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Best Sunscreens, Water-Resistant

All of the water-resistant sunscreens on this list were chosen because they provide broad-spectrum sun protection that maintains itself for a certain period of time when/if skin becomes wet (think swimming or perspiring). In addition, these best sunscreens provide:

  • Provide broad-spectrum sun protection and be rated SPF 30+ or greater.
  • Protect skin from UVA damage with one or more of the right active ingredients.
  • Unique characteristics that enhance its wearability.
  • If labeled as such, contain ingredients that make it water-resistant.
  • Contain minimal to no fragrance.

When it comes to water-resistant sunscreens, there are two classifications to keep in mind:

  • Sunscreens labeled "water-resistant" are capable of maintaining their SPF rating for 40 minutes of prolonged water exposure.
  • Sunscreens labeled "very water-resistant" are capable of maintaining their SPF rating for 80 minutes of prolonged water exposure.

Additional qualities that push it into four-star (best-rated) category are the inclusion of meaningful amounts of repairing, cell communicating or antioxidant ingredients as well as unique characteristics that enhance its wearability.

“Sunscreens” are differentiated from “Daytime Moisturizers with SPF” by three primary qualities.

  • They must be marketed as “sunscreens” only by the brand.
  • They lack specific anti-aging claims.
  • Their size is greater than 2 ounces, unless it is specifically called out as a sunscreen for the face and is not positioned as a facial/daytime moisturizer with SPF.

Below are the standardized criteria for assessing the ratings of sunscreen formulas.

One Star (must meet three or more of these characteristics)

  • Lacks broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.
  • Formula contains multiple potential irritants and/or is highly fragranced.
  • Contains potential irritants that have a higher risk of damage to skin (i.e. denatured alcohol, lavender and citrus oils) .
  • Lacks additional beneficial antioxidants.
  • Is aesthetically displeasing.
  • Packaged in a jar.

Two Stars (meets SPF range + two other requirements)

  • Provides SPF 20 or lower broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection.
  • Contains some potential irritants (including fragrance) but in limited amount (towards the lower middle or end of the ingredient list).
  • Lacks additional beneficial antioxidants.
  • Packaged in a jar.

Three Stars (must meet SPF minimum + two other requirements)

  • Provides SPF 20-30 broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection.
  • Contains little to no potential irritants (lower end of the ingredient list), including minimal to no fragrance.
  • Has pleasant aesthetics to enhance wearability and encourage daily use.
  • Contains beneficial antioxidants to enhance free-radical protection and/or other beneficial ingredients.
  • Has packaging that protects its ingredients from air and light exposure and/or enhance application/dispensing.

Four Stars (must meet SPF minimum + three or more other requirements)

  • Provides SPF 30 or greater broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection.
  • Contains little to no potential irritants (lower end of the ingredient list) and preferably no fragrance or fragrant plant extracts/oils.
  • Appealing or unique aesthetics to enhance wearability or other enhancements that differentiate it from the average sunscreen.
  • Contains meaningful amounts of beneficial antioxidants to enhance free-radical protection and/or other repairing/cell-communicating ingredients.
  • Has packaging that protects its ingredients from air and light exposure.

ANY water-resistant sunscreen, even those labeled waterproof (a claim the FDA states is misleading because all sunscreens eventually break down on wet skin), must be reapplied at regular intervals to maintain the level of sun protection stated on the label. Even if you're not swimming or perspiring for long, once you towel off, you need to reapply the water-resistant sunscreen if you plan to remain outdoors. The same is true for anyone engaging in vigorous outdoor activities during daylight hours.

585623-IIS1 v1.0.0.411 8/30/2015 5:42:31 PM