Did you know that the number one cause of skin aging is sun exposure? And once aging sets in, there’s no way to reverse it. Prolonged exposure to the sun causes age spots, wrinkles, and even skin cancer.

People who engage in outdoor activities are especially prone to sun exposure that’s why wearing sunscreen is a must if you’re always out and about! That goes for folks who love to go on hiking trips. If you’re on the search for the best sunscreen in the market, here’s an in-depth review just for you!

Image used under Creative Commons from Michael Dorausch

The Best Sunscreen for Hiking

Image
Name
Pros
Cons
Bottom line
Banana Boat Sunscreen
Banana Boat Sunscreen
  • Broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays
  • Non-greasy, lightweight formula
  • In-Sun tested
  • Available in SPF 15, SPF 30, SPF 50 and SPF 100
  • Not as sweat-proof as other sunscreens
Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+
  • Broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays
  • Paraben, phthalates, PABA, and Dioxane Free
  • Highest water resistance of 80 minutes
  • Expensive
  • May cause mild skin reaction
Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen
Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen
  • Broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays
  • Free from harmful chemicals
  • Soothing, emollient formula
  • Takes a long time to set
Raw Elements Eco Form Sunscreen
Raw Elements Eco Form Sunscreen
  • Broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays
  • Eco-friendly and reef-safe
  • Soothing, hypoallergenic formula
  • Thick, goopy consistency

Banana Boat Sunscreen

Banana Boat Sunscreen
Always a classic, the Banana Boat brand is one beach essential everyone is familiar with. The brand’s sports sunscreen is one of Banana Boat’s bestselling sun protection lotion. This product is available in SPF 15, 30, and 100 so if you’re planning to stay for hours outdoors, get the formula with the highest sun protection factor. This product offers effective broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. The consistency is creamy and spreadable and once worked into the skin, it stays put.

We love how the formula is not as thick as other sunscreen and it’s non-greasy too. It doesn’t feel like a mask when worn because the formula is breathable. However, it’s not as sweat proof as other sunscreens, which means the product does bleed a bit when you’re extra sweaty. Good thing the formula isn’t so harsh to the eyes. Also, it does have a strong chemical smell, which to us, is not a deal breaker at all since most sunscreens share the same scent. For this Amazon user, the Banana Boat sports sunscreen is one of the most lightweight sun protection lotions there are and it’s a joy to put on:

This lotion goes on smoothly and feels like it disappears (in a good way). Some lotions say “non-greasy” but are totally greasy – this one really isn’t. Highly recommended!

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Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+


Rounding up our list of the best sunscreens money can buy is the ThinkSport sunscreen with SPF 50+++. This is a mineral sunscreen made from biodegradable ingredients. It contains zero avobenzone, oxybenzone, or UV chemical absorbers, boasting of effective sun protection without chemicals that could harm the skin or the environment. ThinkSport is one of the few brands that signed up on the safe cosmetics campaign compact, so something to consider when looking for a sunscreen free from chemicals.The ThinkSport sunscreen is designed for active individuals, those who love to spend their time outdoors hours at a time so expect a hardy, long-lasting wear time and sun protection. The product promises a lightweight, non-greasy formula free from Paraben, phthalates, PABA and dioxane. It features the highest level of water resistance at 80 minutes and it doesn’t have any cloying scent.

As for the downsides of using the ThinkSport sunscreen, it’s very high in zinc so use this product sparingly if you are sensitive to this chemical. Some users say the product caused a mild allergic reaction due to the combination of sun protectants. The ThinkSport sunscreen is also one of the most expensive sunscreens we’ve tested but then again, no expense should be spared when it comes to sun protection! This Amazon user agrees, the ThinkSport sunscreen is not only effective, it also wears like iron:

We did not burn in the tropical sun, even though we snorkeled for long stretches at a time. Chemical sunscreens convert UV rays to heat. Physical sunscreens like this product here block UV rays without the added heat. Beware, it is white and will make you look somewhat like a geisha. However, I’d rather have my face a little bit clown white than be at higher risk for skin cancer. Highly recommended!

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Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen

Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen
Badger’s SPF 35 sports sunscreen is designed to provide broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UBV rays while hiking, surfing, running, skiing, and snowboarding. The product is formulated with zinc oxide with sweat resistance for up to 80 minutes. The soothing ingredients – such as extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, jojoba and cocoa butter – keep the skin supple and moisturized all day long!This is the perfect sunscreen for those battling extremely dry skin or those who are going on hiking trips somewhere cold. The product has zero oxybenzone, octisalate, octinoxate, avobenzone, or added vitamin A. Its emollient consistency glides onto the skin. And once it sets, it stays put! What’s more, the product is biodegradable so it’s totally safe for the environment. Got sensitive nose? This product has no scent so it doesn’t have that cloying, headache inducing odors that most sunscreens have!

Now for the downside, the product takes so long to be absorbed into the skin. The richness of the formula makes the Badger’s SPF 35 sports sunscreen greasy when it’s not massaged into the skin properly. Minor issues aside, this Amazon user says the Badger’s SPF 35 sports sunscreen works like a charm:

This stuff is incredible. I am never going back to regular sunscreen again. Yes, it is zinc oxide based, but if you rub it in well, it won’t make you look very pale. And it doesn’t get in your eyes like PABA-based sunscreens, nor does it harm coral, as PABA does, nor does it stink. I can’t say enough how pleased I am. I am very fair-skinned and burn easily, but I could snorkel half a day easily without needing to reapply.

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Raw Elements Eco Form Sunscreen

Raw Elements Eco Form Sunscreen
The Raw Elements brand is known for its all-natural ingredients and the Eco Form sunscreen mirrors the brand’s commitment to providing effective, gentle, and eco-friendly products. The Eco Form sunscreen boasts of balanced Physical UV protection thanks to Raw Elements’ proprietary Organic Eco-Shield Performance Technology. This sunscreen boasts of a hypoallergenic formula so it’s incredibly gentle and suitable for those with sensitive skin.According to the brand, this product is guaranteed all natural and safe from the usual sunscreen chemicals that harm the skin. And if you plan to do a lot of snorkeling or swimming, you’ll be glad to know that the Eco Form sunscreen is totally reef-safe!

As for the negatives, the consistency of this product is on the thick side so it’s not as spreadable as other sunscreens. We wish the consistency is spreadable so the product can be worked into the skin much more easily. Our advice is to store the product at room temp before using so the product doesn’t go extra goopy. As far as effectiveness goes, this happy camper says the Eco Form sunscreen offers dependable sun protection that lasts:

No burns AT ALL even after being in the hot sun for 7hrs in Mexico- and even after swimming with the stingrays! I searched for many hours and a couple days for the best biodegradable sunscreen and I am very happy and satisfied with my pick! 🙂

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Why Wear Sunscreen?

The sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays can penetrate the deeper layers of the skin, causing irreversible damage on the inside and the outside of the skin layers. By making a habit out of wearing sunscreen, you’re not just protecting your skin from premature aging, you’re also preventing the development of skin cancer. Below are just a few of the many benefits of wearing sunscreen:

Skin Cancer Prevention
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, about 95% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays reach the earth’s surface and you risk exposure to these damaging rays when you’re outdoors with zero sun protection! Wearing sunscreen blocks UV rays from the skin, reducing the chances of developing skin cancer.

Fight Premature Aging
Yes, wearing sunscreen helps protect the skin from premature aging caused by sun exposure. No amount of skin creams can reverse the signs of aging once they set in so it’s a great idea to start investing on sunscreen to keep your skin youthful and glowing.

Protects from Sunburns
Extended sun exposure increases the risk of sunburn, which occurs when the skin is exposed to UV rays for a long time. Hiking, tanning, trekking, these are just some of the many activities that increase the risk of painful sunburns. Wearing sunscreen shields the skin from burning under the harsh sun.

Image used under Creative Commons from earthlydelights

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for You

Not all sunscreen are made equally, some work better than others that’s why it’s mighty important to know how to choose the right product for you! Here are some of the most important factors you need to consider when choosing a sunscreen for you:

Sun Protection Rating
A sunscreen’s Sun Protection Factor or SPF will determine the effectiveness of the product against sunburn-causing UVB rays. If you’re going on a hike or you’re expecting hours of sun exposure, go for sunscreens with at least SPF 30. But don’t depend on the SPF factor for sun protection, you have to re-apply the product every two hours or so for continuous protection.

Broad Spectrum
Broad Spectrum determines the effectiveness of the product in terms of protecting the skin from UVA and UVB. Both types of ultraviolet rays are known to cause skin cancer. Always go for a sunscreen that features broad-spectrum protection!

Water Resistance
Despite what some brand says, no sunscreen is completely waterproof. They are only water resistant. If you’ll be engaged in rigorous activities, choose a sunscreen that’s at least sweat resistant for up to 40 minutes. If you’re going to the beach, opt for sunscreens that are water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.