It’s not enough to wear a hat when you’re running to protect your skin from the sun. If you live and run in a hot place, it’s crucial to invest in good sunscreen to protect yourself. And if you don’t live and run in a hot place? Well, there’s sun there, too, and no matter where you are, or what time of year it is, protecting your skin is important.
The sun can cause serious problems, from dehydration to heat exhaustion and even heat stroke in severe cases. But a problem not many runners think about or realize until it’s too late is sunburn.
It’s important to understand that you can get sunburned on a day when the sun isn’t actually out. Just because there are no rays shining down on you, it doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen. You can also get sunburned on cold days. Unseen UV rays can still burn your skin.
We chose Banana Boat Ultra Sports Spray as our best overall sunscreen, as it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes at a time, has an easy-to-use twist-and-lock spray nozzle, and isn’t greasy on the skin.
Remember, even though you need sunscreen, it’s a good idea to double-up on protection and wear a hat, sunglasses, and even a light long-sleeved base layer if necessary.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Banana Boat Ultra Sport Spray
EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50
Thinksport SPF 50+ Sunscreen
All Good SPF 30 Sport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
1. Banana Boat Ultra Sport Spray
From running in the sun to lounging on the beach, Banana Boat Ultra Sport Spray offers three SPF options so that every skin type will be covered in every situation. You can choose from SPF 15, SPF 30, and SPF 50, depending on your needs.
It has a spray nozzle rather than a cap, which helps to apply the right amount and prevents wasting. The nozzle is an easy twist-and-lock design, so it won’t leak when it’s not in use.
The sunscreen is easy to apply, as it doesn’t run and it doesn’t feel greasy on the skin. Once you’ve sprayed this on and rubbed it in, it should last up to 80 minutes before you need to reapply. You can even spend those 80 minutes in the pool or sea. The sunscreen is resistant to water (sea and pool), sweat, wind, heat, and even sand.
Whether you’re running on the road or on a trail, this sunscreen does a good job of protecting your exposed skin. Remember to pack it into your backpack or triathlon bag so you can reapply it when you need to if you’re going on a long run.
- Sweat and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
- Twist-and-lock spray nozzle
- Non-greasy and won’t run
- Available in 3 different SPFs
- This sunscreen is flammable, so don’t apply near open flame
Top Non-greasy Sunscreen
2. EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50
Some runners may be put off using sunscreen if they can’t tolerate the greasy texture on their skin.
This is our top choice for the best non-greasy sunscreen, so there’s no excuse to skip applying it before you go out on a run.
It’s made from mineral-based zinc oxide, and it’s fragrance-free, paraben-free, and oil-free. This helps reduce the chances of developing a sensitivity or allergy to sunscreen, and the absence of oil helps the texture stay non-greasy and comfortable on your skin.
This sunscreen is SPF-50 and protects against UVA and UVB rays. It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, so even if you go on a long run and sweat quite a bit, it won’t wash off for more than an hour.
You can use it safely on your face as well as your body. It has antioxidant properties that help to fight free radicals in the body associated with sun exposure. To keep it as effective as possible, it also comes in an air-free bottle that uses a special mechanism to draw air in from the outside every time you pump.
This product is made in the USA and is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
- Mineral-based zinc oxide
- Oil-free, fragrance-free, and paraben-free
- This sunscreen may leave a white sheen on the skin
- Somewhat pricey in comparison to similar products
Best for Environment
3. Thinksport SPF 50+ Sunscreen
If you’re conscious of the environment and the effect that products have on it, then you may be aware that not all sunscreens are good for the environment. If you’re looking for the most environmentally-friendly option, this sunscreen may be the right one for you.
It’s a zinc-based formula and contains no environmentally harmful chemicals. They specify that their product is not tested on animals. The company is committed to being socially responsible and aims to create products that serve their customers and the environment well.
The sunscreen is EWG-certified as well as meeting the Whole Foods Premium Care standards (the first sunscreen to do so). These two certifications indicate a high-quality organic product, so you can be sure that this sunscreen is as healthy as possible for both your skin and the planet.
It’s broad spectrum, SPF-50+, and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. It has a non-oily feel and a light, pleasant scent. The sunscreen may stain clothing if it comes in contact with it, so be careful when applying it.
- Broad-spectrum SPF-50+
- Contains no biologically harmful chemicals
- Socially responsible company
- First sunscreen product to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements
- This sunscreen may stain clothing
Top Water and Sweat-resistant
4. All Good SPF 30 Sport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
You don’t want to apply a great sunscreen only to have it wash away when you sweat or get splashed. This is our top water and sweat-resistant sunscreen to keep you protected even when you get wet.
It’s an SPF-30 broad-spectrum sunscreen that will protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays. Beyond these health benefits, it’s also zinc-based and free from chemicals, parabens, and GMOs, so it should be easy on sensitive skin. It’s also vegan and Leaping Bunny certified.
You can choose from a single tube, or a 2-pack or 3-pack. You also have the option of buying a lotion, pump bottle or spray depending on your preference. They also offer a smaller travel-friendly bottle.
If you’re going to be in the water or find yourself sweating a lot when you run in the heat, one application of this sunscreen should last you 80 minutes. If you don’t get wet or too sweaty, you can reapply every two hours.
- UVA/UVB broad-spectrum
- Variety of sizes and applications available
- Free from chemicals, parabens, and GMOs
- Designed for use with water
- May cause dry skin in some individuals
Best Face Sunscreen
5. Neutrogena Sport Face Oil-Free Lotion Sunscreen
Sometimes the right sunscreen for your body is not the right one for your face.
The skin on the face is more sensitive than the skin on the body, so it makes sense that we may need a separate sunscreen aimed specifically at protecting the skin on the face.
This is a broad spectrum SPF 70+ sunscreen that provides effective protection against UV rays. It uses something called Helioplex technology, which repels harmful rays and prevents them from reaching your skin.
It is resistant to sweat and water, and also doesn’t come off with rubbing or wiping. It’s suitable for vigorous activity and should last for 80 minutes if it has to contend with water. If it doesn’t come in contact with water you can reapply it every two hours.
One of the reasons this sunscreen is good for facial skin is because it contains an electrolyte complex that helps to nourish the skin while it’s protecting it. It’s also non-comedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog pores – so it shouldn’t lead to any breakouts.
This sunscreen could stain some fabrics.
- Sweat and water-resistant
- Electrolyte complex to nourish skin
- Helioplex sunscreen technology
- May stain some fabrics
Top Quick-absorbing Sunscreen
6. BullFrog Land Sport With Breathable Sweat TECH Quik Gel SPF 50
Some sunscreens can take a lot of rubbing to absorb. If you’re looking for something that absorbs quickly and easily, then this sunscreen could be the best choice for you.
This is more of a gel than a lotion, and you will need to wait for it to dry completely after applying it before you put clothes over it. Some people may not like the sticky gel feeling, and it dries into a layer that may feel slightly hard.
The gel consistency may feel strange at first, but it’s very effective for absorbing quickly. You won’t have to wait long for this to start having an effect. It also uses Breathable Sweat Tech technology, which allows your skin to breathe underneath the protective layer it creates.
It is also resistant to sweat for about 80 minutes, so you can take a long run without worrying about reapplying it on the road.
- Fast absorbing Quik Gel
- Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
- Suitable for sports on land or in water
- Breathable Sweat Tech technology
- This product is a sticky gel that can dry into a slightly hard layer that some people may not like
7. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 100+
For those who need an ultra-protective sunscreen, this product from Neutrogena is SPF-100+. That means that it blocks 99% of UV rays, so you will be well-protected as long as you follow the instructions closely.
It doesn’t feel greasy on the skin, with a Dry-Touch non-greasy formula. This particular product is a lotion but it’s also available in a spray and a roll-on stick. It’s also TSA-compliant and the perfect size for travel, so you can pack one of these to take with you on vacation to stay protected at your destination race.
Helioplex technology forms a protective barrier on the surface of the skin that repels UVA and UVB rays without suffocating the skin. It also doesn’t clog the pores, so it’s safe for use on the body and the face as well.
- SPF-100+ protection
- Dry-Touch non-greasy formula
- PABA-free and non-comedogenic
- TSA-compliant travel size
- This sunscreen may burn the eyes
Top Organic Sunscreen
8. Raw Elements Face + Body Lotion
Runners who favor organic products may be interested in this organic sunscreen. It’s EWG-certified and comes in a plastic-free tin that can be reused, or if you have no more use for it, it can be recycled.
The sunscreen contains no soy, gluten, or synthetic chemicals. It is full of healthy antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, so it helps to keep your skin nourished as well as protected against the sun.
It’s suitable for both face and body and it can be used on people of all ages. If you run as a family, you can all use this sunscreen guilt-free as it’s good for both our skin and the environment.
It’s biodegradable, reef-safe, organic, and has a Leaping Bunny anti-cruelty stamp of approval.
- Reusable and recyclable tin
- Certified organic and biodegradable
- Suitable for daily use
- May leave a sticky residue on the skin
Best Spray Sunscreen
9. Coola Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
If you prefer a spray sunscreen to a lotion or balm then this could be the one for you. It’s important to note that although this sunscreen says “organic”, there are only around 70% organic ingredients in it. The rest of the ingredients are not organic, but it is vegan, hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and cruelty-free.
The ingredients are natural and include things like cucumber, Red Raspberry Seed Oil, Prickly Pear Extract, and Buriti oil, which are all filled with antioxidants and make this sunscreen one of the healthier options for your skin.
The continuous spray-on application makes it easy to use and one application can last up to 80 minutes in wet conditions.
- Broad-spectrum SPF-50
- Natural ingredients
- This product is not organic although it contains some organic ingredients
Top Stick Sunscreen
10. Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Stick
Stick sunscreen is a good option for runners who dislike the sticky feeling of lotions or sprays. It’s also quite small and fits easily into a bag or even a running belt if you want to carry it along with you.
It’s a good option for kids, as they can apply it easily by themselves. Having a roll-on also prevents wasting of sunscreen. This sunscreen is resistant to sweat and water, as well as wind and sand. You can wear it in any weather and it will stay on and effective.
Be careful when applying this, as it comes out clear on the skin and can be difficult to tell which parts you have covered and which you have missed.
- Quick and easy application
- Resistant to water, sweat, wind, and sand
- Protection against UVA and UVB rays
- Small and easy to carry around
- May not be suitable for full-body coverage due to the amount of time it takes to make sure every part is covered
Best Smelling Sunscreen
11. Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Lotion Sunscreen
Sometimes sunscreen can have a chemical smell or fragrance that is unappealing. This sunscreen is our favorite-smelling choice. It has a light tropical scent with hints of mango and coconut that make you think of warm desert islands and clear blue seas.
In addition to the nice scent, the sunscreen is lightweight and doesn’t sit on the skin. It is a broad-spectrum sunscreen and has a sun protection factor of 50. It’s still breathable, though, and won’t block your pores. So it’s safe for use all over the body including the face.
It is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, is not greasy, and won’t run in the heat.
- Light tropical scent
- Recommended by Skin Cancer Foundation
- Breathable on the skin
- Non-greasy and non-running
- Although the scent would be pleasant for some, it might be too strong for others
Why do I need sunscreen?
Sunscreen won’t stop you from overheating, but it will prevent you from being affected by UV rays. These rays are present even when the sun isn’t out, so you need sunscreen even in overcast weather.
UVA rays are the rays that cause aging of the skin. UVB rays cause sunburn. If you want to avoid both of those, then you need to apply sunscreen before you go out on your run.
What can I do if I have greasy skin or stinging eyes?
If you’ve tried sunscreen before and ended up feeling greasy or having sore, stinging eyes, then you should look for a formula that is free from oil and fragrance. It should also be water and sweat-resistant. Apply it an hour before you leave the house so it has time to sink in.
What does SPF mean and which one is recommended?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.
The number is an indication of how protective the sunscreen is. For example, SPF-30+ blocks 97% of UV rays. SPF-50+ blocks 99% of UV rays. For the best protection while running, no matter what skin type you have you should use SPF-30+ or higher.
How often do I need to reapply?
You should follow the instructions on the sunscreen to find out how often to reapply. A higher SPF number does not mean that you can leave it on for longer.
Generally, if you are going to be in water or sweating a lot, you should reapply every 60 to 80 minutes. If not, every 2 hours is a good timeline. It’s important to remember that you need to reapply even on overcast days.
What are other tips to protect my skin?
If you want to protect your skin as much as possible, you should:
- Stay out of the sun in peak heat hours (midday and 2 hours on either side)
- Try to pick a running route that goes under trees or in the shade as much as possible
- Cover exposed skin with a hat, arm sleeves or a long-sleeved shirt, long pants
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes
- Make sure to stay hydrated, which will keep your skin healthy