Best Water-based Sunscreens 2023

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is directly harmful and has been associated with the development of skin cancer. Reliable research indicates that using sunscreen reduces the chance of developing both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. It is important to use photoprotection strategies, such as seeking shade, avoiding the midday sun, wearing protective clothes, and applying sunscreen when that's impossible.

What Sunscreen SPF is Best?

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for any extended outdoor activity. Regardless of the SPF, though, it’s important to apply one ounce (two tablespoons) 30 minutes before going outside and reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.

For people who have a history or high risk of skin cancer, genetic diseases such as albinism or xeroderma pigmentosum or certain immune disorders, SPF 50 may not be enough. Same goes for certain scenarios, such as hiking or skiing at high altitude or vacationing near the equator.

What is Water-based Sunscreen?

Water-based sunscreen often has water as its initial ingredient in its formulation. In addition from its ultra-lightweight texture, water-based sunscreens don't leave behind an oily or greasy finish, making them the perfect choice for people with oily or acne-prone skin.

Is Water Based Sunscreen Waterproof?

Actually, waterproof sunscreen does not exist. The FDA no longer permits manufacturers to make the claim that a sunscreen is waterproof because sweat and water wipe sunscreen off our skin. However, some sunscreens are water resistant, which means they can continue to work in the water for 40 to 80 minutes. After that, you will then need to reapply. And, although your skin remains dry, you still need to reapply it every two hours.

Best Water-based Sunscreens

1. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturizing Water Gel Sunscreen SPF 50

Neutrogena Sunscreen delivers superior broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and hydration with a water-light, refreshing feel. This water-resistant sunscreen lotion for face & body leaves skin looking healthy and moisturized for up to eight hours without any greasy residue or white marks.

- quenches skin with vital hydration
- helioplex technology delivers broad spectrum uva/uvb protection
- non-greasy & oil-free
- layers invisibly under makeup
- non-comedogenic: so it won't clog pores

 4.5 out of 5 - more than 1,500 global ratings

I have had three basal or squamous cell carcinomas removed from my face. My dermatologist had me use a "chemo cream" on my face to eradicate damaged cells. That left my face raw and sensitive even after the effects of the cream had healed. She said I needed to use a 50 SPF sunscreen every day of the week to protect my skin from further damage. This was one of three brands she recommended. After using her samples, I decided to stick with this brand full time. I am very pleased with the results.

2. COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50 PA+++, 50ml


- Sun Moisturizer
The aloe soothing sun cream is similar to a light moisturizer, unlike other sunblocks that leave the skin dry and stripped.

- Key Ingredient
Aloe Arborescens Leaf Extract - soothes and moisturizes skin at the same time.

- Texture
With Lightweight and moisturizing texture, the sun cream absorbed into the skin fast without feeling greasy or leaving a white cast.

How to Use
(1) Apply a generous amount on over face 30 minutes before sun exposure. 
(2) Reapply throughout the day as needed, especially during prolonged sun exposure.


4.6 out of 5 - more than 6,200 global ratings

COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream Reviews
I'm an extremely pale person who burns very badly very easily. That being said, I just spent a week in the the California sun and didn't burn at all after only applying this once every morning. I can't even believe it! That and it feels great on my skin, is easy to apply, and has a pleasant smell. It didn't break me out at all, which happens with a lot of products for me. I wish they'd sell this in a bigger bottle because I'll be buying a lot!

3. Bioré Japan Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen Blue SPF50+

Bioré Japan Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen Blue SPF50+

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen is a water-based sunscreen which can be used on your face as well as on your neck, arms, legs and the rest of your body. It has a water-like texture and absorbs easily into the skin.

- 50g (tube)
- made in japan
- high SPF yet surprisingly light it feels like nothing on the skin

4.6 out of 5 - more than 1,450 global ratings

if you're a person with darker skin this is a godsend! I'm pretty tan and got tired of looking like casper. this product is amazing and feels very light and gentle on the skin. didn't break me out either!

4. CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 - Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen

- Broad Spectrum Sunscreen For Face
100% Mineral-based sunscreen, also known as a physical sunscreen, reflects UVA/UVB rays to help protect the skin. Developed with dermatologists by CeraVe Skincare.

- Mineral Sunscreen Application
Physical sunscreens can often leave a white cast when applied in thick layers. For best results, apply CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen evenly to the entire face and neck in thin layers and thoroughly massage into skin. Suitable for use under foundation and face makeup.

- Hawaii Compliant Suncreen
Oxybenzone free, avobenzone free, and benzene free, this sunscreen contains physical filters Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Hawaii prohibits the sale, offer of sale and distribution of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone.

- 3 Essential Ceramides
Ceramides are found naturally in the skin and can become damaged with sun exposure. All CeraVe products are formulated with three essential ceramides (1, 3, 6-II) to help restore and maintain the skin’s natural barrier.

- Gentle Formula
Formula is oil free, fragrance free, noncomedogenic, and suitable for sensitive skin. Recommended by both the Skin Cancer Foundation and National Eczema Association as an effective, broad spectrum sunscreen.

3.9 out of 5  - more than 13,400 global ratings

I like the light tint and it seems to be a very good sunscreen. Suggested by my dermatologist. It is a little heavy to wash off at the end of the day. But I usually have reapplied sunscreen by then as well. I also use the Sara the moisturizer with number 30 sunscreen which is clear. Or just apply a little moisturizer before I use the tinted sunscreen. Lots of flexibility depending what I’m doing on any day, and effective attractive sunscreen.

5. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++

- Game Changing Sunscreen
Our most popular SPF, Unseen Sunscreen is a totally invisible, weightless, scentless formula that provides oil-free sunscreen protection for all skin types, tones, & lifestyles.

- Comprehensive Protection
This feel-good, antioxidant-rich facial sunscreen helps filter blue light (skin-damaging light emitted from your phone, computer, & tablet), UVA, UVB & IRA rays.

- A Super Power Primer
The unique oil-free formula glides onto skin, providing shine control & leaving a velvety, makeup-gripping finish. Apply generously and evenly as the last step in your skincare routine and before makeup.

- Reef Friendly Sunscreen
Our oxybenzone- & octinoxate-free everyday sunscreen includes clean, powerful ingredients like soothing frankincense & hydrating meadowfoam seed that nourish & protect your skin.

- Great For Guys
This beard-friendly, broad spectrum sunscreen’s clear texture truly feels like nothing.

 4.7 out of 5 - more than 11,400 global ratings

I have lived in the tropics for 20 years (30-36 C and sunny almost every day). Have tried what feels like every face sunscreen on earth trying to find one that did not make me greasy and cause acne breakouts (I’m in my 40s with cranky combination skin). All of the dermatologist recommended sunscreens were fails (Ombrelle, Cerave, LaRochePosay etc), as was every Japanese and Korean product I tried (Biore UV Rich, Kose, Nivea, the list goes on). Unseen Sunscreen glides on beautifully, protects well and doesn’t melt off. It has the consistency and effect of a really excellent makeup primer without the breakouts. I will buy this faithfully forever.

6. ISNTREE Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel 50ml

- Blocks UV Rays Gently 
SPF 50+ PA++++ blocks UV rays chemically

- Alleviates Irritated Skin 
Active ingredients help to soothe heates skin and prevent dryness

- Moisturizes Skin 
Eight types of Hyaluronic acid locks in moisture in the skin. It gives moisturizing feeling without white cast or sticky finish, making it comfortable to use every day.

- Eco Friendly Packaging
Used non-coated environment-friendly packaging made with recycled green tea paper and soy ink

4.7 out of 5 - more than 2,600 global ratings

I love this formula for my daily sunscreen. I hate any sunscreen that I put on in the morning after my other products that feels heavy or (god forbid) has a white cast to it. This is a clear lotion/gel formula that’s very lightweight to layer with other products. I love it - it’s my 2nd time buying it. And the price is right. If you want something lightweight, this sunscreen is for you.


a. How to Apply Sunscreen Correctly?

b. Do Babies Also Need Sunscreen?

Babies under the age of six months should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Their skin has an insufficient amount of melanin, the pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color and offers some sun protection.

Older babies should be kept out of the sun as much as possible, especially during the summer and between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun is at its highest.

Apply sunscreen to your baby’s skin that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Ensure that the product shields them from both UVA and UVB radiation. However, because of their delicate skin, they should pick products that are less likely to contain additives.

c. Why Can’t You Use Sunscreen on Babies under 6 Months?

Sunscreen should not be used on newborns under the age of six months. It is because their skin may not be able to keep the chemicals in sunscreen out as well as those of older children and adults and are more likely to develop a rash or irritation.

Therefore, if your children are younger than 6 months, best to check with your pediatrician before applying any sunscreen.

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