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Summer has come to a close and autumn is fast approaching, but that doesn’t mean that you should put your sunscreen away just yet. In fact, sunscreen should be a staple in your everyday skincare routine, even in the dead of winter.
If you’re someone who doesn’t have an everyday sunscreen in their routine, the good news is that there’s no better time to start wearing sunscreen than right now. There are plenty of options to choose from, like aerosols, mineral-based options, and even sunscreen sticks, which makes keeping your skin safe easier than ever.
“Daily sunscreen application, and reapplication, is the cornerstone, bare-minimum practice for thorough, comprehensive skin health,” says Shane Miller, licensed esthetician and owner of the popular skincare blog @HowToHydrate on Instagram. “The greatest misconception surrounding sunscreen usage is that it is only essential on cloudless days or if we’re spending prolonged periods of time in direct sun exposure, such as at the park or on the beach.”
Though you may not see the harm in stepping outside without sunscreen if you’re just going about your life; maybe you’re picking up some coffee, on your way to work, or you’re already at work sitting close to a window. Regardless of what you’re doing, this is not a practice you want to make into a habit. Doing so leaves your skin susceptible to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can wreak a lot of damage on our bodies in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, or worse: skin cancer. Earlier this summer, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that excessive exposure to these UV rays caused a jaw-dropping 1.2 million new cases of non-melanoma skin cancers, with an additional 325,000 melanomas on the skin.
What you Should Know About Sunscreen Sticks
Sunscreen sticks are as simple as they sound, taking the concept of a tube of deodorant and applying it to UV protection.
“Sunscreen sticks have recently seen a boost in popularity thanks to their travel-friendly balm formulas,” Miller says. Just because they’re easy, however, doesn’t mean you can simply buy one, apply it and be done; there are some important things to keep in mind when purchasing and using sunscreen sticks. For starters, Miller recommends always keeping your skin type and intentions clear and top of mind. Not everyone has the same skin type, so what might be good for a friend or someone you follow on social media may not work the same way for you and your skin.
“If you have oily skin and plan to use your sunscreen stick for reapplying on top of makeup throughout the day, you should look for a lightweight formula that will minimize makeup disruption,” Miller recommends. However, if you’re someone with dry skin or you happen to live in a colder area, you should look for a stick formula with a rich and thick finish for additional moisture.
When it comes to using your sunscreen stick, Miller recommends to generously swipe the product across your entire face, neck, and ears. Then, use your fingers to rub the formula into your skin to ensure the sunscreen can evenly and effectively protect your skin. You should always reapply sunscreen to all of the exposed areas on your body every two hours when you’re exposed to UV rays.
Sunscreen Stick Buying Guide
Sun Protection Factor: Otherwise known as SPF, the sun protection factor of your sunscreen refers to the level of UV radiation needed to burn skin protected by sunscreen, which could be greater or less than depending on where you are, the time of the day, how often you’re reapplying throughout the day, and also how sensitive your skin is.
In other words, if your sunscreen has a higher SPF count, that means it offers more protection. That said, SPF 30 is recommended by experts, including the American Academy of Dermatology Association, as a safe choice when selecting your sunscreen; it blocks 97 percent of UV rays. While there are sunscreens with higher SPF levels than 30, they don’t do that much better by comparison. In other words, you’re better off diligently reapplying throughout the day and taking regular shade breaks.
The Best Sunscreen Sticks
Below is our list of the best sunscreen sticks currently on the market, featuring affordable, top-rated options.
1. Supergoop! Glow Stick SPF 50
You might remember when we raved about Supergoop!’s body butter and (Re)setting mist, in which case it should come as no surprise that its sunscreen stick is equally as great. Not only does this stick offer a convenient way to keep your face safe from UV rays, but it actually feels good to apply and wear. Instead of leaving your face feeling oily or sticky, it leaves a dewy finish that only enhances your skin’s natural sheen. Best of all, it’s free of harmful chemicals and chock full of goodies, like hydrating fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidant-rich oils that keep your skin nourished and protected. Amazon sells these in packs of one or two; we recommend the latter to ensure you’re never without your sunscreen.
2. Suntegrity Mineral Sport Sun Stick SPF 30
Remembering to apply your sunscreen in the morning is only half the battle. Whatever the reason, this sunscreen stick by Suntegrity makes it easier than ever to do a quick touch-up if you’re in a pinch, whether you need to get your face, your legs, or even your shoulders if they’re exposed. Simply glide this stick across your skin, helping moisturize in the process thanks to the organic coconut oil, shea butter, and other ingredients. It’s also water-resistant, meaning you won’t have to worry if you want to take a quick dip in the pool. Just remember to reapply after 80 minutes of sun exposure.
3. Sun Bum Original Face Stick SPF 30
Sun Bum’s sunscreen stick comes highly recommended, boasting over 7,000 five star reviews on Amazon to be exact. We’ve used Sun Bum’s standard sunscreen lotions in the past, keeping us free of sunburns through workouts and beach days alike. The company’s handy stick-style SPF is no different, a broad spectrum SPF 30 that’s easy to glide on your skin and apply during your morning routine and beyond. An added bonus: You can use it for exercise and for swimming, thanks to its 80-minute water-resistant application.
4. Kahi Aqua Balm SPF 50
Sunscreen application and reapplication can be a sensitive topic for people who wear makeup; on one hand, you want to be conscious of your exposure to harmful UV rays but on the other, you don’t want to mess up your makeup. This sunscreen stick offers a glam-friendly solution that guards your skin while also nourishing it in the process. The key ingredient is Vitamin C, which is incredibly important to keeping your skin healthy. Also included: You get salmon extract, which helps with the production of collagen and keeps your skin from developing wrinkles and fine lines. “This stick is notorious in the beauty community for its matte finish and not disrupting makeup when reapplying,” Miller highlights. When you’re applying this to your skin, he recommends warming the formula on the back of your hand before applying to your face to minimize disruption.
5. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Stick SPF 50
For those living an active lifestyle, Miller recommends this option from Neutrogena. Whether you’re sweating because you’re working out or because of the heat, this sunscreen won’t budge once you apply it. Instead, it spreads easily and evenly on the skin without leaving unwanted white residue.
6. Coola Organic Sunscreen SPF 30
This is another great option for those looking for a sunscreen that holds up during physical activity; this sunscreen stick boasts a vegan formula with natural, antioxidant-rich nutrients like red raspberry seed oil, along with prickly pear extract, which all help aid in fighting free radicals and keep your skin nourished and supple.
7. Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50
This sunscreen stick by Shiseido leaves a truly invisible finish, working silently yet effectively for all skin types. Unlike the other options on our list, this sunscreen is formulated with WetForce x HeatForce technology, which is another way of saying that it actually becomes more effective when it’s exposed to water or heat.