So you’re getting ready to spend some time in tropical Thailand. I’m sure that you are excited and imagining all of the experiences you will have. This is how you should feel! Thailand is beautiful! Getting ready to spend time in a place like Thailand can leave you with many things to take care of. Let me help you with one: your sunscreen!
Part of the beauty of Thailand lies in its amazing weather, and sunny days. If you don’t come from a tropical region, you may be surprised at the strength of the sun in Thailand. It is not just bright, but heavy on your skin. While it may feel like a warm blanket, or a welcome hug when you first feel the warmth of the Thailand sun, it can quickly become dangerous if you’re not careful.
Spending any time in the sun in Thailand without sunscreen is simply not an option. Even the locals wear sunscreen on a daily basis in order to protect their skin from the UV rays of the sun. Yes, you want to follow the Skin Cancer Foundation’s suggestions and wear UV protective clothing, hats and sunglasses, and seek shade, but don’t forsake sunscreen thinking the other measures will protect you enough.
You will be able to find sunscreen to buy in Thailand, but I suggest that you plan ahead and bring it with you. Because of the high levels of tourism in Thailand, the prices for sunscreen, even some of the same brands you’d find at home, are very expensive!
Another thing that you may not even be aware of is that in many sunscreens and other skincare products in Thailand, there are skin-whitening ingredients. This is something that caters to the Thailand market, but may not be something you’re interested in. You’re better off discovering your ideal sunscreen at home and bringing it with you. I’ll help you with that!
After a lot of research into what exactly is needed for proper sun protection in Thailand, SimplySunSafe recommends thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+ as the best sunscreen for Thailand. Read on for a detailed buyer’s guide, comparison table, and in-depth reviews of the top 5 sunscreens for Thailand.
To make sure that you protect your skin properly in Thailand, there are a few must-have features that you should search for in your sunscreen:
Broad spectrum protection
If there is one thing that you should always remember to look for when searching for a new sunscreen, it should be broad spectrum protection. This means that the sunscreen provides balanced protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Each type of ray works in a different way which is why protection against both types is necessary.
- UVB rays damage the outer layer of your skin causing you to burn or tan.
- UVA rays penetrate the deepest layer of your skin (the dermis) altering DNA and causing skin sagging and wrinkling.
Exposure to both types of UV rays increases your risk of cancer. The hot sun in Thailand will pound down on your skin, and you want to be as well protected as possible! There is no value or purpose in using a sunscreen that does not provide you with broad spectrum protection.
Luckily, it is simple to know whether or not a sunscreen provides broad spectrum protection. You just have to check the sunscreen’s label and/or ingredients list.
When looking at a possible new sunscreen choice, search the label for the words ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘UVA/B’ and then you’ll know you’re covered for sufficient protection. You can also check the ingredients list for zinc oxide. Sunscreens with zinc oxide are extremely safe and effective, and they protect against the full range of UVA/B rays.
Best SPF for Thailand
Do you know and understand exactly what SPF means? If you aren’t sure, don’t worry. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is one of those elusive things that everybody knows is important, but they’re not really sure why.
Understanding what SPF means and how it works will help you make a more informed decision about which sunscreen to bring with you to Thailand.
The SPF of a sunscreen indicates the fraction of the sun’s rays that will reach your skin when you have properly applied the product. So for instance, if you are wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 50, then only 1/50th of the sun’s rays will reach your skin. Aha! Now you see why you can stay in the sun longer with sunscreen. Don’t jump to conclusions though!
Wearing a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 50 does not mean that you are able to spend 50 times longer in the sun than if you were not wearing sunscreen. There are many factors that influence the effectiveness of SPF, including time of day, UV intensity, the amount of sunscreen properly applied, and even reflections off surfaces like water and sand.
Take a look at this helpful table below:
|SPF Rating||UVB Protection|
Not what you thought about SPF? The truth is that there is very little difference between a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 and one with 100. SimplySunSafe, in line with FDA guidelines, recommends that you use a sunscreen with an SPF rating now lower than 30 and no higher than 50.
The tropical Thailand sun will not be forgiving so remember to reapply your sunscreen at least every 2 hours no matter what SPF rating you’re wearing!
Physical is better than chemical
Sunscreens can be grouped into two categories: chemical and physical. They each use different active ingredients to protect your skin in different ways. Let me assure you that the differences are important.
- Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays as they reach your skin
- Physical sunscreens reflect UV rays before they reach your skin
Physical sunscreens work immediately upon application, last longer, are less likely to cause irritation, and have a longer shelf life than chemical sunscreens. More importantly, they stop more light across a broader spectrum (especially UVA). These are some of the reasons why SimplySunSafe recommends physical sunscreens over chemical ones.
Another really important thing to know is that chemical sunscreens often contain dangerous chemicals that mess with your hormones. You don’t want that! The worst of these chemicals is called oxybenzone. I urge you to take your time checking the ingredients lists of sunscreen for this product, and avoiding the use of it at all times.
Here at SimplySunSafe, I recommend physical, oxybenzone-free sunscreens that are safe and effective. You are sure to find one that fits your needs for Thailand!
The tropical sun in Thailand does not let up. It is strong and ever present, and may even feel oppressive sometimes. This means that no matter how you are dressed, or how many breaks in the shade you take, you are going to sweat in Thailand! Don’t worry, it’s simply something to be prepared for.
You want to choose a water resistant sunscreen for Thailand. Since sweating is inevitable, you want a sunscreen that will not immediately melt off when you start to sweat. Otherwise, you will be spending your whole day reapplying.
If it seems too good to be true, it is. ‘Waterproof’ or ‘sweatproof’ sunscreens do not exist! Sunscreens are available with water resistance for 40 or 80 minutes. I suggest that you search for 80 minutes of water resistance for Thailand.
Not only will you be sweating each day, due to the sun and humidity, but you are likely to visit some of the gorgeous beaches for swimming. You’re better off being prepared with a water resistant sunscreen, which will provide you with the best sun protection for Thailand!
Suitable for daily use
As I mentioned before, it just is not an option to go without sunscreen during the day in Thailand. You will immediately regret it! So you need to spend some time in advance thinking about what specific needs you have in a sunscreen that you will wear every day in Thailand.
- Do you want a sunscreen that you can wear on both your face and body?
- Will you wear makeup over your sunscreen each day?
- Do you have any skin conditions or sensitivities that sunscreen may affect?
When you go shopping, have all of these questions answered for yourself. That way you know what specifications you are searching for. There are many sunscreens available for all types of skin that provide protection yet flexibility for wearing them.
In Thailand, you will be wearing sunscreen every day, and most likely reapplying multiple times during the day. For that reason, SimplySunSafe has recommended sunscreens that will provide sufficient protection with gentle ingredients that won’t irritate your skin.
Best Sunscreen for Thailand Comparison
|thinksport Sunscreen||Badger Sport Sunscreen||BurnOut Ocean Tested||Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral||EltaMD UV Pure|
|Active ingredients||Zinc Oxide (20%)||Zinc Oxide (22.5%)||Zinc Oxide (20%)||Zinc Oxide (14.5%) & Titanium Dioxide (2%)||Zinc Oxide (10%) & Titanium Dioxide (5.5%)|
|Water resistance||80 Minutes||80 Minutes||80 Minutes||80 Minutes||80 Minutes|
5 Best Sunscreens for Thailand
After thorough research into the sun protection necessities of Thailand which included discussing issues with customers, reviewing customer feedback, examining manufacturer specifications, and participating in skincare forums, SimplySunSafe has chosen the 5 best sunscreens for Thailand. Each recommended sunscreen provides physical, broad spectrum protection with an SPF rating of 30 or higher. They are all water resistant and oxybenzone free!
Thinksport Sunscreen is SimplySunSafe’s choice for the best sunscreen to use in Thailand. It is unparalleled in terms of safety, and was the first sunscreen to pass the Whole Foods premium care requirements. Broad spectrum protection is provided with a high concentration of zinc oxide (20%), a very desirable sunscreen active ingredient!
Using thinksport Sunscreen every day will not cause your skin irritation, and you will find that it will fit right into your daily skin care routine for your face and body. While it is thick and can leave a white cast, if not rubbed in well, this is not something you really need to worry about, especially if you will wear makeup on top!
With thinksport Sunscreen, you will receive 80 minutes of water resistance that is durable, even with heavy sweating. Just what you’ll need in Thailand!
And guess what? If you’re going on a family trip to Thailand, this brand will cover all the members of your clan. thinksport Kid’s Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ and thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ both provide all of the same benefits as thinksport for babies and children!
- Durable water resistant for 80 minutes
- Great for daily use and under makeup
- Available for babies and kids
- Thick formula
A favorite sunscreen here at SimplySunSafe, BADGER Sport Sunscreen is a stellar option for Thailand. It has an even higher concentration of its active ingredient zinc oxide (22.5%) than thinksport Sunscreen, and is a very simple formula.
Made with a total of 5 ingredients, BADGER Sport Sunscreen is extremely gentle on your skin. It is effective without causing any irritation on your face or body. The high concentration of zinc oxide won’t leave a white cast as long as you rub it in well. It’s fragrance free so you won’t even notice you’re wearing it!
This is another formula that will provide reliable water resistance for 80 minutes that will not be greatly disturbed by sweating or swimming in Thailand’s waters. BADGER also has sunscreens especially for babies and kids that provide on par quality protection with 40 minutes of water resistance.
BADGER Sport Sunscreen may be the ideal sunscreen for you in Thailand, and it’s a brand that can protect your whole family. Give it a try!
- Great for daily use
- Available for babies and kids
- 80 minutes of reliable water resistance
- Thick formula
Providing broad spectrum protection using a high concentration of the active ingredient zinc oxide (20%), BurnOut Ocean Tested Physical is another great choice for Thailand. The sports activity focused design of this sunscreen means that it is durable even under strenuous activity or unforgiving climates.
Don’t worry that it’s aimed at athletes, BurnOut is still very gentle on the skin. It contains aloe vera, and will not cause you any irritation with daily use, even on your face. This makes it an easy option to incorporate into your daily routine for Thailand.
Your 80 minutes of water resistance will not be affected by sweating or water activity with BurnOut. It is made for durability, and it delivers. You can trust that your skin is being protected even when you start sweating.
BurnOut Ocean Tested Physical has a very thick formula, and it will take you time to rub it in. Give yourself a few extra minutes at the start of your day to apply it well, otherwise you’ll be left with a white cast. But even then, you can always wear a little makeup or tinted moisturizer to offset the white cast!
- Water resistant for 80 minutes
- Gentle enough for daily use
- High concentration of zinc oxide
- Thick formula
- Likely to leave white cast
Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral is a sunscreen that is worth testing out in your search before heading to Thailand. It provides broad spectrum protection with its active ingredients zinc oxide (14.5%) and titanium dioxide (2%). You will find that this sunscreen can be very smoothly incorporated into your daily skincare routine.
It is an excellent option for use on the face due to its skin nourishing ingredients. You won’t experience irritation anywhere on your body with this conditioning sunscreen!
One thing to keep in mind about Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral is that it will become another step in your daily skincare routine. Meaning that, you really need to apply the sunscreen and then allow it to dry before putting on makeup or heading out into the sun. That means you’d also have to time reapplication to sync up with inside breaks or meal times.
Once it does dry, however, you will not notice it on your skin, and you will be sufficiently protected, with 80 minutes of water resistance, in the Thailand sun!
- Water resistant for 80 minutes
- Skin conditioning
- Good for daily use
- Thick formula
- Needs time to dry
SimplySunSafe’s final pick for sunscreens to use in Thailand is EltaMD UV Pure Broad Spectrum. This is a formula that suits many sun protection purposes, and is frequently recommended here at SimplySunSafe. It provides broad spectrum protection with its active ingredients zinc oxide (10%) and titanium dioxide (5.5%).
EltaMD UV Pure is a great option for daily use on the face and body. The formula is lightweight and will not cause any irritation to your skin. It will fit into your daily skincare routine well, and sit easily under makeup. It does leave a light scent, so consider whether or not that will bother you.
There is a chance that it may leave a white cast on your skin, but it will not be so noticeable if you have rubbed the cream in well. Also, it is something that you can easily counter with makeup or tinted moisturizer.
The reason EltaMD has landed last on SimplySunSafe’s list for sunscreens for Thailand is because its 80 minutes of water resistance is not as durable as the other sunscreens on this list. You will inevitably sweat in Thailand, and you will find that EltaMD will melt away faster and easier than our other sunscreen choices.
It is still an effective and reliable sunscreen, so it is up to you to test the products and weigh the pros and cons of each to make your decision!
- Lightweight formula good for daily use on face and body
- Will not irritate skin
- May leave white cast
- Water resistance not as effective as others listed
I wrote this guide for people searching for the best sunscreen for Thailand. Hopefully, by reading this, you have gained more knowledge about what is necessary for sun protection in Thailand, and have found a sunscreen that fits your specific needs.
SimplySunSafe recommends thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+, but all five recommendations will sufficiently, conveniently, and comfortably protect your skin against the sun’s UV rays in Thailand.
Make sure to spend some time in advance testing different sunscreens. By trying different products, you learn what specific needs your skin has and how it reacts to different ingredients and formulas. After trying different products, you will be able to decide on the perfect sunscreen for your skin in Thailand!
I always like to learn new things and hear about new products from other people. So if you use or know of any other sunscreen that is great for Thailand, please share it in the comments. I will take the time to check it out and maybe even add it to the list!