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This is hands down the best sunscreen I have ever used

I've tried every sunscreen under the sun.

Coola is a California-based suncare company.

Coola is a California-based suncare company.

PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou via Getty

Born and raised in Florida, I spent countless hours of my youth around the water — hanging out with friends at the beach, waterskiing on the bayou. I’ve vacationed there nearly every summer since. As an adult, I lived for nearly 10 years in California, and now I have an active five-year-old who’s most in his element running around outside.

No surprise, then, that I know my way around the sunscreen aisle. (In fact, I’m of the vintage that it was called suntan lotion when I was a kid.) Over the years, I’ve tried every drugstore brand under the, ahem, sun, and though I’ve developed a few go-to’s, nothing has really stood out enough to turn me a superfan. 

Until I first picked up a tube of Coola a few years ago. 

Simply put, the California-based brand has changed my sunscreen game in the best possible way. And I’m not the only satisfied customer: In just about every Coola sunscreen review on the internet, users rave about it. 

Coola sunscreen review 

There’s plenty to like about Coola's products, starting with the refreshing cucumber scent, a signature of the brand’s Classic Face Organic Sunscreen (SPF 30). Opening a tube is like catching a whiff of a serene spa, sending an instant subliminal message that what you’re about to put on your skin is cool, refreshing, and good for you. (Other Coola products come in scents including Piña Colada, Peach Blossom, and Mango Guava, but I’m partial to the OG cuke.)

Then, there’s the texture. Unlike just about every other brand I’ve slathered on, Coola is light, with an almost airy quality, unlike the thick, greasy goop that’s been the norm for far too many sunscreens over the years. Coola’s suncare products spread on smoothly and cleanly: no wax on, wax off repetition necessary, and it absorbs quickly and easily without any sheen or white residue that can have you looking like a literal clown on the beach. It’s also available in spray versions, including its best-selling Classic Face Sunscreen Mist SPF 50 (you’ll need to put it on about 15-20 minutes before heading outside).

And — big bonus for parents here — Coola’s ease of application makes putting sunscreen on my kiddo a relative cinch. (Don’t get me wrong: there is still resistance, but nothing even close to the meltdowns that are almost guaranteed with other brands.) 

If that wasn’t enough, Coola comes with a slew of good-for-your-skin (and the environment) benefits. Beyond its commitment to organic formulas and plant-based SPF protection, Coola has never used oxybenzone, a commonly used chemical in sunscreens that has been linked to hormone disruption in humans and the destruction of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems, in its products. It’s also an approved reef-safe sunscreen according to a Hawaiian law that went into effect in January 2021 banning sunscreens that damage reefs (in January 2019, the company banned octinoxate, another nasty ingredient, from its entire collection).

I also love that the brand has a feel-good backstory. Coola hails from California, where founder Chris Birchby, a former professional poker player and longtime surfer, built the company from his garage. After several stops and starts, it officially launched in 2007, just after both Birchby’s parents were diagnosed with skin cancer. 

Since then, Coola has expanded its product lines significantly, moving into other skincare and beauty offerings like SPF serums and tinted sunscreens, as well as cleansers and exfoliants. It also makes sunless tan products (“sunshine in a bottle,” as the company calls them on its website). And after initially being sold only in specialty stores, Coola is now widely available both online and in retail outlets across the globe. 

Is Coola sunscreen worth the money? 

As summer kicks into high gear, I’m stocking up on Coola products for my whole family. The only downside? They’re fairly pricey compared to their drugstore counterparts. A 1.7-ounce tube of classic sunscreen will set you back $36, while the mist is $28 for a 3.4-ounce size (prices sometimes vary according to retailer). But if you order direct, you can take advantage of offers like free shipping on online orders for $50 and above, as well as “subscribe and save” packages that reduce the cost.

After all, as a dermatologist friend of mine used to say, you can spend a little bit more money on sunscreen now, or a lot more money, time, and pain in my office later.