Last updated: September 26, 2020

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Since ancient times, humans have known the therapeutic effects of heat and sunlight. In fact, in the mid-nineteenth century, Doctor Niels Ryberg Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for applying heliotherapy to heal lupus. However, sunlight exposure can also be harmful, and this why it is often recommended to use sunscreen lotion.

Because of their short wavelength, sun UV rays repair muscle fibers, relax the muscles and reverse musculoskeletal system disorders, such as rheumatism. They stimulate vitamin D production, which is essential for healthy calcium levels in our bones. Our skin, immune system and nervous system all benefit from this as well.

Key Facts

  • In addition to sunburn, excessive electromagnetic radiation from the sun alters skin chemistry, causing premature ageing and, in some cases, skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the rate of skin cancer among caucasian Americans in 26 in 100,000 people.
  • Melanin generation, also known as oxidation, causes tanning. Ultraviolet B rays activate melanin generation, while excessive exposure results in lesions at deeper layers of the skin such as wrinkles, spots and destruction of collagen and elastin.
  • As we are not voluntary exposed to sunrays, we should protect ourselves from them throughout the year using a sunscreen lotion suitable for our skin phototype and sensitivity. We should also pay attention to reflected sunrays for the most complete protection.

Our Selection of the Best Sunscreen Lotions on the U.S. Market

The FDA recommends that we wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 15 or above, even on cloudy days. However, do you know which sunscreen lotion is best suited to your skin type or for the activity you are planning to do outside? In order to clear up any doubts and let you be confident in your choice, we have put together this selection of the four best sunscreen lotions on the U.S. market.

Best Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen includes Avobenzoneand Helioplex that gives you maximum protection from skin-damaging UVB sun rays and UVA skin aging sun rays. This sunscreen rapidly absorbs into your skin to give you a clean lightweight, non-greasy feeling that lasts long. It can last for 80 minutes underwater making it suitable for swimming, the beach and watersports. This sunscreen is non-comedogenic, cancer-protective, PABA free and suitable for a wide variety of skins.

Best High-SPF Sunscreen Lotion

Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion gives you contains vitamin E and some chemical moisturizers that nourish your skin. This sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB sun rays. This fact is dermatologist tested and asserted. It is water friendly. It allows you to have a fun time in the swimming pool or beach for about 80 minutes before needing to be reapplied. This sunscreen lotion hydrates your skin, gives you a superior soft feel and, gives you a non-greasy lightweight feel.

Best Sunscreen Lotion for Sensitive Skin

This sunscreen lotion is formulated from Zinc Oxide and recommended by dermatologists for sensitive skin types. Oil-free EltaMD UV Facial Sunscreen leaves no oily residue after application on your skin and is paraben-free and has powerful antioxidants. It neutralizes all the free radicals that are associated with infrared and UV rays. It is a broad spectrum skin lotion that protects your skin from the aging and damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays.

Best Sunscreen Lotion for Children

This children’s sunscreen lotion from Coppertone has broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection with an impressive 50 SPF, meaning you can be confident that your little ones are well protected. It also has a gentle, non-irritating formula limiting the chance of skin irritation which can be more common in kids. It is also water-resistant, so suitable for the beach and other water activities.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Sunscreen Lotion

Given the huge range offered by the market, it is not surprising to feel overwhelmed when buying sunscreen. Innovation in the pharmaceutical industry means we can now find lighter sunscreen lotions, as well as those enriched with antioxidants and protects with enhanced protection. Therefore we’ve put together this guide to help you to navigate the market.

Non-organic sunscreen lotions can absorb radiation.
(Source: Wavebreak Media Ltd: 78412662/

What does sunscreen protect me from?

The high power of UVC radiation makes it the most dangerous type, but as it is absorbed by the atmosphere, it cannot harm us. This not the same with the radiation that does pass through the atmosphere and, consequently, reaches our skin: type A and type B ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB). Most sunscreen lotions protect us from both.

Sun protection factor refers to their action against UVB rays. However, almost all of today lotions support the international recommendation to also protect against UVA radiation, which is symbolized by the acronym UVB and UVA, both surrounded by a circle, meaning that the lotion provides 1/3 protection against UVA rays.

Did you know that the first sun protection had its origin in the Second World War? This is because the soldiers were getting sunburnt for spending so much time in the sun.

How does sunscreen work?

Sunscreens rely on filters (physical, chemical and/or biological) to avoid the harmful action of long sun exposure. Given the peculiarities of each of them, most reliable sunscreens combine two or three of these filters to fight against their weaknesses.

Physical filters absorb radiation and then reflect it as if they were a mirror. This way, they avoid negative impacts on skin. In the case of chemical filters, they become hot upon contact with the sun. The use of nanoparticles or photostabilizers to lighten the lotion should be specified on the package. The following table summarizes sunscreen’s pros and cons.

Strengths Weaknesses
Traditional or non-organic High level of protection against UVA and UVB radiation.

Suitable for babies and sensitive skin types.

Do not degrade.

Can leave ugly white marks.

Can be toxic if inhaled.

Chemical or organic High level of protection against UVA and UVB radiation.

Rarely degrade.

Are considered endocrine disruptors or carcinogens.

Lose their properties over time.

Can cause allergic reactions.

Biological Have an anti-oxidant effect which repairs the skin.

Do not contain chemicals.

Found in products with an ecological seal.

Lower level of protection against UVA and UVB radiation.

Need to be used with other sun protection.

Is it true that sunscreen prevents us from tanning?

Tanned skin is obtained by melanin generation or oxidation, the level of which is determined by the type of radiation we are exposed to. UVA rays oxidize the melanin of the dermis and tanning is fast, but it fades just as quickly.

Type B radiation stimulates the release of melanin. Without proper protection and moderation we are at risk of getting burned and destroying skin cells. Although using sunscreen lotions slows tanning, it is much safer for our skin and our health. There is also no evidence that it interferes with the production of vitamin D, although if you are worried about vitamin D deficiency taking vitamin D supplements could be a good solution.

Natural sunscreens do not contain chemicals.
(Source: Kaspars Grinvalds: 39639478/

How much sunscreen lotion should be used and when?

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), people tend to use less than recommended amount and not replace it after 2 hours or swimming in the sea or a pool. The official recommendation aims to 2 gr /cm², that is, 30ml for the whole body and for each time.

We should apply the sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before being exposed to the sun. If we are going to get into the water, it is recommended to have a water-resistant sunscreen. This way, we will be protected for 40 more minutes after swimming. You must avoid tanning oils or lotions.

Choose a sunscreen lotion that you like and which suits your needs.
(Source: Ekaterina Pokrovsky: 29322766/

What are the guidelines of sunscreen cream in children?

Due to the lack of maturity of their skin, recommends applying a sunscreen with a sun protection factor or SPF of at least 30,but only for babies 6 months and older. An amount equivalent to a tablespoon for face, neck and arms should be applied, and two tablespoons for the rest of the body. Don’t forget to protect their ears as well.

Children under 6 months old should not be exposed to the sun and should not use sunscreen since they have counterproductive effects for the health of babies this age. They must wear long-sleeved clothes, hats and stay in the shade. If contact with the sun is inevitable, opt for an SPF of 15 for hands and face.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of sunscreen?

If you want to make the most of your leisure time outdoors, you should not forget to protect yourself from sun radiation. Although the light and heat of the sun exert many beneficial effects for our body, they are more intense during the summer and the risk of burns or skin quality deterioration increases.

Using sunscreens, as well as wearing caps, sunglasses and long-sleeved clothes, are currently the only means to avoid the harmful consequences of the sun. Avoid the central hours of the day and follow the recommendations set by official organizations such as the Spanish Association of Dermatology and Venereology. Find more information about how to prevent future damage. Check below the advantages and disadvantages of sunscreen lotions.

  • It prevents the electromagnetic radiation of the sun from reaching and injuring our skin
  • It allows us to make the most of the health benefits of the sun (it prevents anemia, depression, asthenia, rheumatism or lupus, among other conditions)
  • Some lotions also have antioxidant substances for skin care and beauty (shea butter, Aloe Vera, sesame or avocado oil, among others)
  • It is not 100% effective, there is always a fraction of radiation that penetrates the skin
  • It has compounds potentially harmful to the body that cause photosensitivity or intolerances
  • In general, we tend to apply less than the recommended amount or not to replenish the dose after 2 hours

Buyer’s Guide

The sunscreen you are looking for your beach vacation must be waterproof. However, you should consider other factors in order to find the most complete option, the one that combines high protection and minimal skin irritation. These are the criteria we talk about:


Ingredients make the difference between physical and organic filters. Thus, non-organic filters use minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in their sunscreen. Although it is remarkably innovative, including nanoparticles to reduce the white trail is potentially toxic and must be announced.

Organic filters rely on carbon compounds such as Mexoryl, cinnamates or benzopenolas, which in a small percentage can be absorbed through the skin and cause intolerances. Biological filters are the most natural when incorporating materials such as wheat germ oil or shea butter.

Sunscreen lotions protect our skin from the harmful effects of radiation.
(Source: Maridav: 13093410/

Type of Activity

It may seem obvious, but it is not the same to apply a sunscreen for a beach day when you have dermatitis than doing it to go jogging around the city. In this sense, the official advice is to go for sunscreens with more physical filters if you want immediate protection and if you have sensitive or allergic skin.

On the other hand, if you are going to sweat or be in contact with water, you will do better with sunscreens in which chemical filters are the main component because of its degradation when in contact with the sun. Organic filters are also recommended for people with acne or oily skin because of its lightness and lower oil content.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

This refers to the time your skin remains protected from solar radiation without being burned. To calculate such time, you must multiply the factor by 10, since it is estimated that, it generally takes 10 minutes to show the first signs of skin damage when being unprotected.

Remember to add 40 more minutes to that time with water proof sunscreens, since they protect twice as much time. The sun protection factor refers to the lack of risk of skin lesions against UVB radiation, but most current sunscreens also protect against UVA rays.

Did you know that one of the most sensitive areas to sun exposure is the back of the feet? Do not forget to apply sunscreen lotion on that part to avoid burns.

Skin Phototype

Skin phototype is determined by the color of the skin, hair and eyes and reveals the ability of the skin to tan. There are 6 phototypes that range from the palest to the darkest complexion. Although being less likely to burn, sunscreen should also be applied to the darkest skins to prevent further damage to the lower layers of the dermis.

For a medium phototype, an SPF of 30 will be enough. Skin sensitivity is linked to phototype. In fact, it is not possible to prescribe a sunscreen without considering both. Sensitivity indicates that the drier the skin, the more SPF it will require. In these cases, physical filters are ideal as they are thicker.


Although it comes down to personal preference, experts recommend sunscreen lotion and cream over gels and sprays. The latter are more likely to irritate the skin. People with acne should opt for skin protection with a smooth texture for optimal coverage.


As you can see, choosing a sunscreen lotion is not a minor concern. Not surprisingly, we are not yet sufficiently aware of the risks of an anarchic and uncontrolled sun exposure. Remember that burns are not only bad looking, but also destroy skin cells and shed elastin stores, making the skin more dull and flaccid.

We hope this serves as guidance for your next purchase and inspires you to intensify your skincare routine throughout the year. Your health will thank you for this and you will notice it in the quality of your skin after being exposed to sunlight.

If you liked this article, we encourage you to share it on your social media and leave us a comment.

(Featured Image Source: Natalia Ponomarenko: 42214096/

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