When doing a pre-round inventory of what's in your golf bag, we're hoping sunscreen is included. Unfortunately, many products that offer adequate protection from the sun's cancer-causing ultraviolet rays also contain ingredients that can be hazardous to your body. Our choices minimize or eliminate these ingredients and do a good job of blocking UV rays. As a bonus, they won't make your hands too greasy to swing a club and likely won't burn your eyes while you're standing over a must-make putt.
To distinguish the best sunscreens from ones that might be more harmful to your body, you first have to understand that there are two types of sun-protection products. There are those that contain mineral-based active ingredients that physically block the sun's UV rays—like covering yourself in a blanket. And there are those that contain an active chemical ingredient that replaces the role of the blanket. The safest and most effective sunscreens are those that physically block the sun with active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Not all chemical blockers are horrible, but those that contain oxybenzone should be avoided, because that ingredient has been linked to a number of reproductive issues (it acts like the female hormone estrogen). It's also known to irritate skin.
Another ingredient to be on the lookout for is retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that might speed the development of skin tumors. Also avoid any sunscreen that offers Sun Protection Factor (SPF) above 50. It's misleading because the sunscreen won't last long enough for anything above 50 to be effective.
Golfers need sunscreens that apply evenly and easily, will last a couple of hours without need for reapplication—which is why spray lotions aren't recommended—and keep the hands from feeling slippery. We also like sunscreens that can be applied to the skin directly from the package without having to touch the lotion.
Stick: Z Blok Clear Zinc SPF 45+, $10 for .5 ounces