best cheap sunscreen

16 Best Cheap Sunscreen Options

Sunscreen is no longer a choice. Back in the day, fair-skinned folks mainly used it to prevent painful sunburn. Now we know protection from the sun isn’t only for easy burners. Sun care products have become key players in skin cancer prevention.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of melanomas are caused by exposure to the sun, two-thirds of us still don’t use sunscreens. Part of that trend may be due to vanity marketing along with vanity price points.

Now it’s quite easy spend a small fortune on sunscreens. Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out big bucks to get good SPF protection. There are plenty of cheaper sunscreens will block the sun’s harmful UV rays. We’ve put together this list of the 15 best cheap sunscreen options.

1. Coppertone Sport Sunscreen SPF 100 Lotion


If you’re active and spend half your life outdoors, this sport sunscreen is perfect. With an SPF of 100, it gives you long-lasting, extra-strength protection. The lotion feels nice and light when it goes on but stays strong, even when you sweat—or dive in for a dip.

This sunscreen is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Coppertone Sport doesn’t leave players with a slippery tennis grip. Not only that, but it moisturizes your skin while providing hard-core, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

The product does have a strong fragrance and should be reapplied often. Try reapplying every 1.5 to 2 hours if you’re fair or prone to burn. Use with caution when applying around the eyes.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 100 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Light, non-greasy feel
  • Sweat/water resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Long lasting
  • Provides an extra level of broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection


2. Coppertone Waterbabies SPF 50 Lotion


Tykes and tiny tots have sensitive skin that requires special care. This gentle, non-irritating sunscreen was designed to pamper and protect your little ones.

Coppertone Waterbabies is the #1 pediatrician recommended sunscreen. This is due to the fact that it provides trusted broad-spectrum UVA (sunburn rays) and UVB (cancer causing radiation) protection. Not only that, but it comes at a low price point.

Water resistant for up to 80 minutes, the lotion contains moisturizers and vitamin E to keep little ones’ skin baby soft. The product is classified as hypoallergenic but does contain chemicals that may cause irritation in rare cases. Use caution when applying around the eyes.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 50 protection meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Formulated especially for the very young
  • #1 pediatrician recommended brand
  • Gentle, non-irritating lotion
  • Water resistant for up to 80 minutes


3. Banana Boat Sunscreen for Men Triple Defense Broad Spectrum Sun Care Sunscreen Lotion


Even tough, manly skin needs protection. This incredibly affordable 30 SPF sunscreen protects with a sweet-smelling bonus. Banana Boat for Men shields the men in your life from harmful UVA and UVB rays, with the added help of Active Protect. This active ingredient is designed to maintain that shield throughout the day, especially as the sun’s rays get hotter and hotter.

The bonus comes in the form of odor neutralizers and a pleasant scent. Enriched with Aloe and Vitamin E, this amazingly flexible sunscreen keeps you dry and clean smelling. Because this sunscreen has a more masculine fragrance, it may not be suitable for all family members.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Very inexpensive
  • UVA and UVB protection that holds up as the sun’s rays strengthen
  • Neutralizes odors
  • Antiperspirant action


4. Ocean Potion, Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

Ocean Potion is one of the faster-absorbing sunscreen lotions. Formulated with sea-plant botanicals, it’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Furthermore, this cheap sunscreen contains Vitamins A, C, E, and D4.

One of the nicest things about Ocean Potion is the sunscreen’s unique “sunshine scent.” It comes with a light, citrusy fragrance. Note that this product must be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied immediately after toweling off. Ocean Potion sunscreens come in several SPF formulas, ranging anywhere from 15 to 70.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Low cost
  • Quick absorption
  • Water resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Citrusy sunshine fragrance


5. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-touch Sunscreen, SPF 30


Nutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-touch Sunscreen is waterproof, sweatproof, and rubproof. It’s also lightweight and effective. Forget that oily feeling you get from many sunscreens. This sunscreen absorbs quickly and leaves nothing behind but a clean, fresh scent. (Note: The product is also available in higher SPFs, but those formulas tend to feel a bit heavier on the skin.)

Nutrogena Ultra Sheer won’t clog pores. It’s dermatologist recommended. It also provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. The product should be liberally applied 15 minutes before sun exposure and must be reapplied after swimming or towel drying. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to patch test before using.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Waterproof, sweatproof, rubproof
  • Lightweight
  • Non-oily
  • Dermatologist recommended
  • Non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores)


6. Mountain Falls Ultra Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50


Do you have sensitive skin? If so, you’ll be happy to hear there’s an inexpensive sunscreen formulated with this in mind. Mountain Falls Ultra Sunscreen Lotion is hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested.

Also available in SPF 30 and Sport SPF 30 formulas, this product is non-greasy and water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Mountain Falls offers the broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection you expect from more upscale sunscreens in a skin-friendly formula.

For maximum protection, this product must be reapplied every two hours. When applying this sunscreen to your face, allow it time to dry thoroughly before going in the water.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 50 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Low price
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Water resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Available in other SPF levels


7. No-Ad SPF 30 Sun Care Sunscreen Lotion


This sunscreen is fast-drying, lightweight sunscreen that’s fragrance free and absorbs quickly. You’ll find all of the above in the standard 15-ounce bottle of No-Ad Sun Care Sunscreen. Furthermore, it delivers 100% more product than most broad-spectrum sunscreens for a very attractive price. Low price doesn’t mean this is a second-rate sunscreen.

No-Ad is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and provides full broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. Don’t use this product on children under 6 years of age without consulting your pediatrician first, and avoid contact with fabric.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • More product for less money
  • Fast drying, lightweight
  • Water resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Fragrance free


8. Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Island Sport Broad Spectrum Sun Care Sunscreen Lotion – SPF 30


If skin care is a major concern along with protection, no worries! Island Sport won’t clog your pores or leave a white residue on darker skin. Hawaiian Tropic’s broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection earned this sunscreen a recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation. Its fresh tropical scent gets a thumbs up from this reviewer.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Ultra-light, non-greasy
  • Sweat/water resistant resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Won’t clog pores
  • Earned a recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation


9. Shiseido SENKA Sunscreen Mineral Water UV Gel SPF50


Zinc oxide is no newcomer to the sunscreen/sunblock market. What makes it unique in Shiseido SENKA’s sunscreen is the fact that it’s been combined with baby powder. This high SFPF gel appears white when you start to apply it, but the color disappears quickly.

The product spreads easily and leaves the skin smooth and very lightly scented. Kind to sensitive skin, Shiseido nevertheless provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. The price is cheap also.

Avoid the area around the eyes when applying to the face. You may want to use a moisturizer before applying this to your face, as the formula can cause some dryness. No specific water resistance figures were available.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 50 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Inexpensive
  • Zinc oxide protection
  • Baby powder leaves skin smooth
  • Lightly scented
  • Kind to sensitive skin


10. Alba Botanica Hawaiian, Aloe Vera Sunscreen SPF 30


If you love the idea of a vegetarian sunscreen that includes natural ingredients, try Alba Botanica Hawaiian. This biodegradable product contains many of your favorite botanicals: Aloe Vera, sunflower oil, hibiscus flower, and tropical fruit extracts. The great thing is that it doesn’t have any parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances.

Its ingredients are one hundred percent vegetarian, and there’s no animal testing involved in the production process. Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, Alba’s Aloe Vera Sunscreen provides the UVA/UVB protection you need. As with any sunscreen, reapply at least every 2 hours.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Contains botanicals
  • 100% vegetarian
  • No animal testing involved
  • Biodegradable
  • Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation


11. ArtNaturals Broad Spectrum Sunscreen


The cost of buying one sunscreen for the adults, one for the kids, and one for anyone with sensitive skin can really add up. Thankfully, ArtNaturals Broad Spectrum Sunscreen is so effective adults will love it. Furthermore, it’s so gentle that it can be used for babies, kids, and those with sensitive skin.

The lotion is infused with Jojoba oil and Shea butter to hydrate and balance your skin. You may find that it’s thicker right out of the tube than some others. But it’s fragrance and irritant free. It doesn’t include any paraben, gluten, or mineral oil. This sunscreen offers skin-nourishing, broad-spectrum protection. No water resistance figures are available.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • One sunscreen can be used by the entire family
  • Fragrance and irritant free
  • Skin-nourishing


12. Sol Sunguard Bluewater Sunscreen SPF 36


As the name implies, Sol Sunguard’s Bluewater Sunscreen is designed to deliver protection from the sun, even when you sweat or hit the water. As a matter of fact, it retains its 36 SPF for up to 80 minutes in the water.

Looking for another plus? This is an ultra-low chemical active formula that uses the powerful, microfine zinc oxide Z-Cote to give you total, transparent UVA/UVB protection. Meanwhile, Sunguard’s emollients help keep your skin from getting dry, chapped, or irritated.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 36 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Water resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Ultra-low chemical formula
  • Powerful zinc oxide protection
  • Transparent
  • Skin-saving emollients


13. SunStuff SPF 30 100% Natural Sunscreen


If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly sunscreen, you’ll be happy to hear the Environmental Working Group (EWG) awards SunStuff top safety marks in its Deep Skin Cosmetics Database. Made with 99% natural ingredients, this mineral lotion combines 20% micronized, non-whitening zinc oxide with organic Shea and cocoa butters to deflect the sun’s rays.

SunStuff—unscented, biodegradable, and environmentally safe—provides both UVA and UVB protection. You will make a few tradeoffs for the natural formula, however. Unlike many chemical-based sunscreens, which you can apply just 15 minutes before exposure, you should slather on SunStuff 30 minutes before you need it.

For added water resistance, do not rub the product in, and reapply every hour, as well as after swimming or toweling off.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Rated environmentally safe by the EWG
  • 99% natural ingredients
  • Unscented
  • Biodegradable


14. Aveeno Hydrosport Wet Skin Spray Sunscreen


If you’d rather spray than slather your sunscreen, try Aveeno Hydrosport—it can be applied without drying off first! The lightweight, non-greasy spray actually forms a thin, breathable shield that clings to your skin, even when wet. (Note: No specific water resistance figures were available for this product.)

Formulated with Lotus Complex, Aveeno’s SPF 30 sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. Don’t spray this on your face, as it may get in your eyes! Instead, spray it on your hands and apply it that way. Furthermore, some spray products may contain ingredients unfriendly to sensitive skin. Also note, sprays may not last as long as a bottled lotion.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Easy to apply
  • Can be applied to wet skin
  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy


15. Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen SPF 50 Natural Spray


While we’re on the subject of sprays, let’s look at Australian Gold Botanical’s spray sunscreen. With an SPF of 50, this sunscreen provides a high level of protection without a lot of unnecessary chemicals (like oxybenzone, for example).

This spray is hypoallergenic. It’s been pediatrician tested, but never animal tested. It’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes and protects against the broad spectrum of UVA/UVB rays. Once again, as with any spray, you don’t want to spray directly onto your face, but use your hands to apply.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 50 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Spray application
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Pediatrician tested
  • Water resistant for up to 80 minutes


16. LA Bodies Eclipse Sunscreen Sun Cream SPF 30


Not all sunscreens are suitable for sensitive and/or acne-prone skin, but this one is. Made with Aloe Vera and vitamin E, LA Bodies Eclipse Sun Cream will provide the broad-spectrum protection you need without causing breakouts.

Formulated to “fight against photo-aging” as it protects, this sunscreen can be used on your face and won’t sting your eyes. The price is right, too. This product isn’t rated for water/sweat resistance, so don’t count on extended protection when you swim or sweat. Under those conditions, you’ll want to reapply often. LA Bodies’ sunscreen also comes in SPF 50 for increased protection.

Pros/Benefits:
  • SPF 30 meets American Cancer Society guidelines
  • Suitable for sensitive and/or acne-prone skin
  • Skincare formulation
  • Broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection


Sunscreen Buyers’ Guide

Clearly, cost-effective sun protection is out there. But how do you decide between options? Which sunscreen is right for you? Let’s look at a few of the factors you’ll want to consider.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

This is one of the most, if not the most, important consideration when buying a sunscreen.

A sunscreen’s SPF lets you know how well that product will protect you from the sun’s rays. These rays come in two “flavors:” UVA and UVB. While UVB are the worst, causing deep-layer sunburn, damaging your skin, and causing skin cancer, UVA rays do their own share of damage and can contribute to problems later on.

This is why the American Cancer Society recommends you choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against both kinds of rays. The SPF you choose should be based on your skin type, how strong the sun is, how long you’ll be out in it, and whether or not you’ll be in the water. Experts recommend a minimum SPF of 30 or higher.

An SPF of 15 protects you from the sun’s rays 15 times longer than you can last burn-free without sunscreen. The trouble is that an SPF 15 sunscreen won’t protect you from skin cancer or aging. While no sunscreen protects you 100%, some of them come mighty close:

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
  • SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays

As for those extremely high SPF products, make sure the UVA protection is at least 1/3 as high as the UVB protection. Remember, UVA rays are the ones that burn the surface layers of your skin. If high-SPF products don’t provide adequate levels of protection against them, you won’t be as safe as the numbers might lead you to believe.

Your Skin

Some of the chemicals present in some sunscreens—especially oxybenzone, 4-isopropyl-dibenzoylmethane, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), esters, avobenzone, and cinnamates—can cause an allergic reaction. This is even true for people whose skin isn’t particularly sensitive.

If your skin is sensitive, or you’re buying the sunscreen to use on your children, you’ll want to choose a product either very low in, or completely free of, these chemicals.

Remember that people of color need sunscreen every bit as much as the rest of us. Even if you seldom burn, you may have a genetic susceptibility to skin cancer. There’s no reason to take chances. Although some products can leave a whitish residue on darker skin, many don’t. Read the product labels and reviews to find out which will work best for you.

Activity

If you spend a lot of active time outdoors or in the water, your sunscreen’s water resistance will be a key factor to consider. If water resistance duration (40 minutes, 80 minutes, etc.) isn’t clearly indicated on the label, you’ll want to look further.

While you’re looking, keep in mind the fact that “water resistant” doesn’t mean “waterproof,” which is why reapplying your sunscreen every two hours is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Lifestyle Preferences

Environmentally friendly sunscreens are out there. If environmental consciousness is an important part of your lifestyle, you can determine which products to choose by consulting the Environmental Working Group’s Consumer Guide.

Remember, not every sunscreen that claims to be biodegradable is suitable for all natural environments. Coral reefs, for example, can be adversely affected by sunscreens that may be safe elsewhere. Most vacation locations provide lists of safe choices upon request, and many manufacturers designate their products as “reef safe” right on the label.

Organic and/or natural products are also available. The Environmental Working Group can help you identify healthy choices. It’s also helpful to know that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—both non-toxic minerals, ground up—aren’t chemicals but the most common, safe active ingredients in natural and organic sunscreens.

Final Thoughts

We hope this review of cheap sunscreen options has been helpful. If you have any more that you’d like to add to this list, let us know in the comments below.

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