Which Drugstore Sports Sunscreens Work Best?

We tested out various lotions during multiple outdoor workouts.

We’ve long known the importance of lathering on sunscreen before a day at the beach or pool. But one thing we often forget to do: wear it on an outdoor run or workout, or even on a walk along the Mall.

Recently, I picked up the four available sports sunscreen lotions at a local drugstore and tested each one on a particular sunny—and sweaty—outdoor workout. I stayed away from spray sunscreens and any lotions that claimed to be “waterproof” or “sweatproof,” since the FDA recently banned manufacturers from making those claims. I also made sure each bottle claimed a water resistance time of 40 to 80 minutes. Read on to see which of the four passed the test on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best.

1) Banana Boat Sport, SPF 30, $10.79
The workout: Hiking and outdoor yoga

I loved the cooling effect this sunscreen produced immediately upon application, especially on a humid day of hiking and yoga in the sun. It also didn’t leave any white, pasty marks on my skin once the sweat session began. On another long day of standup paddleboarding, it kept me sunburn-free.

Rating: 5

2) Coppertone Sport, SPF 30, $11.49
The workout: Rooftop cycling

As the most expensive option of the group and with claims to “stay on strong when you sweat,” the Coppertone sunscreen left me tan-line free, but ultimately disappointed. There was a lot of heavy perspiring during the hour-and-15-minute-long class, and much of the sweat and lotion seeped into my eyes.

Rating: 4

3) UltraSheer Dry-Touch Neutrogena, SPF 30, $10.99
The workout: four-mile run

This is a favorite among dermatologists and friends alike, and it certainly got the job done in terms of preventing sun damage. However, upon application it left me looking quite pasty and not-so dry, despite its claims. During the run, my soaked arms were left with visible streaks and specks of white lotion.

Rating: 3.5

4) CVS Sport Sun Lotion, SPF 50*, $9.97
The workout: Outdoor P90X workout

This CVS brand makes comparisons to Coppertone Sport, but the fact that it’s off-brand shows. It was another pasty application, and its claims to prevent sweat from dripping in the eyes were false. You’re better off forking over the extra dollar or two for branded sunscreens.

Rating: 2.5

*At the time of purchase, SPF 50 was the only available option.