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8 best body sunscreens: Lotions, sprays and creams for everyday use

Whether it’s SPF30 or SPF50, keep your skin protected this summer with these best sunscreens for your body

Olivia Petter
Friday 04 August 2023 12:32 BST
<p> The British Skin Foundation advises wearing sunscreen to all areas of skin exposed to the sun</p>

The British Skin Foundation advises wearing sunscreen to all areas of skin exposed to the sun

Our Top Picks

Given the dreary few weeks we’ve had so far this summer, sunshine might well be the last thing on your mind. But fear not: warmer climes are predicted, which means it’s time to start thinking about protecting your skin from the sun’s harsh glares.

You might think it’s simply your face that needs daily protection, and that body sunscreen is reserved for afternoons spent lazing around on a sunbed. But you would be wrong. The British Skin Foundation advises wearing sunscreen on all areas of skin exposed to the sun.

“A waterproof sunscreen is better, even if you are not swimming, as it protects you better if you sweat,” the organisation advises, adding that you should always apply the sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside, and at least every two hours.

“If you swim or sweat a lot, use it more often,” it adds. “Remember using a towel or lying back on a fabric sunbed can rub the sunscreen off.” It’s also best to avoid the midday sun when possible, as this is when the sun will be at its strongest.

A quick recap: SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor” and refers to the level of protection against UVB radiation, linked to skin cancer. Ideally, you should look for a four or five-star UVA rating on the bottle. As for how to go about choosing the right sunscreen for you, there are plenty of factors to consider, depending on what you’re looking for – and what specific benefits you’d like from your product. Here is our pick of the best body sunscreens.

How we tested

To help you find the best solution for sun cream for your body, we’ve spent weeks putting different variations to the test. We’ve taken differing budgets into account as well as different skin types and added benefits, from water resistance to how well it repels insects. These are our top-rated picks.

The best body sunscreen tested for this review

The best body sunscreens for 2024 are:

  • Best body sunscreen overall: Coola classic body organic sunscreen spray: £26.95, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for sensitive skin: Garnier ambre solaire sensitive advanced hypoallergenic protection lotion, SPF 50: £8, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best waterproof sunscreen: Bali Body hydrating body sunscreen, SPF50: £19.95, Sephora.co.uk
  • Best for dry skin: Vichy capital soleil solar protective water enhanced tan: £15.60, Boots.com
  • Best budget-friendly sunscreen: Bondi Sands SPF50+ fragrance free body lotion: £7.99, Boots.com

Coola classic body organic sunscreen spray, SPF 30

coola suncream.jpg
  • Best: Body sunscreen overall
  • Size: 177ml
  • SPF: 30
  • Application: Spray

This is an all-round excellent product. With a unique “pina colada” scent that is sweet without being overpowering, it’s a delight to apply, a process made much easier by the spray applicator that means the sunscreen is quickly absorbed into the skin. It also lasts a surprisingly long amount of time considering its applicator and feels soft and nourishing when applied to the skin.

This is partly because 70 per cent of the ingredients are organic. It doesn’t have the most water resistance out of some of the products here (80 minutes) but you can overcome this by applying more regularly.

  1. £26 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Garnier ambre solaire sensitive advanced hypoallergenic protection lotion, SPF 50

garnier .jpg
  • Best: Sunscreen for sensitive skin
  • Size: 200ml
  • SPF: 50
  • Application: Cream

This is a classic sunscreen with several hidden pros. The first is that it’s entirely fragrance-free and has been tested under dermatological control, meaning it’s ideal for those with sensitive skin. Not only does it boast a five-star UVA rating but it also has been approved by Cruelty Free International and comes in an eco-friendly bottle made with cardboard and 48 per cent less plastic.

Despite its thick, white consistency, it’s very smooth on the skin and is quickly and easily absorbed. In addition to the affordable price tag, it also doesn’t feel at all sticky on application, which is another added bonus.

  1. £8 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Ultrasun family, SPF30

ultrasun .jpg
  • Best: Sunscreen for sport
  • Size: 150ml
  • SPF: 30
  • Application: Lotion

Ultrasun products are a firm favourite among sun-seekers with a slightly higher budget and it’s not hard to see why. With a pump nozzle, the product is particularly easy to apply and you’re likely not to let any lotion go to waste.

It’s a little greasier to the touch than some of the options here but nonetheless absorbs into the skin quickly and has very little scent other than the very mild holiday smell you get with almost any sunscreen. It’s water resistant, has a 90 per cent UVA absorbance and is also suitable for those with sensitive skin given its high antioxidant contents.

  1. £16 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Bali Body hydrating body sunscreen, SPF50

balibody .jpg
  • Best: Waterproof sunscreen
  • Size: 150ml
  • SPF: 50
  • Application: Lotion

This little-known Australian brand offers a particularly lightweight sunscreen, which is rare when the SPF is 50. It doesn’t feel greasy to the touch and offers up to four hours of water resistance, which is among the highest listed here.

It comes at a higher price, possibly because of the premium packaging (a smooth pale blue bottle with a pump applicator) and the fact that the product is enriched with vitamin E and aloe vera, both of which will help to ensure your skin is moisturised as well as protected while lying in the sun. Be sure to shake it before use and apply every two hours.

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Vichy capital soleil solar protective water enhanced tan, SPF50

vichy .jpg
  • Best: Sunscreen for dry skin
  • Size: 200ml
  • SPF: 50
  • Application: Mist

This is a unique sunscreen on the list given its applicator – a classic spray rather than a continuous one – and the fact that it’s hypoallergenic. Rather than advertising itself as a classic sunscreen, Vichy calls this product “protective water”, which makes sense when you apply it.

It’s enriched with beta-carotene, meaning it feels particularly soft on the skin, even if it takes slightly longer to apply given the small nozzle. An added bonus? It has tan-enhancing properties while also providing maximum protection to your skin. So you don’t have to resort to dangerously low SPF oils to get the tan you want.

  1. £15 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Bondi Sands SPF50+ fragrance free body lotion

bondi sands .jpg
  • Best: Budget-friendly sunscreen
  • Size: 150ml
  • SPF: 50
  • Application: Cream

One of the best things about this product is its bottle: slim and easy to pack in a suitcase or handbag. There are plenty of other benefits to this Australian sunscreen, too, of course, like the fact that it offers four hours of water resistance, and also that it’s cruelty-free and reef friendly.

With just a three-star UVA rating, it’s not the highest protection on offer here. But nonetheless, it’s still a solid product with a fragrance-free formula that feels soft on the skin and non-greasy. With the formula enriched with vitamin E, it’s also particularly nourishing for the skin. It’s also dermatologically tested so can be suitable for those with sensitive skin.

  1. £8 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Incognito suncream and insect repellent SPF30

Less Mosquito.jpg
  • Best: Insect repellent sunscreen
  • Size : 100ml
  • SPF: 30
  • Application: Cream

It might not be the first thing you consider when you’re looking for sunscreens, but if you’re heading somewhere that is likely going to be crawling with bugs (mainly mosquitos), getting a product that is enriched with insect repellant can be a real gamechanger. This is one of the best on the market, offering a mineral sunscreen that combines natural and organic ingredients with added botanical PMD to keep the bugs at bay.

Given this, it does have a slightly more pungent scent than some of the other sunscreens here and is more akin to the smell of a basic repellant spray than an SPF. Nonetheless, it’s not too off-putting. The tube itself is also made from sugarcane and can be recycled.

  1. £24 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Malibu sun lotion aerosol spray

malibu .jpg
  • Best: Spray sunscreen
  • Size: 175ml
  • SPF: 15
  • Application: Spray cream

The Malibu Sun products smell uniquely wonderful – and that’s the first thing you’ll notice when you use this one. Unlike most sprays, this is particularly versatile because the sunscreen doesn’t come out in spray form but rather, as a cream. With this in mind, it’s suited to all preferences and can be continuously sprayed around the body before being rubbed in.

It’s a medium thickness in terms of consistency but melts into the skin easily. The best thing about it though, is that the nozzle works from all angles, meaning it’s the best spray for anyone to use while reclining on a sunbed without wanting to move too much. Plus, it has a four-star UVA rating.

  1. £4 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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SPF FAQs

Does sunscreen prevent tanning?

Wearing SPF doesn’t prevent tanning, as formulas aren’t able to protect your skin entirely from UVA. Factor 50 will protect you from 98 per cent of rays, while factor 30 shields you from 97 per cent of rays. This means it is still possible to get a tan, while helping to protect your skin from sunburn.

Does sunscreen expire?

Sunscreen has a shelf-life of between two and three years, with most formulas remaining at their original strength for at least three years. However, once opened, sunscreen generally starts to lose its SPF efficacy after 6-12 months – make sure to read the label for clear guidance. So, although you can use leftover sunscreens the following year, it’s best to purchase a new one. Unopened sunscreen will also have an expiration date, telling you when it’s no longer effective.

The verdict: Best body sunscreens

For its unique scent, easy application, and organic ingredients, Coola is an all-around excellent sunscreen product that offers high protection and up to 80 minutes of water resistance. Simply applying it instantly transports you to a sandy beach, wherever you happen to be.

For those looking for something more affordable, you can’t go wrong with Garnier ambre solaire. With a five-star UVA rating, special sensitive skin-friendly make-up, and eco-designed designed packaging, there is more than meets the eye to this product. It does everything a sunscreen should do and then some.

Looking for more SPF recommendations? We’ve rounded up the best facial sunscreens

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