The Best Gel Sunscreens

The Best Gel Sunscreens

What To Look For

Gel sunscreens are designed to protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation. The American Cancer Society advises that in 2007 there were 59,940 new cases of skin cancer and 8,110 deaths attributed to the disease. Prevention is possible, and part of preventing skin cancer is the use of sunscreen. Prior to looking for the best gel sunscreens on the market, consider the features you require.

SPF: The sun protection factor (SPF) indicates the level of protection your gel sunscreen offers. The higher the SPF indicator, the longer the skin is protected against ultraviolet radiation. The best gel sunscreens will feature an SPF of 15 and above.

PABA-free: PABA, also known as para-aminobenzoic acid, is said to be safe for use on the skin, but there has been evidence to suggest that it might actually lead to allergic reactions and may even be a contributory factor to skin cancer. Opt for gel sunscreens that are notably free of PABA.

Waterproof: Check the label and buy a gel sunscreen that is waterproof. For a surfer or swimmer this makes sense, but even if you plan on hiking, biking or engaging in any outdoor activity that does not involve water, it is a good idea to look for gel sunscreens that offer the waterproof protection. In this manner, you are protected against sweating and splashing from unplanned water contact.

Common Pitfalls

Even the best gel sunscreens have a hard time protecting the skin if the wearer takes medication that adds photosensitivity to the skin's makeup. In such cases, it is crucial to use a sunscreen that offers the highest SPF possible. Medications will oftentimes list this side effect; if you are unsure, consult with your doctor prior to sun exposure.

Gel sunscreen needs to be reapplied occasionally. Even though the best gel sunscreens claim to be waterproof, there is always some loss from water and also skin absorption. Manufacturers oftentimes do not state how often the sunscreens need to be reapplied when used in water.

Some gel sunscreens may stain clothing, especially sensitive materials. Testing a small area of a piece of fabric is a good idea prior to applying the sunscreen onto the skin.

Where To Buy

The best gel sunscreens are for sale on the Internet, in grocery stores, department stores and at outdoor activity outfitters.


Gel sunscreens are a relatively inexpensive way of protecting your skin against skin cancer. Depending on the size of the bottle, the SPF protection offered, any additional skin improving properties noted, and also the waterproof aspect, a 4 oz. bottle may cost between $3 and $36.


If you usually buy sunscreen in big bottles, you will find that they are unwieldy in your gear. Maybe they do not fit into your backpack, take up too much room with your surf gear, and are easily left behind because of space considerations. Great accessories to consider are the travel bottle sets that most backpacking outfitters offer for sale. These sets contain all purpose bottles in 2 oz. or 4 oz. sizes, and even include the squeeze option. This accessory is perfect for breaking up your big bottle of gel sunscreen into various smaller versions you are more likely to bring along with you.

Article Written By Sylvia Cochran

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

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