The Ultimate 2020 Sunscreen Buying Guide
Choosing the best sunscreen for you and your family is an important choice. You want a product that’s effective, natural, affordable, and if you’ve got little ones, you’ll want a sunscreen specifically formulated for their sensitive skin.
We’re here to help. We’ve reviewed the best sunscreens to help you make the choice that’s right for you.
What Type and Level of Protection Should You Use?
SPF (sun protection factor) measures the length of time a product protects your skin against skin reddening from UVB, compared to how long the skin takes to burn without it. For example, if it takes twenty minutes to begin reddening without protection, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents it for up to fifteen times longer – about five hours. To maintain the SPF, make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours and right after swimming.
The Canadian Cancer Society recommends using an SPF of at least 15 – or at least 30 if you are going to be outside for a full day, are sun sensitive, have previously had skin cancer, or have a high risk of developing skin cancer. An SPF of 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays and one of 30 or higher blocks 97%.
Broad-spectrum protection: This means that a product shields against UVA as well as UVB rays. Most broad-spectrum sunscreens and sunblocks with an SPF of 15 or higher do a good job against UVB and short UVA rays; if they also contain avobenzone, zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide, they should be effective against the entire UVA spectrum.
Even with the ideal sunscreen, some UV rays can get through to your skin and cause damage. The Canadian Cancer Society states that “…sunscreens are not meant to be used so that you can stay out in the sun longer. They are meant to increase your protection when you have to be outside. Use sunscreen along with shade, clothing and hats, not instead of them.”
So now that you’re a sunscreen expert, it’s time to decide which sunscreen is best for you and your family! Read on to see some of our top picks for every skin type and situation.
For Babies & Kids
When you’re buying sunscreen for your littles, look for formulas that are kid-friendly and gentle. Bonus points if they’re easy to apply! These are some of our top picks:
Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen – A customer favourite and top rated EWG sunscreen! This sunscreen is water-resistant for up to eighty minutes so don’t worry about sweating or swimming (although as always, be sure to keep reapplying!). Not to mention that it applies nicely – and smells fantastic!
Green Beaver Natural Mineral Sunscreen Spray for Kids – This hypoallergenic sunscreen is the perfect chemical-free solution to sun protection for children. Light and fragrance-free, this spray is gentle on the skin. And it’s Certified Organic!
Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 Fragrance Free – Fragrance free mineral sunscreen made just for baby. It helps nourish and protect baby’s sensitive and delicate skin. And it absorbs easily with a non-oily feel!
For Your Face
Sunscreen doesn’t stop at your body! To be really sun-safe, make sure you’re not forgetting to protect the delicate skin on your face from the sun’s harsh rays. These are some of our top picks:
COOLA Face Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Matte Tint – Help reduce signs of aging with this sunscreen. It’s made with organic, natural ingredients that soothe sun-damaged skin, like rosehip oil, evening primrose, shea butter, and flaxseed oils. It’s also unscented and super matte, so you can easily layer makeup on top.
Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Mineral Lotion – This natural sunscreen lotion was formulated for sensitive facial skin, so it’s fragrance-free. It’s also non-greasy, non-sticky, and water resistant for worry-free days in the sun!
Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick – Protect your skin on-the-go with Sun Bum’s new mineral line. Broad spectrum, lightweight, and non-greasy, this stick is a natural way to protect your skin every day.
Facial Moisturizers with SPF
The easiest way to ensure your skin is protected is to use a sunscreen product every single day. Whether you choose to use face sunscreens or facial moisturizers with SPF is up to you, as both are effective formats. These are some of our top picks:
La Roche-Posay Hydraphase UV SPF 30 – This moisturizer offers intense, long-lasting hydration with daily UVA/UVB protection. It’s suitable for all skin types, and is easy to add to your morning skincare routine.
CeraVe Skin Renewing Day Cream SPF 30 – Formulated with encapsulated retinol, essential ceramides, and hyaluronic acid, this moisturizing day cream is designed to smooth fine lines while protecting your skin from the sun!
Sun Bum Face Cream SPF 50 – This high SPF face cream is perfect for tropical vacations or beach days as it’s water resistant and very moisturizing. It has a lovely tropical scent and is absorbed quickly.
Makeup with SPF
Even if you’re using a facial SPF, you can still protect your skin further with your makeup! Here are our top picks:
Derma E Tinted Moisturizing BB Cream – New from Derma E, this is a multi-tasking, lightweight, tinted moisturizing BB cream that helps prime, hydrate, illuminate, and protect your skin.
COOLA Makeup Setting Spray SPF 30 – With over 70% certified organic ingredients, broad spectrum protection, water resistance, and natural ingredients like cucumber and aloe vera, this hydrating and protecting makeup setting spray is a year round essential.
Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses CC Cream – With rose stem cells and mineral coverage, this CC cream provides essential hydration and deep cellular support, *and* sun protection!
For Everyday Use
If you haven’t already, start wearing sunscreen every day to protect your skin. These are some of our top picks:
COOLA Full Spectrum 360 Sun Silk Drops Organic Sunscreen SPF30 – COOLA’s latest innovation, this sunscreen offers a plant-derived Full Spectrum 360° complex helps mitigate the effects of HEV blue light, IR, and pollution. It’s got a light, breathable formula and it nourishes the skin with hyaluronic acid.
Cyberderm Every Morning Sun Whip Sunscreen SPF 25 – This offers a matte finish that can be applied to the face, neck, chest and hands daily! Zinc oxide provides consistent and photo-stable protection against UVB and UVA rays. It’s soothing and calming to the skin, which is why parents apply zinc oxide to their babies’ bottoms.
Derma E Sun Defense Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Face Lotion – With clear, nanoparticle-free zinc oxide, this formula provides safe, natural broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection without clogging pores! It’s even got lots of antioxidants to give your skin a boost.
For Outdoor Enthusiasts
If you’re going to be active this summer (think hiking, swimming, running!), look for broad spectrum sunscreens with high SPF and water-resistance. These are some of our top picks:
Australian Gold SPF 50 Continuous Spray – New from Australian Gold, this continuous spray format was developed to be quick drying, and sweat and water resistant, so it’s perfect for all your summer activities.
Vichy Ideal Soleil Sport SPF 60 – With eighty minutes of water and sweat resistance, this Vichy pick contains wet skin technology and is formulated for an active lifestyle and outdoor activities!
Badger SPF 40 Sport Clear Zinc Sunscreen – It starts out white, but rubs in clear, so it’s perfect for on-the-go applications. This broad spectrum formula is in a gentle, antioxidant-rich sunflower oil base, great for helping to protect and repair your skin.
For a Sunless Glow
The *only* safe tan is the one that you don’t get from sun or UV exposure (yes, tanning beds included!). Luckily, there are lots of ways to get a natural glow from a bottle. Here are our top picks:
Eco Tan Face Tan Water – Get glowing skin with this gorgeous bronzing toner! Add a few drops to a cotton pad to get a sun-kissed look without any fuss and without any marks on your pillow!
Australian Gold Instant Sunless Lotion – This sunless lotion is perfect for when you want instant bronze colour. The lotion goes on streak-free, and is buildable so you can control your bronze hue.
Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Original – The world’s first 1 hour tan, offering long-wearing, natural, non-sticky, natural coverage for all your glow needs.
After Sun Care
Got too much sun? It happens to the best of us. Be ready this summer and stock up on after-sun must haves to soothe, heal, and nourish skin. Here are our top picks:
Alba Botanica Cooling Aloe Spray – This aloe spray instantly cools and soothes skin that has been overexposed to the sun. It’s hypoallergenic and gentle enough for the whole family to use for quick relief.
Bioderma Photoderm After Sun – Photoderm Après-Soleil is enriched with emollient and soothing ingredients that soothe feelings of overheating. Glycerin and shea help to hydrate skin, and they can restructure and prevent cutaneous dryness caused by sun exposure.
Thinkbaby Aloe Gel After Sun Lotion – Provide quick relief to your skin with the new Thinkbaby Aloe Gel After Sun Lotion. With natural, EWG verified ingredients, this is a great option for littles and adults alike.