YOU MAY NOT think of top-quality sunscreen as essential pickleball gear, but a formula that runs into your eyes or fails to protect you fully doesn’t just ruin the day; it can lead to long-term harm. Picklers spend a lot of time outside, frequently exposed to the elements for hours at a time, points out Dendy Engelman, M.D., a skin-cancer specialist, Mohs surgeon, and cosmetic dermatologist at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue in New York City. “Even if you never burn, your court is in the shade, or it’s cloudy, your skin is still absorbing UV rays that are strong enough to damage the skin—whether you notice a light tan or even have no visible signs at all,” she says.
To protect yourself: First, get in the habit of liberally applying a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher to all sun-exposed areas before you leave the house, 365 days a year. (Do it as the last step of any skin-care routine.) On pickleball days, you’ll want to reapply to all exposed areas every two hours. (Make that every hour if you’re really sweating.) And know that sunscreen is only part of your sun-care plan. Wide-brim hats, polarized sunglasses, and UPF clothing (see Our Must-Have Summer Style Guide) are also key and help keep easily forgotten areas—like scalp, ears, neck, eyelids, and lips—covered.
But even though we get how important sun care is, it can be hard to comply. “Over the years, I’ve tried telling my patients that 98 percent of all early signs of aging are caused by the sun, that statistically one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. But what I’ve learned is that people won’t wear SPF if they don’t like it no matter how many stats I share. That’s why I urge my patients to find a sunscreen they actually enjoy,” says Dennis Gross, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City and founder of the eponymous skin-care brand. Here are some sunscreens you’ll want to apply daily—and even more often on game days.
SUNCREENS AT A GLANCE
NO-MESS FAMILY FAVE For those who hate rubbing in sunscreen, brush it on instead, with Brush on Block Translucent Mineral Powder Sunscreen SPF 30 ($34; brushonblock.com). The zinc oxide and titanium dioxide powder flows through the brush, then pinpoints what experts say are neglected spots: around the eyes, tops of ears, and the hairline.
THE NON-CHALKY CHOICE Supergoop! Every. Single. Face. Watery Lotion SPF 50 ($34; supergoop.com) looks invisible on all skin types and boasts a new “clean chemical” formula made with chemical UV filters that aren’t harmful to the environment, says Dr. Engelman.
YOUR BODY’S BEST FRIEND
The most mistake-proof way to apply sunscreen from head to toe is to do it naked, so you don’t miss spots or fall victim to a shifty tank top. Dr. Engelman is a fan of Blue Lizard Sport SPF 50+ ($29; bluelizardsunscreen.com). It’s water-resistant, mineral-based, and isn’t pasty. Creams provide the most even coverage, but if you choose a spray, keep the nozzle four to six inches from your skin, then rub it in.
OIL-FREE SOLUTION Greasy sunscreens are a deal breaker, especially for men. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($42; drdennisgross.com) is an oil-free mineral formula that sinks right in.
HANDS-FREE HERO Banana Boat Sport Ultra Roll-On SPF 60+ ($8; target.com) lets you spread the water-resistant liquid SPF across arms, legs, shoulders, and back without making your grip slippery. Pass it over four times to get enough protection.
A HYDRATOR FOR ATHLETES Think of Kinship Self Reflect Sport SPF 60 ($28; lovekinship.com) as a sunscreen and skin treatment in one. The unique waterless formula contains non-nano zinc oxide (physical UVA/UVB block that doesn’t get absorbed by the skin), ceramides to help restore the moisture skin loses as it sweats, and acerola cherry ferment, a postbiotic that strengthens the skin’s barrier against environmental stressors.
GREAT FOR SWEATY SKIN Midmatch, reach for Skinbetter Science Sunbetter Sheer SPF 56 Sunscreen Compact ($65; skinbetter.com) and use the sponge to glide the silky, water-resistant, mattifying balm across skin. “A good tip: Keep your sunscreen next to your water bottle, so you remember to reapply when you rehydrate,” says Dr. Engelman.
BETTER THAN MAKEUP For women, the tinted Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Hydrating Shield ($72; elizabetharden.com) is one of Dr. Engelman’s go-tos. Besides the broad-spectrum mineral coverage that evens out skin, “it has a unique antioxidant blend that effectively defends against environmental assailants, like pollution,” she says.
PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY THE COMPANIES