Last updated: March 2022
We all know that sunscreen is critical to ward off sunburns, signs of premature aging and at worst – melanomas, but how to maximize your UV coverage in the stickiest of situations? Whether dealing with hellacious humidity, working up a sun-soaked sweat or simply taking frequent poolside dips, there’s no better defense for H2O runoff than a sweatproof sunscreen. But what to look for when purchasing said water-resistant wonders?
There are a few key ingredients to look out for that boast serious sticking power. “I like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide,” says board-certified NYC dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and author of“Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.“ Found in mineral-based sunscreens, both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work by creating an adhesive blocking layer that reflects harmful UV rays – sitting atop and staying put on your skin.
LA-based double board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist Dr. James Wang, Founder of Metropolis Dermatology, agrees: “Zinc can stay on quite well, but make sure to read the label to ensure there is a time frame for water resistance. This label is FDA-regulated and is usually pretty accurate.”
For aesthetic purposes, Dr. Jaliman also recommends looking for a sheer sunscreen that “is formulated to not leave a white cast.”
Another benefit to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide? Since they “act as shields to UV rays, 10 minutes prior to sun exposure is enough time [to apply],” says Dr. Wang. Otherwise, he shares, “conventional wisdom is 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, you should put on your sunscreen.”
Don’t forget that sweatproof doesn’t equal towel-proof. When it comes to staying covered, Dr. Jaliman encourages reapplying “every 2 hours” or “right after you towel off – this is because you are wiping off the sunscreen.”
Dr. Jaliman further advises to wear, at minimum, “above an SPF 30,” and that wearing above SPF 50 isn’t necessarily, well, necessary. “SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays. SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UVB rays. SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays, so it’s not as much of a difference as you would think,” Dr. Jaliman explains.
Dr. Wang notes, “the best sunscreen is one you will actually use. There are few sunscreens that you can get that are mineral-based, greater than SPF 50, and do not feel sticky or leave a thick residue.”
Without further ado, we give you 18 of the best sweat and water-resistant sunscreens to slather on now, including a few top picks from Dr. Wang and Dr. Jaliman. From lotions to sticks to sprays, all are packed with adhesive ingredients resulting in longer lasting coverage than your standard SPF. And because we love our reefs, all of the below sun blocking beauties are mineral-based and/or oxybenzone-free as well.
Disclosure: This Lama List contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through them we may get a little something in return – at no additional cost to you. This helps us keep the lights on over here so we can continue sharing helpful travel guides, lifestyle features and editor’s picks!
PSA: When it comes to lotions vs. sticks vs. sprays for the sweat set, Dr. Wang prefers the former. “My recommendation is lotion because it is easily spreadable and tends to get a thicker layer of sunscreen on,” he says. “Sticks and sprays often miss spots and leads to an uneven application.”
EltaMD UV Sheer SPF 50+ Mineral Facial Sunscreen (1.7 oz), $30.00 *Top pick by both Dr. Wang and Dr. Jaliman
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-in Face & Body Oxybenzone-Free SPF 60 Sunscreen Milk (5 oz), $35.99 *Top pick by Dr. Wang
Thrive Bodyshield SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen (4 oz), $20.95
Shiseido Urban Environment Hyaluronic Acid-Infused, Oxybenzone-Free SPF 42 Sunscreen (1.7 oz), $48.00
Australian Gold Botanical SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion (5 oz), $8.50
Jaxon Lane Rain or Shine Anti-Aging Oxybenzone-Free SPF 50 Face Sunscreen Lotion (2.03 oz), $32.00
Salt & Stone Tinted SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick (0.53 oz), $22.00
CeraVe InvisibleZinc SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick (0.47 oz, ) $10.90
ThinkSport Face & Body SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Stick (0.64 oz), $9.19
BLUE LIZARD Sensitive SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick (0.5 oz), $12.72
Aveeno Positively Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Stick for Sensitive Skin (1.5 oz), $11.40
Alba Botanica Cool Sport Oxybenzone-Free SPF 50 Clear Sunscreen Spray (6 oz), $13.99
Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray (6 oz), $17.99
Banana Boat Sport Mineral Enriched SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray (6 oz), $7.97
Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray for Extra Sensitive Skin (6 oz), $17.60
COOLA Organic Oxybenzone-Free SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray (6 oz), $25.00