Putting them to the test: How effective are sweat-proof sunscreens?


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Question: If you can workout in this oppressive summer heat without turning into a hot sweaty mess, will you please come forward and reveal yourself? But if you’re like any other warm-blooded human being — like myself — you’re not immune from sweating under the blistering summer sun. Which is why I set out to test a few sunscreens that also claim to be sweat-proof. And luckily — at least for the sake of this experiment — I live in Alabama where the temperatures tend to hit 90 degrees and the humidity is thick and steamy.

I chose four brands — Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof, Neutrogena Ultimate Sport, Banana Boat Sport Performance Coolzone and Australian Gold InvisiDry Technology — and applied each one to my face prior to four 30-minute outdoor workouts. I didn’t worry too much about how well they shielded the sun; they all did a great job at that.

So out I ran/walked for 30 minutes and tested the sunscreens for the following three qualities:

• How did the sunscreen make my face look/feel after initial application?
• Did the sunscreen seem to melt off after sweating?
• Were my eyes stinging after I started sweating?

Here’s what I found:

Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof with SPF 50 (spray)

This has been my go-to sunscreen for the pool, but I had never worn it while working out.
Initial look/feel: This spray looks extremely shiny and feels very greasy when it first goes on, but it does dry on the skin after a little time.
Melting factor: The sunscreen appeared to drip down my face while I sweated, leaving streaky splotches on my cheeks.
Stopping the sting: My eyes felt a little irritated, but they didn’t exactly sting.

Neutrogena Ultimate Sport with SPF 30 (lotion)

Known to be great for your face, I never knew Neutrogena made a sweatproof version.
Initial look/feel: This goes on smoothly and virtually disappears; no stickiness or shininess at all.
Melting factor: Didn’t melt off at all, but did feel a little gel-like after sweating.
Stopping the sting: No stinging or eye irritation.


Banana Boat Sport Performance Coolzone with SPF 30 (spray)

This did, indeed, feel cool while spraying it on!
Initial look/feel: A bit sticky at first, but disappears completely and doesn’t look shiny.
Melting factor: Streaks a little when sweating, but nothing too noticeable.
Stopping the sting: My eyes felt great!


Australian Gold InvisiDry Technology with SPF 30 (lotion)

I always thought of this brand as what you wear when you want a deep tan, but not a sunburn. Turns out, they claim it’s “sweatproof” in tiny letters on the back.
Initial look/feel: Goeas on smoothly and doesn’t feel sticky or look shiny at all.
Melting factor: Didn’t streak or ooze down my face.
Stopping the sting: My eyes felt completely clear and sting-free!

The results
First place: Neutrogena
Second place: Australian Gold
Third place: Banana Boat
Fourth place: Coppertone

Tell us: What sunscreen do you wear when exercising outdoors in the summer?