The golden rule of sunscreen? You’ve got to apply it often and amply for the stuff to really do its thing. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends smearing on one ounce — enough to fill a shot glass — to cover your exposed areas. But the majority of people only use 25-50% of the suggested amount. With many formulas topping $40 a bottle, it’s no wonder why: Who can afford a $10-a-day SPF habit?

But it doesn't have to be that way. We asked our favorite dermatologists, consulted Consumer Reports, and polled our beauty editors for their sunscreen picks that cost less than the price of a movie ticket and are oxybenzone-free. Let’s use the stuff with abandon — and load up like we ought to.

Don’t tell the folks at Neutrogena, but we’d easily pay $15 for this unique water-gel formula that’s non greasy and absorbs in a snap without leaving chalky streaks. But the fact that this inventive formula rings in at $9 only makes us love it more.

Neutrogena Hydroboost Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30, $8.97, available at Jet.

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“It’s hard to find a sunscreen under $10 that I love,” admits New York-based dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. “But this one is great. It conveys an SPF of 50+ and has a great, non-greasy formula.”


She wasn't lying when she said it was hard to find: Japan's best-seller is currently only available abroad, so make sure to pick one up on your next international trip.

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New York-based dermatologist Dina Strachan, MD, says this waterproof, broad spectrum cream is great for adults and babies. Even better? "It can be used with acne-prone skin,” she says.

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion - SPF 50 - 3oz, $10.99, available at Target.


Finding a zinc-loaded sunscreen that doesn’t feel paste-y or leave a white residue on skin is a tall enough order. Sourcing one that rings in at $10 or less? Even trickier. This formula meets the mark and then some, thanks to the inclusion of skin-soothing vitamin E and aloe.

Sun Bum SPF 50 Clear Zinc - 1oz, $9.99, available at Sun Bum.


San Diego-area dermatologist Melanie Palm, MD, loves this sunscreen for what it doesn’t include: chemical actives, PABA, parabens, fragrances, and dyes.

The Honest Company mineral sunscreen stick spf 30, $9.94, available at The Honest Company.

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San Diego-area dermatologist Melanie Palm, MD, loves this sunscreen for what it doesn’t include: chemical actives, PABA, parabens, fragrances, and dyes.

The Honest Company mineral sunscreen stick spf 30, $9.94, available at The Honest Company.

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Dermatologist Chris Adigun, MD, recommends this sunscreen to patients with sensitive skin. “It is super-smooth and moisturizing and typically doesn’t irritate skin,” she says. The only hitch? Though it generally sells for a bit more than 10 bucks, it can often be found on sale for less.

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Fragrance-Free Moisturizer , $13.79, available at Target.

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Candace Marino, a medical aesthetician at Jason Emer in Los Angeles, advocates for always hitting the baby skin-care section. “I find that chemical sunscreens can exacerbate pigment irregularities and redness in the skin due to the process that occurs when the sunscreen turns the UV ray into heat,” she says.


Her pick? This antioxidant-rich formula, of which Dr. Engelman is also a fan. "It contains fatty acids and vitamin E to protect and nourish the skin and blends effortlessly without leaving a chalky or sticky residue,” Marino says.

Babyganics Pure Mineral Sunscreen SPF30 - 4oz, $9.99, available at Target.

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Consumer Reports conducted rigorous testing to present its annual list of the best sunscreens. In the end, this Walmart underdog came in second among 42 lotions they tried — and it only costs $5. Though the formula contains oxybenzone, it is slated to be reformulated next year without the environmentally-damaging chemical.

Equate Sport Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum, SPF 50, 8 Fl Oz, $4.98, available at Walmart.

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This wallet-friendly sunscreen is the top ranking oxybenzone and octinoxate-free spray rated by Consumer Reports. Not only did it test well in the lab, but its professional sensory experts also reported a pleasant piña colada-like scent and a "barely-there feel on skin."

Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Ultra Light with Sunscreen Spray , $7.89, available at Target.

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LA-based dermatologist Annie Chiu, MD, prefers a stick formulation for travel. “This physical sunscreen is TSA-friendly, easy to reapply, and provides broad spectrum protection to those with sensitive skin,” she says.

Neutrogena Pure & Free® Baby Sunscreen Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 60, $8.99, available at Neutrogena.

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New York-based dermatologist Cybele Fishman, MD, knows this Alba Botanica spray isn't a mineral sunscreen, but she's a realist. "If I send my kids to camp with a thick mineral sunscreen lotion, it will never get used," she says. "Kids and many adults like spray. But I don't like aerosolized spray because I worry about breathing it in. This is a spray lotion, has no oxybenzone, is water resistant for 80 minutes, is easy to rub in, and smells good."

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Kids Sunscreen Spray SPF 40 4oz, $11.49 $8.61, available at Pharmaca.

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Dr. Fishman also recommends this Australian Gold mineral sunscreen with SPF 50 because it's "very water-resistant, not too white, very moisturizing, and not too expensive." Check, check, and check.

Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Lotion, $15.99, available at Ulta Beauty.

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Dermatologist Anita Cela,MD, is a fan of this CeraVe stick because of how easy it is to use. "Just swipe on the skin two times back and forth for full coverage," she says. "It has zinc, which gives great broad spectrum coverage. Kids and adults love this product [because it's] convenient to take with you."

CeraVe Sunscreen Stick SPF 50, $9.99 $9.19, available at Jet.

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To protect her lips, Dr. Cela turns to this Vanicream product. "It’s important not to forget sunscreen on the lips and this product makes it easy," she says. "It can fit in you purse, pocket, or backpack."

Vanicream Lip Protectant/Sunscreen SPF 30, $5.20, available at




This article was originally published on

August 31, 2019 — Candace Marino