What type of sunscreen is best for long road rides? I'm thinking sweatproof, non-greasy, non-smelly. Ideally it would be a 'low risk' and 'safe' according to something like the EWG or Good Guide, since I don't like putting nasty chemicals on my body.

The goal is something that lasts a long time (think 4 or 5 hour ride in the hot sun) while sweating, without running into my eyes/mouth/onto my hands.


  • The trick anymore is finding ANYTHING in a small tube, so you can easily pack it on the bike. Jun 7, 2012 at 11:26
  • Consumer Reports does sunscreen evaluations regularly, but you've got to be a subscriber to see the details. Jun 8, 2012 at 0:57
  • @Neil Fein - Is this a list question? Surely, people will list the favorite sunscreens, but can they prove that one is better than the other?
    – user313
    Jun 14, 2012 at 5:35
  • Top voted answer is "Neutrogena sport sprays" and there is no way that can be objectively voted higher than any other answer. All other answers are zero.
    – user313
    Jun 14, 2012 at 5:43
  • 1
    I disagree with some of the above. While I realize that "my favorite" lists end up...well, not so great. There are products, like sunscreen, where it does make a difference. That said, I don't mind my answer staying at zero, getting deleted, or even getting a "-1". But if you are going to do a "negative" action, leave a comment with the reason why you did such.
    – Ken Hiatt
    Jun 15, 2012 at 3:04

5 Answers 5


I'm a pasty white guy in the antipodes, and I burn like a sausage on flaming barbeque.

I much prefer cloth-based sunscreen. That adds cooling as well as sun protection, and doesn't leave a greasy residue that has to be washed off. Getting sunscreen to stay on areas that are hot, sweaty and being rubbed is not easy and rarely effective. My preference is not to ride when it's that hot and sunny, leave early or arrive late instead.

If I can't do that I wear long sleeves and a hat, with full coverage gloves as well. With a nice floppy hat and a hood or hat-flap it's only my face that's actually exposed [1]. I find this is cooler than being exposed and using suncreen, which in Australia can be handy (cycling when the air is much above body core temperature is unpleasant). For my face I do find I need something on my nose and occasionally lips, which is I dislike. But when I have to I use baby beach products, usually a stick. I figure anything designed to stay on an infant at the beach will work for me, and since I'm using a tiny amount of it occasionally the cost isn't really relevant.

I look for tradespeople's clothing because that usually works better than cycling clothes. It's generally fluorescent, hard-wearing and affordable as well as SPF 50+, plus it's designed to be worn by hot sweaty people. Also, you get pockets. Finding long pants in lightweight fluoro can be tricky, but they are made (at least in Oz).

  • 1
    +1 for clothing as sunblock. I recently rode 114 miles in a day with a friend on a hot day, with both of using wicking full-coverage clothing as sunblock. See here Jun 21, 2012 at 11:52
  • 1
    I spent last summer touring in Europe and used clothing as sun protection and would absolutely do it again. White Patagonia trail running top, and a pair of rock-climbing pants hemmed at mid-calf. Now my two favorite pieces of clothing. Nov 29, 2012 at 3:13

The real key for cycling sunblock is to not put it on your forehead, or wear some kind of bandana to block the sweat from getting in your eyes. Or wear a cycling hat under your helmet to protect your head from sunburn.

I spray the sunscreen on the bottom half of my face, ears, neck etc. then use some additional cream/stick on my nose for added protection.

I prefer the Neutrogena sport sprays that are listed on the Good Guide link you asked about.

  • 2
    +1 for not on your forehead. Even the sport sunscreens tend to run into your eyes.
    – Kibbee
    May 30, 2012 at 15:02

I'd suggest any of the high-SPF "children's" sunblocks ... they work just as well as the "adult" versions, but are less irritating (they also tend to be [slightly] less expensive).


I use Scape which is an "athlete sunblock" and which does NOT run. I'm a heavy sweater when the sun is out but no problems with Scape. I use the big 50+ when I kit up before a ride on a sunny day...Seattle Area, but we do get sunny days and with no tan to back up, you need the sunblock. The smaller "Clean Foam" is great for your Triathlon bag if you do tri's to touch up right before the race.

When I go with buzz cut, I just rub a bit all over my scalp. Don't forget back of knees which can get real exposed depending on your bike route.

Link to their website: http://scapelabs.com/


I started using Hawaiian Tropic 50 SPF for any ride longer than an hour. I like it because it doesn't have that normal sunblock feel and smell (it smells a little like Piña colada). Last weekend I used it for a 5 hour ride (6 total hours in the sun) on a cloudless day starting at 10 AM and the only areas I got burned were the areas I missed. I've used it on century rides which last all day and didn't get burned. I live in the midwest with crazy humidity causing me to sweat all the time during this time of the year, and I never have any issues with the sunscreen.


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