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Best cycling sunscreen: keep protected from the sun

Cycling tan lines
Cyclist magazine
7 Jun 2021

Dodge the lobster look with the best cycling sunscreens for long summer rides

When you cycle abroad, slathering on the sunscreen (or suncream, whatever you want to call it) seems like a no-brainer, but all too many of us fail to protect our skin when we ride in the UK.

The logic seems to be that because the sun is such a rare sight in our skies, it can’t be that strong. Which is not only daft, but completely untrue – this summer especially.

Don’t be fooled if it’s overcast either, as UV rays can be strong even on cloudy days, too. During British Summer Time the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm, so take extra care to shield your skin if you’re riding between these hours.

Of course, a lot of modern cycling clothing does offer UV protection, but you’ll still need to look after those exposed bits of your body, including your legs (don’t forget the backs), arms, neck, face and head, especially if you’re a bit thin on top and your helmet has lots of vents.

So be sure to treat yourself to some quality cycling sunscreen. Here’s our round-up of the best…

The best cycling sunscreens...

Lifesystems Sports Sun Cream

Packaged in a 100ml squeezy tube, this is probably the most conventional of all the products featured. Specifically designed for high-intensity activity use for long periods, in or out of the water, this broad-spectrum cream will protect you from UVA and UVB rays. It’s also paraben-free (parabens are preservatives used in cosmetics that some suspect are carcinogenic) and highly water-resistant.

We found reapplication was only necessary after three hours or so of sweaty effort. It has a pleasant smell, though we found the application to be slightly greasy and not as easily absorbed as others here.

A 50ml tube is also available for £8.99 which fits neatly into a jersey pocket.

SolRX Active Zinc

Originally designed for triathletes, swimmers and surfers, this sunscreen promises the ultimate in water and sweat resistance. When you’re in the heat of a big sportive or just enjoying a long, day out in the saddle it can be easy to forget that because you’re sweating, any suncream you’ve applied to your skin will need regular reapplication.

Unless, of course, the cream you use is super waterproof, which this stuff is. One application, in fact, will work for up to 8 hours, no matter how sweaty you get on the bike.

This means all you need to do is rub this odourless, easily applied cream in once and enjoy a worry/burn-free ride. Comes in a 100ml tube.

Premax Sports Sunscreen

Another sports-specific skincare brand. As it’s keen to point out right on the tube, this one has been designed with professional athletes in mind. Meaning it’d be a surprise if you can sweat it off, a combination of serious SPF50 protection and a claimed four hours of in-water water-resistance should make it a hit with cyclists and surfers.

Non-greasy, it’s also nice to put on too. Now widely available through outdoor retailers and cycling shops, it's a great one to consider picking up alongside your innertubes, so saving yourself a trip to Boots, and likely bagging better protection at the same time. 

Buy now from Freewheel for £15

Aptonia Sport sun protection

Typical for Decathlon, its own-brand Aptonia sports sunscreen comes in at a very reasonable price, just £11.99 for the sizable SPF30 200ml tube.

It is claimed to be highly sweat and water-resistance, which is a must for summer cycling while the cream is both moisturising and dermatologically tested.

The tube itself is compact although probably too bulky to take on a ride meaning you'll need to consider a small option for long days out on the bike.

Buy now from Decathlon for £11.99

Pelotan spray

If you need everything you own to be fully cycling branded then this is the sun spray for you! Not just created for the needs of sportsmen and women, Pelotan is a sun spray that meets the specific needs of us cyclists.

It does that by providing a SPF 30 protection for up to eight hours while remaining resistant to sweat and potential rain showers.

The non-greasy formula leaves no white marks fails to block your pores, either. It also smells really nice, which we think is pretty important. You can read our full review here.

Buy now from Pelotan for £20

LifeJacket Sun Gel

LifeJacket wanted to create a sunscreen that wasn't thick and greasy and didn't stick in body hair. Its Sun Gel protection is SPF 50+, protects you from UVA and UVB and is super easy to use.

It's lightweight, easy to apply and non-greasy while being waterproof, cruelty free and approved for sensitive skin. Available in 100m or 200m bottles, it's ideal for looking after your skin all year round and all day long.

Buy now from LifeJacket for £14

Heliocare 360° 

This SPF 50+ formula is dispensed via a 200ml spray pump. Pleasant-smelling and non-greasy, it soaks into the skin almost instantly to keep out both UVA and UVB radiation.

It’s enriched with antioxidant fern extract, it's waterproof and can be applied to wet skin. Equally, if you're on the beach and not the bike it won't pick up sand. 

Buy now from Notino for £19

Ambre Solaire UV Sport Dry Mist 

Available pretty much everywhere, is there any reason not to reach for this well-known option when heading out cycling? Dispensed from an aerosol, this fine mist spray has a fresh aroma, is non-greasy and soaks into the skin instantly.

Garnier claims it to be sweatproof and water-resistant rather than waterproof, and one application provided all-day protection in testing, against both UVA and UVB rays.

Which is handy because the bulky 200ml bottle isn’t when compared with some of the other more convenient offerings here.

We paired it here with Garnier’s UV Ski Sun Protection Lip Stick SPF20 (£4 for 4.7ml) a cocoa-butter-based, colourless, odourless product for your kisser, because it’s important to look after your lips too, right? 

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