The Best SPF 50+ Sunscreens of 2019

Any parent with a small child knows the struggle of dealing with hard-to-apply sunscreen.

Any parent with a small child knows the struggle of dealing with hard-to-apply sunscreen.

Sunscreen is especially important for children. Medical evidence suggests that even a few sunburns as a child may increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. So, which sunscreen is best?

Nobody rates more sunscreens than the Environmental Working Group. Each year, EWG analyzes the ingredients of hundreds of sunscreens and rates each product from 1 (best) to 10 (worst) based on health concerns and estimated sun protection.

Our family likes to buy high-scoring sunscreens, but two things bother us:

  1. Top-rated sunscreens are hard to find! Many stores only sell nationally-advertised brands that everyone knows (and they often get low marks).

  2. Some sunscreens with healthy ingredients and strong sun protection are clumpy, don't rub in all the way, wash off easily in water, or have a strange odor. In the end, we were willing to accept a lower-rated sunscreen if it was more convenient.

This year, we’ve done extra homework! Of the nearly 200 sunscreens that received a top score in EWG's latest ratings, here are the ones that are:

  • SPF 50 or higher;

  • Available for sale on Amazon;

  • Reviewed at 4-stars or better; and

  • Verified using Fakespot and a manual review.

We've also included a list of SPF 30 sunscreens that meet the same strict criteria. 

If you're traveling to Turks & Caicos, Hawaii or someplace with a barrier reef, you may want to learn more about "reef-safe" sunscreens. Similarly, if you’re planning a trip to someplace with Zika-carrying mosquitoes, check out our guide to the best family-friendly bug sprays.

We were surprised to learn that Walmart’s house-brand “Equate” makes an SPF 50 baby mineral sunscreen that received a top-rating from EWG and a recommendation from Consumer Reports. It costs less than $5 a tube, which is cheaper than most of the sunscreens below.

Some of Consumer Reports’ other 2019 sunscreen recommendations include La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60, Trader Joe's Nourish Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+ and Coppertone Ultra Guard 70 (also a favorite of Wirecutter).

We learned the hard way that aerosol-based sunscreens can stain cotton clothing, so apply carefully.

This sunscreen is effective, according to several Amazon customers, but many were shocked at how expensive it is relative to its small size. Some reviewers say this sunscreen rubs in clear, but others say that the sunscreen leaves a white film (or streaks) no matter how much they rubbed.

This sunscreen is super-protective, according to several Amazon customers. Many reviewers say this sunscreen is thick and leaves a white residue; a few complain of skin irritation after using it.

This sunscreen looks like body paint, according to several Amazon customers who like being able to see where sunscreen was applied. Some reviewers expected the bright-colored sunscreen to turn clear (it does not) and were upset with their purchase.

MDSolarScience's mineral-based sunscreen applies like a primer, according to several Amazon customers. Some say this product caused their skin to feel dry. Many customers like the way this sunscreen feels, but were disappointed by how expensive it is.

This tinted sun-stick is an effective sunscreen, according to its Amazon reviews, but one customer warns that the tinted color will look strange on pale skin.

Sunology's sunscreen spreads easily and blends in well, according to several Amazon customers. Some wish the tube was larger (or less expensive); a few reviewers complained that this sunscreen made their skin sticky.

Thinkbaby's sunscreen offers great sun protection, according to several Amazon customers, but many reviewers found the sunscreen difficult to apply. Some customers like the way this sunscreen smells.

This sunscreen is strong and effective, according to several Amazon customers, but some say that it applies thick and is difficult to spread (especially on smaller children). Many customers say this sunscreen has a pleasant scent.