What is the best sunscreen for camping?

Sun & Tanning

The average adult needs to use enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass. Even if you properly apply sunscreen, you should wear clothing to protect your skin when in the Sun.

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The best sunscreen to take camping

When packing your bag for your next outdoor excursion, don’t underestimate the importance of choosing a good sunscreen. Even if trees surround you and there are clouds overhead, your skin will still absorb harmful UV rays from the sun. 

Depending on the activities you’ll engage in on your camping trip, you may need to opt for a waterproof sunscreen or one that’s easy to pack with you on long hikes. By taking a few minutes to understand how sunscreen works and what types of sunscreen are available, you’ll equip yourself to have a fun, safe camping trip.

How does sunscreen work?

Organic vs. inorganic filters

All sunscreens contain active ingredients that serve to filter out the sun’s harmful UV rays. Organic filters, like salicylates and benzophenones, absorb the UV radiation and safely turn it into small amounts of heat. Inorganic filters, like titanium oxide or zinc oxide, scatter UV radiation away from the skin. 

What does SPF mean?

Sun protection factor is the measure of the protection a sunscreen offers from sunburn. Many believe that SPF relates to the amount of time you can spend in the sun before reapplying sunscreen, but this isn’t true. In general, you need to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours.

The FDA recommends an SPF of at least 15, but you’ll want an SPF of 30 or higher if you plan to be out between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. or have especially fair skin. 

What is broad-spectrum sunscreen?

There isn’t just one kind of UV radiation you have to protect yourself from; UVA and UVB rays from the sun can both be dangerous. Only sunscreens that are labeled “broad-spectrum” help protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.

Special considerations for camping

Some sunscreens may leave a wet layer of the product on your skin, and others will dry. If you’re engaging in activities that may stir up dust or dirt, having wet sunscreen on your skin can be bothersome.

If you plan on swimming, you’ll want water-resistant sunscreen. Water-resistant sunscreen can last up to 80 minutes before you have to reapply, even if you’ve been in and out of water.

Best sunscreen for camping

Sunscreen comes in many forms. Some of the most popular are sunscreen lotions, sunscreen sprays and sunscreen sticks.

Best sunscreen lotions for camping

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SynchroShield Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50+

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SynchroShield Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50+

Shiseido’s SynchroShield lotion is SPF 50, broad-spectrum and water-resistant for 80 minutes. SynchroShield is light, doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy and works smoothly underneath makeup. It also has a comfortable cooling effect. Sold by Sephora and Macys

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Milk

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Milk

The Anthelios 60 provides SPF 60 protection that leaves your skin feeling smooth and hydrated. This water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen is packed with antioxidants that help protect the skin from UV rays. Sold by Ulta and Amazon

Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 50

Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 50

This lotion is another broad-spectrum option with an exceptionally high SPF. It’s water-resistant and spreads easily but is slightly runny compared to other options in the same price range. Sold by Sephora and Supergoop!

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, Broad-Spectrum SPF 100

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, Broad-Spectrum SPF 100

Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Sunscreen will cost you less than $15 but has a higher SPF than lotions that cost three times as much. It’s water-resistant, dries fast, isn’t oily and has a pleasant scent that isn’t overpowering. Sold by Amazon and Ulta

Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Body Lotion Broad-Spectrum SPF 70

Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Body Lotion Broad-Spectrum SPF 70

This sunscreen isn’t just for the beach. It provides broad-spectrum protection with an impressive SPF, and it’s water-resistant, making it perfect for any camping trip. The Beach Defense Body Lotion is oil-free and dries quickly; on top of all that, it’s less than $10 at some online retailers. Sold by Amazon

Best sunscreen sprays for camping

Supergoop! Sun Defying Sunscreen Oil with Meadowfoam SPF 50

Supergoop! Sun Defying Sunscreen Oil with Meadowfoam SPF 50

This easy-to-apply broad-spectrum option is water-resistant and helps lock in moisture, meaning it’s an excellent choice for those with dry skin. Some users report skin irritation, so this may not be a great choice if you have sensitive skin. Sold by Amazon

Clarins Sunscreen Care Milk Lotion Spray Broad-Spectrum SPF 50

Clarins Sunscreen Care Milk Lotion Spray Broad-Spectrum SPF 50

Clarins Milk Lotion leaves your skin feeling moisturized and refreshed; it also has a high SPF and protects against UVA and UVB rays. One drawback of this sunscreen is that it isn’t water-resistant. Sold by Amazon

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+

You can spray this water-resistant option directly onto the face or even the hair, but some users report that it stung when it got in their eyes. Still, this spray-on sunscreen provides adequate protection in even harsh conditions and doesn’t clog your pores. Sold by Sephora and Macy’s

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 100

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 100

Much like its lotion counterpart, the Ultra Sheer Body Mist provides protection comparable to sprays that cost three times as much. This spray offers broad-spectrum, water-resistant protection for less than $20. Sold by Ulta and Amazon

Best sunscreen sticks for camping
 

EiR NYC All Natural Surf Mud Pro Stick SPF 50

EiR NYC All Natural Surf Mud Pro Stick SPF 50

This dry, broad-spectrum sunscreen doesn’t melt in the sun and can be easily packed away for hikes or other outdoor activities. It smells great but doesn’t irritate the skin and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Sold by Amazon

 

Neutrogena Beach Defense Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Stick SPF 50

Neutrogena Beach Defense Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Stick SPF 50

Like the lotion, this stick is water-resistant and dries quickly. It’s less than $10 at most retailers, making it one of the more affordable sticks out there. Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Best child’s sunscreen for camping
 

California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30

California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30

This sunscreen is free of most allergens and contains titanium dioxide but not zinc oxide. It’s perfect for babies with sensitive skin; it’s also broad-spectrum and water-resistant, making it an ideal camp sunscreen for babies. Sold by Amazon

Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

The Pure and Free broad-spectrum lotion is water-resistant and great for sensitive skin; it even has the Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. Sold by Amazon

Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50

Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50

Aveeno Kids is a fragrance-free sunscreen that doesn’t irritate children’s eyes. This water-resistant lotion offers broad-spectrum protection, and it’s made with oats to soothe skin. Sold by Amazon

Cody Stewart is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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