A single 7-ounce bottle of Coco & Eve Body Sunscreen SPF 50+ costs 31 euros, which makes it one of the most expensive sunscreens in the world. 

Coco-&-Eve
Coco & Eve Body Sunscreen SPF 50+

But what does it do to justify this price? Well, on top of the aforementioned formulation, it also uses beneficial ingredients like Vitamin E, coconut oil, and Aloe Vera to add more benefits than simply sun-blocking your skin.  Furthermore, it is the only sunscreen with a value of more than 50 SPF on this list, which makes it extra potent in dealing with the sun. It is odorless, broad-spectrum, and water-resistant for 4 hours. While the quality leaves nothing to be deserted, Coco & Eve Body Sunscreen SPF 50+ is only available in France, Italy, and Ireland. 

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

At first glance, you may think that the low SPF rate on this sunscreen makes it weaker compared to some of its SPF 50 rivals. However, the main reason for the low SPF rate is the fact that the Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is designed for oily skin. Oily skiing types usually have higher sun-blocking potential because the oil layer of the natural skin blocks the sun to a small degree on its own. This means that not only individuals with oily skin are going to benefit from this formula, but ladies who regularly put makeup on or athletes who commonly sweat under the sun are also going to enjoy using this sunscreen. This is because the natural resistance of the sunscreen in blending with oily skin also translates to it being capable of staying on with makeup and sweat. Furthermore, it is also spotless and leaves behind no marks. 

Supergoop-Unseen-Sunscreen
Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

People with oily skin usually struggle to find a fit for their cream use cases, and the Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 solves that issue, at least when it comes to sunscreens. This alone is enough to earn it a spot among the best sunscreen cream solutions of 2024. A 1.7-ounce costs nearly $40, making the price the only major downside. 

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen SPF 30

Now, here’s an entry on this list that is not only popular now but has been one of the most popular sunscreens for several years. The Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen SPF 30 is another mineral-based sunscreen that makes it appealing to users who want to minimize chemical formulas on their skin. Its 30 SPF value, which is even lower than Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen, may make it seem weak, but it is anything but weak in performance. This sunscreen uses natural ingredients to make up for its weaker SPF value, and this makes it especially useful for people with thinner, more vulnerable skin types. One interesting thing about the bottle design is that it turns blue whenever it is under UV light to remind you to take care of your skin. 

Blue-Lizard
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen SPF 30

Other than its great performance, the Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen SPF 30 is also quite economical compared to the expensive entries above it on this list. A 5-ounce bottle costs $15, which is a reasonable middle-ground price. Australian manufacturing also makes it a great choice for people in the country and the Oceania and Southeast Asia regions who can easily access this best sunscreen cream candidate. 

Sun Bum Spray Sunscreen

We already had a sunscreen cream coming in a spray variant, but the Sun Bum SPF Spray Sunscreen is so diverse at such a reasonable price that it needed to be included among the best sunscreen solutions of 2024, no matter what. You may have noticed that we didn’t include its SPF value in the title. This is because this sunscreen comes in different SPF values ranging from a measly 15 SPF, designed for sensitive skin, to an extremely potent 70 SPF, designed for special use cases. It is also moisturizing sunscreen and contains Vitamin E to further boost your skin’s defense. Although this product has a chemical formula, it is 100% environmentally friendly. Sun Bum is also one of the few options on this list that has a special brand odor, described by the provider as a “summer scent.”

Sun-Bum-Spray-Sunscreen
Sun Bum Spray Sunscreen

The pricing is also quite reasonable, with a single 6-ounce spray can of SPF 50 costing around $18 on Amazon. This makes it quite cheaper compared to the other spray sunscreen on this list. It is also globally available in different regions. The fact that you can choose your own SPF value depending on your skin and its reasonable price makes the Sun Bum Spray Sunscreen one of the absolute best sunscreen cream options in 2024.

Also Read: Why Is My Face Red? Possible Causes and Treatments

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen

All the sunscreens Recovered so far were for adults, but this sunscreen, called the Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen, is designed especially for the sensitive skin of babies. It is equally important to take care of your babies against the sunlight since if they are exposed to sunlight during their infancy there's a chance that they will develop skin issues later in life. The skin of the baby is extremely sensitive, and therefore, it is advised not to use chemical sunscreens. This sunscreen is exclusively mineral-based this formula. The formula is also hypoallergenic and is comprehensively defensive against UVA and UVB rays, which makes it a broad-spectrum sunscreen suitable for babies, which is rare in the market.

Neutrogena-Pure-Baby
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen

Pricing on this sunscreen is also reasonable, with a three-pack of broad-spectrum 50 SPF zinc oxide, water resistant, hypoallergenic, and tear-free baby sunscreen costing only $28. Finding a proper baby sunscreen can be difficult and full of trials and errors. So the fact that Neutrogena pure and free baby mineral sunscreen is approved by The Columbia University Medical Center makes it the ultimate baby sunscreen and one of the undisputed best sunscreen cream solutions of 2024.

Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

Earlier, we spoke about the fact that different skin tones require different sun protection solutions. Naturally, darker skin tones require different sunscreen protection compared to other types of skin. Black Girl sunscreen SPF 30 is designed specifically for black people and especially for black women. This is evident by the low SPF value of 30, which is designed to blend with makeup as well as to provide a lesser degree of invasive protection against sunlight. This is due to the fact that darker skin tones are naturally more resistant to sound-like compared to lighter shades. Historically, finding skincare products designed especially for black people has been met with difficulties, so seeing the black girl sunscreen SPF 30 on the market is a very welcome addition.

Black-Girl-Sunscreen
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

The black girl sunscreen SPF 30 is also cruelty-free and weak, and the pricing is also reasonable, with a single tube of three ounces costing $15. Designing a sunscreen for darker skin shades can be difficult, and for this reason, there are some downsides to the Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30. For example, some customers have reported that it leaves behind an oily, greasy feeling after use. But overall, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and the black sunscreen SPF 30 is one of the best sunscreen cream solutions on the market in 2024.

SHISEIDO Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen

We have already covered some sunscreens that have water-resistant qualities. But if there is one sunscreen that we're going to choose specifically for its water-resistant qualities, it is going to be the SHISEIDO Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen. This sunscreen doesn't actually come in the cream form but rather as a lotion. It is by far the best sunscreen solution if you are going to be swimming a lot with sunscreen.

SHISEIDO-Expert-Sun-Protector
SHISEIDO Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen

It has an average water-resistant duration of over 100 minutes, which is 20 more than other water-resistant sunscreens. This is not just caused by the formulation because the cream itself also features a heavy consistency that prevents it from being washed off when you enter the water. However, the formulation is also innovative, featuring oxybenzone and octinoxate-free solutions for your precious skin. 

All of these benefits for water athletes come at a steep price, with a single bottle of 150 ml costing around $45. Yes, the price is rather steep, but as far as water resistance goes it is by  far, one of the best sunscreen cream solutions in 2024.

Also ReadThe Ultimate Guide to Making a Skincare Routine: Tips for Healthy Skin

How to Apply a Sunscreen Cream?

Advertise your top 10 best sunscreen Solutions in 2024, but it is also worth taking a moment to learn how to apply the sunscreen regardless of the brand or the skin type that you have. This part is not going to be detailed, but it serves as a general understanding of how to use sunscreens in general.

  • Check the Expiration Date: Ensure that the sunscreen is not expired. Using an expired product may reduce its effectiveness.
  • Apply Sunscreen Before Sun Exposure: Sunscreen should be applied to clean, dry skin before heading outdoors. Aim to apply it at least 15-30 minutes before sun exposure to allow it to absorb into the skin.
  • Take Enough Sunscreen: Use a sufficient amount of sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends about one ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) for a full-body application.
  • Focus on Key Areas: Pay attention to commonly missed areas such as the ears, back of the neck, tops of the feet, and the back of the hands.
  • Use the Right Technique: Apply sunscreen in a gentle, upward motion to ensure even coverage. For the face, apply in small dots and then blend evenly.
  • Don't Forget Lips: Use a lip balm or lipstick with SPF to protect your lips from sun damage.
  • Reapply Every Two Hours: Sunscreen effectiveness diminishes over time, especially with exposure to water or sweat. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
  • Reapply After Swimming or Sweating: Even if a sunscreen is labeled as water-resistant, it's essential to reapply after swimming or sweating to maintain protection.

Conclusion

Now, you not only know how to apply sunscreens, but you are also familiar with the top 10 best sunscreen cream solutions in 2024 for a variety of different use cases; you have different options for darker skin tones for water resistance and for baby sunscreens. The earlier and the more consistently you use sunscreens, the more chance you have to prevent skin diseases such as skin cancer and collagen breakdown later in your life. 

FAQ

How much sunscreen should I apply?

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using about one ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) for a full-body application. Applying too little reduces the effectiveness of the sunscreen.

When should I apply sunscreen?

Apply sunscreen at least 15-30 minutes before sun exposure to allow it to absorb into the skin. Reapply every two hours, or more frequently if swimming or sweating.

Can I use last year's sunscreen?

Sunscreen has an expiration date, and its effectiveness may diminish over time. Check the expiration date on the packaging, and if it has expired, it's advisable to purchase a new one.

Can I use sunscreen on my face?

Yes, sunscreen is essential for facial protection. Choose a sunscreen labeled for the face, and apply it as the last step in your skincare routine.

Is waterproof sunscreen truly waterproof?

No sunscreen is entirely waterproof. "Water-resistant" means the sunscreen maintains its effectiveness after exposure to water for a specified time. Reapply after swimming or sweating.

Are all sunscreens safe for sensitive skin?

No. Some people with sensitive skin may react to certain chemical filters. Look for sunscreens labeled "for sensitive skin" or use mineral-based sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Can I wear makeup over sunscreen?

Yes. Apply sunscreen first and then apply makeup. Many cosmetic products, like foundations and BB creams, also contain SPF.

Can I use sunscreen on children?

Yes. Use sunscreen specially formulated for children and babies, and consult a pediatrician for recommendations on application for infants.

Can I skip sunscreen if I have dark skin?

No, everyone, regardless of skin color, should use sunscreen. While dark skin has more melanin and provides some natural protection, it is still susceptible to sun damage.

Can I use expired sunscreen in an emergency?

It is not advisable. Expired sunscreen may not provide adequate protection. It's better to have a backup with a valid expiration date.

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Alex

Nice🙏