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11 best body sunscreens: Lotions, sprays and creams to protect your skin

Whether using SPF 30 or SPF 50, keep sunburn at bay this summer, with the best sunscreens for your body

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 02 July 2024 17:55 BST
Feel the burn? We’d rather not
Feel the burn? We’d rather not (The Independent )
Our Top Picks

Summer has officially arrived and we couldn’t be happier. With the occasional heatwave and sunnier weather upon us, it’s time to make sure we are properly protecting our skin from harsh UV rays.

You might think it’s just your face that needs daily protection, and that body sunscreen is reserved for afternoons spent lazing around on a sunbed, but dermatologists advise regularly wearing sunscreen on all areas of skin that’s exposed to the sun.

“I would usually recommend a factor 30 as a minimum but it does depend on skin type,” says Dr Adam Friedmann, consultant dermatologist at Stratum Clinics. “At least SPF 30 for pale skin, preferably SPF 50, as we tend to apply it much more sparingly than is done during lab testing – so a SPF 30 will offer you only SPF 15 in most cases.”

It’s important to select a sunscreen that blocks enough UV rays to protect your skin type, too. “It doesn’t have to be expensive but make sure you choose one that not only has a high SPF (to protect against the burning UVB rays) but one that also has at least a four-star UVA rating, preferably five stars,” adds Friedmann. “We know that UVA can cause skin cancer and so sunscreens that protect against UVB only are not good.”

In terms of how often to apply it, Friedmann suggests every two hours and immediately after swimming, regardless of any water resistance. “Up to 85 per cent of a product can be removed by towel drying, so, you should reapply after swimming, sweating, or any other vigorous or abrasive activity,” he explains.

As for how to go about choosing the best 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 the best body suncreams

We slathered on a range of sunscreens, to find the best
We slathered on a range of sunscreens, to find the best (Olivia Petter)

To help you find the best sunscreen for your body, we 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 repelling insects. These are our top-rated picks.

The best body sunscreens for 2024 are:

  • Best overall – Coola classic body organic sunscreen spray: £24.04, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for sensitive skin – Garnier Ambre Solaire sensitive advanced hypoallergenic protection lotion, SPF 50: £7.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best waterproof sunscreen – Bali Body hydrating body sunscreen, SPF 50: £19.95, Sephora.co.uk
  • Best for dry skin – Vichy capital soleil solar protective water enhanced tan: £16.76, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for sport – Ultrasun family, SPF 30 , Lookfantastic.com

Coola classic body organic sunscreen spray, SPF 30

Coola best body sunscreens review indybest
  • Best: Body sunscreen overall
  • Size: 177ml
  • SPF: 30
  • Application: Spray
  • Why we love it
    • Lovely smell
    • Easy spray applicator
    • Quick to absorb
    • Nourishing
  • Take note
    • Not the best water resistance

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 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 best water resistance (80 minutes), compared with some other sunscreens in our list, but you can overcome this by applying more regularly.

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Garnier Ambre Solaire sensitive advanced hypoallergenic protection lotion, SPF 50

Garnier best body sunscreens review indybest
  • Best: Sunscreen for sensitive skin
  • Size: 200ml
  • SPF: 50
  • Application: Cream
  • Why we love it
    • Fragrance-free
    • Five-star UVA
    • Easily absorbed

This is a classic sunscreen with several hidden pros. The first is 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, it 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.

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Ultrasun family, SPF 30

ultrasun best body suncreens review indybest
  • Best: Sunscreen for sport
  • Size: 150ml
  • SPF: 30
  • Application: Lotion
  • Why we love it
    • Easy to apply with no wastage
    • Absorbs quickly
    • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Take note
    • A little greasy

Ultrasun products are firm favourites 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 other options on our list but it 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.

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Bali Body hydrating body sunscreen, SPF 50

balibody .jpg
  • Best: Waterproof sunscreen
  • Size: 150ml
  • SPF: 50
  • Application: Lotion
  • Why we love it
    • Lightweight
    • Non-greasy
    • Enriched with vitamin E and aloe vera

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

It comes at a higher price, possibly because of the premium packaging (a smooth pale blue bottle with a pump applicator) and the fact 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, SPF 50

vichy .jpg
  • Best: Sunscreen for dry skin
  • Size: 200ml
  • SPF: 50
  • Application: Mist
  • Why we love it
    • Hypoallergenic
    • Soft on the skin
    • Tan-enhancing properties

This sunscreen’s applicator takes the form of a classic spray rather than a continuous one. Vichy calls this hypoallergenic 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.

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Incognito suncream and insect repellent SPF 30

Less Mosquito body sunscreen review indybest
  • Best: Insect repellent sunscreen
  • Size: 100ml
  • SPF: 30
  • Application: Cream
  • Why we love it
    • Doubles as protection from bugs
    • Natural and organic ingredients
    • Recyclable
  • Take note
    • Bit pungent

It might not be the first thing you consider when looking for sunscreens but, if you’re heading somewhere that is likely to be crawling with bugs (mainly mosquitos), getting a product that is enriched with insect repellant can be a real game changer. 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 other sunscreens, 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.

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Malibu sun lotion aerosol spray

malibu .jpg
  • Best: Spray sunscreen
  • Size: 175ml
  • SPF: 15
  • Application: Spray cream
  • Why we love it
    • Smells lovely
    • Versatile
    • Easy to spray from all angles

The Malibu Sun products smell wonderful. Unlike most sprays, this one 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. Plus, it has a four-star UVA rating.

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Eucerin oil control dry touch sun spray SPF 50 for sensitive and acne-prone skin, 200ml

Eucerin-suncream-indybest
  • Best: For blemish-prone skin
  • Size: 200ml
  • SPF: 50
  • Application: Spray
  • Why we love it
    • Leaves no marks
    • Great for reactive skin
    • Super protective from sun damage

This is an ideal product for anyone struggling with acne on their body, and those with sensitive, oily skin. Due to its unique formula, which the brand calls its “advanced spectral technology”, users benefit from high UVA/UVB protection and Licochalcone A, which prevents further sun damage and stress to the skin, by neutralising free radicals.

It comes in an easy-to-use spray bottle and absorbs fast into the skin. Plus, it’s a transparent formula, meaning there’s no risk of it leaving any unsightly white marks anywhere on your body.

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Piz Buin tan & protect intensifying lotion SPF 15, 150ml

Piz-bun-suncream-indybest
  • Best: For tanning
  • Size: 150ml
  • SPF: 15
  • Application: Cream
  • Why we love it
    • Great for those wanting to keep up the tan
    • Moisturising
    • Still maintains high UVA/UVB sun protection
    • Affordable

For those looking to maintain a deep bronze throughout the summer months, this is the product for you. Piz Buin is a brand renowned for its natural tanning qualities and this product doesn’t disappoint, offering a deep moisturising lotion that has been enhanced with Melitan, which helps to facilitate the skin’s organic tanning process. However, it does so very safely, with high UVA/UVB sun protection. Added bonuses are the smell – sweet, caramel-like, and tropical – and how soft it makes your skin feel on the first application. It’s also very affordable – a must-buy.

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Hydropeptide solar defense body SPF 30

Hydropeptide best body sunscreens review indybest
  • Best: Best for anti-ageing
  • Size: 177ml
  • SPF: 30
  • Application: Spray
  • Why we love it
    • Defends against the loss of collagen
    • Powerful antioxidants
    • Stylish
  • Take note
    • Expensive

This is a unique product, thanks to its organic-derived ingredients, including aloe vera (calming and soothing), venuceane (an infrared protector that defends against collagen loss), and its delicious passion fruit scent. It also boasts powerful antioxidants, such as cucumber, green tea, and rosehip extract, that can help fight free radicals as well as reduce signs of skin damage and ageing.

It comes in a particularly stylish spray bottle, which is easy to use and applies a large, generous amount quickly in a single spray. It might not last as long as it should for a bottle of this size and price point, but it’s a high-quality product with a wide range of additional benefits beyond sun protection, so, it’s worth investing if you can.

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Darling screen-me spray SPF 30

darling-suncream-indybest
  • Best: For preventing hyperpigmentation
  • Size: 150ml
  • SPF: 30
  • Application: Spray
  • Why we love it
    • Looks adorable
    • Lightweight and easy to apply
    • Skin-loving ingredients
    • Smells lovely
    • Lasts a long time

This is the ideal millennial sunscreen, given its trendy light pink bottle. Even the spray application feels neatly nostalgic, with a traditional single-use spritz as opposed to a continuous spray like many of the other products listed here.

Lightweight and easy to apply, Darling’s sunscreen keeps your skin feeling soft and protected all day, thanks to its hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, both of which contribute to maintaining hydration and moisture while also preventing hyperpigmentation from sun damage. It also contains Kukui Oil, which is deeply softening and helps give the product a unique, Caribbean-influenced scent. You also don’t need to use much to cover your entire body, so it should last you a while.

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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: 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. For those looking for something more affordable, you can’t go wrong with Piz Buin’s Tan & Protect. With a high UVA rating, safe tan-boosting qualities and unique scent, it’s an all-round excellent product. You can also get it with a higher SPF, if you prefer.

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

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