Best Cheap Sunscreen

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Vitamin D does a body good, but the sun can also be your worst enemy when it comes to skin problems. Apply sunscreen daily to keep yourself healthy and safe. Get more beauty advice here: 15 Health and Beauty Tips You'll Use the Rest of Your Life

Our Picks

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Pure Sun Defense SPF 50

From $0.75 Best

With packaging featuring animated characters, this sunscreen appeals to kids, but it's a solid choice for all ages. Experts say it's near perfect, and users like that it's fragrance-free and absorbs quickly.

Pure Sun Defense co-founder Hugh Jackman got serious about sun protection following a skin cancer diagnosis in 2013. After having several basal cell carcinoma growths removed from his face and shoulder, the actor and his business partner, Chris Clarke, launched a sunscreen line designed to appeal to both kids and their parents. Although Pure Sun Defense has gotten the press you'd expect for a celebrity-backed venture, it has also impressed experts in performance testing since it was introduced in 2015.

Pure Sun Defense reviews from consumers are few and far between. Usually, this would be a sign to steer clear of a recommendation, but impressively high expert ratings for this dermatologist- and pediatrician-tested lotion got our attention.

Of the online reviews that do exist, nearly all award 5-star ratings to Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 (starting at $5.98 for an 8-ounce tube, or 75 cents an ounce, Amazon). One user asserts on Amazon that Pure Sun Defense performs just as well as a far pricier brand, minus the white residue. While most agree that Pure Sun Defense provides impressive protection, opinions are divided on the texture, which some consider a bit oily. Parents posting reviews on the Walmart website appreciate the mild scent and end up using this sunscreen with the kid-friendly packaging alongside their children.

Pure Sun Defense is designed to be gentle on sensitive skin and be used on both face and body. It's advertised as PABA-free, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free, and users with fair and finicky skin seem satisfied with its follow-through so far. It does contain the active ingredient oxybenzone, which is considered safe by the American Academy of Dermatologists, but at least one other group is wary of it and some companies have removed it from their sunscreen.

Overall, effective sun protection, an affordable price, and wide availability make Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 lotion one of the most appealing sunscreens on the market.

No-Ad Sport SPF 50

From $0.82 Best

No-Ad sunscreen may skip the promos, but positive word-of-mouth and consumer reviews have earned it a cult following. Users like the easy application, non-greasy feel, and broad-spectrum protection it offers.

If you've never heard of No-Ad that might be because the company doesn't spend money on advertising and marketing. Instead, consumers learn about the product through word-of-mouth and online reviews.

Users posting No-Ad reviews on the Walmart site say No-Ad Sport SPF 50 sunscreen (starting at $13.04 for 16 ounces, or 82 cents an ounce, Amazon) goes on easily and absorbs well. It reliably protects people with fair complexions and holds up to water park excursions, long bike rides, and a multitude of other outdoor activities. Sun-seekers particularly appreciate the way No-Ad Sport stays on when exposed to water, be it a river, sweat, or even the rain.

Despite overwhelmingly positive feedback, some No-Ad users do register complaints. We saw grumbling on Viewpoints and other sites about the lotion's smell. One reviewer also warns that leaving it in a hot car or in direct heat for too long can change the texture and affect performance.

Perhaps the chief selling point of No-Ad Sport SPF 50 is the price. Numerous reviews comment appreciatively on the low cost and overall value. A medical student studying to be a dermatologist points out that, given the generous amount of sunscreen that should be applied, price is no small factor in choosing a product. Several reviews claim that No-Ad sunscreen works as well as higher-priced brands.

No-Ad Sport sunscreen lotion is sold only in SPF 50 (although an SPF 30 spray is also available). No-Ad Sport SPF 50 lotion contains aloe and vitamin E, as well as the UVA/UVB fighter avobenzone. As of 2016, retinyl palmitate and parabens have been eliminated from all No-Ad Sun Care products.

No-Ad sunscreen may be a bit harder to find than the big-name brands, but with deals available to purchase a 16-ounce bottle for just under $9, and with strong reviews from users, this is a bargain to snap up whenever you can. Keep a stock for any summertime activity.

Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish SPF 30 Review

From $1 Good

Dermatologists endorse this lotion for its reliable protection of sensitive skin. Users say the lightweight lotion adds a healthy glow, although the scent trends sweet and the brand's a bit harder to find.

As evinced by mostly 5-star ratings in Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish reviews on, this sunscreen is well-liked by scores of users. Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish SPF 30 (starting at $7.99 for 8 ounces, or $1 an ounce; available on Amazon) scores points with consumers for light, non-greasy coverage and broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. In other words, it keeps skin safe from excessive sun exposure and leaves behind an appealing glow.

Reviewers appreciate that this water-resistant sunscreen applies easily, like an everyday body lotion. Vitamins A, C, and E and sea-plant extracts have been added for moisturizing and anti-aging effect. Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish reviews commonly mention the product's suitability for sensitive skin. Fans of this sunscreen say it is gentle enough for faces, safeguarding their complexions as well as the rest of their skin, and doesn't sting eyes.

Although many consumers enjoy the sugary smell -- one poster likens it to a creamsicle -- others disagree. One reviewer appreciates the sunscreen's price and sun protection but decries what she describes as a bubble gum scent. In another Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish review on Amazon, a user complains that this lotion makes users smell like candy.

Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish sunscreen is readily available online at sites such as and Amazon, although consumers will find it absent from many store shelves. It comes in SPF levels ranging from 15 to 70. This sunscreen boasts additional benefits that may not matter to many budget shoppers but could affect your buying decision. For consumers who worry they're creating a vitamin D deficiency by blocking out the sun, this formula is fortified with vitamin D3. It is also free of oxybenzone, a controversial chemical often used in sunscreens, and isn't tested on animals. These are primary selling points for some users.

Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 Review

From $0.47 Good

This Walmart brand tested among the best when vetted by an expert panel. User reviews are overwhelmingly positive, citing good consistency and reliable sun protection, although some dislike the scent.

Equate Ultra Protection reviews appear primarily on the Walmart website, as Equate is a house brand of the retail giant. Customers have given the SPF 50 lotion (starting at $7.48 for 16 ounces, or 47 cents an ounce; available on Amazon) only a few dozen ratings, but it boasts a near-perfect score. A consumer product testing organization has also rated this product, along with nearly a dozen other sunscreens, and highlighted Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 for its combination of low price and impressive performance. It effectively shielded testers from UVA radiation and stayed true to the SPF on the bottle, which indicates UVB protection.

Walmart markets a range of sunscreens under the Equate brand, but this particular lotion comes only in SPF 50. Equate Ultra Protection gets kudos from Walmart customers for doing what it's supposed to do without irritating skin, even if a few find it slightly tacky post-application. User comments on the Walmart site and a couple on the review site Total Beauty praise Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 for costing less than other popular lotions but providing equal or even greater protection from the sun. The price for the 16-ounce bottle is about the same as the price for a typical 8-ounce, brand-name bottle and buys twice as much sunscreen. Some reviewers mention the pleasant smell of the sunscreen -- a plus in a category plagued by stinky, or at least polarizing, bouquets. The only negative feedback we could find was one Equate Ultra Protection review on Amazon that complained of staining. No other users cite that as an issue.

Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 sunscreen contains oxybenzone, so consumers who are chemically sensitive or prefer "natural" products may want to keep looking. Otherwise, the hypoallergenic, water-resistant formula should please most budget buyers.

Where to buy

$13.60   $16.00

Coppertone Sport SPF 50 Review

From $1.14 Think Twice

Coppertone Sport gets user kudos for blocking sun and staying put through sweat and swimming. However, a troubling number of users complain that it permanently stains clothing and towels orange.

Coppertone Sport reviews say this line of sunscreens has a lot to offer. Consumer product experts give the spray version props for solid performance blocking both UVA and UVB rays and for holding up to rigorous activity. Users who have posted Coppertone Sport reviews at retail sites such as Amazon and like the SPF 50 lotion (starting at $7.99 for 7 ounces, or $1.14 an ounce; available on Amazon) for the same reasons. A family of self-described redheads with children on the swim team relies on this lotion for outdoor lessons, because it stays on for about an hour in the water (or sweating on the golf course). In addition to the SPF 50 sunscreen in this review, Coppertone Sport lotion comes in SPF 15, 30, 75, and 100. A Coppertone Sport Faces version is formulated for acne-prone skin.

The biggest con to this product -- and the reason it doesn't make our cut -- is the orange or yellowish stains it seems to leave behind on clothing. Even positive Coppertone Sport reviews on the Walmart website include warnings about stains and consumers speculate that the manufacturer must have changed the formula. One customer who posted a review of the SPF 30 lotion on Amazon laments returning from vacation with $200 worth of ruined white clothes. The reviewer adds that soaking the items in bleach did no good.

Coppertone Sport reviews are also divided on the question of whether this water-resistant lotion runs or stays in place. Some reviewers allege that the sunscreen inhibits the cooling-off effect of sweat, suggesting that this isn't the best choice for a hot day at the beach. Consumers also disagree about the scent of Coppertone Sport SPF 50. Some find it mild and palatable while others call it unpleasant.

Coppertone recently released an updated version of the Sport SPF 50 lotion. In addition to shaving an ounce off the bottle size -- going from 8- to 7-ounce packaging -- the company altered the list of ingredients. Most notably, it removed oxybenzone as an active ingredient, as well as other, inactive components such as propylene glycol, triethanolamine, oleth-3, and chlorphenesin. Still unknown is whether or not these changes will eliminate the sunscreen’s tendency to discolor clothing, as this version is still too new to have generated any user reviews.

If you need reliable, broad-spectrum sun protection and don't care too much about your swimwear, this may be the sunscreen for you. If you don't want to worry about investing in a new warm-weather wardrobe every time you lotion up, we advise you to just walk by. There are cheaper products that can do the job and don't have a propensity to stain.

Buying Guide

Cheap Sunscreen Buying Guide

Warnings about damage from sun exposure, constant reappraisals of what constitutes "too much sun," and frightening rates of skin cancer have transformed cheap sunscreen from a vacation-only sundry to an everyday must-have. Sunscreens range in price from $5 or $6 to well over $100 for boutique beauty creams. At the low end of that spectrum are popular brands such as Banana Boat, Coppertone, and Hawaiian Tropic. There are also several generics, such as Target's Up & Up brand and Walmart's Equate products, that do surprisingly well in lab testing, earning the respect of both experts and consumers.

Warnings about damage from sun exposure, constant reappraisals of what constitutes "too much sun," and frightening rates of skin cancer have transformed cheap sunscreen from a vacation-only sundry to an everyday must-have. Sunscreens range in price from $5 or $6 to well over $100 for boutique beauty creams. At the low end of that spectrum are popular brands such as Banana Boat, Coppertone, and Hawaiian Tropic. There are also several generics, such as Walmart's Equate products, that do surprisingly well in lab testing, earning the respect of both experts and consumers. In our search for the best cheap sunscreen, we sifted through the research and ratings and found plenty of solid contenders that cost less than $1.50 an ounce for a standard-size bottle (usually 8 ounces).

With so much concern regarding sun safety these days, both store shelves and online marketplaces are overflowing with moisturizers, lotions, and sprays offering varying levels of SPF and UV protection. The prices are as wide-ranging as the varieties, with premium brands easily selling for $10 an ounce and products from ultra-high-end cosmetic houses, such as Sisley and La Mer, commanding as much as $50 an ounce (or more) and promising to miraculously minimize skin aging while fending off the sun's rays. But many low-cost sunscreens protect as well as, or even better than, costlier upmarket brands. Frugal consumers don't have to spend much to get effective sunscreen that meets or exceeds expert recommendations for fending off ultraviolet rays without irritating skin or staining clothes.

To determine which sunscreens give consumers the best bang for their buck and allow for significant differences in package size, we homed in on cost per ounce. While some of these products may be available even cheaper as bulk buys, keep in mind that the lower per-ounce prices require a larger chunk of change up front.

Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 (starting at 75 cents an ounce) and No-Ad Sport SPF 50 (starting at 82 cents an ounce) finished at the top of the class. Two other good cheap sunscreens, Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish SPF 30 (starting at $1 an ounce) and Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 (starting at 47 cents per ounce), also make the grade. On the other end of the spectrum, consumers may want to cross Coppertone Sport SPF 50 (starting at $1.14 an ounce) off their summer shopping lists, lest they wind up with stains on clothes and towels.

Brands such as Neutrogena and Aveeno straddle the upper end of the budget category and the mid-range. While consumers with sensitive skin may consider the extra expense worthwhile, we saw an alarming number of reports of skin rashes from consumers using Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 55 (starting at $2.66 an ounce), despite its higher per-ounce price tag and recommendations from dermatologists. Some sunscreen brands, such as No-Ad and Ocean Potion, are harder to find on drugstore shelves but easily procured online. With a bit of forethought, these top picks can be on hand for trips to the beach or everyday outings.

Chemical Content and Mineral Sunscreens.

Some standard sunscreens, including Ocean Potion, leave out chemicals such as oxybenzone, which has been blacklisted by the Environmental Working Group, although the Skin Cancer Foundation and other expert organizations have declared it safe. Instead, these sunscreens contain other common UV filters such as avobenzone, which has proved highly effective and poses minimal cause for concern. The Pure Sun Defense brand makes a point of marketing its products as PABA-free, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic. Nevertheless, many consumers want to further reduce their overall chemical exposure, preferring "natural," mineral-based sunscreen.

Mineral lotions act as physical repellents, reflecting the sun's rays so the skin doesn't absorb them. Despite the popularity of these formulations -- which generally rely on ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide -- testing by consumer product experts suggests that these lotions are generally less effective than chemical sunscreens. They also tend to work best when applied in a thick and smooth layer, often leaving behind a visible white cast that some users dislike.

Products such as Honest Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50 (starting at $4.65 an ounce) and "bargain"brand Hang Ten Kids Mineral SPF 50 (starting at $2.64 an ounce) demonstrate that "natural" is not an unalloyed good. Not only does the Honest Company brand cost a pretty penny, but buyers have taken to social media in droves to report painful sunburns while using a previous version of this chemical-free product. The company issued an apology, and although a new formula is now on the shelves, some recent reviews still complain of poor performance, and others grouse about the ghostly hue it gives to skin.

Hang Ten Kids Mineral SPF 50 might look tempting for the price, but the Environmental Working Group gives it only fair to moderate scores for UVA/UVB balance and rates the ingredient list as akin to many chemical sunscreens. For frugal consumers concerned about the chemical content of the skin care products they purchase -- perhaps because of personal sensitivity or intended use on very young children -- this lotion seems not to buy much extra assurance. A better choice might be Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+ (starting at $1.62 an ounce), which receives good reviews from experts and users and is one of the cheapest "chemical-free"brands on the market. For those who feel comfortable using conventional sunscreens, we found plenty of effective products for less money. participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.

Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

(from $0.99)
Size 8 ounces
Sun Protection Factor SPF 50
Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Yes
Water Resistance 80 minutes
Noteworthy Ingredients Avobenzone, oxybenzone (PABA-free, fragrance free, hypoallergenic)
(from $0.82)
Size 16 ounces
Sun Protection Factor SPF 50
Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Yes
Water Resistance 80 minutes
Noteworthy Ingredients Avobenzone, oxybenzone, aloe, vitamin E, cocoa seed butter (paraben-free)
(from $1.00)
Size 8 ounces
Sun Protection Factor SPF 30
Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Yes
Water Resistance 80 minutes
Noteworthy Ingredients Avobenzone, vitamin D3, sea-plant extracts, vitamins A, C, and E (oxybenzone-free, paraben-free)
(from $0.47)
Size 16 ounces
Sun Protection Factor SPF 50
Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Yes
Water Resistance 80 minutes
Noteworthy Ingredients Avobenzone, oxybenzone, vitamin E
(from $1.14)
Size 7 ounces
Sun Protection Factor SPF 50
Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Yes
Water Resistance 80 minutes
Noteworthy Ingredients Avobenzone, vitamin E
(from $)
Size 8 ounces
Sun Protection Factor SPF 50+
Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Yes
Water Resistance 80 minutes
Noteworthy Ingredients Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, seed oil blend (no PABA, parabens, fragrances, or nano-particles)
(from $)
Size 3 ounces
Sun Protection Factor SPF 55
Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Yes
Water Resistance 80 minutes
Noteworthy Ingredients Avobenzone, oxybenzone (PABA-free, non-comedogenic)
(from $)
Size 2 ounces
Sun Protection Factor SPF 20
Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Yes
Water Resistance N/A
Noteworthy Ingredients Oxybenzone, vitamin E (added color tint, non-comedogenic)
(from $)
Size 3 ounces
Sun Protection Factor SPF 50
Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection Yes
Water Resistance 80 minutes
Noteworthy Ingredients Zinc oxide, shea butter, coconut oil (no PABA, parabens, fragrances, or nano-particles)

What We Looked For

Lotion vs. Spray Sunscreen.

Many consumers favor spray sunscreens for their ease of application and minimal mess. Spraying is faster than slathering and keeps hands clean. Sprays are convenient for on-the-go athletes and wriggly kids, and they don't rack up the complaints about fabric stains or streaking that some lotions do. However, experts caution that the nearly invisible nature of the mist makes it easy to under-apply the product. And because little is known about the effects of accidental inhalation, organizations such as the American Academy of Dermatology and the Food and Drug Administration recommend traditional lotions over sprays. There is also a risk, although rare, of flammability. In 2012, Banana Boat recalled many of its spray sunscreens after the products ignited on users' skin, and the FDA has recommended that safety precautions be taken when using sprays, particularly those containing alcohol, near an open flame. For these reasons, we chose to focus only on sunscreen lotions.


What is SPF, exactly? The initials stand for sun protection factor. Sunscreens with higher SPF ratings block a higher percentage of the sun's rays. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an SPF 15 sunscreen blocks about 93 percent of the harmful UVB rays responsible for burning skin. SPF 30 sunscreen filters out about 97 percent, while SPF 50 boasts a slightly higher rate of 98 percent. Experts are somewhat divided on how much sun protection to look for when purchasing a cheap sunscreen, although none recommend any lower than SPF 15. The AAD suggests an SPF of 30 or higher, while the American Melanoma Foundation advises that SPF 15 or higher is sufficient for most people.

Most of the cheap sunscreens we recommend are available in a variety of SPFs. The amount of sun exposure a person can tolerate (i.e., the SPF needed) depends on factors including skin type, time of year, time of day (early-afternoon sun is stronger than early-morning sun), and location (geography and terrain). When planning to be outdoors for an extended period or in an area where the sun is particularly strong -- at the shore, say, or in the mountains -- choose a cheap sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. A higher SPF is also a good choice for people who have fair skin, work outdoors, or spend lots of leisure time outside. For everyday use, just walking down the street or traveling in a car, SPF 15 or 20 should be sufficient.

Anything over SPF 50 can lend a false sense of security, as there is no evidence that SPF values higher than 50 provide more benefit. Even jumping from SPF 30 to SPF 50 represents only one percentage point of additional protection. The FDA is considering making "50+" the maximum SPF allowed on sunscreen labels.

Broad-Spectrum Coverage.

Sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum coverage protect skin against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn, but they are not the only threat that healthy skin faces. UVA rays are responsible for premature aging effects, including wrinkles and age spots, and UVA exposure increases the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Because deeper-penetrating UVA rays can pass through windows, it is important to apply sunscreen every day, even if you plan to be indoors, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Under current FDA regulations, sunscreens that protect against both types of UV radiation are labeled "broad spectrum," making it easier for consumers to determine a product's coverage level.

Water Resistance.

The FDA now bans the use of words such as "waterproof" and "sweatproof" on sunscreen packaging, on the grounds that they overstate sunscreens' effectiveness. Instead, sunscreens that remain effective while the wearer is swimming or sweating are labeled "water resistant" and must indicate how long the water resistance lasts (40 minutes or 80 minutes). Choosing a water-resistant sunscreen is especially important if you're planning to be active outdoors. Water sports and other sweat-inducing activities quickly negate the benefit of sunscreens without water-resistant properties.

What We Ignored

Cosmetic Ingredients.

Some attributes of certain sunscreens don't necessarily affect the quality or function of the product but may play into some consumers' buying decisions. Most cheap sunscreens, including all our top picks, contain moisturizing ingredients such as vitamin E, aloe vera, and/or cocoa butter. A few sunscreens, such as Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer SPF 20 (starting at $3.75 an ounce), incorporate these types of moisturizers and, as an added bonus, a bit of self-tanner. Since our focus is on budget and basic protection as opposed to cosmetic benefits, our list leaves off self-tanning sunscreen and other such products.

Sunscreen Reviews

After considering the guidelines set out by authorities such as the FDA and AAD, we began our reading of sunscreen reviews by evaluating what other experts had to say. This included studying the results of hands-on testing by leading consumer advocates and taking into account, with a grain of salt, some of the cautions raised by organizations such as the Environmental Working Group. Next, we scoured user reviews on retail sites such as Amazon, Target, and, among others. In some cases, consumers and experts agreed. In other instances, we found differing opinions as to which products were the best and why. In the end, we narrowed down the list based on the areas that seem to matter most to both experts and consumers.


As with many personal care products, complete agreement about the effectiveness of any given formula is nonexistent among consumer reviewers. How well a sunscreen protects against the sun's nasty ultraviolet rays depends on the formulation but also proper application and SPF level, which must be suited to the user and the situation. Consumers may have to experiment with several products to find the one that works best for them.

That said, there is a general consensus in sunscreen reviews about the value of the budget sunscreens on our list. Pure Sun Defense SPF 50, for example, is declared surprisingly effective at protecting fair skin of all ages in Walmart customer reviews. Fans of No-Ad Sport SPF 50 applaud the lotion's effectiveness in sunscreen reviews on Amazon, saying it performs well in harsh climates or full days spent in the sun. Even cancer survivors, such as a fair-skinned user diagnosed with melanoma and a construction worker who beat leukemia, report that they trust No-Ad over other, better-known sunscreen brands.

Ease of Application.

No sunscreen will be effective if it's not applied properly; that is, carefully and often -- don't be stingy. The FDA and AAD calculate that an average adult male wearing a bathing suit needs 1 ounce (approximately 31 ml) to cover exposed skin. The palm of the hand holds about an ounce, so that's a handy way to judge how much to use. Experts say to apply the first dose at least 15 minutes and no more than 30 minutes before going outside, allowing it just enough time to absorb. After that, reapply the sunscreen about every two hours and always after swimming -- regardless of water resistance or SPF level. Keep reapplication in mind especially if using natural products, as many seem less adept at maintaining protection levels post-swim. Consumer product testing suggests that Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50 drops to an SPF 25 performance level once exposed to water.

Our picks come in lotion or cream form, so ease of application largely depends on the thickness and feel of the product. Although many reviewers consider spray sunscreen easier to apply than a lotion, cream, or gel, the questions raised by the FDA and others about the safety of spray sunscreens outweigh any convenience.

One common complaint about water-resistant sunscreens is that they feel sticky or greasy. To some extent, that's to be expected, but some water-resistant sunscreens are far less sticky than others, according to sunscreen reviews. One good example is Pure Sun Defense, which glides on without being greasy, according to a parent who posted feedback on the Target website. On Amazon, a reviewer with sensitive skin agrees that Pure Sun Defense absorbs wonderfully but says it leaves skin coated in an oily residue.

Staining and Skin Irritation.

Negative sunscreen reviews often cite harm to clothing or skin. On the Walmart website, customers credit Coppertone Sport SPF 50 with providing powerhouse protection but repeatedly ding the sunscreen for staining clothing orange. This product earns just 2.5 out of 5 stars, with more than half of all reviewers reporting stains. Although the product was recently reformulated, as of yet there are no reviews to indicate that this eliminates the risk of discoloration.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch scores with some experts for protection as well as a gentle touch on skin. However, too many consumers complain about skin irritation and rashes after applying this sunscreen. Many are satisfied with the no-sunburn results and like the lotion's effect on their skin, but about one out of every five reviews on Amazon is negative.


For some consumers, the smell of a cheap sunscreen is a decisive factor in the buying decision. Pure Sun Defense and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch win over some users with their light, mild fragrance. Note, however, that no brand seems to escape reviews from users who find the smell off-putting. Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish SPF 30 and Coppertone Sport SPF 50 divide reviewers, with some enjoying their candy-like scents and others finding them unpleasant or even unbearable. Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 also racks up complaints from otherwise happy Walmart customers who dislike its medicinal, minty scent.

Additional Products We Considered

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55 Review

From $2.66

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch (starting at $7.97 for 3 ounces, or $2.66 an ounce; available on Amazon) comes in relatively high SPF levels (30 to 100+) and is sometimes recommended by dermatologists. Although it's a lightweight, non-greasy, non-shiny formula that most reviewers say doesn't clog pores or aggravate pre-existing skin conditions, we suggest passing this one by. A respectable minority of users who have posted reviews on Amazon report that it causes acne breakouts and rashes, and it commands a far higher per-ounce cost than the sunscreens we recommend.

Numerous Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch reviews maintain that this is a good product for faces and works well under makeup. Several consumers with oily skin comment that the lotion doesn't clog pores and keeps their skin from feeling greasy. This sunscreen earns shout-outs for effective protection against UVA and UVB rays, as users report that the formula allows them to tan without burning. The lotion is easy to rub in and doesn't sting eyes or skin, reviewers note.

On the downside, several users gripe about breakouts, rashes, or even chemical burns that they attribute to their use of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 55. Despite a respectable overall rating derived from hundreds of reviews on Amazon, a full quarter give this product only 1 or 2 stars. Most of the negative postings detail bad skin reactions to the Neutrogena formula. On other sites such as, buyers complain that the SPF 55 sunscreen leaves their skin white and chalky. Another con to Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch is the cost. A price tag of about $8 may not seem daunting, but when broken down to cost per ounce, the SPF 55 sunscreen comes in at least $1 to $2 higher than the cheap lotions we recommend.

Like many other sunscreens, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch is a broad-spectrum formula that contains avobenzone and oxybenzone. There are no oils and it's non-comedogenic. A few Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch reviews grumble about the fragrance and describe a sticky feel, along with small white dots that appear when the wearer sweats, despite the fact that this sunscreen is labeled water resistant.

Consumers like the idea of a product that protects the face without causing skin to break out, but for many, this one doesn't do the trick. Think twice about paying the higher price.

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

From $3.89

Just because you need to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays doesn't mean you have to forgo that tanned summertime look. According to reviews, users like the combination of protective SPF, tanner, and moisturizer built into Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer SPF 20. They comment in reviews on Total Beauty about the gentle formula that subtly darkens their facial skin without clogging pores. Users report in sunscreen reviews on sites like Makeup Alley that the formula works for dry skin and oily skin. One consumer reports the lotion clears up the flakiness around her nose and another says it feels smooth without being greasy. (Note, though, that Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer SPF 20 reviews suggest this may not be a good fit for acneic skin.) Several users note in reviews that the natural coloring means they need less makeup and their skin feels nourished and healthy. The sun protection factor is an added bonus, say reviews.

The SPF 20 formula contains oxybenzone, which protects against UVA and UVB rays, and glycerin for the moisturizing effect. It's lightweight, oil-free, and non-comedogenic. Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily SPF 20 (starting at $5.62 for 2 ounces, or $3.89 an ounce; available on Amazon) comes in two skin-tone shades -- fair to medium and medium to tan. Although cautious consumers probably prefer to err on the lighter side when selecting a color, at least one Ulta customer had better luck going a shade darker. She says in a review that she found the results too subtle when using her skin match. Note that some users caution against excessive use, and it's important to follow the directions. On Amazon, a reviewer warns that the product can darken age spots.

Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer SPF 20 is more about tanning and moisturizing than sun protection, but if you want a three-in-one face product at an affordable price, this is it.

Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+

From $1.62

When it comes to the tender skin of babies and small children, no parent wants to take chances. Young kids have thinner skin that is more susceptible to burning, and research suggests that just a few bad sunburns early in life may nearly double the risk of developing skin cancer. Add to this questions about the safety of ingredients in some chemical sunscreens, and choosing sun protection for little ones can become a stressful event.

Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50+ (starting at $12.99 for 8 ounces, or $1.62 an ounce, Amazon) missed our list of recommendations based on expert reviews that rate it only fair when it comes to SPF protection. But hundreds of user reviews are overwhelmingly positive. On Amazon, where the brand earns an average of more than 4 stars from more than 500 ratings, reviewers say the key is to slather it on and reapply often. Some comment on the ghost-like pallor it lends to skin, but say it's worth the cosmetic inconvenience.

This lotion contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients. Both of these mineral components are physical barriers to sunburn, which pediatricians recommend applying to sensitive areas such as the nose, ears, cheeks, and shoulders. Mineral sunscreen proponents should note that the product contains no oxybenzone but is not totally chemical-free. Octisalate, a chemical UV absorber, is included on the list of active ingredients.

Another word of caution: We found more than one complaint on and Amazon that Babyganics sunscreen lotion separates in the tube, especially when exposed to heat for long periods of time. Users should shake the sunscreen before applying and avoid leaving it in a hot car or direct sunlight. Consumer product experts also suggest that the brand's SPF protection level may drop to 25 after exposure to water.

Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen is pricier than many chemical sunscreens but a relatively affordable and highly rated option for consumers who want a "natural" product.

Honest Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

From $4.65

Honest Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 isn't cheap by any measure (starting at $13.95 for a 3-ounce tube, or $4.65 an ounce, Amazon), although subscribers to the Honest Company's bundling service can shave a percentage off that cost. For consumers looking for chemical-free sunscreen, however, the brand's promises and feel-good back story can seem enticing.

The co-founder of the Honest Company, actress Jessica Alba, had extreme skin sensitivities as a child. Wanting to provide safe, toxin-free options for families, she teamed with business partner Christopher Gavigan to create a line of natural health, beauty, and cleaning products. After complaints that the original formulation left chalky streaks, the Honest Company responded with a lotion designed to rub in better. The resulting Honest Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 left some angry users seeing red -- red skin, that is, whether from user error or product failure. Following a firestorm of negative press and countless pictures of sunburned children posted on social media, the company went back to the drawing board again.

Like its predecessors, the Honest Company's most recent sunscreen offering, Honest Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50, is touted as chemical-free. It relies on zinc oxide -- a physical sun deflector -- as its only active ingredient and contains shea butter and coconut oil to moisturize skin. This formulation contains more zinc oxide than the previous ill-fated SPF 30 version and promises more effective coverage. However, the handful of recent reviews are far from encouraging. On Amazon, one user claims she suffered second-degree burns after use, while others complain of white residue and a nauseating scent.

Only time and more reviews will tell if the Honest Company's most recent sunscreen attempt pans out, but in the meantime there are several sunscreen options on the market that are safe, effective, and far cheaper.