Growing up as a red-haired, freckle-faced little girl on the Jersey Shore means I know a lot about sunburn.
Now, I take sun protection very seriously. I already have a high risk of skin cancer based on my history and heritage, but being a runner makes that risk go up even more (read more about the risk of skin cancer in outdoor athletes).
For me, wearing sunscreen on a run is just as critical as wearing the right shoes. But some runners view applying sunscreen as a time-suck and a hassle. I’ve heard all the complaints before, so I’ve reviewed sport sunscreens and made my top choices. One of these sunscreens is sure to work for you!
The Best Spray: Banana Boat Quik Dri Sport Sunscreen Spray, SPF 30
Pros: This Banana Boat product dries quickly, is easy to apply, and doesn’t cake on your skin like other brands. I’ve worn it on runs up to 90 minutes and have never burned.
Note that you have to rub this spray into your skin. I stay away from continuous spray sunscreens because they don’t fully cover skin. Plus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or FDA is currently investigating their safety. It’s unknown whether inhaling these sunscreens is safe or not.
Cons: It’s a bit sticky and has a slight odor.
The Least Sticky: Copportone Sport Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 30
Pros: This is my go-to product that I’ve been using for years. I wore it during a 20-mile race and I finished the race just as pale as I started. Once it’s rubbed in, it doesn’t run or feel sticky at all. I also love that it offers broad spectrum protection. Broad spectrum sunscreens shield you from both UVA and UVB rays — both of which are harmful and can cause skin cancer.
Cons: This cream-based sunscreen takes a while to fully rub in.
The Best Face Stick: Copportone Sport Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Pros: Is there any worse feeling than getting sunscreen than in your eyes on a run? This stick does not run at all, even on the hottest, most humid days. It also offers broad spectrum protection and is easy to apply. You just hold on to the stick and rub it on your face — no need to get your hands messy.
Cons: Since it doesn’t have to be rubbed in, sometimes it can leave you with white streaks across your face.
The Best Natural Sunscreen/ Best Ingredient List: Badger Sport Broad Spectrum, SPF 35
Pros: This unscented sunscreen is 94 percent certified organic and 100 percent certified natural. It’s made with ingredients that most of us recognize — sunflower oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, and vitamin E. It stayed on and kept me protected during an 8-mile run in 100 percent humidity.
This sunscreen has also earned a top rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) — an independent group that researches over 1,400 sunscreens. From the EWG’s website, “EWG’s guide helps consumers find products that get high ratings for providing broad-spectrum, long-lasting protection and that are made with ingredients that pose fewer health concerns.”
Cons: It takes a while for it to be fully absorbed by the skin. After one minute of rubbing, skin still has a whitish glow. It’s also much pricier than the other sunscreens.
What’s your favorite sport sunscreen?