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The best sunscreens dermatologists recommend — and use themselves in 2024

With top picks from Neutrogena and Aveeno

These esteemed dermatologists aren't about to give us a bum steer. After all, they've got skin in the game.
These esteemed dermatologists aren't about to give us a bum steer. After all, they've got skin in the game.

Once winter rolls around and we swap tank tops for winter coats, the idea of sunscreen kind of falls to the wayside. But we know that even overcast and snowy days mean sun exposure, and the only remedy is using a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen. There are so many types of sunscreens that any excuse you have for not wanting to wear one is kind of moot. With sunscreen sticks, spray sunscreen and even skincare products with a tint, there’s an option for everyone in every season.

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Read more: The best sunscreens for your face in 2024, recommended by dermatologists

Like it or not, applying sunscreen should be a part of your daily skincare routine. Not only can using a powerful SPF (sun protection factor) cream decrease your chance of developing skin cancer by protecting you from the sun’s UV rays, but it can also help prevent unwanted sun damage and signs of premature aging. To get the scoop on what you need to know about sun protection, we tapped dermatologists Dr. Joshua Zeichner; Dr. Cynthia Bailey, founder of Dr. Bailey Skin Care and Dr. Gary Goldenberg, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York to find out everything from how often you should apply to how to shop for the best option for your skin.

This was the first question we needed to know. In general, it’s a good idea to look for a sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30 or higher and has the words “broad spectrum” on the label, says Dr. Bailey. “Broad spectrum” means it will protect you against both UVA rays, which cause premature aging and the development of skin cancers, and UVB rays, which cause sunburn, Dr. Zeichner says.

Other than that, a lot boils down to personal preference. “Whether it’s a lotion or gel, stick or spray, the best sunscreen is ultimately the one you are actually using on your skin,” Dr. Zeichner says.

Still not sure where to start? Below, we've rounded up the seven best sunscreens that dermatologists recommend — and actually use themselves. We've got something in the mix for every skin tone and skin type, whether you have dry skin or oily skin or something in between.

SPF: 70 | Broad spectrum: Yes | Water resistance: Up to 80 minutes | Mineral or chemical: Chemical | Active ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 15%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 4.5%, Oxybenzone 6%

Most folks don't apply enough sunblock, so a high SPF can help target extra coverage. Derms love this lotion for its broad-spectrum protection and fast-absorbing finish.

“This sunscreen has been clinically tested and shown to give better sunburn protection compared to sunscreens with lower SPFs,” Zeichner says. Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen has a lightweight formula, is fast-absorbing, has a non-greasy matte finish and can be found at the drugstore. Zeichner particularly likes its high SPF. “In the real world, consumers do not apply as much sunscreen as they should, so the level of protection gets diluted,” he explains. “Starting with a higher SPF to begin with acts like an insurance policy to give you the best level of protection possible.”

$9 at Amazon

SPF: 50 | Broad spectrum: Yes | Water resistance: Up to 80 minutes | Mineral or chemical: Mineral |Active ingredients: Zinc, Octinoxate, Octisalate

This feather-light formulation is all about the finish. It absorbs quickly and gives the perfect dose of moisture. Dermatologists recommend it to patients with breakouts or acne-prone skin who need great SPF protection but a non-greasy formula.

EltaMD is known for its quality sunscreen, and Goldenberg is a fan. “This product is noncomedogenic, offers broad-spectrum UV protection and does not leave your face feeling greasy,” he says. EltaMD’s UV Sport is mineral-based and water-resistant, so it won’t drip into your eyes when you sweat.

$25 at Amazon

SPF: 50 | Broad spectrum: Yes | Water resistance: No | Mineral or chemical: Mineral | Active ingredients: Actinica Zinc Oxide

The name may be a mouthful, but Goldenberg swears by this one. He particularly recommends it for patients who have known sun damage. Isdin’s Eryfotona Actinica is one of the best mineral sunscreens, is lightweight, won’t leave your skin feeling greasy, and has UVA/UVB protection. It also has DNA repairsomes and vitamin E to help fight UVA-induced skin damage.

$70 at Amazon
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$60 at ISDIN$70 at

Packed with the active ingredient zinc oxide, this broad-spectrum sunscreen has a water- and sweat-resistant formula that wears well under makeup, and it's reef-safe, meaning it won't release harmful chemicals into the water while you're frolicking.

Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey calls Coola’s Organic Face Sunscreen “a nice zinc oxide product.” This fragrance-free option doubles as a lotion, so you can moisturize and protect in one go. It’s easy to wear under makeup and is water- and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes. A nice feature: Coola’s sunscreen is reef-friendly, so you don’t need to worry about harming ocean life when you go for a swim.

$32 at Amazon

SPF: 60 | Broad spectrum: Yes | Water resistance: Up to 80 minutes | Mineral or chemical: Chemical | Active ingredients: Avobenzone (3%)

Broad-spectrum, SPF 60 protection aside, this oil-free sunscreen won't clog pores, and it contains oatmeal, a nourishing ingredient, that helps repair and moisturize the skin's finicky outer layer.

Zeichner likes Aveeno’s Protect + Hydrate sunscreen for a few reasons. “Besides offering broad-spectrum sun protection, it delivers a little oatmeal to repair and hydrate the outer skin layer,” he says. “We know that UV light can disrupt the outer skin layer, leading to dryness and irritation.” The sunscreen is fast-absorbing, oil-free and noncomedogenic, so it won't clog your pores. It’s also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

$9 at Amazon
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$13 at Walmart$14 at CVS Pharmacy

SPF: 30 | Broad spectrum: Yes | Water resistance: No | Mineral or chemical: Mineral | Active ingredients: Zinc Oxide 20%

This unscented formula is safe for sensitive skin — it's made with fast-absorbing zinc oxide and is packed with bonus wellness ingredients like vitamin C and green tea to help quell irritation.

Derma-E’s Sun Defense facial sunscreen is 100% fragrance-free, which Bailey likes. It’s also fortified with vitamin C and green tea to help skin recover after sun exposure and fight the signs of aging. The physical sunscreen’s zinc oxide provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection, and it’s oil-free so it won’t clog your pores.

$12 at Amazon

The lotion vs. spray sunscreens question largely comes down to your personal preference. Many prefer spray sunscreen because it’s easier and faster to apply without rubbing in, but some say it’s harder to achieve full coverage with a spray bottle if you’re applying it yourself. With lotion, it’s sometimes easier to both apply by hand and to see which spots you’ve missed.

Believe it or not, more is not always better when it comes to SPF in sunscreen. Some lotions with higher SPF ratings use chemicals that are harmful to reefs and ocean wildlife and can also trigger sensitive skin. Aside from that, a more likely concern is that those using higher SPF lotions often have a false sense of security. Just because your lotion is high in SPF doesn’t mean you don’t need to reapply or that you’re immune to damaging effects from the sun. Keep this in mind when opting for a higher SPF. Finally, you might find that lotions with higher SPF ratings are more expensive.

You’ve heard it before: You should wear sunscreen often, ideally every day, to protect against the sun’s rays. Dermatologists don’t just talk about the importance of wearing sunscreen — they practice what they preach. “I wear it every day, 365 days a year,” Dr. Goldenberg. (His top pick for daily wear is EltaMD's Sunscreen Sport Lotion.) "Even in winter, you still get some UV that can cause skin damage."

And they make it easy to remember: “I actually incorporate sunscreen into my daily grooming routine and apply it right after shaving,” Dr. Zeichner tells Yahoo Life. Even if you are diligent about applying sunblock every morning, don't forget to reapply throughout the day — especially if you are spending a lot of time in the sun.