While it’s easy to prioritize putting your face sunscreen on every day, body sunblock doesn’t always get the same amount of daily importance. So, we’re here to remind you just how critical it is to apply sunscreen to your entire body to keep your skin safe from harmful UV rays.
“Some people may apply sunscreen to their face in the morning but forget about other parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, like the neck, shoulders, arms and legs,” NYC dermatologist and president of The Skin Cancer Foundation, Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD told The Post. “It’s imperative to protect the entire body because skin cancer can occur anywhere.”
How much sunscreen do I need to apply and how often?
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you apply only one ounce of sunscreen (about the size of a shot glass) to your face and body about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or sweating.
What should I look for in sunscreen?
“What’s most important is choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day that suits your skin and activity,” Sarnoff said. “[For example], if you’re spending an extended amount of time outdoors, you need a water-resistant, SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.”
There are two main types of active sunscreen ingredients: chemical and physical. Both are FDA-approved and have been used in the U.S. for many years. It ultimately just depends on your preference.
- Chemical ingredients, otherwise known as organic sunscreens, such as avobenzone and oxybenzone, work by absorbing and scattering UV rays, reducing their penetration into the skin.
- Physical ingredients, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are naturally occurring inorganic (mineral) ingredients that stay on top of the skin and deflect UV rays.
Why do I need to wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy?
“We need to bust the myth that you only need sunscreen when you’re spending a day at the beach or out hiking,” said Sarnoff. “Wearing sunscreen should be a daily habit, like brushing your teeth.”
“The sun’s rays are reaching your skin even on overcast days, and the majority of UV rays can penetrate windows. Sun damage is cumulative, so even incidental exposure (like the kind that occurs while commuting to work or running errands) can increase your risk of skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen every day, in addition to covering up with clothing and seeking shade, can help keep your skin safe.”
For other sun-protective recommendations, make sure to check out our roundups on expert-approved face sunscreen, moisturizers with SPF, and the best places to buy sun protective clothing and beach umbrellas.
Keep reading for the top sunscreens to use on your body all year round, according to dermatologists.
“This [sunscreen] offers SPF 50 protection, broad-spectrum protection and is water-resistant,” said Brendan Camp, an NYC-based dermatologist.
Dr. Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist, also enjoys the Supergoop! PLAY Everyday lotion as a reef-safe choice that will keep our planet clean as well. This sunscreen is made with zinc or titanium, which are known not to affect the reef as opposed to chemical sunscreens.
This Supergoop! sunscreen has more than 4,000 raving reviews on Amazon and has an impressive 4.7-star rating.
Speaking on reef-friendly sunscreen, Camp mentioned that certain sunscreen ingredients, namely oxybenzone and octinoxate, may contribute to coral reef damage by affecting coral reproduction, contributing to coral bleaching, and damaging coral DNA. To help this cause, consider using mineral sunscreens that use zinc oxide and titanium as active ingredients, which are thought to be more eco-friendly when it comes to coral reefs.
Board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick recommends the Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen. “This sheer, non-nano zinc formulation offers SPF 30 broad-spectrum coverage while also hydrating the skin. It contains water lily to calm the skin and squalene, which helps moisturize the skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth,” Garshick told The Post. “It absorbs quickly and blends easily, making it good for all skin types. Additionally, it is vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free.”
Almost all of the experts we interviewed mentioned the Vanicream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen — whether they categorized it as their favorite overall, top pick for mineral sunblock, sensitive skin or budget-buy.
“This mineral SPF50+ sunscreen contains zinc oxide and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It is fragrance-free, dye-free, lanolin-free, paraben-free, formaldehyde-free and gluten-free, making it a great option, especially for those with sensitive skin,” said Garshick. It’s easy to apply without leaving the skin feeling greasy and is non-comedogenic, making it good for those with breakout-prone skin, too.”
What is mineral sunscreen, you ask? “Mineral sunscreen includes titanium or zinc as the active ingredients,” Camp explained. “These minerals sit on the skin surface and reflect off UV radiation, as opposed to chemical or organic sunscreens that use chemicals that are absorbed into the skin and convert UV radiation into heat that is then released from the skin.”
When protecting your babies, you likely want the best of the best. This Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion is pretty much the holy grail sunscreen for little ones, according to Garshick, Sperling and Camp.
“This is a great sunscreen for babies as it is safe on their delicate skin since it’s fragrance-free and paraben-free. It offers broad-spectrum SPF 50+ coverage using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block UV damage,” said Garshick.
Plus, the bottle and cap change color when exposed to UV using Smart Bottle Technology — not only making it fun to watch but also helpful to know when you and your kids need to reapply sunscreen.
According to Camp, it’s also reef-friendly.
5. EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen Lotion, $28
Garshick recommends the EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen lotion if you need a quality water-resistant sunblock. “This sport sunscreen provides great coverage for those who enjoy outdoor and water activities as it provides SPF50 broad-spectrum coverage and is water-resistant up to 80 minutes.”
“It’s fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, making it a good option for all skin types and won’t rub off when sweating.”
Note: make sure you reapply every two hours (or sooner) if you’re sweating or swimming to ensure adequate protection. It can be used on the face or body and contains vitamin E to help protect against free radical damage.
While this SkinCeuticals sunscreen will cost you a pretty penny, Garshick and Camp think it’s worth the money.
“This splurge-worthy mineral sunscreen incorporates both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide broad-spectrum SPF 50+ coverage while also improving overall skin tone and radiance,” Garshick told The Post.
“It’s a lightweight formulation that absorbs easily while offering a universal tint without leaving behind a greasy or white residue. It can be used by all skin types, including those with sensitive skin, as it is paraben-free and fragrance-free.”
7. Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, $20+
When it comes to the body or face, many sunblock users are obsessed with Supergoop!’s Unseen Sunscreen.
“Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen is great because it is oil-free and formulated with antioxidants,” said NYC-based certified dermatologist Marina Peredo.
The formula is completely invisible, weightless, and leaves a velvety finish that glides onto your skin while providing broad spectrum SPF 40 protection. It’s excellent as a makeup-gripping primer under foundation when you want a little more coverage or on its own, if you want a more natural look.
Thinksport is your pick if you’re on the hunt for the perfect sunscreen for all ages.
“This sunscreen, safe for the whole family, contains zinc oxide and is a great option for all but especially for those who are active and spend a lot of time outdoors as it is water resistant up to 80 minutes,” Garshick said.
“It offers broad-spectrum coverage, is BPA-free and biodegradable, and is free of oxybenzone. I love that it is available in a 6 oz tube, ensuring enough for application and reapplication if you are out for the day.”
If you’re willing to splurge, Peredo raves about this Alastin pick.
“My favorite sunscreen is Alastin’s Broad Spectrum SPF 30+ Sunscreen because it’s light and moisturizing while also providing broad-spectrum coverage. It’s formulated with cucumber and aloe leaf extract to calm the skin,” said Peredo.
Plus it’s water-resistant!
10. NY Post Top Pick: Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray, $15
When it comes to body sunscreen, we always reach for the Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Spray, as it always provides even coverage, smells amazing and has the right price tag.
Plus, the formula features Vitamin E to keep the skin moisturized and it’s oil-free, water-resistant and reef-safe. This Sun Bum product is also dermatologist tested and comes in four different SPF levels: 15, 30, 50 and 70.
For more recommendations, check out the New York Post Shopping section.