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20 Best Sweat-Resistant Sunscreens for Runners

Protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays mile after mile.

sweat resistant sunscreen
Staff, Courtesy of Coppertone

Runners put a ton of thought into selecting the right protective pair of running shoes, but often overlook another essential piece of gear to keep them safe: sunscreen. No matter the season, you should apply sunscreen before every run.

It’s especially important in the summer, when the sun’s UVB rays are strong and increase your risk of sunburn. “You need to apply sunscreen before your run, but you also need to be diligent about reapplication while you’re outdoors,” says avid runner Jeanine B. Downie, M.D., director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey.

While standard protection protocol calls for reapplication every two hours, Downie suggests runners reapply on any run that extends beyond an hour. (So yes, you should bring sunscreen with you on long runs, or plan your routes so you can make a pit stop at home.)

And if greasy skin or stinging eyes cause you to skip it, these pro tips can help: “Look for oil-free, water-resistant, or fragrance-free formulas to prevent stinging, and apply it one hour before heading outside to allow it to fully absorb,” recommends Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologic surgeon at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Centers in New York City. For exercise, she likes powdered sunscreens, which tend to adhere to skin better and can absorb sweat. Both Downie and Engelman suggest SPF 30 or higher.

Is Your Sunscreen Safe?

Last summer, an independent lab tested 294 samples of sunscreens and found 78 to contain detectable levels of a cancer-causing chemical called benzene. One of those sunscreens, For No Streaks spray, had previously been on our list of recommended sunscreens for runners, but we have removed it due to the recall by Johnson & Johnson. Other J&J sunscreens affected by the recall include:

  • Neutrogena Beach Defense aerosol
  • For No Streaks
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily defense aerosol
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer aerosol
  • Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol

    A full list of the lab's test results can be found here. None of the other sunscreens on our list appear in the test results. However, there is no way to tell if your sunscreen has been contaminated, according to CNN—benzene is not a listed ingredient on any of the recalled sunscreens.

    For No Streaks

    We enlisted more than a dozen of our editors to thoroughly evaluate and test the majority of the sweat-resistant sunscreens on this list. We researched the market, spoke with product managers, and used our own experience actually running while wearing these sunscreens to determine the best options.

    Our team of experienced testers spent many hours and miles using them on hot, sunny days, as well as overcast afternoons, and we’ve applied them with enough time to dry, as well as slathering some on right before heading out the door for a lunch run. We evaluated these formulas on performance, price, protection, smell, value, and ease of application to come up with this list of sunscreens that will keep you covered when you're pounding the pavement. For those we couldn't test, we looked for brands that earned top marks from experts and reviewers alike.

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    1
    For Top Performance
    Sungel SPF30
    For Top Performance
    Skinnies

    Key Specs

    • SPF: 30
    • Type: Lotion
    • Notable Ingredients: Vitamin E

    We know we should apply sunscreen long before heading outside, but how often does that happen? Thankfully, Skinnies dries in just two minutes and forms a thin, barely there layer of protection. Unlike most sunscreens, it isn’t water-based; it’s more concentrated, so you need less. In our test, we found it won’t sweat off, and leaves only a slightly waxy feeling on your fingers afterward. If SPF 30 isn’t enough protection, Skinnies Conquer SPF 50 gives you protection for up to four hours.

    2
    For Environmental Friendliness
    SPF 50+ Sunscreen
    For Environmental Friendliness
    thinksport
    Now 27% off

    Key Specs

    • SPF: 50
    • Type: Lotion
    • Notable Ingredients: Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E

    A number of common sunscreen chemicals can harm the environment, destroying coral reefs and hurting wildlife. You won’t find any of those in this thinksport sunscreen, though. What you will get is a thick, protective barrier of zinc oxide that takes some elbow grease to rub in—but if you’re like us, you won’t mind a visible sunscreen streak during your jog.

    3
    For the Whole Family
    Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50
    For the Whole Family
    Supergoop!

    Key Specs

    • SPF: 50
    • Type: Moisturizer
    • Notable Ingredients: Sunflower and rosemary leaf extracts

    This thin, easy-to-spread lotion won’t leave you feeling sticky if you smear it on just before you dash out the door. We reach for Supergoop! for just about any outing—not just when we’re running—and even slather it on our kids. Keep an 18-ounce pump-jug at home, and you’ll seemingly never need to buy more. For on-the-go touchups, we prefer the flat, 2.4-ounce tube that travels easy in our gym bag. This classic is even reef-friendly now that it doesn’t contain octinoxate.

    4
    Runners World 2022 Calendar
    SPF 50 Fragrance-Free Spray
    Runners World 2022 Calendar
    Kinesys
    Now 21% off

    Key Specs

    • SPF: 50
    • Type: Spray
    • Notable Ingredients: Vitamin E

    With its fine-mist pump (no aerosols here), Kinesys sprays on as a thin layer you can rub in, and a bottle seems to last forever. It’s been a favorite of ours for many years because it dries quickly and is completely unnoticeable when you’re on a run. It comes in an SPF 30 version, too.

    5
    For a Pleasing Scent
    All Gear & Accessories
    For a Pleasing Scent
    Coola

    Key Specs

    • SPF: 30
    • Type: Lotion
    • Notable Ingredients: Red raspberry seed oil, buriti oil, meadowfoam seed oil, prickly pear extract

    We love the fresh tropical scents of this SPF 30 lotion, plus the fact that it rubs in easily without feeling greasy and won’t run into your eyes. Don’t dig smelling like coconut or piña colada? It comes in an unscented SPF 50 version, with all the same benefits and extended protection.

    6
    Jeff is Runner-in-Chief for Runners World, guiding the brands shoes and gear coverage
    For a Dry Feeling
    Jeff is Runner-in-Chief for Runners World, guiding the brands shoes and gear coverage
    Neutrogena
    Now 39% off

    Key Specs

    • SPF: 45
    • Type: Lotion
    • Notable Ingredients: Vitamins A, C, and E

    Our trail runners love the dry, no-fuss application of this sunscreen because it doesn’t cling to dirt mid-run. And when you get really sweaty, it won’t sting your eyes, either. But don’t be misled by the high SPF: There’s little difference in protection between SPF 50 and SPF 100. So slather on a lot of lotion, as you would a lower SPF sunscreen, to ensure you stay covered.

    7
    For Peace of Mind
    Sport Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide
    For Peace of Mind
    BLUE LIZARD

    Key Specs

    • SPF: 30
    • Type: Lotion
    • Notable Ingredients: Zinc oxide

    Dermatologists will tell you that UV rays can cause damage even on cloudy days, but how many of us runners really heed the warning? This bottle may change that, however, as it goes from milky white to a shocking blue when exposed to UV rays. Inside, the sunscreen itself is a runny lotion that spreads onto skin effortlessly and dries quickly. It’s also reef-safe, using zinc oxide instead of harmful oxybenzone or octinoxate.

    8
    For Value
    Sport Clear SPF 30
    Trevor Raab
    For Value
    Coppertone

    Key Specs

    • SPF: 30
    • Type: Gel
    • Notable Ingredients: Vitamin E

      Cheap and readily available, a tube of Coppertone is hard to pass up. We regularly keep this sport lotion in the locker room at the Runner’s World offices so there’s an option for those who forget their favorite sunscreen. This clear gel lotion feels cool when you apply it and rubs on easily—and won’t leave any white streaks when you slather it on in a hurry.

      Limit this one to your arms and torso, though, because we had a little get into our eyes on an exceptionally sweaty run, causing some stinging for the next hour or so.

      9
      For Budget Protection
      Sport Mineral SPF 50
      For Budget Protection
      Banana Boat

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 50
      • Type: Spray
      • Notable Ingredients: Zinc oxide

      Though not as easy-on as Banana Boat's Light As Air formulation also included in this list, the new Sport Mineral formula boosts protection while using fewer ingredients. It’s also available in a lotion made from titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which feels runny when you squeeze it out of the tube but smears onto your skin thick. Best of all, neither has a discernible odor.

      10
      Black Girl Sunscreen
      Organic Mineral Sunscreen & Sunblock Body Lotion
      Black Girl Sunscreen
      Coola
      Now 38% off

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 50
      • Type: Lotion
      • Notable Ingredients: Red raspberry seed oil, prickly pear extract

      A thick, mineral-based paste, this Coola sunscreen takes a little effort to rub on, but has a dry, non-glossy finish. Plus, it stays put when you’re really sweating hard on a bright summer day. We like that it blocks the sun for our long runs, but also has plant-based ingredients we can pronounce—like red raspberry seed oil and prickly pear extract.

      11
      For a Moisturizing, Clear Finish
      Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
      For a Moisturizing, Clear Finish
      Black Girl Sunscreen

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 50
      • Type: Lotion
      • Notable Ingredients: Avocado oil, jojoba seed oil, sunflower seed oil

      Made by women of color, for people of color, this sunscreen dries totally clear and leaves behind a light finish that isn’t sticky or oily. But it does hydrate as well as protect from UV, thanks to inactive ingredients like avocado and jojoba. Black Girl Sunscreen also makes a kid’s SPF 50 lotion if you’re looking for extra sun protection for your little ones.

      12
      For No Streaks
      Clear Zinc Sunscreen Cream
      For No Streaks
      Badger

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 40
      • Type: Balm
      • Notable Ingredients: Sunflower oil, beeswax, vitamin E

      This tin of zinc cream rubs in easier than other solid zinc formulas we’ve tried in the past and doesn’t leave a white haze on stubble and arm hair. Plus, the sunblock is Protect Land + Sea-certified, meaning it’s been lab-tested to show it doesn’t have chemicals that harm coral reefs, nor harmful ingredients like oxybenzone that can be absorbed into your bloodstream.

      13
      For a Fine Spray
      SPF 30 Spray-On Sunscreen
      For a Fine Spray

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 30
      • Type: Mist
      • Notable Ingredients: Vitamin E

      There’s no shortage of ultralight sunscreens now, but a newer one we like is from this Malibu, California-based company. Its mist is so fine you barely feel it on your skin and don’t need to rub it in—15 minutes later, when you head out the door, you’ll forget that you actually applied any. (There’s an SPF 50 version, too, which will leave a slight sheen because it has more of the chemicals that protect you from the sun.)

      It also doesn’t contain any artificial fragrances, but is available in lightly scented citrus and white sage versions.

      14
      For a Sheer Formula
      Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
      For a Sheer Formula
      Supergoop!

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 40
      • Type: Moisturizer
      • Notable Ingredients: Frankincense, meadowfoam seed

      Hate heavy, goopy formulas? This featherweight, clear, scentless option is completely undetectable by either your eyes or nose. While you'll barely even notice you’re wearing anything, don't forget to reapply during long runs, as it only promises to be water- and sweatproof for 40 minutes.

      15
      For Easy Application
      Light As Air SPF 50+
      For Easy Application
      Banana Boat

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 50
      • Type: Lotion
      • Notable Ingredients: Homosalate, octisalate, avobenzone

      This affordable, easy-spreading lotion feels a little greasy when you first rub it on but dries into a lightweight, breathable layer within five minutes. It leaves behind a faint banana odor, a beachy, but not unpleasant scent. It’s also made without the harmful chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate.

      16
      For Portable Protection
      Face + Body SPF 30
      For Portable Protection
      Raw Elements
      Now 11% off

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 30
      • Type: Balm
      • Notable Ingredients: Zinc oxide

      Using zinc oxide to physically block UVA and UVB light, this puck of sunscreen spreads on thick and white, and smells vaguely like chalk. But it stays amazingly in place on your face, no matter how heavily you sweat.

      We found it made our hands extra slippery, even after washing with soap—we had a heck of a time holding an iPhone in a silicone case on a 5-miler during testing.

      17
      For Convenience
      Sport Free SPF 50
      For Convenience
      Coppertone

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 50
      • Type: Lotion
      • Notable Ingredients: Vitamin E

      This popular sunscreen can be found in nearly any Target or drug store, and is a relative bargain. We like it because it rubs on thick but doesn’t feel oily, plus it protects during long runs and doesn’t sting the eyes. It also doesn’t contain oxybenzone, which has been banned in Hawaii for its effects on coral reefs.

      18
      For Skin- and Suncare
      Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35
      For Skin- and Suncare
      Eleven by Venus Williams

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 35
      • Type: Balm
      • Notable Ingredients: Zinc oxide

      Eleven by Venus Williams comes in two formulations. Opt for the serum, which goes on smoothly and rubs in more easily—wearers of the lotion version say it balls up and takes some elbow grease to smooth out. Both contain 25 percent zinc oxide to ward off the sun’s damaging rays.

      19
      For Your Head and Hair
      Organic SPF 30 Scalp & Hair Mist
      For Your Head and Hair
      Coola

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 30
      • Type: Mist
      • Notable Ingredients: Gotu kola extract, panthenol, monoi oil

      Sure, a running cap can protect your scalp, but not all fabrics are UV-proof. For extra protection, spray on this mist. Part sunscreen, part styler, it delivers water-resistant sun protection while also adding strength and shine to your hair.

      20
      For Easy Touch-Ups
      Sunforgettable Total Protection Mineral Brush-On Shield SPF 50
      For Easy Touch-Ups
      Colorescience

      Key Specs

      • SPF: 30
      • Type: Powder
      • Notable Ingredients: Zinc powder

      Simply dust on this mineral face powder (available in four shades) as you head out the door and enjoy instant protection against the sun's damaging rays. An antimicrobial coating keeps the brush bristles from getting grimy, even when used on sweaty skin. (Learn more here.)

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