The Right Sunscreen Brands for You

If you don't like to use sunscreen because it's greasy or smelly, we have good news

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There’s nothing worse than slathering yourself with sunscreen on a hot day, only to find your face looking as white as a ghost, or that you’re leaving a greasy mark on everything you touch.

More on Sunscreens

If you’re in the “I hate sunscreen” camp, you can always cover up with sun-protective clothing and a hat. For instance, if you wear a long-sleeve shirt with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50 or higher, you don't need sunscreen on your torso and arms. Don a densely woven hat and you can skip sunscreen on your scalp. For the best protection, choose one with a wide (3 inches or more) brim.

But you'll still need sunscreen on all your uncovered skin, and finding one that you like increases the chances that you’ll actually use it. Fortunately, many sunscreens are now formulated to feel and smell good, and our sensory experts have identified some of the best. Use their advice to find the right sunscreen brand for you from among our high-rated picks.



Want Fragrance-Free Sunscreen?

Out top-rated lotion, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk, is a good choice for people who find scented sunscreens olfactorily offensive. But note that fragrance-free doesn't mean odor free. This sunscreen has a very slight plasticky smell (think beach ball), that's sometimes associated with fragrance-free products. It has the added benefit of being very lightweight and quick to absorb into skin. The downside is its price: $36 for 5 ounces, or $7.20 per ounce.

Want a Sunscreen That Doesn’t Feel Greasy?

CVS Health Beach Guard Clear Spray SPF 70 leaves just a trace of film on your skin and smells floral and fruity. The nozzle sprays in a wide pattern, allowing for easy and quick coverage. Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion SPF 30 is also sheer. It has a light fruity aroma.

Want a Sunscreen That Won't Leave a White Film?

The good news: None of our recommended sunscreens leaves a white cast on skin.

Want a Beachy or a Coconut/Tropical Scent?

Trader Joe’s SPF 50+ spray has that classic “beachy” aroma, which is a combination of floral and citrus. It leaves an oily sheen on the skin. For a "piña colada" aroma, try Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Spray SPF 50+, which is lightly scented and has a barely-there feel.

Want a Sunscreen That Won’t Irritate Your Eyes?

Many sunscreens can sting if they get into your eyes. Some sunscreens claim not to on the product packaging. In the sunscreens we’ve tested, we’ve found that this claim is reliable. Sunscreen "sticks" can be a good choice for using around the eye area because the product’s waxy texture means it’s less likely to run. Our eye-friendly pick from this year’s ratings is Up & Up (Target) Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55. It has a faint plasticky scent and a slight tacky, waxy texture.

Sunscreen Protection

Do sunscreens really protect as much as they claim? On the 'Consumer 101' TV show, Consumer Reports' expert Sue Booth breaks down what you need to know to keep you safe from the sun's harmful rays.

Julia Calderone

I'm a former scientist, using words and an audio recorder as my new research tools to untangle the health and food issues that matter most to consumers. I live in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I cook as much as possible. You can find me in the grocery aisle scrutinizing the fine print of every food item I put into my cart. Follow me on Twitter @juliacalderone.