Our review compares sunscreen on customer satisfaction, so you can find out what other Aussies think about the compared brands before you go ahead with a purchase. Think of it as like asking hundreds of your closest mates which sunscreen they think is best!
Canstar Blue surveyed 1,434 Australians for their feedback on the sunscreen(s) they’ve purchased and used in the last 12 months.
The winning brand is the one that receives the highest Overall satisfaction rating once all the scores from the Overall satisfaction criteria are combined and averaged.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included, so not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The brands rated in this survey are listed below in order of best overall satisfaction.
Find more detailed information on our Most Satisfied Customer methodology.
Hawaiian Tropic was rated five stars for packaging convenience and overall satisfaction, with four stars for scent, texture & consistency, ease of absorption and effectiveness, with three stars for value for money.
Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens are marketed as ‘luxurious and indulgent sun care’ with a high level of moisturisation and a pleasant tropical scent. All Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen products are SPF 50+, cruelty-free and reef-safe, which means they don’t contain ingredients that can harm our oceans. Hawaiian Tropic products are available in the Everyday range, which includes the Silk Hydration Lotion, Silk Hydration Face (fragrance-free) and Silk Hydration Spray. The brand’s Active Sun Protection range includes the Island Sport Lotion, which is sweat resistant, non-greasy and won’t clog pores.
Cancer Council was rated five stars for effectiveness, ease of absorption and packaging convenience, with four stars for scent, texture & consistency and overall satisfaction, with three stars for value for money.
The Cancer Council produces a wide range of sunscreen products in tubes, sprays and pump bottles that offer broad-spectrum protection. They include the Everyday SPF 50+ range, Kids SPF 50+ and the Active SPF 50+ quick-dry and water-resistant sunscreen for exercise and oily skin.
It also has Face Day Wear SPF 50+ sunscreen along with a moisturising range to help keep your skin healthy, with a sensitive option for those who may have allergies. In addition, there’s a Water Sport SPF 50+ claimed to be tested for up to four hours of water resistance, with each range available in a number of container sizes to help you find the best fit for your needs.
Woolworths was rated four stars for packaging convenience, value for money and overall satisfaction, with three stars for scent, texture & consistency, ease of absorption and effectiveness.
In addition to stocking a number of other brands, Woolworths has a wide range of sunscreens for different skin types and sun protection needs. Woolworths’ general use SPF 50+ sunscreen comes in 1L and 500mL pump bottles, 100mL tubes, and 75ml roll-ons. Woolworths also features an Everyday Sensitive Spray and a Tinted Facial Sunscreen – both of which are SPF 50 – to help cater for those who need some more specific sunscreen needs.
Coles was rated four stars for packaging convenience, value for money and overall satisfaction, with three stars for scent, texture & consistency, ease of absorption and effectiveness.
Alongside its competitor Woolworths, Coles stocks a number of its own brand of sunscreen for shoppers to choose from. The supermarket’s Everyday SPF 50+ sunscreen comes in 1L or 500ml pump packs so you can stock up nicely for the long summer, with 100ml tubes and 75ml roll-ons also available. The Coles range also includes SPF 50+ sunscreen for sensitive skin, as well as a SPF 50+ kids’ sunscreen to help keep the whole family protected.
ALDI was rated five stars for effectiveness, value for money, ease of absorption, texture & consistency, packaging convenience and scent, with four stars for overall satisfaction.
Discount supermarket chain ALDI keeps it simple with a concise range of sunscreen products under the ‘Ombra’ branding. All are rated SPF 50+ and come in lotion or spray varieties, with its 1L Family Pack stated to be water-resistant.
Aside from the Family Pack, Ombra’s Everyday, Sensitive and Ultra Sport varieties are sold in 100ml and 500ml bottles. In the past, ALDI have also offered lip balm sunscreen and coconut-scented sunscreen and oil sprays, along with children’s sunscreen although this may vary on the time of year and if there’s a Special Buy happening.
Cetaphil was rated five stars for ease of absorption, with four stars for scent and overall satisfaction, along with three stars for effectiveness, value for money, texture & consistency and packaging convenience.
Dermatological brand Cetaphil is a gentle skincare brand often recommended by doctors and dermatologists for those with sensitive skin. For sun protection, the brand offers Cetaphil Sun, a sunscreen range that caters to various skin types, skin textures, and skin sensitivities.
There are two products within the range – the Cetaphil Sun SPF50+ Ultra-light Lotion (100ml) formulated for very sensitive or oily skin, and the Cetaphil Sun SPF50+ Kids’ Liposomal Lotion (150ml) with high UV protection formulated for kid’s delicate skin. Both products are non-greasy, fragrance-free, and offer up to four hours of water resistance.
Banana Boat was rated four stars for effectiveness, ease of absorption, texture & consistency and packaging convenience, with three stars for scent, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Most Banana Boat sunscreens are rated at SPF 50+ and all of them are four hours water-resistant. The range includes specially tailored products for sensitive skin, babies’ skin, kids’ skin, and faces, as well as for use during sports, beach trips and other heavy-duty sun exposure. With products coming in tubes, aerosol sprays, pump bottles, spray bottles, roll-ons, and lip balms, there are plenty of options to pick from.
Neutrogena was rated five stars for packaging convenience and scent, with four stars for ease of absorption and effectiveness, and three stars for texture & consistency, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Neutrogena’s sunscreen range covers SPF 30+ to 50+ protection, with a light, oil-free coverage that is said to absorb quickly. It also includes products for people who play sports and for kids, along with a Beach Defence range for additional protection for those beach days. There are also sunscreens for breakout-prone skin and for wearing underneath makeup as well as body lotions, with tubes and spray mists available depending on the product.
SunSense was rated four stars for packaging convenience and scent, with three stars for texture & consistency, ease of absorption, value for money, effectiveness and overall satisfaction.
SunSense produces a wide range of sunscreen products, with its range split into Performance, Comfort and Face Ultra to help you find the best protection for your needs and skin. The Performance sunscreen contains SPF 50+, Vitamin B3 and is water-resistant for up to four hours, with the Comfort sunscreen made for those with sensitive skin. The Face Ultra is ideal for protecting your face and neck, and additionally contains Vitamin E to help moisturise the skin, with each product available in a number of tube sizes, ranging from 100ml to 500ml.
Nivea was rated three stars for scent, texture & consistency, value for money, effectiveness and overall satisfaction, with four stars for ease of absorption and packaging convenience.
As a skincare brand, a number of Nivea products contain vitamin E to soothe and repair damaged or dry skin. Its range consists of a Kids’, Protect & Moisture, UV Face and Sun Protection line. For everyday wear, the sunscreen products can be worn underneath makeup or on their own without that heavy, sticky feeling.
Nivea’s range of sunscreen can be found in SPF 30 and 50+ ratings, with the majority of products available as tubes or sprays. And to help when you’re done in the sun, Nivea also offers the After Sun Moisturising lotion to help you moisturise the skin with hyaluron and aloe vera.
Not all brands in the market qualify for our ratings (based on minimum survey sample size), but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth considering. Here are several more brands to check out before making a purchase decision.
According to the Cancer Council, sunscreen works by either reflecting or absorbing UV rays, depending on which type of sunscreen you use. This is achieved by the sunscreen’s active ingredient, which is commonly referred to as either a UV absorber or UV reflector. UV absorbers work by absorbing the UV radiation and converting it into a low level of heat, while UV reflectors scatter the UV rays to prevent them from reaching your skin.
UV absorbers are also referred to as ‘organic’ as they contain carbon atoms, which help with absorption, while UV reflectors are traditionally made up of oxides, such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide. However, most sunscreens are made up of multiple active ingredients, offering additional protection against most types of UV rays.
Read more: A guide to sunscreen SPF ratings
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin 30 minutes before you head outside, even if the weather is cloudy. If you’re planning on being outside for a long period of time, you should look to re-apply sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after you’ve been swimming or excessively sweating.
Sunscreen does have an expiration date, with its effectiveness decreasing over time, meaning it’s best to not use expired sunscreen, as it may not protect you as well. Generally, sunscreen products remain effective for about three years after the manufacture date.
While wearing sunscreen and getting a tan seem counterintuitive, it’s generally considered that if you’ve properly applied your sunscreen, and wear a sunscreen with a strong SPF, such as SPF 50+, you won’t tan. However, sunscreens aren’t 100% effective against all UV rays, meaning that even if you properly applied the correct sunscreen at the correct time, you may tan slightly, but not as much as you would if you didn’t wear sunscreen.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s Site Editor, Dean Heckscher. He’s our resident expert on all things automotive, health & fitness, streaming and more. Dean is also one of Canstar Blue’s customer research report producers, helping to turn complicated subjects into easily-digestible information for our readers. He’s passionate about helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services.
Samantha Howse is Canstar Blue’s Consumer Research Specialist, coordinating the consumer research program behind our customer satisfaction awards across Canstar and Canstar Blue in Australia and New Zealand. Sam has earned a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from Griffith University and, with seven years in market research and 2 years in marketing, she is experienced in survey design, implementation and analysis, coupled with an understanding of marketing principles and best practice.
Here are the past winners from Canstar Blue’s sunscreen ratings:
Best-Rated At-Home Hair Dyes - December 17th
Slip, slop and slap your way to beautiful skin this summer with Canstar Blue’s pick of water resistant sunscreens.– Read more
Best-Rated Acne Skincare - December 3rd
We know talking about sunscreen isn’t always hot stuff. But believe it or not, sun safety is not just about the old ‘slip, slop, slap’. Guidelines around how to apply sunscreen actually vary between different …– Read more
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*Prices correct as of publication date.