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Vertra Guide: How to Choose the Best Sunscreen for Running

Vertra Guide: How to Choose the Best Sunscreen for Running

Whether you’re training for a marathon or just getting started, here’s how to stay protected from the sun while getting in those miles.

Whether you’re heading out on a quick jog or about to embark on a miles-long training session to prep for an upcoming race, effectively applying sunscreen before and during your outdoor runs is key to protecting your skin and preventing sun damage. 

But what kind of sunscreen is best for runners? And how often should you apply it? In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about choosing the best sunscreen for running, including what ingredients and styles to look for—as well as helpful tips for applying it—so that you can easily incorporate sunscreen into your running routine. 

Should you wear sunscreen while running?

While sunscreen is commonly associated with spending long days at the beach or pool, make no mistake: you should always lather up at least 15 minutes before any outdoor activity, no matter if it’s sunny, partly cloudy, or rainy. Going for a run is no exception. 

Despite this, applying sunscreen is often not top of mind for runners. Research on runners’ sun protection behaviors show that nearly half of runners have experienced a sunburn at least once within the past year, and only 62% reported using sunscreen as a source of sun protection. It’s also common for athletes, including runners, to forego sunscreen and other forms of sun protection if they feel they won’t be outside for very long—but it’s important to remember that it only takes 15 minutes for the sun to damage your skin if you are not properly protected. 

Certain protective measures help reduce chances of exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays, including wearing a hat and sunglasses and opting to run before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. But protection isn’t complete without a long-lasting, sweat and water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

What is the best type of sunscreen for runners?

Whether you’re running a few miles, training for a half marathon, or about to  conquer the full 26, you will be exposed to UV rays—and you’re going to sweat. Consider these factors for choosing the right sunscreen:

  • Opt for water-resistant sunscreen 
  • No sunscreen is completely waterproof or sweatproof, but the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) allows sunscreens to be labeled as “water-resistant" if they undergo specific testing protocols. Manufacturers formulate sweat- and water-resistant sunscreen by using ingredients with naturally water-repellent properties, which form a protective layer on your skin and help the sunscreen adhere better while preventing moisture. Sunscreens must also specify on their labels how long their water resistance will last—typically, this is 40 minutes or 80 minutes.  

    At Vertra, our sunscreen products are formulated with water-resistant ingredients designed to keep you protected even when sweating, swimming or surfing. All of Vertra’s face sticks and our Coconut Vanilla Body Spray are water-resistant for 80 minutes.

  • Opt for portable sunscreen 
  • The most convenient sunscreen for your run will be a small bottle or face stick that easily fits into a pocket or  your running pack. Vertra’s face sticks are also ultra compact and portable, making it easy to carry with you on your run and reapply as needed.

  • Opt for an SPF 30+ sunscreen 
  • For the most optimal face and body protection anytime you’re outside, always choose a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF level of 30, which blocks 97% of UV rays. 

    Tips for sun protection while running

    Sunscreen for running is only as effective as the way you apply and reapply. Consider these tips for optimal sun protection and sunscreen removal. 

    • Apply early and generously before a run

    Your pre-running sunscreen regimen should be no different than when you go outside for other activities. Apply SPF to cover every part of your body that will be exposed at least 15 minutes before heading outside. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using about 1 oz. of sunscreen, enough to fill a shot glass, to fully cover your body. To protect your face in particular, use a water-resistant face stick to remedy the issue of sunscreen dripping into your eyes when you sweat.

    • Set reminders to reapply during your runs

    If you’re going for a run longer than 30 minutes, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen often since sweat will make your initial layer less effective. Set timers on your phone or other wearable fitness device to remind yourself to reapply.

    • Include sunscreen in your race day plan

    Make sunscreen part of your race day checklists. During the race, reapply sunscreen the same way you do during training. Your race route should also have multiple aid stations that provide sunscreen, so be sure to check the route before your race and map out your stops accordingly. 

    • Don’t forget to protect your lips 

    Your entire face needs coverage on race day, and it can be easy to forget your lips. To avoid chapped and sunburned lips, be sure to bring an SPF lip product that can easily fit into a backpack or pocket—including Vertra’s Coconut Lip Balm.

    • Prioritize your post-sun exposure routine

    Removing sunscreen after a day in the sun is smart to avoid clogged pores and acne. Wash off with products designed to remove stubborn, water-resistant sunscreen, such as Vertra’s Charcoal Cleansing Bar. If you run in the mornings, you can apply this same routine but also follow up with a high-quality moisturizer to lock in hydration, such as our Beach Break Daily Facial Moisturizer, which will keep you protected when you head back outside.  

    Incorporate sunscreen into your running gear essentials

    As a runner, you likely want to pack as light as possible for your training sessions and workouts. A solution is to choose small, travel-friendly sunscreen products.

    Consider buying products that can easily fit into your running shorts pocket or running backpack. Most of Vertra’s sunscreen products are ideal for on-the-go adventures, making reapplying and keeping your skin protected easier than ever. 

    Shop Vertra’s full line-up of sunscreen.