By now we all know that sunscreen isn’t just for spring vacations and summer beach days, but rather an everyday step in nurturing and protecting our skin. The problem is, SPF products aren’t one size fits all kind of things. If you’d characterize your skin as sensitive with a capital S, you might deal with annoying side effects like watery eyes, redness, and breakouts when you slather on just any ole sun lotion. And in today’s robust beauty market, it’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to finding sunscreen for sensitive skin.
It’s a major bummer knowing that something so vital as sunscreen might irritate your face. However, that certainly doesn’t mean you should risk going without protection — especially when sensitive skin is prone to irreversible sun damage; it just means you need to find a non-irritating formula.
“You do not want to use a combination face moisturizer sunscreen if you have sensitive skin,” says Dr. Heather D. Rogers, a dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon, and CEO of Doctor Rogers Skin Care. “This is because sensitive skin types need hydration, and they need to shield their skin from some of the ingredients in sunscreen that can be irritating.”
Probably your best bet? A zinc-based sunscreen. “Zinc is less likely to irritate the skin than the common chemical sunscreen ingredients found in products like combination face moisturizer sunscreens,” Dr. Rogers says. “No fragrance and lots of zinc!” She also recommends applying a well-formulated, skin-supportive, hypoallergenic moisturizer first.
Whether you have acne-prone skin, rosacea, or just generally sensitive skin, there are plenty of top-rated tubes that glide on so featherlight and gentle, you’ll forget you’re wearing SPF at all. Ahead, check out our 17 non-irritating favorites.
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DermaQuest SheerZinc SPF30
One of Dr. Rogers’ favorite sunscreens for sensitive skin is this zinc-based DermaQuest one. It’s so gentle that it won’t irritate acne-prone skin or even retinol users, so it’s a safe bet for all those with sensitive skin.
DermaQuest SheerZinc SPF 30, $, available at Dermaquest
EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Face Sunscreen Facial
You’d be hard pressed to find a dermatologist or skin-care pro who doesn’t have great things to say about this EltaMD sunscreen. It’s oil-free and has hyaluronic acid to offset dryness, plus it’s been designed specifically for anyone with sensitive-skin conditions, be it rosacea, hyperpigmentation, or hormonal acne.
EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Face Sunscreen, $, available at Amazon
Tower 28 Beauty SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation
Another Dr. Rogers rec, this new sunscreen from Tower 28 is a great option if you’re in search of a sunscreen gentle enough for sensitive skin but with a skin tint. With zero fragrance, this mineral sunscreen-foundation hybrid provides light to medium buildable coverage that’s safe for easily irritated skin.
Tower 28 Beauty Beauty SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation, $, available at Sephora
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60
Free of the most potentially irritating ingredients — fragrance, parabens, oils — this is a foolproof pick for anyone looking for sun protection in a pared-down formula.
La Roche-Posay La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60, $, available at Ulta Beauty
Supergoop! Zincscreen 100% Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40
Another favorite of Dr. Rogers’, this daily sunscreen-moisturizer hybrid from Supergoop! perfect for sensitive, oily, and acne-prone skin. Plus, it wears super well under makeup with its ever so slight skin-brightening pink tint.
Supergoop! Zincscreen 100% Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40, $, available at Sephora
Zitsticka Megashade Breakout-Proof Face Serum SPF 50
Designed with sensitive skin in mind, Zitsticka’s Megashade boasts an impressive SPF 50 with chemical-mineral hybrid will leave your skin feeling hydrated and looking dewy without clogging your pores or leaving a white cast.
ZitSticka Megashade Breakout-Proof Face Serum SPF 50, $, available at Ulta Beauty
Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Shontay Lundy founded her brand, Black Girl Sunscreen, to fill a gap in the market that wasn’t speaking to Black women about the importance of sun protection. Now, this everyday SPF 30 is beloved for its lightweight formula that leaves zero white cast and gives skin a healthy glow.
Black Girl Sunscreen Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $, available at Target
Kinship Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 32
This zinc-based sunscreen from Kinship works as a moisturizer, primer, and SPF all in one. And like most mineral sunscreens, it helps support clearer, less blemish-prone skin.
Kinship Self Reflect Probiotic Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 32, $, available at Ulta Beauty
SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
Paraben-free, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic: This sunscreen is truly ideal for all skin types, even the most sensitive of skin. In addition to effective broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, this SkinCeuticals sunscreen boasts a sheer formula that adapts to the color of skin tones.
SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, $, available at Bluemercury
Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+
Mineral sunscreens (those that use physical blockers like zinc oxide) get a bad rap for being thick, white, and generally pasty. This one from ThinkBaby is none of those things. It goes on like a lightweight moisturizer, absorbing quickly and without the need for lots of blending. Plus, it’s made for babies so you know it will be gentle on your skin.
Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+, $, available at Amazon
Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
With a feather-light texture and matte finish, this sunscreen from Neutrogena is specially formulated to prevent breakouts, so it’s a super gentle on the skin but powerful against the sun option.
Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, $, available at Amazon
Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
Dermalogica is well known for its products formulated for those with sensitive and acne-prone skin in mind, so naturally it’s a smart choice for sunscreen, too. With a formula that features only non-nano Zinc Oxide this sunscreen will not only protect your skin from the sun, but also soothe it in the process.
Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30, $, available at Sephora
Unsun Cosmetics Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
One of our favorite Black-owned skincare brands, Unsun, has the most innovative mineral sunscreen on the market. The blendable formula melts into all skin tones — and uses only natural ingredients, like coconut oil and beeswax, to soothe and moisturize sensitive skin.
Unsun Cosmetics Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, $, available at Nordstrom
Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Non-Nano Zinc SPF 40 Fragrance Free Mineral Sunscreen
Wear this mineral sunscreen to the beach on a sweltering day and, trust us, you will fall in love with its non-greasy formula. Not to mention it’s oxybenzone-free, so if you take a dip in the ocean, you won’t be contributing to coral reef damage.
Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Non-Nano Zinc SPF 40 Mineral Sunscreen, $, available at Ulta Beauty
Tatcha The Silk Sunscreen Mineral Broad Spectrum SPF 50
If you’re looking to treat your sensitive skin to a pricier sunscreen, Tatcha’s The Silk is not only luxurious, but also packed with ingredients such as niacinamide and hyaluronic acid that will gently keep your skin hydrated all day, while also providing solid SPF coverage.
Tatcha The Silk Sunscreen Mineral Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $, available at Sephora
CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
If you have normal to oily skin and prefer a matte finish sunscreen, this moisturizing lotion is perfect for everyday use. Formulated without any fragrance or oil, it’s perfectly suited to sensitive skin and contains ceramides, as well as hyaluronic acid, to help restore your skin’s natural barrier and retain moisture.
CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30, $, available at Ulta Beauty
Paula’s Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50
For a non-greasy sunscreen that won’t clog your pores and anger your sensitive skin, Paula’s Choice Extra Care is another great choice. It’s super soft and silky — plus, it’s packed with age-fighting antioxidants.
Paula’s Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50, $, available at Paula’s Choice
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