Last Updated on March 13, 2021
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.
Our Top Picks At A Glance
Things to Consider When Choosing a Sunscreen
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.
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.
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:
- Titanium dioxide
- Trolamine salicylate
- Padimate O
- Zinc oxide
- Aminobenzoic acid
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:
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.
|Best for individuals with sensitive skin, melasma, and for children||Tends to leave a white film on your skin and may cause breakouts|
|Works fast||Longer to apply|
|Can be used with other skin-care products and make-up||Needs to be reapplied more frequently compared to chemical|
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.
|Quick and easy application, and requires less amount for protection||Can cause a skin reaction to some|
|Offers longer protection||Takes longer to work|
|Feels thinner and lighter against the skin||Has 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
- ECO and REEF-FRIENDLY - Tropicsport sunscreen is reef friendly & safe, made without harsh active chemical ingredients. We spent 6 years formulating our sunscreen lotion so that it is Oxybenzone free,...
- BEST WATER RESISTANCE - Passes both the U.S. 80-minute and more stringent Australian 240-minute water resistance tests. That means it lasts up to 3x longer than other sunscreens. No other sunscreen...
- SAFE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY - approved for use by adults and children 6 months and older. Our baby sunscreen is gentle on sensitive skin and for children under 6 months old, ask a doctor before using....
- GOES ON CLEAR, GOES A LONG WAY - No thick, goopy white look. We use high quality Zinc which dries clear or sheer on your skin. Mineral sunscreen goes a long way because you use less of it. Our...
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.
|Offers UVA and UVB protection||Some 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
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.
|Offers UVA and UVB protection||Water-resistant for only 40 minutes|
|Great for sensitive and dry skin and for babies too||Might be too greasy for some|
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
- 3-fluid ounce bottle 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 caused by the sun when used...
- This lightweight & sheer 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
- Packaging and formulation may vary. This sunscreen lotion helps prevent sunburn and when used as directed, may help decrease the risk of skin cancer caused by the sun
- Both PABA-free and non-comedogenic, this lightweight sunscreen provides powerful face and body sun protection without the heavy finish, making it great to use for daily sun protection.
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.
|Offers UVA and UVB protection||Some 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
- ✅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...
- ✅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,...
- ☀️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...
- ✅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....
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.
|Offers UVA and UVB protection||Might 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
- SOFT ON SKIN - SPF 30 formula with Sunflower Seed Oil, Olive Fruit Oil & Cocoa Seed Butter is designed to provide ultimate hydration that deeply moisturizes the skin, and the caramel bronzer imparts a...
- AUSTRALIAN NATURALS - A rich blend of Kakadu Plum extract with highest content of Vitamin C, and Tea Tree Oil, a powerful antioxidant, fights off free radicals and leaves skin fresh; Comes in a...
- BROAD SPECTRUM SUNBLOCK shields the skin from both UVA and UVB rays and reduces the adverse effects of sunlight; Generously apply this lightweight, non-greasy sun protector lotion 15 minutes before...
- QUICK-DRY FORMULA - This tanning lotion provides direct application control and gets easily absorbed by the skin; It is water resistant, up to 80 minutes
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.
|Offers UVA and UVB protection||New 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.
- Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection
- Oil-free formula
- Native Australian Acacia Extract provides antioxidant benefits
- Water Resistant – 80 minutes
For your reference, here’s their last Sunscreen Lotion with Infused Bronzer.
FAQs About Sunscreen
When should I apply sunscreen before swimming?
It is recommended that you go swimming 20 minutes after you apply sunscreen. Whether you are going to swim at the beach or in your swimming pool at home, it’s best to wait at least 20 minutes before you dip into the water to get the most out of your sunscreen.
Can I skip moisturizer and use sunscreen?
If you’re using a sunscreen that has the same consistency as a moisturizer and enough protection indexes, you can skip the use of any moisturizer. However, if for some reason you start experiencing dry skin, it’s suggested that you add moisturizer back to your skincare routine.
Is sunscreen with SPF 50 enough?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the minimum SPF your sunscreen should have is SPF 15. However, if you’re outside daily, you should use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 as recommended by the AAD.
Using SPF 50 is more than enough and should effectively block about 98% of the sun’s harmful rays or its UVB rays and can be used for most outdoor activities.
Final Thoughts About Sunscreens For Swimming
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.
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