Woman running with sweaty facePhoto: Jacob Lund (Shutterstock)

Sunscreen is essential for summer outdoor workouts, but there are few rougher feelings in life than when your sweat turns your forehead into a slip’n’slide and a layer of goopy sunscreen slips down.

Fortunately, some sunscreens are better at the job than others. From a technical point of view, none of them are “sweat-proof” because something wears out at some point. (Likewise, the FDA doesn’t allow sunscreens to compete as “waterproof” or as “sunscreen.”) However, water-resistant, and therefore sweat-resistant, sunscreens exist, and a look at the label can help you tell the difference.

Illustration for article titled Choosing a Sweat Resistant Sunscreen

Look for “40 minutes” or “80 minutes” on the label

Sunscreens that can withstand sweating or swimming are labeled as “water-resistant”. You can find these words on the front of the packaging. Most sports sunscreens are water-resistant, but watch out for the fine print.

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According to the FDA’s labeling guidelines, a sunscreen that claims to be water-resistant must also state whether it has passed a 40-minute or an 80-minute test. Look out for the words “waterproof (80 minutes)” for the sunscreens that make you sweat the best.

Sweat-resistant sunscreens also need to be reapplied

If you’ve been out for a few hours, you can’t just put on sunscreen and then forget about it. Add up the amount of time you can expect to be out and about, then compare it to what your sunscreen thinks is possible.

All sunscreens should be reapplied after two hours, even if you haven’t sweated. During this time, you likely touched your face, your sleeves rubbed your arms, and so on. There is no guarantee that you will still have enough sunscreen to protect yourself. and if at any point you wipe a towel off, be sure to reapply it afterwards.

If you sweat (or swim or otherwise be exposed to water) look for this water resistance rating. If you’re going for a 90-minute run, wearing an 80-minute sunscreen won’t quite get you there. You may stop at some point for water or snacks. So pack sunscreen and reapply when you have a minute.

Illustration for article titled Choosing a Sweat Resistant Sunscreen

Balance all factors

As with any skin product, you need to experiment to find out which one will work best for you. (At long last, The best sunscreen is the one that you will actually wear.) You should also check the rest of the statistics on the label. Look for a sun protection factor of at least 30 and the words “broad spectrum” that it blocks UVA rays in addition to UVB.

Although I would prefer 80 minute sunscreen, I wear Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Mist when I run. It’s SPF 55, a wide range, and most importantly, unlike others I’ve tried, it doesn’t feel sticky or slimy. It’s water-resistant for 40 minutes so I reapply or choose a different sunscreen when I know I’ll be exercising longer. (In these cases, I use 80 minute sunscreen on my arms, but I still prefer my favorite one on my face.) And when you’ve found your own favorite sweat-resistant sunscreen, let us know.