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A comprehensive overview of sunscreen sticks: Top 7 sunscreen sticks on the market

This product can help protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 4, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Melissa Hunter, NP-C
Smiling Woman Applying Sunscreen to Face
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 4, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Melissa Hunter, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Applying SPF is one of the most beneficial things we can do for our skin. That said, figuring out which sunscreen will work best for you and your skin can be challenging. 

After all, there’s a lot to choose from: lotions, liquid sunscreens, sprays, SPF-infused makeup, and sunscreen sticks. Ultimately, the right sunscreen for you is the one that you’ll actually enjoy applying each and every day. Routine is key!

Sunscreen sticks, in particular, can come in handy for on-the-go reapplication. Here, our team of skincare experts will explain everything you need to know about sunscreen sticks and how to effectively use them. 

What’s the deal with sunscreen?

Evidence has shown that sunscreen is beneficial for everyone. It can help prevent skin cancer, reduce wrinkles, and minimize sun spots—otherwise known as signs of premature aging. 

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends daily sunscreen use with those that are broad-spectrum, water-resistant, and have an SPF of at least 30.¹

Basic sun safety

Unfortunately, using sunscreen alone may not be enough to prevent signs of early aging or skin cancer. Several other sun safety measures are recommended for prevention, including:²

  • Wear SPF daily.

  • Limit time in the sun.

  • Wear proper clothing to cover the skin.

  • Reapply your SPF at least every two hours, but more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating.

What’s the deal with SPF?

The sun protection factor (SPF) measures the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation needed to burn protected skin. Despite misconceptions about SPF being related to the amount of time a person is exposed to the sun, it is essential to note that it is specific to the amount of sun exposure.³ 

Sunscreens are one of the many personal care skin products regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA recently updated their proposal to enhance the safety of all over-the-counter sunscreens, given that the use of sunscreens has been well-established in reducing the risk of skin cancer. 

For instance, the labeling for maximum SPF that’s currently allowed is up to 80, but it’s been proposed to be 60+.⁴ Additionally, the proposed order grants Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective (GRASE) status for sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and non-GRASE status for others (chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone and avobenzone), which need more data to designate them as GRASE. 

Types of sunscreen

Now that you’re well-versed on sunscreen and SPF, it’s time to explore the different types of sunscreen you can choose from.

Chemical sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens can absorb high-energy UV rays, and release lower-energy UV rays.

Chemical sunscreens have two categories of protection: UVA, UVB. The difference between UVA and UVB blockers is that the UVB blockers can absorb the full spectrum of UVB radiation. But UVA blockers are not able to cover the entire UVA radiation spectrum. 

Broad-spectrum protection sunscreens can absorb both UVA and UVB radiations—examples include the combination of octisalate and avobenzone.⁵ 

The Sunscreen by Curology is a must have for all skin types. It is a mineral-based SPF 30 sunscreen that absorbs quickly and blends beautifully into your skin. Its non-comedogenic formula was designed by dermatologists, and works seamlessly with your daily skin care routine. 

Physical sunscreens 

Mineral formula-based sunscreens (also known as physical sunscreens) provide a physical barrier that scatters and reflects UV rays. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the most common main ingredients in these sunscreens.⁶ 

Some mineral sunscreens can leave a white residue on your skin if you don’t rub them in well. 

Curology has licensed dermatology providers who specialize in delivering personalized skincare recommendations. They have compiled a list of the best sunscreen options based on your skin type. Dry skin, oily skin, and even sensitive skin—we have you covered!

Fair Skin Woman Applying Sunscreen to Face

Stick sunscreens: A mess-free gamechanger? 

Have you ever used sunscreen spray? Though they may seem convenient and easy to use, they can result in splotchy coverage and can irritate the eyes if you spray too close. 

It’s important to have thorough overall sunscreen coverage, especially on those long beach days. Sunscreen sticks can come in handy when used around the eyes and other hard to cover areas, like the backs of hands. 

Close up of Woman Applying Sunscreen

7 expert-approved sunscreen sticks 

Below, we’ve mapped out some of the top sunscreen sticks on the market. We understand that there are different budgets, preferences, and brands, so we wanted to be sure to include a variety of the best of the best. 

  1. Supergoop Glow Stick SPF 50

  2. Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+

  3. Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection Sunscreen Stick Broad-Spectrum Protection SPF 50+

  4. SunBum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Stick  

  5. MD Solar Sciences Solar Stick SPF 40

  6. Coola Classic Organic Sunscreen Stick SPF 30

  7. Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield Classic SPF 50

Protect your skin with Curology

Daily sunscreen is recommended regardless of the weather or season. Finding what works best for you can be challenging, given the multiple variances in brands, types, and formulas. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

curology bottle
curology bottle

For a reputable sunscreen that’s suitable for all skin types, check out the The Sunscreen by Curology! This formula was designed explicitly by dermatology experts, is tough on UV rays, and can even be used on acne-prone skin. Additionally, Curology offer personalized skincare through their team of licensed dermatologists, who provide you with an optimal skincare plan based on your specific needs and goals. 


What sunscreen stick is the best?

With so many great options on the market, this decision comes down to your preference, skin type, and budget.

Are sunscreen sticks good for your face?

Generally speaking, sunscreen spray isn’t recommended directly on the face,especially near the mouth, as you don’t want to risk inhaling the spray.⁷ But lotions and sticks are solid choices. Sunscreen sticks are easy to carry, easy to use, and relatively mess-free.

What is the best sunscreen stick, according to a dermatologist?

Dermatologists may all have different preferences on the best sunscreen stick, but what they do generally recommend is to using proper sun protection. Ultimately, it is based on individual needs—as what works for one person, may not for another.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Sunscreen FAQs. (2023, February 17).

  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Sunscreen: How to Help Protect Your Skin from the Sun. (2023, May 24).

  3. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Sun Protection Factor (SPF). (2017, July 14).

  4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Questions and Answers: FDA posts deemed final order and proposed order for over-the-counter sunscreen. (2022, December 16).

  5. Gabros, S., et al. Sunscreens And Photoprotection. StatPearls. (2023, March 7).

  6. Gabros, S., et al. Sunscreens And Photoprotection. StatPearls. Ibid.

  7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to Use Stick and Spray Sunscreens. (2022, April 18).

Melissa Hunter is a board certified family nurse practitioner at Curology. She received her MSN from George Washington University in Washington, DC.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Melissa Hunter

Melissa Hunter, NP-C

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