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7 Best Sunscreen Sticks for Easy Application Against UV Rays

Get the same SPF sun protection as a liquid alternative with a handy and mess-free sunscreen stick.

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Rd Ecomm 7 Best Sunscreen Sticks For Easy Application Against Uv Rays Via Merchant 3RD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (3)

Not many people know the dos and don’ts of wearing sunscreen. Every dermatologist will tell you the importance of wearing sunscreen all year round. Lathering a bottle of facial sunscreen on a dark December morning may feel slightly extreme. But keeping a sunscreen stick in your bag or car is a far more feasible way to ensure you are always protected against the sun.

According to dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll, “It is essential to use sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days, as the sun’s UV rays can still penetrate through the clouds and windows.” Due to their mess-free, easy application, sunscreen sticks provide a convenient alternative to liquid body and face creams. We compiled a list of the best sunscreen solutions to suit every complexion and lifestyle.

Best sunscreen sticks

1 / 7

Cetaphil Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Stick
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Best overall

Cetaphil Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Stick

This sunscreen stick from Cetaphil has over 10,000 ratings on Amazon for good reason. Not only does it provide SPF 50, but it also nourishes and hydrates skin as you wear it. The big plus about this stick is how quickly and seamlessly it blends into the skin. Unlike other sunscreen sticks, which tend to have a thicker consistency, this one has a non-greasy formula that doesn’t leave a residue.

On the off chance that it does, try double cleansing. The combination of non-comedogenic ingredients also means it won’t cause inconvenient breakouts. Carry this 3.4-ounce travel-friendly bottle in your beach bag all summer long.

Pros

Cons

  • May leave a slight white cast on darker skin tones

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2 / 7

Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Stick
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Best budget

Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Stick

At less than $10, the Coppertone Sport stick offers everything you need in sunscreen. It has SPF 40 protection, water resistance capabilities and is the perfect size to take on the go. While great for the face, use it on other areas of your body like the arms, legs, neck, feet and ears. This stick is sure to be the MVP of every outdoor game this summer.

Pros

  • Most affordable price on our list
  • High SPF protection
  • Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Compact travel size
  • Unscented
  • Available on Amazon and Walmart

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it’s sticky

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3 / 7

Shiseido sunscreen stick
Megan Mowery/RD.com

Best splurge

Shiseido Clear SynchroShield Sunscreen Stick

My personal favorite sunscreen due to how well it works under or over makeup is the Shiseido Clear SynchroShield Stick. The formula is so light and blendable that it’s almost undetectable once applied. Even if you’re not wearing sweat-proof makeup, you won’t have to worry about looking shiny or dealing with a white cast residue.

A sunscreen for all skin types, this stick is ideal for keeping skin protected and matte all year round. Extra points for the sleek packaging and how soft skin feels at the end of the day.

Pros

  • Featherweight consistency
  • Suitable for face and body
  • Packaging made of biodegradable materials
  • Available on UltaShiseido, Sephora and Amazon

Cons

  • Some people may not like the scent
  • Higher price point

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4 / 7

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Mini Sunscreen Stick
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Best on Amazon

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Mini Sunscreen Stick

This Blue Lizard mini stick is one of the most popular SPFs on the market and takes up the smallest space. It’s perfect for daily use because it’s fragrant-, paraben- and dye-free, making it extra gentle on sensitive skin. The zinc oxide-based formula has no active chemical ingredients and doesn’t contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, which can be harmful to coral reefs.

We love how this SPF 50 sunscreen goes on clear. Skin also gets naturally nourished with ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, sunflower seed oil and vitamin E. Follow it up with a hydrating facial moisturizer to beat the summer heat.

Pros

  • Over 2,700 five-star ratings on Amazon
  • Reef-friendly formula
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Smooth application
  • Available on Amazon and Walmart

Cons

  • May leave a slight white cast
  • About a third of the size of standard sunscreen sticks

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5 / 7

 Supergoop Glow Stick
Megan Mowery/RD.com

Best for face

Supergoop! Glow Stick Sunscreen Stick

There is nothing worse than thinking you carefully applied sunscreen only to look in the mirror at the end of the day and see a red nose, burning cheeks and scarlet shoulders. This Supergoop! Glow Stick has SPF 50, which keeps the classic suntraps on the face extra protected. It also adds a natural glow to the skin, making it the perfect highlighter for summer when applied to the upper cheekbones over foundation.

Pros

  • Easy application for sun-protected skin
  • Cruelty-free formula
  • Travel-friendly container
  • Leaves a dewy finish
  • Can be worn alone or with makeup
  • Available on Ulta, Amazon and Nordstrom

Cons

  • May not be the best choice for those with sensitive skin

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6 / 7

Aveeno Protect + Smooth Mineral Sunscreen Stick
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Best for body

Aveeno Protect + Smooth Mineral Sunscreen Stick

This Aveeno sunscreen has plenty of product for a mess-free, full-body application. Keep hands from getting sticky with this powerful SPF that works for everyone—even those with sensitive skin. Oat essence helps calm and soothe skin, alongside zinc oxide. It’s water- and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes so you can enjoy beach days without the burn.

Pros

  • Suitable for face and body
  • Fragrance- and paraben-free for sensitive skin
  • Easy application
  • Sweat- and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Available on Walmart and Amazon

Cons

  • Thicker consistency

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7 / 7

Neuotrogena Mineral Sunscreen Stick
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Best mineral

Neutrogena Mineral Sunscreen Stick

In recent years more people are becoming aware of the damage chemical sunscreens have not only on sensitive skin but also on coral reefs and marine life. Anyone who loves the ocean or tends to react to chemical SPFs should consider this mineral stick from Neutrogena. Kind on the skin and sealife, it has a surprisingly sheer finish for a stick sunscreen and it’s dry to the touch once applied.

Pros

  • Sealife-friendly mineral sunscreen
  • Clear and matte finish
  • Water-resistant
  • Alternative to chemical SPF
  • Available on Walmart, Amazon, Neutrogena and Ulta

Cons

  • Leaves a semi-white cast that takes a while to disappear

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What to look for when buying sunscreen stick

We often associate sunscreens with summer, but sunscreen should be worn all year round (and even on your scalp!). This is why it’s important to find one that works for your skin. If you have sensitive skin, fragrance-free formulas are less likely to cause irritation.

If you have oily skin, non-comedogenic sunscreens help avoid breakouts. Dr. Caroll also recommends looking out for sunscreens that contain antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, to help repair and protect the skin while wearing them.

How we found the best sunscreen stick

As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.

FAQ

Are sunscreen sticks effective?

Yes, sunscreen sticks are extremely effective in protecting against UV rays, especially on the nose and face. They work particularly well for anyone doing outdoor activities or when looking for a quick and easy application.

How long does a sunscreen stick last?

These sunscreen solutions maintain their SPF factor for three years but should come with an expiration date. Don’t make the sunscreen mistake of setting it and forgetting it. Be sure to reapply every two hours or more if you are swimming or sweating.

Is sunscreen cream better than stick?

This comes down to preference as they both offer natural sun protection. Sunscreen sticks, due to their mess-free application, are popular with beachgoers and families. Kids also tend to find sticks easier to apply than traditional creams.

Sources: 

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Clare Holden
Forever curious and endlessly creative, ever since graduating from my BA (Hons) in Journalism and Communications 15 years ago I have worked as a freelance writer - covering beauty, skincare, health, events, nutricosmetics, wellness, yoga, interiors, luxury fashion and jewellery as well as tech advancements and apps within these sectors. I write engaging content for the reader while organically integrating keywords for SEO and product recommendations. I also trained and worked as a makeup artist in London and have a background in fashion.