Home Gear Best Sunscreen for Running, Cycling, Swimming, and Triathletes

Best Sunscreen for Running, Cycling, Swimming, and Triathletes

by Joe Obringer
sunscreen for athletes

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Most athletes, such as cyclists, runners, swimmers, and hikers spend a lot of time outdoors, constantly receiving UV radiation from the sun, which can cause a number of skin conditions, including cancer. As summer gets closer and closer and quarantines are over, athletes are heading out the door to make up for the time lost due to the pandemic. And frequently prioritize comfort and the right gear, but, commonly, they miss a very important protection: sunscreen.

And just like exercise and a healthy diet are great ways to take care of our health, so is protecting our skin. So, it’s time to find out what experts recommend and identify the best sunscreen for athletes this summer. And, next time you head outside to train in the fresh air and sunshine, even if you’re under direct sunlight, you can rest assured that you’re protecting your skiing with the best protection, preventing skin damage and serious skin conditions.

Quick List of the Best Sunscreen for Athletes

  Sunscreen Image Best Feature Price
1 Thinksport Mineral Sunscreen Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen – Safe, Natural Sunblock for Sports & Active Use - Water Resistant Sun Cream –UVA/UVB Sun Protection – Vegan, Reef Friendly Sun Lotion, 6oz Best Overall Sunscreen for Athletes $17.69
2 Zealios Sun Barrier Zealios Sun Barrier 3 oz - SPF 45 Water-Resistant Zinc Sunscreen - Active & Sport Sunblock Lotion (1 Pack) Best Water Resistant Sunscreen for Swimmers Price not available
3 Supergoop! PLAY Supergoop! PLAY Everyday Lotion, 5.5 oz - SPF 50 PA++++ Reef-Safe, Broad Spectrum, Body & Face Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin - Water & Sweat Resistant - Clean Ingredients - Great for Active Days Best Strong Sunscreen for Cyclists $32.00
4 Skinnies Sungel Skinnies Sungel New Formula SPF30 Eco Sunscreen, 3.4oz UVA UVB, Not Diluted With Water, Reef Safe, Vegan, Use Pea Size Blob Best Sweat-Proof Sunscreen for Runners $34.99
5 Blue Lizard Sport Mineral Sunscreen BLUE LIZARD Sport Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 30+, Water/Sweat Resistant, UVA/UVB Protection with Smart Bottle Technology - Fragrance Free, Unscented, 8.75 Fl Oz Best Sunscreen for Athletes with Sensitive Skin $24.60
6 Sun Bum Original Spray Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray I Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E I 6 oz Best Spray Sunscreen for Athletes $15.99
7 SolRX Stick for Face SolRX MINERAL SPF 50 Stick for Face - Zinc Oxide - 0.5 oz Best Face Sunscreen for Athletes $10.99
8 Australian Gold Extreme Sport Australian Gold Extreme Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, 8 Ounce | Broad Spectrum | Sweat & Water Resistant | Non-Greasy | Oxybenzone Free | Cruelty Free Best SPF 30 Sunscreen for Athletes $8.49
9 NO-AD Sport Sunscreen Lotion NO-AD Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 16 oz Best SPF 50 Sunscreen for Athletes $34.66
10 Sun Bum Original SPF 70 Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 70 Lotion - Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB - Water Resistant & Non-Greasy Protection, Hypoallergenic, Paraben Free, Gluten Free - SPF 70 - 6 oz. Bottle - 1 Count Best Strong Sunscreen for Athletes $14.99
11 Amazon Brand – Solimo Sport Sunscreen Lotion Amazon Brand - Solimo Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30, Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free), Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection, 8 Fluid Ounce Best Budget Sunscreen for Athletes $5.40

What to Look for In a Sunscreen for Athletes

Sunscreen is more than just a safe way to get tanned and head out the door. Sunscreen has many benefits, such as delaying skin aging, preventing the appearance of spots, hydrate the skin, protecting against harmful UV and UVB rays that cause skin cancer. Yet, when it comes to choosing the right sunscreen, there are various things you need to bear in mind:

  • SPF: SPF stands for sun protection factor, which measures how long the sunscreen will protect your skin from UV rays.
  • Type of Sunscreen: Sunscreen comes in all shapes and forms. You can choose anything from spray, tubes, and sticks. The factor that determines which type of sunscreen you should choose depends on the sport that you practice. For instance, if you’re a swimmer, you might prefer a Spray sunscreen, which is easier to apply in hard-to-reach areas like the back and shoulders, which are often exposed when swimming.
  • Water Resistance: Whether you’re a swimmer, a runner, or cyclist, you always want to select a water-resistant sunscreen, even if you’re not underwater, you know you’ll sweat, especially during summer.
  • Ingredients: Ingredients should always play a significant role when choosing any type of product for our skin. Thus, we always recommend choosing natural and mineral forms to avoid rashes, allergies, and irritation. Besides, these options tend to be more eco-friendly and better for the environment.

Sunscreen for Sports FAQs

Why is Sunscreen Important for Athletes?

Everybody should utilize sunscreen, whether you’re just heading out the door to do some grocery shopping or if you’re going out for a walk. Especially athletes who perform any type of outdoor exercise or sport because they’re exposing themselves to dangerous UV rays for a prolonged period. When these harmful UV rays reach unprotected skin, they damage it, causing collagen reduction in deep layers of the skin due to the radiation, which causes premature aging, spots, and even cancer.

What Type of Sunscreen Should I Buy?

The type of sunscreen you choose will depend a lot on the kind of sport that you practice. However, as a general guideline, always choose sunscreen anywhere between 30 and 50 SPF. Experts recommend applying the product every two hours for maximum efficacy.

What SPF Should Athletes Use?

Again, this largely depends on the type of sport. But if you perform water sports, we recommend spray. A lotion is far better for all other sports, as it can cover much more than spray does.

Should I buy natural sunscreen?

Natural sunscreens are usually better options than synthetic chemicals sourced sunscreens, as the latter usually contain harmful ingredients. Another thing worth mentioning is that natural alternatives also tend to be free of parabens and preservatives.

Can you buy sunscreen that does not burn your eyes?

Sure! We made our pick below, so you don’t have to fuss about finding the right sunscreen.

Does wearing a hat prevent sunburn?

The short answer is yes. But, not entirely. While wearing a hat helps, if you want to completely protect your face from the damage of UV rays (which your hat can’t stop) you need to apply sunscreen.

Our Top Sunscreen Picks

After a careful reviewing session, we’ve come with a list of our 11 favorite sunscreens for all types of outdoor sports, so you don’t have to spend hours and hours reading reviews to find the right sunscreen for you.

1. Best Overall Sunscreen for Athletes – Thinksport Mineral Sunscreen ($17.69)

Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen – Safe, Natural Sunblock for Sports & Active Use - Water Resistant Sun Cream –UVA/UVB Sun Protection – Vegan, Reef Friendly Sun Lotion, 6oz

  • SPF: 50+.
  • Volume: 6 Oz.
  • Type: Lotion.
  • Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Sunscreen, purified water.
  • Features: Vegan, cruelty-free, Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, BPA-free.

Thinksport Mineral Sunscreen is by far the best overall sunscreen for athletes of all kinds because it ticks all the boxes: it’s natural, it’s a lotion format which is the best overall type of sunscreen, it’s potent, and among other things, it’s vegan friendly.

Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, hiker, or swimmer, this sunscreen is so efficient that it was the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements. What’s more, Thinksport’s sunscreen is also Leaping Bunny certified, and it’s free from PABA, parabens, phthalates, BPA, oxybenzone, avobenzone, and petroleum. Lastly, it’s gluten and dairy-free, making it a safe choice for everyone.

2. Best Water Resistant Sunscreen for Swimmers – Zealios Sun Barrier (Price not available)

Zealios Sun Barrier 3 oz - SPF 45 Water-Resistant Zinc Sunscreen - Active & Sport Sunblock Lotion (1 Pack)

  • SPF: 45.
  • Volume: 3 Oz.
  • Type: Lotion.
  • Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, Zinc.
  • Features: Water and sweat-resistant, vegan, gluten and cruelty-free, paraben and oil-free.

This sunscreen is hands-down the most water-resistant natural sunscreens in the market, thus it’s naturally ideal for swimmers and any athlete that sweats a lot! So, if you live in a hot area, sweat a lot, or swim, try this natural sunscreen! Designed by and for athletes, Zealous leads the way with a unique formula that dries fast and does not stain your clothes.

3. Best Strong Sunscreen for Cyclists – Supergoop! PLAY ($32.00)

Supergoop! PLAY Everyday Lotion, 5.5 oz - SPF 50 PA++++ Reef-Safe, Broad Spectrum, Body & Face Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin - Water & Sweat Resistant - Clean Ingredients - Great for Active Days

  • SPF: 50.
  • Volume: 2.4 Oz.
  • Type: Lotion.
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate.
  • Features: Vegan, Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, no oxybenzone, no octinoxate.

Ideal for sensitive skins, Supergoop! PLAY is the perfect combination of smooth, good-smelling, and effective sunscreen, ideal for cyclists thanks to its potent broad-spectrum formula. If you’re a cyclist, you know the importance of using sunscreen that is both sweat-resistant and has a great texture, so it does not feel sticky as the wind hits your face. Supergoop nailed its formula and checks all the boxes any cyclist looks for in a sunscreen lotion.

4. Best Sweat-Proof Sunscreen for Runners – Skinnies Sungel ($34.99)

Skinnies Sungel New Formula SPF30 Eco Sunscreen, 3.4oz UVA UVB, Not Diluted With Water, Reef Safe, Vegan, Use Pea Size Blob

  • SPF: 30.
  • Volume: 3.4 Oz.
  • Type: Gel.
  • Active ingredients: Avobenzone, Bemotrizinol, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone.
  • Features: Vegan, Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, cruelty-free, water-resistant, broad-spectrum, no water.

Unlike most sunscreens, Skinnies Sungel has 0% water, making it the perfect ally for runners. Why? For two main reasons; runners spent the most outside under the sun, and also water does not protect your skin from the damages from the sun. This unique gel formula forms a thin layer on your skin that you can’t even see. It dries super-fast and fully protects your skin against all types of harmful rays.

5. Best Sunscreen for Athletes with Sensitive Skin – Blue Lizard Sport Mineral Sunscreen ($24.60)

BLUE LIZARD Sport Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 30+, Water/Sweat Resistant, UVA/UVB Protection with Smart Bottle Technology - Fragrance Free, Unscented, 8.75 Fl Oz

  • SPF: +30.
  • Volume: 8.75 Oz.
  • Type: Lotion.
  • Active Ingredients: Octocrylene, Zinc Oxide.
  • Features: Vegan, Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, sweat, and water-resistant, fragrance-free.

Ideal for any type of sport due to its potent water and sweat-resistant properties, the Blue Lizard Sport Mineral Sunscreen is the right pick for athletes with sensitive skin as its gentle formula free from parabens and harsh chemicals is specifically designed for sensitive skin.

6. Best Spray Sunscreen for Athletes – Sun Bum Original Spray ($15.99)

Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray I Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E I 6 oz

  • SPF: 30.
  • Volume: 6 Oz.
  • Type: Spray.
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene.
  • Features: Vegan, Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, broad-spectrum, water-proof.

The ingredients utilized in this formula are excellent. Sun Bum uses top-quality natural ingredients and, on top of that, the hypoallergenic spray sunscreen is a great option for people with sensitive skin and the best is that it does not break out acne-prone skin. What’s more, Sun Bum’s spray formula is very lightweight and does not contain dyes or any harmful ingredients.

7. Best Face Sunscreen for Athletes – SolRX Stick for Face ($10.99)

SolRX MINERAL SPF 50 Stick for Face - Zinc Oxide - 0.5 oz

  • SPF: 50.
  • Volume: 0.5 Oz.
  • Type: Stick.
  • Ingredients: Zinc.
  • Features: Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, broad-spectrum.

SoxlRX’s athlete-inspired stick is every runner’s best ally! Easy to carry, lightweight, and practical, Sol RX’s simple formula is all you need to protect your face from UV rays. It glides gently and easily, and it’s ideal for wearing under makeup too, due to its light formula.

8. Best SPF 30 Sunscreen for Athletes – Australian Gold Extreme Sport ($8.49)

Australian Gold Extreme Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, 8 Ounce | Broad Spectrum | Sweat & Water Resistant | Non-Greasy | Oxybenzone Free | Cruelty Free

  • SPF: 30.
  • Volume: 8 Oz.
  • Type: Lotion.
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene.
  • Features: Vegan, cruelty-free, Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, broad-spectrum.

Australian Gold Extreme Sport’s new formula is specifically designed to be sweat and water-resistant, making it the ideal SPF 30 sunscreen for an active lifestyle. They have developed a unique technology that offers sweat-activated cooling to neutralize odors and maintain the skin fresh all day, whilst protecting the skin from both UVA rays and UVB rays, due to their broad-spectrum formula.

9. Best SPF 50 Sunscreen for Athletes – NO-AD Sport Sunscreen Lotion ($34.66)

NO-AD Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 16 oz

  • SPF: 50.
  • Volume: 16 Oz.
  • Type: Lotion.
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone.
  • Features: Vegan, cruelty-free, Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, water, and sweat-resistant.

This affordable and easy-to-apply sunscreen is ideal for any athlete, thanks to its lightweight formula which makes it great for all types of sports. NO-AD Sport Sunscreen Lotion is an allergen-free SPF 50 and broad-spectrum sunscreen ideal for athletes for its powerful UV ray blocking capacity.

10. Best Strong Sunscreen for Athletes – Sun Bum Original SPF 70 ($14.99)

Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 70 Lotion - Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB - Water Resistant & Non-Greasy Protection, Hypoallergenic, Paraben Free, Gluten Free - SPF 70 - 6 oz. Bottle - 1 Count

  • SPF: 70.
  • Volume: 6 Oz.
  • Type: Lotion.
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene.
  • Features: Vegan, cruelty-free, hypoallergenic, Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, broad-spectrum, water-resistant.

Although easy-to-apply and ultra-sheer, this lotion is both strong and excellent to protect your skin from harmful rays while hydrating it, which is ideal for athletes as it protects the skin while neutralizing harmful free radicals are the principal cause of premature skin aging and skin damage.

11. Best Budget Sunscreen for Athletes – Amazon Brand – Solimo Sport Sunscreen Lotion ($5.40)

Amazon Brand - Solimo Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30, Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free), Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection, 8 Fluid Ounce

  • SPF: 30.
  • Volume: 8 Oz.
  • Type: Lotion.
  • Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene.
  • Features: Vegan, Reef Friendly, Paraben-free, water-resistant, non-greasy.

Great price for value! Amazon’s lotion is very sheer and easy to apply, making it an excellent choice for any athlete practicing any type of sport, including water sports, such as swimming or surfing. Besides, it’s great for oily and acne-prone skin, as it won’t break you out.

Final Takeaways

It’s no news that exercising regularly is an excellent way to stay healthy and live a long life. And, if you made it this far, chances are you’re truly committed to your health and wellbeing, so you know the importance of protecting your skin against harmful sun rays.

As you know, not only do sun rays damage our skin, but they can cause serious diseases like melanoma. And while sunlight is a great form to get vitamin D, it is also crucial to have the right protection. Don’t allow the harmful UVA and UVB rays to keep you from working out or practicing your favorite sport, but in doing so, make sure to protect your skin as you know best.

So, whatever sunscreen you choose, remember that what matters the most is how you apply it and how often you add a second layer. All the sunscreens mentioned in this post last a good 80-min protection, which will allow you to stay on top of your game for longer than other products do. So, we hope this post has helped you, and we hope you keep protecting your skin!

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