Best Sunscreens for Runners – How To Protect Your Skin When Running Outside

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As runners, we are careful to protect our feet and bodies from the elements with the right shoes and gear. Our skin is just as important.

Do you remember to protect your skin?

Think about all the time we spend outside running miles. We should be wearing sunscreen, even on cloudy days. So, why is it so important, and what’s are the best sunscreens for runners?

Quick Look: Our Top Picks

Why Sunscreen is Important

Protecting your skin from the sun is very important. The sun puts off ultraviolet rays that are harmful to your skin. UVA and UVB rays can cause premature aging, skin discolorations, and skin cancer.

Did you know that you can be affected by the rays on cloudy days too? Clouds only block the visible light, not the ultraviolet rays. It’s so important to wear sunscreen every time you are outside, whether it’s cloudy or sunny.

Even if you are not prone to sunburns, the sun can still cause damage to your skin. And, there are certain ingredients in medications that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Each year more than 3.3 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, wearing sunscreen daily not only reduces the risk of skin cancer, but it also prevents sunburns and helps reduce premature aging.

UVA & UVB Rays

UVA and UVB rays can damage your skin in different ways. This is why you need protection from both of them.

UVA Rays

  • Can pass through window glass

  • Are present all day, every day of the year

  • Causes long-term skin damage

  • Penetrates deep into the thickest layer of skin

UVB Rays

  • Cannot pass through window glass

  • Are more intense in the summer, the middle of the day, and near the equator

  • Causes sunburn and tanning

  • Only reach the superficial layer of skin

What Should You Look For In A Sunscreen

There are several features that you should look for in a sunscreen.

The first is broad-spectrum coverage. Broad-spectrum coverage means that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. This protection will help to reduce your risk of sunburn, skin cancer, and aging.

The next element is the SPF. SPF means sun protection factor. The numbers refer to the product’s ability to screen or block out the sun’s burning rays. You should look for a sunscreen that has an SPF above 30. The higher the SPF, the longer you can stay out in the sun.

Water-resistant is a huge thing to look for. You don’t want your sweat to make your sunscreen run into your eyes. Trust me, it will burn! Most sunscreens tell on the label how long it is water-resistant.

If you have oily or breakout-prone skin, you should choose a mineral-based sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Sunscreens that contain zinc oxide work immediately when applied. Sunscreens that do not contain zinc oxide can take up to 20 minutes to start blocking the sun’s rays.

You should always reapply sunscreen if you are out for more than 90 minutes at a time.

Lotion, Stick, or Spray?

Do they do the same job? Do they all offer the same protection?

With the lotion and the stick, you know exactly where you are covered when you put it on. While you can aim the spray at your body, you lose a lot while you are spraying. So there is no guarantee that you’re totally covered. The spray sunscreen also doesn’t last as long on your body as the others.

The spray goes on lighter and is not sticky on your skin. The lotion, on the other hand, can be very greasy and sticky, and it leaves a white residue that transfers to anything you touch. But, the lotion is moisturizing which is great for dry skin. The stick goes on drier and won’t run.

As far as application, the lotion takes a long time to rub in and gets very goopy on hairy areas of your skin. You will also need help in applying it to your back. The spray is more convenient. It can be applied in seconds, dries in seconds, and you can spray your own back. The stick is easy to apply and you don’t have to rub it in.

What about price? The lotion is usually cheaper than the spray and the stick.

There is no clear answer on which is better. They all have pros and cons, so it just depends on your personal preference.

Our Top Sunscreen Picks For Runners

Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Sunscreen

Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Spray

Neutrogena sunscreen was designed with new MICROMESH technology. This allows sweat to pass through and evaporate away, while the sunscreen stays in place. The CoolDry Sport sunscreen is sweat and water resistant.

It is oil free, lightweight, and fast-absorbing. This sunscreen comes in the form of a spray, lotion, or stick and you have a choice of 30, 50, or 70 SPF.

Coppertone Sport

Coppertone Sport

This sunscreen is available in 15, 30, or 50 SPF. It is available in a continuous spray, lotion, stick, or lip balm. Don’t forget to show your lips love!

Coppertone Sport sunscreen is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and it won’t cause breakouts or clog pores.

It bonds to your skin on contact and won’t run into your eyes. The rub-free spray dries in minutes, is oil free, and leaves no residue. It is also made with a moisturizing formula that boosts skin hydration.

Coppertone Sport will protect you from UVA and UVB rays.

EltaMD UV Sport

EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen

The EltaMD UV Sport sunscreen has more benefits than just protection from the sun. It also has antioxidant protection that fights aging skin.

This sunscreen is water and sweat resistant so it won’t run into your eyes. It can be applied to both wet and dry skin.

It is oil free, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic so it’s great for sensitive skin. It is a little pricey, but you are getting some extra anti-aging benefits.

EltaMD is also naturally tinted so it doesn’t leave behind a white residue.

Coola Suncare Eco-Lux Sport Sunscreen

Coola Suncare Eco-Lux Sport Sunscreen

Coola sunscreen is infused with anti-aging antioxidants and vitamins. It is water resistant and is made with over 70% certified organic ingredients.

Coola Suncare Eco-Lux Sport Sunscreen was awarded an MVP award for being the best natural sunscreen by Redbook.

Coola is passionate about creating healthy sunscreens that are high performance and nourish your skin. Each sunscreen is made with natural, organic, and locally sourced ingredients that are better for your skin.

Reviewers rave that this sunscreen is great for sensitive skin and not oily or greasy. Coola comes in a naturally scented continuous spray, so you don’t smell like sunscreen.

Thinksport SPF 50 Plus Sunscreen

Thinksport SPF 50 Plus Sunscreen

This sunscreen is free of biologically harmful chemicals. It also has the highest 50 SPF broad – spectrum coverage allowed by the FDA. It is water resistant, applies and absorbs easily and is non-oily.

Thinksport prides themselves on creating safe products that are organic, gluten free, and never tested on animals. They have earned more awards for their sunscreens than any other sun care line.

The Winner

While any of these sunscreens would be a good choice for runners, there is one that stood out above the others.

The winner is: EltaMD

Our choice was based on the fact that this sunscreen is the only one that was created by dermatologists. Who knows skin better?

EltaMD is a mineral sunscreen and is safe for sensitive skin. It also includes transparent zinc oxide and is naturally tinted so there is no white residue. The others did not offer that element.

It is water and sweat resistant so it won’t wash off or run in your eyes during your run.

EltaMD sunscreen was our favorite because it is the only sunscreen that is listed above that’s recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation as effective broad-spectrum sunscreens.

Before you head outdoors for your next run, make sure that your skin is protected!