Best Sunscreen for Runners Reviewed
Did you know that out of everyone, athletes are at a higher risk of dangerous exposure to ultraviolet radiation? They spend most of their time outdoors, compared to other professionals. Additionally, they often train when the sun is at its peak. Both amateur and professional runners form a part of this group of people: that is why you need the best sunscreen for runners.
Sunscreen for runners will provide you with the protection you need against harmful UV rays while allowing you to meet your training and fitness goals. Their unique formulation makes them useful even during the sweatiest activities. Sunscreen will not only shield you against sunburn but also cancerous UV rays, and so much more. That is why we have compiled a list of the best the market has to offer and some guidance to help you get an ideal match.
In a Hurry? The best sun protection for runners after 9 hrs of research
Top 10 Sport Sunscreens For Runners
1. Endurance Shield
Not for some skin types
Endurance shield sunblock for runners is a product for professional triathletes made for their fellow triathletes. As such, it is highly revered, because it can solve the issues runners regularly face. This brand is not only a good fit for runners, but for swimmers as well.
It has water and sweat resistant properties of up to 80 minutes. As such, the sunblock is perfect for people who want to run for long distances, even when it starts to get sunny. It won’t come off effortlessly, and you won’t feel paranoid regardless of how much you’re sweating.
Most of the available sunscreens for runners on the market often dry out people’s skins. This particular brand aims to protect and refresh your skin. It has moisturizing properties, making it a good match for people with dry skin. People with sensitive skin are also in luck because the formulation also caters to such skin types. The formula offers broad-spectrum protection, keeping you safe from both UVA and UVB rays. It also has a 45 SPF rating, ensuring that it will adequately meet your expectations.
Not for pregnant women
The Sun barrier by Zealous is a vegan alternative that is useful for several applications. Buyers can get this sunscreen for runners in three sizes, with the smallest one being 3oz. Therefore, if it’s your first time trying it out, you can start small and gradually move on to a bigger tube if you find it impressive.
You can use the running sunscreen on dry land and for water-based activities as well. It is highly resistant to both sweat and water. You can use it throughout the year, whenever you want to go running, swimming, boating, and other on and off water sporting activities. It will offer you all round protection, and it is very user-friendly.
The brand formula has zinc oxide, ensuring that the sunblock will dry up quickly. It won’t run to your eyes, and you will love the fact that it is not greasy. There won’t be any traces or patches of it on your face, because it dries clearly. No traces of paraben or oil were used to make it. That is why it doesn’t clog pores or affect people with sensitive skin.
3. Fresh Sugar Sport
If you want a minimalist alternative, the Fresh Sugar Sport sunblock for runners is an excellent fit for you. It is multipurpose and offers protection for your face, lips, and eyes. You can easily carry it with you because of its compact size. It wouldn’t be surprising if it were to fit into your deep pockets also. However, you shouldn’t underestimate it because of its size. The stick has a lot of product, which works effectively in small quantities.
This sunscreen brand for runners created it for people with active lifestyles, who need a protective shield all over their faces. The stick glides on smoothly, and it coats and stays on for a long time. You can use it when traveling and for some outdoor and light water-related activities.
The formula contains meadowfoam, avocado, and black currant oils, to help moisturize the skin. It is smooth, soft, and antioxidant properties come from the grapeseed oil in its ingredients. You can rest assured that you will be safe from free radicals; it’s also an SPF 30 product is popular because of its performance.
4. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer
Needs continuous re-application
Neutrogena has the highest SPF that we have come across in this guide. It’s not just meant for summer runs, but for every other occasion as well. The brand refers to it as an ‘all-in-one’ sunscreen. It is not just for your face, but for every other part of your body as well.
If you’re a female or are purchasing it for one, you will be glad to know that it’s complementary with daily make-up routines. Reason being, sunscreen is not messy and consists of Dry-Touch technology. The technology makes the sunblock shine-free, highly absorbent, and ultra-light.
The company claims to offer broad-spectrum protection, which is superior to that of other brands. They incorporated Helioplex Technology into the formulation to give the product an added advantage. The formula is not greasy and has water-resistant properties as well.
5. Ocean Potion
Tricky to handle
What gives the ocean potion sunblock for runners an advantage over its competitors is the fact that it comes highly recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Such a recommendation should give you the confidence you need if you are still on the fence about purchasing it.
If you are not a fragrance kind of person, you will also like this sunscreen for runners: as it is a fragrance-free alternative. It has a frustration-free application process and dries up almost instantly. If you don’t like shiny sunblock, you will also love its matte finish. The days you had to endure greasy looks, are long behind you.
Its formulation quickly absorbs into the skin, and it’s useful for overall facial protection. People also use it on their scalps, neck, and hands for additional protection. Your purchase will get you two spot sticks that are SPF 50 and have broad-spectrum protection.
6. EltaMD UV
Some find it shiny
EltaMD UV sunscreen for runners is another highly recommended alternative by the Skin Cancer Foundation. The company also claims to be the number one recommended brand by dermatologists. This product is widely used by athletes, golfers, swimmers, runners, and skiers, because of its professional-level quality.
The formula is safe for people with different skin types. Reason being, the brand doesn’t make use of any oxybenzone and avobenzone. They only utilize a sufficient percentage of zinc, since it is a naturally occurring mineral. Zinc is also protective and is useful during different seasons of the year.
This option does not have any fragrances, parabens, or oil. You can rest assured that you will be safe from premature aging, and other UV-related skin issues. The brand also has a broad selection of different products for all skin types, lifestyles, and special needs. With over 25 years of experience, they have the necessary expertise to help meet your sunblock needs.
7. Blue Lizard
Smart bottle technology
High-Action mineral technology
For over twenty years, the Blue Lizard sunblock for runners has been a popular sports option among dermatologists. The formula has a combination of chemical and UV protectors, with remarkable performance. It is also rich in vitamin E, to ensure that your skin is restored and simultaneously conditioned.
The most fascinating thing about it is its Smart Bottle Technology. The bottle changes color based on the degree of harmful UV rays present at the time. To keep you safe, it will turn blue to remind you to put on some sunblock. It will retain its original white-like color under less-risky sunlight. The bottle is an excellent fit for forgetful people who often forget to put on some sunscreen.
You can get a bottle in a variety of quantities, namely a gallon, 8.75oz, 5oz, and 3oz. The smallest size has Smart Cap technology instead. Its cap changes color instead of its entire tube. The sunblock offers an SPF 30+ protection with broad-spectrum advantages.
Vitamin E packed
Contains traces of avobenzone
Coppertone sunscreen for runners is yet another brand with a wide range of protective products. The company offers them in several forms; ranging from balms, sticks, and sprays to lotions. The variety of options they offer won’t make you feel as if you’re making a compromise. You can get family-friendly alternatives, sports-based options, and travel-friendly solutions as well.
All their products are SPF 30 or higher to shield you from at least 97% percent of the dangerous UV rays. You can use it whether you’re running or training and it will still be as effective regardless of how much you’re sweating. The best thing about it is that it feels light on the skin and it’s breathable too.
It will moisturize and help boost your skin’s antioxidants. The formulation will keep you safe from UVA and UVB rays, and only needs some re-application after every two hours. You can get the sunblock in a value pack of three or in a one-pack option.
9. Banana Boat
Withstands tough elements
Inspect before use
Banana boat has the ultimate option for all-around sports lovers. Whether you prefer running or spending your time in the ocean, this brand has got you covered in all areas. This high-performance formulation is highly sought after for hardcore use.
The sunblock will stay on when it’s windy, under extreme heat, in the sun, pool, or ocean. It is family friendly, and a great purchase to give you the much-needed bonding time outdoors. The brand incorporated power-stay technology to ensure that it meets the highest set standards.
It has the highest water resistance and comes in a travel-size bottle. The purchase will get you a pack of 24 sunblocks that will last you for several months, depending on your frequency of use. The product offers an SPF 30 protection and is excellent for people with active lifestyles.
10. Sun Bum
Just like the previous product, Sun Bum offers a family friendly alternative that will cater to the needs of the entire household. It is both adult and kid friendly, not to mention; it also has hypoallergenic properties. The formulation consists of safe and friendly ingredients that will not affect your family.
This sunscreen for runners brand is cruelty-free, oil free, PABA free, paraben free, and non-comedogenic. They follow the American Cancer Society, and the Skin Cancer Foundation’s (SCF) guidelines and recommendations. Each of their products has undergone testing and approval by the SCF as well.
You can get one in an 8oz, 6oz, and 3oz, bottle. They also come in different SPF ratings ranging from SPF 15, SPF 30, SPF 50, and SPF 70. It is true to say that, they have a little something for everyone.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Select the ideal level of UV protection
People use sunscreen to help protect them from harmful exposure to UV rays. The end results of such exposure range from; skin cancer, premature aging, weak immune systems, and eye problems, to mention a few. That is why you have to ensure you purchase sunblock, which offers an appropriate amount of UV protection. The two types of rays we are going to look into are the UVA and the UVB rays. We are also going to look at the meaning of some of the terminologies used when describing or shopping for suntan lotions.
UVA rays comprise 95% of the sun’s radiation, which reaches the earth. These rays cause skin cancer and skin aging. They can easily penetrate deep into your skin and are present throughout the year. Any damage they cause is long term, and they can even pass through glass windows.
UVB rays are also dangerous but are mostly attributed to sunburn. They are also, what people use when tanning since they ordinarily affect the upper layer of the skin. You can shield yourself against such rays because they cannot pass through objects. Unlike UVA rays, they are only intense during summer and certain times of the day.
SPF is another common term that you’ll come across when shopping for sunblock. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor: which is an indication or measure of the sunblock’s ability to protect your skin from harmful UVB rays. The higher the SPF rating, the more effective the sunblock is.
The lowest dermatologically recommended SPF is 15. Although it sounds inferior to the level of protection it offers, this type of sunblock provides 93% percent protection against UVB rays. SPF 30 products will protect you from 97% of the rays, SPF 50 are 98% effective, while SPF 100 are 99% effective. It’s not possible to block UVB rays completely, but as you can see, you can still equip yourself properly with the right sunblock.
Most of the options in the market focus on UVB protection. To ensure that you also get protection from UVA rays, you have to buy a broad spectrum alternative. According to the FDA, a product’s SPF rating is roughly proportional to the UVA protection level- if it’s a broad-spectrum sunblock. What this means for such products is that the higher the SPF, the greater the protection it offers from UVA as well. So for the ultimate UV protection, ensure that you always check the SPF rating and buy a broad-spectrum option.
Remember to read the label
Not all brands adhere to FDA approved or safe ingredients when making these products. When looking at product purity, we fundamentally have a detailed look into the ingredients mainly found in sunblock.
The first ingredients we are going to look into are fragrances. Fragrances are optional: some people like them, while others do not. It all comes down to personal preferences. If you don’t like using such sunblock options, just make sure you thoroughly read the label before you make any purchases. That way, you won’t accidentally buy a scented option.
Parabens are also common in beauty-related products. Brands use them to prolong products useful life. They act as preservatives and boost the longevity of the product. Parabens are not safe. They affect people adversely and increase a person’s risk to breast cancer. Their compounds have also been linked to coral reef bleaching. Avoid brands associated with parabens and go for paraben-free options.
Oxybenzone is another commonly used ingredient in suntan creams and lotions. It is effective in the absorption of both UVB and UVA rays. You should avoid such sunblock’s and if you cannot; ensure that you use the smallest quantities possible. Some of the side effects of using it too much include; skin irritation, rashes, acne, Contact Dermatitis, and Hair follicle inflammation.
Although these side effects are rare, there are still people who experience and struggle with them. More studies have found it to cause hormone disruption. The cell damage that Oxybenzone causes puts someone at a very high risk of skin cancer as well. Environmentally, it is also known to harm coral reef systems.
Para Amino Benzoic Acid, or PABA, is not as common as Oxybenzone, but it’s still found in some sunscreens. One of the key concerns about it is that it increases people’s sensitivity to allergic reactions. Further studies by Dr. John Knowland- a researcher at the University of Oxford showed that PABA could potentially damage the user’s DNA. The biggest concern of all was that it could promote the forming of cancerous cells. As mentioned earlier, most manufacturers have stopped using it. However, a few products in the market still contain it.
Lastly, we have Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are some of the main ingredients in the safest sunscreens. Mineral-based sunblocks are now more popular than ever. They efficiently block ultraviolet rays and are referred to as organic or natural alternatives. The two ingredients are non-toxic. Zinc oxide helps prevent irritation, photo-aging signs, and burns, while Titanium dioxide; is excellent for sensitive skin. These are just but a few of the benefits that they have to offer. However, you are definitely in safe hands with such sunblocks.
Athletic options must be water resistant
It is impossible to avoid sweating as you run. How much you sweat will depend on; the intensity of your workout, the duration of time you spend running, the distance, time of day, and even the season. If you do not want to limit yourself as a runner, the best thing you could do is to purchase sunscreen, which will handle whatever you throw at it.
You want to be able to enjoy your summer runs or any sporting activity during the day, without having to suffer from sunburn. Better yet, you want to know that you have protection from harmful UV rays. Water or sweat resistant alternatives are ideal because they won’t disrupt or restrict you.
The average sunscreen comes off when a runner sweats. Once the sweat gets to the eyes, it has a stinging sensation and interrupts one’s vision. There’s no way you can continue running peacefully when all you can do is squint your eyes. You’ll have no choice but to stop or slow down: which can really be a nuisance if you’re timing yourself.
Water resistant options don’t run, they stay on longer and won’t interfere with your performance. Some of these options are water resistant for lengthier periods. You can get one that can last for 80 or 40 minutes. Some are so effective, making them useful for water sports and activities. To enjoy the benefits of such sunblocks, make sure you re-apply them as instructed.
Know your sunblock
There are mainly two types of sunscreens, that is, organic and inorganic. The ingredients discussed above consisted of both categories. Organic options include carbon-based compounds. They are also known as chemical sunblocks. Alternatively, inorganic alternatives comprise of minerals and are also known as physical sunscreens.
Each of these types of sunblocks has its pros and cons, which is vital for you to be aware of. Mineral sunblocks have more pros than cons. They effectively shield people from UVA and UVB rays, since they are broad spectrum. These kinds also offer immediate protection, immediately they are applied.
You won’t have to worry about skin irritation, they will last longer under direct sunlight, and work impeccably with diverse skin types. People with acne can use them as well because they don’t clog pores. The mineral sunblocks also deflect UV rays and have a longer shelf life. The downside to these kinds of options is that they need constant re-application. You should also be keen on choosing one that matches your skin tone.
Organic/chemical options consist of those with oxybenzone and avobenzone, to mention a few. They absorb UV rays, which are then released as heat from the skin. You will need a minimal amount during your application, compared to their counterparts. They are also easy to apply because they spread thinly. Aside from these few pros, they have several cons that we will look in to.
These kinds of sunblock need about twenty minutes to start working after they are applied. People with oily skin may end up with clogged pores when using them. In fact, if you have rosacea-prone skin, you should stay away from these options. Sensitive skin types are also at a higher risk if they use these types of sunblock.
They also need frequent re-application, because they get used up much quicker under direct sunlight. To achieve a broad spectrum, brands tend to combine many ingredients. As a result, some sunblocks are highly likely to cause skin irritation.
Being aware of what the two sets of sunscreen offer puts you in a better position to make an informed purchasing decision.
Ease of Use
Find out what works for you
Sunblock often comes in different forms of application. The best thing you could do for yourself is to make sure that you choose one that’s convenient for you. You should also keep in mind that each of them has its pros and cons.
Some people prefer using them because they are the easiest to apply. However, the FDA has spoken against their use, especially when it comes to infants. Sprays are easy to inhale and may expose someone to chemicals and respiratory issues. They also offer a thin layer of protection compared to other types of sunblocks. Their effectiveness is questionable, and they pose a significant risk to people’s health.
Lotions provide superior coverage because you will be more thorough during the application. Their downside is that some of them leave you with residue, which you can accidentally transfer to other items or surfaces. However, their moisturizing nature is beneficial to people with dry skin. You also have to rub it in properly, which may be troublesome in hard to reach areas.
One of the reasons why people love sticks is because they don’t need to be continuously rubbed in like lotions. Sticks are often multipurpose as well. Some of them are not only useful for facial application but also have a special formulation for the lips and eyes as well. They are often compact and highly portable.
Other forms of sunblock include gels and creams. Everyone has his or her go-to style of application. If this is your very first purchase, you can try out different alternatives until you find the one that works best for you.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Studies show that those who use sunscreen apply less than half of the recommended quantity. This means that most people are not protecting their skin from harmful UVB and UVA rays sufficiently. Applying subtle amounts of the lotion, spray, or powder on your skin, is not going to make much of a difference.
If you’re not sure of the quantity you need, you could gauge using a spoonful on your face, arms, legs, thighs, and upper body. Remember not to forget your ears and neck. Make sure you also shake your sunblock vigorously before use.
Athletes spend most of their days training, rather than on the competitive field. Find a way of scheduling your time for early morning and late evening runs, when the sun is less intense. Even on the cloudiest of days, UV rays still penetrate the atmosphere.
Many people think that clouds shield them from harmful rays, which is actually not true. Besides, all the mid-day sweating washes away a significant portion of your sunblock. If you do decide to run during such times, ensure to apply the sunblock frequently in ample quantities.
Other Factors to Consider
As much as the guide is filled with tons of useful information, there are a few things that you should always keep in mind …
1. Athletes need water-resistant sunscreen.
2. Always read the labels.
3. Schedule your training properly.
4. Mineral-based options are still better.
5. Do not compromise when it comes to UV protection.
6. Keep your children away from spray sunblocks.
You cannot go wrong with these pointers, as they will always help you make the right decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Is it harmful to use sunscreen for running?
Skin cancer is a prevalent ailment in the USA. Sunscreens play a role when it comes to putting it at bay. Sure, there are arguments on how some of the chemicals used such as oxybenzone affect some people negatively: leading to skin irritation or even hormonal imbalance.
Nevertheless, the benefits outweigh the potential negatives. The FDA has put in stringent measures to limit the use of harmful chemicals in these products. Even though many of these products have gone through numerous checks, it is still advisable to see a dermatologist before using any of them.
You should also keep in mind that some have anti-inflammatory compounds: which might soothe the skin even after it is burnt. As a result, you might not notice right away that something is wrong and you need to seek some shade. Sunscreen is not dangerous; you just need to take the recommended precautions, and you will be set.
q: Which other ways can I protect myself from the sun besides using sunscreen?
Staying under some shade is an excellent way to protect yourself from the scorching sun. Athletes in shaded environments are less likely to use some of the mentioned products. Wearing a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and trousers will work like a dream when you’re outside.
Avoid staying in the sun, when it’s usually hottest. Also, wear sunglasses to protect the delicate skin around your eyes. This will prevent you from squinting your eyes, which often leads to fine lines around them as you age.
Runners should also find attires that have high UPF ratings. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. Most of these apparels are nowadays available in many online stores. Dermatologists also endorse a UPF rating of 50 and above. Polyester has a UPF rating of 41, meaning it is good enough; and that’s why it’s used in most sports attires. Besides, it also has many excellent properties, like sweat-wicking capabilities.
q: How long does sunscreen last?
Speaking in terms of application, you should apply it regularly as per the given instructions. If you’re out in the sun for too long, you are definitely going to sweat more, and your sweat will wipe out a significant portion of the sunblock’s protective layer. Most brands recommend that people re-apply their sunblock after 2 to 3 hours. Lastly, the kind of sunblock you have will also determine how often your re-application will be. Remember to check the expiration date as well.
q: Does sunlight have harmful effects?
Even though we cannot do without the sun, its radiation can be quite unforgiving. There has been a rise in melanoma/skin cancer worldwide brought about by harmful UVA rays. Other adverse effects include premature skin aging, sunburns, and weak immune systems. Always make sure you have a broad-spectrum sunscreen with you, to help shield you from the above effects.
q: Are there sunscreens for kids?
Yes, there are some sunblock options for kids. Adults can use both mineral and chemical alternatives. However, it is advisable to use mineral-based sunscreen on children. Avoid any choices that consist of oxybenzone, PABA, and other synthetic ingredients. Children are sensitive and highly prone to skin irritation. They are so vulnerable because their skins can easily absorb such ingredients.
Make sure you use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide alternatives, because of their gentle and non-toxic nature. Children under 6 months of age are too young. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises not to expose them to the sun.
q: What are the benefits of mineral-based sunscreens for runners?
As mentioned previously, mineral-based sunblocks are also known as physical or inorganic sunscreens. Unlike chemical products, they deflect radiation; therefore, protecting the skin from more contact with it. They are compatible with most skin-types because they don’t necessarily cause irritation. These kinds of sunblock will also last longer when applied.
Once you put them on, you will have the freedom of immediately going out to face the raging sun. They don’t need some extra minutes to start working. As far as their expiry date goes, they have a longer shelf life as well. These are some of the notable benefits associated with using mineral-based options. They are worth investing in because they will always give you an upper hand whenever you’re outdoors.
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- How to Measure UVA Protection Afforded by Sunscreen Products, Guidelines ,
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