Top ranked sunscreens on Amazon reviewed by dermatologists

A team of dermatologists (Xu et al., 2016) systematically reviewed the top ranked sunscreens on Amazon and devised a set of 6 helpful screening categories that are based on both positive and negative consumer reviews.Sunscreen attributes (in order of importance):

  • Cosmetic elegance (ease of application, not greasy, moisturizing, etc.)
  • Product performance (how well it protects against sunburn, even with sweating)
  • Skin compatibility (e.g., does not affect sensitive skin)
  • Product ingredients (both organic UV absorbers and titanium dioxide)
  • Separate ratings (recommendations or reviews from other sources)
  • Affordability (expressed as price per ounce)

An additional consideration was whether a sunscreen adhered to recommendations published by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), which specify that a sunscreen should:

[1] provide broad spectrum protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) radiations,

[2] have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and

[3] ensure water or sweat resistance for 40 to 80 minutes.

The team reviewed the top 65 sunscreens out of the 6,500 listed on Amazon and surprisingly, 40% of the top tier products did not meet the AAD guidelines.

A sunscreen without water or sweat resistance is not an issue in situations where you’re not going to be swimming or sweating heavily. However, if your child is playing soccer on a hot, humid day, then you should definitely use a water-resistant sunscreen that will hold up for the entire game! Similarly, you don’t necessarily require a sunscreen with a moisturizer in it if you are encountering hot and humid conditions.

The affordability of sunscreens was not a major consideration in consumer reviews, but there can be major differences in the prices of sunscreens with similar consumer reviews/ratings. For cost-conscious consumers, Xu et al. (2016) list several low-cost, highly rated sunscreens on that provide up to 80 minutes of water resistance—their top five are:

  1. NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion SPF 45
  2. NO-AD Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
  3. Banana Boat Sunscreen Sport Family Size, SPF 50
  4. Australian Gold SPF 30 Spray Gel
  5. Banana Boat Sunscreen Spray SPF 30


Xu S, Kwa M, Agarwal A, Rademaker A, and Kundu RV. (2016). Sunscreen product performance and other determinants of consumer preferences. JAMA Dermatology.

best sunscreens, UV exposure

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