Best Sunscreen For Swimming In 2020 – Top Picks and Reviews

As summer approaches and the heat is starting to settle in, one of the best ways to cool down is to go swimming. Whether it be the beach, lake, or your backyard pool, swimming has been the favorite past time of most families.

It’s no wonder why as it’s the perfect time to bond and just have fun under the sun. 

However, it is also while swimming that you are more prone to sunburns and getting exposed to harmful UV light. Thus, you’ll need a sunscreen to avoid this.

But since not all sunscreens are the same and effective, you need the best one to ensure you and your family’s protection. 

There are many sunscreens in the market today, making it difficult for some to find the right one.

To help narrow down your choices, we’ve listed down the top 5 sunscreens for swimming.

But before that, here are the factors you should first consider when choosing the perfect product to purchase.  

Things to Consider When Choosing a Sunscreen

Form

There are many forms of sunscreen, from lotion to oil, gel, stick, cream, butter, paste, and spray. If you are looking for a sunscreen that you can easily and quickly apply, we recommend sprays. However, any of them is great and it’s only a matter of personal preference. 

Water-Resistance

Every sunscreen will have a water-resistance label. This is the duration of time until the formula stops working in water – which is important to know since you’ll be swimming. For instance, most products have an 80-minute water-resistance label. But others can only last for 40 minutes.  

SPF Level

The SPF level measures a sunscreen’s ability to protect you from UVB rays or the kind of UV light that causes sunburns and skin cancer. The higher the number, the more protection it can provide. But the difference is minimal. To give you an idea, an SPF 15 can block 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 filters 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. But keep in mind, no SPF can provide 100% protection. 

However, there’s another type of UV light and this is called UVA. These rays are responsible for the damages in your skin, including tanning, skin aging, and wrinkles. Since the SPF level only determines its effectiveness against UVB, DFA recommends checking for the “Broad Spectrum” label as this means it provides you protection from both UVA and UVB. 

When choosing the SPF level, FDA suggests going with at least 15. For those with fair skin, consider going with SPF 30 to 50. 

Type of Sunscreen

You can choose from two types of sunscreen: mineral and chemical. While both types offer protection against the harmful rays of the sun, their process of doing so is very different. The reason behind this is its formulation and ingredients. 

Generally, there are 16 acceptable active ingredients for sunscreens. They are:

  1. Octisalate
  2. Meradimate
  3. Octocrylene
  4. Titanium dioxide
  5. Trolamine salicylate
  6. Oxybenzone
  7. Padimate O
  8. Ensulizole
  9. Sulisobenzone
  10. Zinc oxide
  11. Aminobenzoic acid
  12. Avobenzone
  13. Cinoxate
  14. Dioxybenzone
  15. Homosalate
  16. Octinoxate

In FDA’s new proposed rule, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are “Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective” (GRASE). They also suggest that PABA and Trolamine Salicylate are NOT GRASE and poses safety issues. 

The other 12, on the other hand, have not been determined as GRASE. However, this does not mean that these ingredients are unsafe. The agency simply needs additional data on its safety and effectiveness.

So why does this matter?

Well, because these are the ingredients that might be in the products you are choosing. And it helps to know whether they are safe for you and your family.

Another reason is that these ingredients determine whether a product is mineral or chemical. To understand better, here’s a brief comparison of both types:

Mineral Sunscreen

For mineral sunscreen, its active ingredients only include Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide which are considered safe and effective as mentioned above. This type of sunscreen works by blocking the sun’s rays.  

ProsCons
Best for individuals with sensitive skin, melasma, and for childrenTends to leave a white film on your skin and may cause breakouts
Works fastLonger to apply
Can be used with other skin-care products and make-upNeeds to be reapplied more frequently compared to chemical 

Chemical Sunscreen

As for chemical sunscreen, its active ingredients can include Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octisalate, Homosalate, Octocrylene, and Octinoxate. This sunscreen works by absorbing UV light, convert it to heat, and allow it to dissipate from the skin. 

In a recent study, some of these chemicals were absorbed in the bloodstream at higher levels than 0.5 ng/ml, particularly Avobenzone, Octocrylene, and Oxybenzone. The other chemical was Ecamsule. While the study didn’t prove that these chemicals are dangerous, it does mean that further studies should be made to determine if and whether there are possible toxic effects. 

Additionally, oxybenzone was found to cause bleaching and damage to coral reefs. So if you’re planning to go swimming in the ocean, you might consider reef-friendly sunscreens.  

ProsCons
Quick and easy application, and requires less amount for protectionCan cause a skin reaction to some
Offers longer protectionTakes longer to work
Feels thinner and lighter against the skinHas a higher chance of redness for people who are prone to rosacea

Whichever sunscreen type you choose, just make sure that it offers Broad Spectrum UVA and UVB protection and has an SPF level of 15 or higher as recommended by the FDA. Also, you need to reapply at least every 2 hours. 

Don’t have the time to check labels?

We searched for you.

Here is the list of the best sunscreen for swimming

What Are The Best Sunscreens for Swimming?

Best Overall: TropicSport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

Are you looking for a great mineral sunscreen? Then here’s your top choice. It has an SPF 30 Broad Spectrum, offering strong protection against UVB and UVA. Plus, it has natural and organic ingredients. So guaranteed it’s gentle to the skin, making it ideal for your kids and the whole family. 

ProsCons
Offers UVA and UVB protectionSome customers did not like how it felt or look on their skin
Water-resistant (80 minutes) and reef-friendly
Made with natural ingredients and has a convenient packaging

This sunscreen is strong enough to protect you from the extreme rays of the sun and gentle enough to keep your skin healthy and moisturized. You can swim with it for 80 minutes before reapplying. Moreover, since it doesn’t contain Octinoxate, Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, or Octocrylene, it’s safe for the reef and ocean. 

Also, unlike other mineral sunscreens, the TropicSport is silky smooth that’s fully absorbed by your skin. More importantly, it does not leave any white residue so you don’t have to worry about looking like a “ghost” while swimming. 

Best For Sensitive Skin: Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen

Price: $28.99 ($3.31 / Fl Oz)
  • Apply to dry skin
  • Blue Lizard

If you have sensitive or dry skin, the Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen is perfect for you. It has no chemical absorbers, no parabens, and no fragrances. Thus, the chance of skin irritations is lower. Also, it is UVB and UVA Broad Spectrum SPF 30, providing you protection from head to toe while swimming. 

ProsCons
Offers UVA and UVB protectionWater-resistant for only 40 minutes
Great for sensitive and dry skin and for babies tooMight be too greasy for some
Reef-friendly

This sunscreen has no Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, making it reef-friendly. Now, depending on how you look at it, this product does not have scents or perfumes – which makes it great for babies too. 

The downside, however, is that it has a shorter water-resistant level. It can only work for 40 minutes while you’re in the water before needing to reapply. Also, other people didn’t like the product’s thick texture as it came off as too greasy. 

Most Recommended: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch

Price: $8.97 ($2.99 / Fl Oz)
You save: $2.02 (18%)
  • 3-fluid ounce bottles of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Non-Greasy Sunscreen with SPF 100+ that helps defend against the signs of sun and decrease the risk of skin cancer when used as directed
  • This lightweight sunscreen is fast-absorbing with Dry-Touch technology for a non-greasy, matte finish and is formulated with Helioplex for superior sun protection for your skin
  • From the #1 dermatologist-recommended suncare brand, this sunscreen is also available in both spray and stick form and can be used at the pool or in the ocean for up to 80 minutes of water-resistance
  • Sunscreen lotion formula uses Avobenzone for optimal broad-spectrum protection from skin-aging UVA rays and skin-burning UVB rays for both your body and face
  • Both PABA-free and non-comedogenic, this lightweight sunscreen is suitable for all skin types and provides powerful face and body sun protection without the heavy finish

Want the highest SPF possible? The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch has a Broad Spectrum SPF of 100+. Thus, guaranteed you are well-protected while enjoying the sun. It uses Avobenzone which allows it to provide optimal protection against UVA and UVB. It effectively prevents sunburns and skin-aging. 

ProsCons
Offers UVA and UVB protectionSome may experience skin irritation
Water-resistant (80 minutes)
Lightweight and non-greasy, and does not clog pores

This sunscreen is lightweight and has a matte finish. So it wouldn’t feel greasy when applied. It also has 80 minutes of water-resistance and absorbs pretty fast. With all its features and benefits, this is the top Suncare brand recommended by dermatologists. 

There are, however, some users who said they experienced skin irritations with the product. So we recommend checking the products’ ingredients first before making a purchase.  

Well-Rated Non-Mineral: Seven Minerals Sunscreen Lotion

Price: $14.95 ($14.95 / Count)
  • ⚡⚡⚡ LAUNCH SPECIAL - get it for $14.95 (normally $19.95) ✅OCEAN FRIENDLY - Made in the USA with reef safe ingredients and bottled in 100% recycled plastic collected from the coastlines of Haiti, Honduras and Mexico. A safe-for-you sun block that cares about your skin and our planet.
  • ✅EWG SCORE = 3 (Best in Class Non-Mineral Spf 50 Sunscreen) - Nourish and moisturize your skin with our unique mix of added skin friendly ingredients. Each bottle is blended with Aloe Vera Gel, Green Tea Extract, Watermelon Extract, Coconut Oil, Mango Butter and Vitamin E to keep your skin moisturized and safe from the sun.
  • ☀️RELIABLE PROTECTION - Water resistant up to 80 minutes with SPF50 broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. This kid friendly sun screen is made without oxybenzone, a harmful chemical in sunscreens that absorbs into your body through your skin up to 100x more than other common sunscreen ingredients.
  • ✅FACE FRIENDLY - Our non-comedogenic sunscreen is dermatologist tested and rated safe for sensitive skin. Strong enough to protect from skin damaging sun rays, gentle enough for delicate skin. Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, Retinyl Palmitate, Paraben, & Cruelty Free.
  • ✅ GUARANTEED TO PERFORM - Start using your Seven Minerals Sunscreen Lotion the moment it arrives. Love it or we’ll refund every cent. Order Now.

Here’s a top-rated non-mineral sunscreen that works well if you have sensitive skin. It has a Broad Spectrum SPF 50, effectively protecting you from the harmful effects of the sun. It also contains aloe vera gel, coconut oil, mango butter, watermelon extract, green tea extract, and vitamin E. Thus, you’re not only protected but your skin is also well-moisturized and well-nourished.

ProsCons
Offers UVA and UVB protectionMight be too oily and sticky for others
Water-resistant (80 minutes)
Moisturizes skin and good for kids too

This is a sunscreen that’s kid-friendly and ocean-friendly. It does not have Oxybenzone, Paraben, Octinoxate, and Retinyl Palmitate. So it’s also safe to put on your face. Moreover, it has a water-resistance of up to 80 minutes. So with this sunscreen on, you have more time to swim and enjoy the water before needing to reapply. The only downside is that some people might find this lotion oily and sticky. 

Most Affordable: Australian Gold Sunscreen Lotion with Instant Bronzer SPF 30

Australian Gold Sunscreen Lotion with Instant Bronzer SPF 30, 8 Ounce | Broad Spectrum | Water Resistant | Non-Greasy | Oxybenzone Free | Cruelty Free
Price: $9.99 ($1.25 / Ounce)
  • Try our new and improved product formula!
  • UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum protection, Water Resistant (80 minutes), Oxybenzone Free, Cruelty Free
  • Instant Bronzer: Imparts a golden hue to skin for immediate color that washes away after use.
  • Australian Naturals: Kakadu Plum and Tea Tree Oil, both powerful antioxidants, help protect skin from free radicals.
  • Moisturizers: Sunflower Seed Oil and Olive Fruit Oil work to deeply moisturize for smooth, hydrated skin.
  • Fragrance: Take an instant vacation with the signature Cocoa Dreams fragrance, combined of Coconut, Orange and Vanilla.

If you want to look tanned while swimming at the beach, pool, or just hanging out at your back patio, here’s the sunscreen that’s perfect for you. It has an instant bronzer that gives your skin an immediate golden glow.

While this may not last and washes away after use, it will make you look good throughout the whole day. But more importantly, it will protect you from the sun.

ProsCons
Offers UVA and UVB protectionNew product formula
Water-resistant (80 minutes)
Instant bronzer, moisturizes skin and it smells good

With Broad Spectrum SPF 30, this sunscreen is a wonder. Aside from its instant bronzer, it is also made with sunflower seed oil and olive fruit oil. Meaning, it offers deep moisturization that results in smooth and hydrated skin. On top of that, this sunscreen smells great. It has Australia Gold’s signature “Cocoa Dreams” fragrance combined with vanilla, orange, and coconut. 

That said, this is a new and (hopefully) improved product formula. So there are still no reviews or comments about it yet. However, if you’re familiar with Australia Gold, you’d know they only offer quality products.

For your reference, here’s their last Sunscreen Lotion with Infused Bronzer.

Best Sunscreen For Swimming – Final Thoughts

Choosing the right sunscreen for your skin type is crucial in protecting yourself against harmful UV rays. Hopefully, our list was able to help you find the best sunscreen for you.

We highly recommend using the TropicSport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion or the Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen for those with sensitive skin.

Did Not Find The Sunscreen You’re Looking For? Check These Out.

Product name Rating Price
Banana Boat Ultra Sport Reef Friendly Sunscreen Spray, Broad Spectrum SPF 50, 6 Ounces - Twin Pack Banana Boat Ultra Sport Reef Friendly Sunscreen Spray, Broad Spectrum SPF 50, 6 Ounces - Twin Pack
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$12.97 ($1.08 / Ounce)
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for Sensitive or Acne-Prone Skin, Oil-Free, Dermatologist-Recommended Mineral-Based Zinc Oxide Formula, 1.7 oz EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for Sensitive or Acne-Prone Skin, Oil-Free, Dermatologist-Recommended Mineral-Based Zinc Oxide Formula, 1.7 oz
()
$28.00 ($16.47 / Ounce)
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+, 3 fl. oz Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+, 3 fl. oz $8.97 ($2.99 / Fl Oz)
Coppertone SPORT Continuous Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (5.5 Ounce per Bottle, Pack of 2) (Packaging may vary) Coppertone SPORT Continuous Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (5.5 Ounce per Bottle, Pack of 2) (Packaging may vary)
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$11.97 ($1.09 / Ounce)
Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 Water-Resistant Sunscreen Body Spray with Broad Spectrum SPF 50, PABA-Free, Oxybenzone-Free & Fast-Drying, Superior Sun Protection, 6.5 oz Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 Water-Resistant Sunscreen Body Spray with Broad Spectrum SPF 50, PABA-Free, Oxybenzone-Free & Fast-Drying, Superior Sun Protection, 6.5 oz
()
$8.97 ($1.38 / Ounce)
Banana Boat Ultra Sport Reef Friendly Sunscreen Lotion, Broad Spectrum SPF 50, 12 Ounces Banana Boat Ultra Sport Reef Friendly Sunscreen Lotion, Broad Spectrum SPF 50, 12 Ounces
()
$9.97 ($0.83 / Fl Oz)
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 45, TSA-Compliant travel Size, 3 fl. oz, Pack of 2 Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 45, TSA-Compliant travel Size, 3 fl. oz, Pack of 2
()
$13.49 ($2.25 / Fl Oz)
Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion | Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E | 8 oz Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion | Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E | 8 oz
()
$15.99 ($2.00 / Fl Oz)
Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion Sunscreen, Moisturizing Broad-Spectrum Protection, SPF 30, 8 Ounces Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion Sunscreen, Moisturizing Broad-Spectrum Protection, SPF 30, 8 Ounces
()
$7.42 ($0.93 / Fl Oz)
Coppertone SPORT Continuous Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Multipack (5.5 Ounce Bottle, Pack of 3) Coppertone SPORT Continuous Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Multipack (5.5 Ounce Bottle, Pack of 3)
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$19.46 ($1.18 / Ounce)

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