Thanks to sunscreen sticks, you officially have no excuse to skip sunscreen because it's literally never been easier or quicker to put on your SPF. Sunscreen sticks are solid bars of sunscreen that you can easily and quickly swipe onto your face and/or body, perfect for anyone who's constantly on-the-go. Since they're small in size, they're great for touch-ups and getting into tough-to-reach crevices and reapplying on often-burned spots like the tip of the nose and forehead.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab regularly tests and evaluates body sunscreen and face sunscreens, including natural sunscreens and SPF products made with zinc oxide, sunscreens for sensitive skin and more. In the Beauty Lab's most recent in-Lab and consumer sunscreen test, our scientists analyzed more than 60 sunscreens and surveyed more than 1,100 people to find the best sunscreens on the market. Ahead, we've rounded up the best sunscreen sticks for all skin types, from dry skin to oily skin and everything in between.
Our top picks:
1Best Overall Sunscreen StickSunforgettable Total Protection Sport Stick SPF 50 Colorescience Read More
2Best Value Sunscreen StickPositively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Aveeno Read More
3Best Sunscreen Stick for FaceSunny Stick SPF 30 Mini Bloom Read More
4Best Sunscreen Stick for Under MakeupClear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ Shiseido Read More
5Best Sunscreen Stick for Oily SkinMineral Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Face & Body Stick SPF 50 Neutrogena Read More
You can read more about how we evaluate sunscreen sticks in our Lab and consumer tests — plus everything you need to know about sunscreen to find the best sunscreen stick for you according to our Beauty Lab pros and Geeta Yadav, M.D., a Toronto-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Facet Dermatology, and Brendan Camp, M.D., a double board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City — at the end of this guide. Looking for more sunscreen options? Check out our guides to the best expert-tested sunscreens and the best sunscreens for kids.
The Good Housekeeping Institute regularly tests and evaluates skincare products, including body and face sunscreens. In the Beauty Lab's most recent sunscreen test, our scientists analyzed 62 body sunscreens and polled 1,139 people on their sunscreen habits, conducting both Lab and consumer testing to determine the top sunscreen products on the market. Testers took note of several factors, including ease of use, scent, texture, look and feel on skin and sun protection ability. This list was curated with contributions from Wizemann, Dr. Yadav, Dr. Camp and our beauty editors to curate the top-performing sunscreen sticks on the market.
✔️ Broad spectrum coverage: The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends sunscreen products that provide broad spectrum coverage, meaning that it includes both UVA and UVB protection, says Dr. Camp. UVA is responsible for aging the skin and UVB is responsible for burning the skin, so it's safe to say you'll want to be protected from both!
✔️ SPF 30 or higher: "Always look for a sun protection factor of at least SPF 30," says Dr. Yadav. The AAD also suggests SPF 30 for the best protection. For even more peace of mind, the GH Beauty Lab recommends looking for SPF 50.
✔️ Formula: "Be cautious when shopping for stick-based formulas if you're prone to pore congestion or irritation," says Dr. Yadav, as sunscreen sticks tend to be thick and hydrating. "Sunscreen sticks that use coconut butter and cocoa butter, which are highly comedogenic, may not be the best choice for acne-prone skin," says Wizemann. Dr. Yadav adds, "However, there are plenty of lighter and/or hypoallergenic stick formulas that are suitable for oily or sensitive complexions," like our picks above.
✔️ Color: Dr. Yadav recommends considering a tinted or color-changing formula to help determine if you've effectively protected all of your skin. "Many formulas go on clear, which can make it challenging to determine if you've applied an adequate amount of sunscreen," she says.
When applied correctly, Wizemann says sunscreen sticks should be just as effective as liquid sunscreens and vice versa. Sunscreen sticks "are the best for targeted coverage of face and body parts that get exposed to sun (nose, ears, shoulders, top of the feet, cheeks, etc.)," Wizemann adds.
Regardless of formula, the most important part of applying sunscreen is careful, even and thorough application. "When using a sunscreen stick, you should rub it over the same area multiple times and massage it in to make sure you've fully coated and protected your skin," recommends Dr. Yadav. Don't forget to apply sunscreen 15 minutes before first exposure to sun. "This is crucial for all sunscreens, sunscreen sticks included, as they all require some time to form a uniform protective film on skin before sun exposure," says Wizemann.
Yes, but take note: Due to their often thicker and waxier formulas, sunscreen sticks may be a bit more difficult to apply than liquid sunscreen. "Typically, these formulas contain rich, plant-based emollients, like shea, jojoba, and coconut oils, making them ideal for drier skin types," says Dr. Yadav. "They also may not be the best choice for everyday use, for example under makeup, as they may dissolve foundations and concealers and may not be most practical when it comes to covering the entire body," says Wizemann.
Good Housekeeping Beauty Assistant Catharine Malzahn authored this article, working closely with the Beauty Lab to help deliver fact-based, science-backed beauty coverage. Over the years, she has interviewed experts, written product reviews and tested hundreds of skincare products like sunscreens, including sunscreen lotions, sprays, chemical and mineral formulas, powders and sticks. She's never without her SPF and considers it the most essential step in any skincare routine.
For this article, she worked closely with Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann, who has touched, researched, tested and evaluated thousands of products for almost a decade. She carried out various studies from sunscreens (including formulas for sensitive and oily skin and mineral types) and more. She also lends a hand when it comes to explaining skincare ingredients and verifies product claims.
Dr. Brendan Camp is a double board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, and Dr. Geeta Yadav is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Facet Dermatology.