Best sunscreen for 2020: Banana Boat, Neutrogena, Alba Botanica and more – CNET

As the summer months roll on, more and more of us are venturing out into the sun to get our daily dose of vitamin D. And I don’t know about you, but after months of being in COVID-19 quarantine, I don’t think I’ve ever been this pale. So before you put on your face mask and head outside into the summer sun, make sure to apply sunscreen.

Approximately 40% of Americans rarely or never wear sunscreen, according to a recent survey of more than 2,000 people. That’s pretty awful considering all of the ways the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can harm your skin — including sunburn, skin cancerwrinkles and sagging. And the sun can even make your tattoos fade. Everyone should use sun protection and wear sunscreen, regardless of your skin tone or skin type, because even if you have darker skin, anyone can get skin cancer. 

There are so many brands and options out there from chemical sunscreen to mineral sunscreen and physical sunscreen options, that choosing the best sunscreen to protect you from the sun’s damaging rays can be daunting. The list below just scratches the surface, highlighting some of the top dermatologist-recommended and best-selling sunscreens on Amazon, plus a few formulas that make sunscreen much more palatable to wear. Looking for a sunscreen product that’s just for your face? Check out our guide to the best face sunscreen.

Before we get to the list, let me add a quick note about sunscreen ingredients. There has been a general concern over chemical sunscreens that use a handful of ingredients, including (but not limited to) oxybenzone, avobenzone and homosalate, and how much our bodies can absorb these ingredients when they are on our skin. CNET’s Amanda Capritto gives you the full run-down of the safety of sunscreen ingredients here.

For the purposes of this list, which I’ll update periodically, I am including both chemical and mineral sunscreens, as both are deemed safe to use as of this publishing.

Read more: What is the best SPF for sunscreen? The guidelines for 2020  


Do you avoid sunscreen because you hate rubbing in a thick, greasy lotion? Then try this. Coppertone’s whipped sunscreen comes out as a foam, similar to shaving cream or hair mousse, and contains moisturizing ingredients to make your skin feel soft, not sticky or greasy while offering UVA and UVB protection.

Most other foam sunscreens hail from higher-end brands, like Supergoop and Evy, so it’s nice to see this kind of formula from a drugstore brand — and for less than $10 to boot.

Banana Boat

Greasy sunscreens are so 2019 — now you can find many sunscreens that feel like (and blend into your skin like) a moisturizing lotion. One of them is Banana Boat’s new Light as Air sunscreen, which goes on clear. This SPF 50 sunscreen promises to absorb quickly into your skin and absorb oil so that it actively keeps you feeling dry while providing sun protection.

It’s available in a spray, lotion and face sunscreen formula, as well as a spray sunscreen for your hair and scalp.


Zinc sunscreens have come a long way from those pasty lotions that left a sheen of white behind. EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen uses only zinc oxide to reflect harmful UV rays off your skin so they don’t cause skin damage. This sunscreen is loved by Amazon reviewers because it rubs in clear. It’s also oil-, fragrance- and paraben-free, so it’s a good sun protection choice for anyone with sensitive skin or oily skin.


Kids rarely want to sit still long enough for you to apply (and reapply) sunscreen. But this sunscreen for kids goes on quickly and is meant to work on wet skin. The spray cuts through water to adhere to skin, so applying sunscreen is easy and your kids stay protected even as they spend all day getting in and out of the pool or ocean.

On Amazon, you can find a two-pack for $16.

Blue Lizard

Doctors recommend that you limit your baby’s sun exposure by having them wear a wide-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing and keeping them in the shade. But even with those precautions, it’s still recommended to use sunscreen, generally when they are six months and older. 

Once they reach the six-month milestone, you can use sunscreen to protect them from the sun’s rays, but stick to formulas that are free of dyes and scents and that use minerals (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) for sun protection.

This Blue Lizard mineral sunscreen formula checks all of those boxes for sunscreen for babies and the bottle turns pink in the sun, to give you a nudge to reapply.


Sport and water-resistant sunscreen products can feel thick and greasy, but I like Neutrogena’s Beach Defense line because it’s lightweight, water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and smells like a tropical beverage. The spray is easy to apply and comes in SPF 30, 70 or 100. The line is also available as a lotion sunscreen or stick.

If you want or need a sport sunscreen without a scent, try Banana Boat’s Simply Protect Sports sunscreen, which is fragrance-free.


Looking for a sports sunscreen that doesn’t feel thick or greasy? This is a good bet. Coppertone’s Ultra Guard is a popular sports sunscreen lotion that’s both water resistant and moisturizing, thanks to vitamin E. It promises to never be greasy and protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.

Alba Botanica

The state of Hawaii; Key West, Florida; and a few island nations have banned some common sunscreens because a scientific study found that they can kill coral. Currently, none of these bans are in effect — the two in the US start in 2021. However, some companies are selling “reef-safe” sunscreens that abide by the ban.

If you are heading somewhere that requires reef-safe sunscreen, this broad spectrum sunscreen from Alba Botanica is a good pick to protect you from the sun’s UVB rays and UVA rays. This sunblock is also fragrance-free (perfect if most artificial scents give you a headache) and certified as gluten-free, for those who have severe sensitivities to gluten.

Note that these products are independently chosen by our editors and based on extensive research into the available options in the marketplace. The prices may change.

More skin care and summer coverage

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.