Best of the Best Sunscreen Brands (from a Pale Redhead)

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Being a ginger has its perks…apparently we have higher pain tolerance, and you get told nearly every time you get a haircut that people pay good money for your natural color (that never gets old, so keep it coming, hair stylists). Unfortunately, being a redhead with blue eyes means that the sun is my natural enemy and that powerful sunscreen is my best friend. In high school my friends used to tease me, asking me in the evenings if I’d applied my moon screen, because I was the one always reapplying my SPF. My son has inherited my hair, eyes, and alabaster skin, so sunscreen is now even more important than ever!

As you can imagine, I’ve tried nearly every sunscreen out there over the years. So based on extensive testing (and obsessively reading reviews), I can confidently recommend you several brands that are the best of the best. I tend to stick to mineral sunscreens (physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) because I have sensitive skin and react to most chemical sunscreens.

Best Overall Sunscreen: Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive, SPF 30+

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide

I love this sunscreen so much. I used to get burnt at the beach every time I went regardless of how often I reapplied, and last summer was the first time I was able to spend hours in the midday sun with not so much as an extra freckle afterwards. In fact, I just came back from a weekend at the beach today, and spent two weeks on the beach in France earlier this summer, and no one in the family has gotten a sunburn! You don’t even have to reapply this stuff like you do with other brands. I’ve never seen Blue Lizard sold in stores around us, but it has a cult following online.

More reasons to love it: the bottle turns blue when UV rays hit it, so there is never any doubt when you need to use it. The sunscreen is fragrance-free and paraben-free, and although it is a mineral sunscreen, it rubs in without leaving residue or making you look like a ghost. You won’t even notice it’s on. It also has a rating of 1 from the EWG, meaning that none of the ingredients pose a health threat and there is a good balance of UVA/UVB protection. Plus, it’s not tested on animals!

Best Sunscreen for Face: Paula’s Choice Hydralight

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide

I apply SPF to my face (but not entire body) every single day, rain or shine. Every sunscreen-containing face cream (especially mineral sunscreens) makes me break out within a week, without fail. Not this one. I will be devoted to this product for life. It makes my skin glow but not shine, hydrates, and has a watery texture that soaks in so easily. I have tried other similar products from Paula’s Choice and sent them back immediately (one of them made my face burn for 30 minutes afterward! The life of sensitive skin…).

I recommend you don’t use Amazon to buy this one, because although they do sell it, Paula’s Choice usually has discount codes floating around the web and frequently have sales, so there is no reason to pay full price!

Best Kids’ Sunscreen: Badger Balm Sunscreen, SPF 30

Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide

Maybe you want to run out and buy a sunscreen that’s widely available right away. This one fits the bill (I got mine at Sprouts, but I’m sure Whole Foods and Target carry it as well). Will your kids look like baby ghosts wearing this? Yes. Will it be adorable? Yes. Can they apply it to themselves? Absolutely.

My daughter goes to a preschool 3 days a week during the school year and I stick this in her backpack. She loves having a sunscreen that’s just for her and I love that she’s so happy to apply it. It’s about as pure ingredient-wise as you can get; there’s nothing in it that I wouldn’t eat, if I had to. Lots of adults use this too, but my daughter loves having one that’s all her own. Plus, look at that adorable mama badger with a baby badger in its backpack. It comes in stick form, too, if you’ve got a squirmer (but the price per ounce is much higher).

If you have a favorite sunscreen brand I would love to hear about it!

xo Kelin

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