Sunblock is a runner’s best friend

Lots of good sunblocks here.

Lots of good sunblocks here.  From left to right, Coppertone Sensitive Skin, Banana Boat Baby, Supergoop, and Neutrogena Beach Defense.

The one thing I wear no matter the season, no matter the distance, is sunblock.  I have sensitive skin and had one pre-cancer removed despite my shunning the sun, so it’s especially important to me, but it should be important to you, too.  Marathon runners are more at risk for skin cancer, not only because of their increased exposure to sun but also because of their “depleted immunity from all the high-intensity exercise.”  Yikes.  I’ll admit I don’t reapply during my long-runs or races, but now that they have these sunscreen towelettes, I think I’ll start stashing one with my gels to use on the go.


But before I head out the door (and even before I put on my running clothes, to avoid any spots I might miss from shifting clothing), I always slather on the sunscreen.  I used to use spray sunblocks but have switched back to creams because I think they last longer on my skin, don’t force me to hold my breath during application, and aren’t as sticky.  My favorites are pictured above and reviewed below.

  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin SPF 50 – I first bought this because it was listed as one of the chemically “safe” sunblocks out there, but kept using it because it works so well.  I use it on my face, neck, and ears.  It doesn’t sting and gives excellent coverage, but it will give you a white face until you rub it in (and sometimes even after, especially spots around your hair that don’t quite get rubbed in).
  • Banana Boat Baby SPF 50 – It’s labeled as tear-free and sting-free, and for me it is.  Much like the Coppertone, it takes a bit of effort to rub in (and when I sweat a lot it “re-emerges” as white streaks on my skin), but it seems to last longer than some other formulas, and in a pinch I can use it on my face, too, so it’s multipurpose.  Also, since it’s for babies it makes me think it’ll work better because if a product doesn’t work on babies, those parents will cause a ruckus.  I’ll use this on my upper body and sometimes legs.
  • Supergoop SPF 30 – Supergoop is one of the few chemical sunblocks that doesn’t sting even when my skin is sensitive (from heat or salt or a bad mood).  It rubs in easily, doesn’t smell like much of anything, and doesn’t leave my skin sticky or shiny.  While the big pump is initially expensive, it’s actually not much more ounce-for-ounce than regular drugstore brands, and the pump is very convenient, making application that much simpler.  I’ll use this on my legs and arms, especially when I’m going for a short run or when I’m not running at all.
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense SPF 70 – These yellow bottles cropped up in stores earlier this year and I couldn’t resist trying them.  They are not a “wet skin” formulation but rather a standard sunblock, but I like how easily it rubs in and I actually enjoy the beachy/fruity scent it has (but I don’t wear it when I know that fragrance would be irritating to others, and I don’t use it all over my body because then I think the smell would be overwhelming).


Whatever your distance, if you’re running outside, don’t forget to slop on the block!


What sunblock(s) do you use?  Share in the comments!

One thought on “Sunblock is a runner’s best friend

  1. LunaTek

    Because it doesn’t feel sticky or greasy, I like the Neutrogena Dry Touch. Even feels fine on the face. It comes in a variety of SPFs; here is link to SPF 55:

    The bottles are small which is good for portability, but bad if you need to slather it on daily all over. For that reason, while on summer vacation at the lake, I tried that Neutrogena Beach Defense you pictured. But the men in the family sneered at the beachy/fruity smell you mention!


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