The 9 Best Sunscreens for Runners for Hot Summer Running

While the summer days are coming to an end, the sun sticks around all year long. Which means sunscreen should remain a priority even when the temperatures begin to dip. Especially for distance runners that are outside for long periods of time, sunscreen—especially on the face—is particularly important not only to slow signs of aging, but to help protect your skin from irreparable damage, wrinkles, and even skin cancer

Luckily, there are a ton of great sunscreens out there from mineral to chemical that will give you great protection without feeling greasy, heavy, or breaking you out. To help you find the best sunscreen for runners on the market, we gathered up seven of our favorites to make the shopping experience as easy as possible. Check out our top picks of the best sunscreen for runners below as well as some advice on how to pick the right one for you. 

How to Choose Sunscreen

To help you choose the right sunscreen for you, we spoke to an expert on the subject. Dr. Jake Woods is a board-certified dermatologist from the American Board of Dermatology with over 10 years of experience in medical and cosmetic dermatology.  He currently works at Gya Labs where he provides guidance on skin and hair care product formulation. 

Mineral vs Chemical 

There are two types of sunscreen—mineral and chemical. But is there really that big of a difference between the two? We spoke to Dr. Brooks to find out. 

“Mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflect UV rays away. They are generally considered to be more gentle on the skin than chemical sunscreens, and they are less likely to cause allergic reactions”, said Brooks. “However, mineral sunscreens can be more difficult to apply evenly, and they can leave a white cast on the skin.”

“Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays and convert them into heat. They are generally more effective at blocking UV rays than mineral sunscreens, and they are less likely to leave a white cast on the skin. However, chemical sunscreens can be more irritating to the skin, and they can be absorbed into the bloodstream.” 

So, which should you use?

Well, Brooks suggests that mineral SPF (the common abbreviation for Sun Protection Factor) may be the way to go for most runners.

“Mineral sunscreens are less likely to sting your eyes if you sweat or cry, and they are less likely to run off your skin if you are running in hot weather. Additionally, mineral sunscreens are not absorbed into the bloodstream, so there is no risk of them affecting your hormones or other bodily functions.”

But mineral may not work for everyone—chemical sunscreens are more effective at blocking UV rays, and are usually less likely to cause allergic reactions. Brooks also notes that they are available in a wider variety of formulas so you may have a better chance at finding the one most suitable for your skin type. 

Sunscreen Ingredients to Look Out For 

Whether you have sensitive skin or are just trying to be conscious of what you put on your body, there are a few ingredients present in most sunscreens that can be irritating or even cause allergic reactions.

While these won’t necessarily affect everyone, it’s always best to be informed before using a new product. Dr. Books gave us definitions on each of these ingredients and highlighted the risks. 

Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: These chemicals are two of the most common ingredients in sunscreen. However, they have been linked to health problems such as hormone disruption and allergic reactions. 

Note: We made sure to choose only sunscreens without these ingredients, so you can easily shop any of the products on this list without worrying about these two. 

Octocrylene: This chemical is also a common ingredient in sunscreen. It can be irritating to the skin and eyes, and it can also increase the absorption of other sunscreen ingredients into the body.

Parabens: Parabens are used as preservatives in many personal care products, including sunscreen. However, they have been linked to breast  cancer and other health problems.

Benzyl alcohol: This chemical is a fragrance ingredient that can be irritating to the skin. This is why many people with sensitive skin tend to opt for a fragrance-free option. 

A tip from Dr. Brooks: If you are concerned about the ingredients in your sunscreen, you should look for a sunscreen that is labeled as reef-safe and mineral-based. Reef-safe sunscreens do not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, which are two chemicals that are harmful to coral reefs. Mineral-based sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are two minerals that sit on top of the skin and reflect UV rays away.

UVA versus UVB Rays

While all sunscreens with SPF are meant to be protective against harmful UV rays, certain sunscreen lotions protect differently against UVA rays and UVB rays. The difference? Both UVA and UVB have the potential to cause skin cancer. But, UVB rays have shorter wave lengths and only penetrate the top layer of the skin.

SPF only applies to UVB protection (the easier to block rays). So, in selecting a sunscreen, look for “broad spectrum protection” or “broad-spectrum SPF” on the label which is an indicator that it will protect against UVA rays as well.

How We Selected the Best Sunscreen for Runners 

In order to choose the best sunscreens for runners, we gathered up a combination of mineral and chemical sunscreens for both face and body that had either been personally tested, or received overwhelmingly positive reviews by customers.

We also chose formulas that were free of known harmful ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Finally we consulted a practicing dermatologist to give insight on what exactly to look for in a sunscreen and how to choose the right type for your individual skin type and activity.

Best Mineral Sunscreen for Body: Native Sunscreen

Native Sunscreen, our pick for the best mineral sunscreen for runner's body.
  • Bottle Size: 5 oz 
  • Fragrance: Scented & Unscented
  • Contains Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: No
  • SPF: 30

Mineral sunscreens have become somewhat notorious for leaving you looking streaky and white, but this one by Native seems to have perfected the formula.

It is lightweight, and rubs into the skin easily. Doesn’t leave behind any greasy residue, and since it uses only Zinc for sun protection. And, is gentle on sensitive skin.

It offers SPF 30, and it even comes in summer scents like sweet peach and nectar, coconut and pineapple, and rosé—and an unscented option as well if you are sensitive to fragrances.

And if you like it for your body, it also comes in a face formula. The one downside is that this sunscreen is not waterproof, so it may not be the best option for super sweaty runs or beach days when you plan to go in the water. Native busted onto the scene with deodorant but has quickly made a name for itself with one of the best sunscreen for runners.

Best Chemical Sunscreen for Body: Alba Botanica Sunscreen

Alba Botanicals the best chemical sunscreen for runner's body.
  • Bottle Size: 6 oz 
  • Fragrance: Scented 
  • Contains Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: No
  • SPF: 15, 30 & 50 

This spray-on sunscreen gives you a healthy glow without feeling greasy.

It has a fine mist that sprays evenly on the body, and allows you to get great coverage even if you have to put it on yourself. The lotion is gentle on the skin, and even has moisturizing active ingredients like shea butter, and avocado oil that help to keep the skin feeling supple and smooth while protecting it from the sun. 

It is free from parabens, vegetarian, and doesn’t use any animal testing in development.

Plus it is water resistant for up to 80 minutes which makes it a great option as a sport sunscreen for water activities like swimming and triathalon as well.

Best Mineral Sunscreen for Face: EltaMD UV Clear Face Sunscreen

EltaMD the best mineral sunscreen for runner's faces.
  • Bottle Size: 4 oz 
  • Fragrance: Unscented 
  • Contains Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: No 
  • SPF: 47

This face sunscreen offers more protection than most at 47 SPF, and it is gentle on the skin.

It has a zinc and titanium dioxide mineral formula which protects the skin without any irritation, and it’s non-comedogenic and oil-free so it won’t clog your pores.

This formula is also water and sweat-resistant so it stays on even if you sweat a lot during your workout.

And you don’t have to wait for your run to put this on, it works great for everyday wear too. It goes smoothly without any pilling or white cast, and it can even be used on your full body if you want some extra coverage.

This is my personal favorite face sunscreen and I consider it the best sunscreen for runners in all weathers.

Best Chemical Sunscreen for Face: Supergoop! PLAY Everyday

  • Bottle Size: 2.4—18  oz 
  • Fragrance: Light Scent  
  • Contains Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: No 
  • SPF: 50 

Face, body and everything in between, Supergoop Play is great for everyday wear or slapping on before you head out for your daily run.

It is super lightweight and leaves your skin feeling fresh and hydrated.

Since it soaks in quickly it makes a good base under makeup, but it also gives you a hydrated glow if you choose to wear it alone. 

It has ingredients like rosemary and rice bran that help to soften and calm skin, and sunflower extract to help protect your skin from the elements—that makes this a great choice for sweltering summer days to biting winter winds.

Supergoop! PLAY also comes with an antioxidant body mist with Vitamin C. Both make great options as the best sunscreen for runners.

Best Sunscreen for Runners with a Scent: Sun Bum SPF 50

  • Bottle Size: 6 oz 
  • Fragrance: Scented
  • Contains Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: No
  • SPF: 50 

If scent is important to you then Sun Bum is the way to go. Sun Bum is like the grown up, environmentally-friendly version of Banana Boat sunscreen.

This spray sunscreen leaves you smelling lightly tropical and coconutty without being overpowering. It offers 50 SPF protection, and it sprays evenly onto the skin. It also uses vitamin E to help keep your skin looking clear, bright and hydrated.

While this is a chemical sunscreen, it is non-irritating, and great for sensitive skin. 

This sunblock offers protection for up to 80 minutes, and it is waterproof so it won’t wash off the skin and leave you exposed. This sunscreen is also relatively clean as it is paraben-free, gluten-free, and reef-friendly, so you can feel as good about wearing it on your runs as you can in the ocean. 

Best Sunscreen for Runners on a Budget:

  • Bottle Size: 3 oz 
  • Fragrance: Unscented
  • Contains Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: No
  • SPF: 70 

This Neutrogena sunscreen has been around for years. It’s a go-to for athletes and their skincare thanks to the high level of sunscreen SPF (70) and quick drying formula that leaves your skin feeling soft and dry.

This sunscreen is super fast absorbing, and won’t leave a greasy residue on your skin. It also doesn’t leave a white cast behind, and since it is non-comedogenic it won’t clog your pores and cause breakouts. 

This is also water-resistant for 80 minutes. So, you can consider it as good as sweatproof and it can hold up to your sweaty summer long runs.

While this is a smaller bottle, you don’t need to use a ton for good coverage especially if you are just using it for your face. This makes it a super cost effective option at only $7 per bottle.

This is one of the most common broad-spectrum sunscreens on the market frequented by athletes. This is an underrated best sunscreen for runners you should stock up on.

Best Sunscreen for Runners with a Tint: Ilia Tinted Skin Serum

  • Bottle Size: 2 oz 
  • Fragrance: Unscented
  • Contains Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: No 
  • SPF: 40

While most runners know to protect their skin when they head out for their daily run, they may not know how important it is to have SPF on for the rest of the day.

But since not everyone wants to smell like a day at the beach, an alternative like the Ilia tinted serum could be a great option. 

This serum is a mineral based SPF that has a light tint that evens out skin tone without looking cakey. It leaves you with a dewy glow and even helps keep your skin hydrated thanks to squalane, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide.

Other Popular Best Sunscreen for Runners

How and when to apply sunscreen

As a runner, especially during your long runs, you may end up spending between 60 minutes and 2 hours outside in the sunlight. What are the best practices to applying sunscreen as a runner in order to avoid sunburn and skin damage from too much sun exposure?

Runners should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before heading outside. So, factor it into your warm up routine.

Then, during your run, it’s suggested you stop for reapplication every 60 minutes to stay protected from the sun’s rays.


How often should I reapply my sunscreen? 

A single sunscreen application is effective for about two hours. So if you plan to be outside longer than that, make sure you are reapplying. 

Can wet or sweaty conditions affect the efficacy of my sunscreen? 

Yes, since sunscreen works by sitting on top of the skin, it can get washed away if you are sweaty or wet. While water resistant sunscreens definitely work better to prevent you from getting burned, you will still need to reapply a bit more frequently than if you were completely dry. 

Do I really need to wear sunscreen in the winter or when it’s cloudy?

Believe it or not, snowy winter days can have some of the harshest affect on your skin because of sunlight reflection. And even on cloudy days where you can’t feel the sun, UV rays can still slip through and cause damage to your skin especially over years of running without SPF protection. 

What SPF should runners use? 

The higher the SPF number, the more protection you will get, though studies have shown that it seems to cap out around 50 SPF. We recommend wearing at least 30, but on particularly sunny days 50 and up is preferable. 

Where can I buy the best sunscreen for runners?

Most sunscreens can be found on Amazon and can be delivered right to your door.

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