Five Top Sport Sunscreens

Any dermatologist will tell you: Wear sunscreen every day, even if you're just hanging around town. But picking the right one is where it gets complicated. According to a 2009 study by the Environmental Working Group, nearly 30 percent of sunscreens don't have strong enough protection from UVA, the sun's most prevalent, carcinogenic rays. Then there's the proliferation of imprecise terms like "water-resistant," "sweat-proof," and "broad-spectrum." The FDA is now evaluating new labeling rules that may help. In the meantime, slather up with one of these.

    Photo: Patrik Giardino/Corbis Online

The Right Stuff

What to look for on your sunscreen's ingredient list
To get true "broad spectrum" protection (for both UVB and UVA rays), you need a physical blocker, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, or a chemical blocker, like avobenzone/parsol 1789 or Mexoryl. If your sunscreen doesn't have one of those, dump it. Also, avoid anything with an SPF over 50. High-SPF products cram in a higher concentration of chemicals than you need and have been linked to tissue damage and hormone disruption.

BEST FOR:
Watermen
Soléo Organics All-Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+
Up to 6,000 tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers annually, leaving paraben-and-cinnamate-filled slicks that pose a threat to 10 percent of the world's coral reefs. Soléo's formula is biodegradable and reef-friendly—using organic ingredients like grapeseed oil and beeswax along with zinc oxide to reflect UVA rays—plus it's water-resistant up to three hours. $22; soleousa.com

BEST FOR:
Urban Adventurers
Neutrogena Men Oil-Free Moisture SPF 30
Neutrogena's latest formulation is two creams in one: an oil-free moisturizer to keep your skin smooth and hydrated, plus avobenzone, which meets the highest European standards for UVA protection. It's good for everyday use: The lightly fragranced cream doesn't leave a greasy sheen behind, so you won't look like you need a shower. $6; neutrogena.com

BEST FOR:
Endurance Junkies

Scape SPF 50+ Athlete Sunblock
Some sunscreens make it harder for your skin to sweat. Scape is not only extremely water-resistant, so it won't run in your eyes or wimp out after a swim leg; it also has a porous structure, allowing your skin to perspire freely. And it will probably last longer than you can: During in-race testing on Ironman triathletes in Kona, Hawaii, it proved effective for eight hours. From $14; scapelabs.com

BEST FOR:
Climbers
Kinesys SPF 30 Fragrance-Free Sunscreen Spray
Lotions can make your hands slippery, but Kinesys—which comes in a nonaerosol spray bottle—uses a silicone-based formula that gives maximum coverage and UVA blocking (with avobenzone) without needing to be rubbed in. Unlike most sprays, though, the super-fine mist is both oil- and alcohol-free, so it won't cause acne or dry skin. $7; kinesys.com

BEST FOR:
Mountaineers
Dermatone Skin Protector with Z-Cote
Skin creams can't prevent frostbite; in fact, they can promote it, since water is often a main ingredient. Dermatone's SPF 30 skin protector is petroleum-based—meaning it can't freeze or absorb into the skin—and it acts as a shield against windburn, chapping, and cracking. The transparent zinc oxide blocks high-altitude UVA rays. $6; dermatone.com

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