Chances are, you know that sunscreen for your workout is important. In fact, you’ve probably been told to slather up, especially during the warmer months or when you’re in direct sunlight, since you were a young child. If you’ve adopted a sunscreen regimen overtime and make sure to apply (and reapply) often, good for you. Doing so can go a long way in protecting your health.
Especially for individuals who are active outdoors, sunscreen application is vital. Not only are you spending more time in the sun, but you are also sweating, which can reflect additional sunlight, notes Brendan Camp, M.D., a Manhattan-based dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. What’s more: Sweating causes you to wipe your face down more with a towel, which can reduce the amount of sunscreen still left on your skin and, therefore, its efficacy, Dr. Camp points out.
For these reasons and more, many dermatologists recommend that avid exercisers be especially choosy when it comes to sunscreen. You not only want to make sure you’re applying a high-quality sunscreen, but you want to make sure that you’re applying one that will stay in place. Below, we’re sharing some expert-approved tips for how to choose the best sunscreen for your workout.
What to look for in a sunscreen for your workout
You’ve probably seen these words advertised on a sunscreen bottle, but might not have totally understood just what they mean. “Broad-spectrum means that the sunscreen will protect you against both UVA and UVB rays, which is important,” notes Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Jennifer Segal, M.D., dermatologist and owner of Metropolitan Dermatology Institute in Houston, recommends mineral-based sunscreens with zinc and titanium dioxide, especially if they are the eco friendly “reef safe” preparations. “Mineral-based sunscreens tend to be less irritating (zinc oxide is in diaper rash cream!), and sit on the skin rather than being absorbed by it; however, for darker skin types, purely mineral sunscreens can create a chalky appearance and are not always realistic for regular use,” she says. In this case, she prefers mineral-based sunscreens that have a small component of chemical sunscreen that makes them blend into the skin more easily.
Sweating often comes with the workout package, so it’s important to apply a sunscreen that is water resistant for at least 80 minutes. “This means that the sunscreen has been tested and shown to stay on wet skin for up to a period of 80 minutes,” Dr. Zeichner says. Don’t forget, however, to reapply once that 80 minutes is up, as neglecting to do so could result in damage to your skin. “Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or immediately after heavy sweating or swimming.”
This type of sunscreen for your workout comes in a stick form—almost like a deodorant—and can be quite beneficial for those who exercise often. “Not only are they easy to apply, but they don’t tend to drip, and you even can take them with you as you exercise so you can reapply them,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Best sunscreens for workouts
Here, dermatologists share their go-to brands of sunscreen for your workout.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick ($12.99 at Amazon.com)
This face and body stick provides broad-spectrum protection in an invisible formula that fully rubs into the skin, explains Dr. Zeichner. “It’s water resistant for 80 minutes so it will continue to block UV rays even while you’re exercising and sweating,” he adds.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Activewear Lotion Sport Body & Face Sunscreen ($29.99 at Amazon.com)
Although on the pricey side, this particular sunscreen can be used both on the face and body and gets broad-spectrum SPF 60 protection. “It’s water resistant to help it stay in place and the formula contains an antioxidant complex to help better protect the skin and neutralize free radical damage,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Supergoop! PLAY Everyday Lotion ($22 at Amazon.com)
“Safe for use on the face or body, this moisturizing and lightweight sunscreen absorbs easily, making it a great option for those who are active,” says Marisa Garshick, M.D., a dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York. “It provides SPF 50 broad spectrum coverage and is fragrance-free and is available in a large 18-ounce size that makes it easy to use for the whole family.”
Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defense ($43 at Amazon.com)
This mineral-based, water-resistant sunscreen has a matte preparation that goes smoothly onto the skin sans shine. “It’s tinted, a feature that tends to be favored by my male patients, since they do not leave ‘white’ sunscreen dots in the beard, and the light, matte preparation which feels light and not sticky makes them more inclined to apply and reapply,” notes Dr. Segal.
SkinBetter Science Sunbetter Sheer Stick ($55 at Store.SkinBetter.com)
If you’re open to splurge, Dr. Garshck notes that this sunscreen stick is especially good for on-the-go and reapplications. “Containing zinc and titanium dioxide, the Advanced Mineral Protection offers protection against UVA, UVB, blue and infrared light,” she says. “It is also water resistant which makes it also a great option for those who are active outdoors.”