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Which are the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin?
Is there an easy way to tell what’s best for oily skin in the summer?
After all, no one wants to choose between pimples or sunburn.
Fortunately, there are some clues to help you choose a sunscreen that won’t cause breakouts.
- How to select a sunscreen for acne-prone skin
- What kind of sunscreen is best?
- Top Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin
- Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen, SPF 55
- Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Oxide Dry-Touch Mineral Face Sunscreen, SPF 50
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Sunscreen SPF 100+
- Neutrogena Beach Defense Water-Resistant Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum SPF 70
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen
- EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
- EltaMD UV Aero Full-Body Spray Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 45
- Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Daily Sunscreen
- Olay Sun SPF 35 Face Lotion + Shine Control
- Cetaphil Pro Oil-Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30
- Cerave 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
- Blue Lizard Face Sunscreen with Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid, SPF 30+
- PURITO Centella Green Level Safe Sun SPF50+ PA++++ Sunscreen
- Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ / PA+++ | Sebum-free
- Supergoop! Super Power SPF 50 Sunscreen Mousse
- COOLA Organic Scalp & Hair Sunscreen Mist
How to select a sunscreen for acne-prone skin
You need sunscreen to prevent sunburn and premature aging. Also, too much sun exposure now can lead to skin cancer later (1).
But you might feel wary about using sunscreen because it might cause breakouts.
How can you know if the sunscreen is safe for acne-prone skin?
Another helpful description is “oil-free.”
And finally, sunscreens made for sensitive skin are likely to be suitable as well. They usually leave out artificial fragrances and other allergens.
What kind of sunscreen is best?
There are many kinds of sunscreen, from lotions to gels to sprays.
Choose the type that’s easiest for you to use so that you apply it as often as needed.
Next, some are mineral-based, meaning they reflect sunlight. These usually contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They may also leave a white residue on dark skin if you don’t rub them in well enough.
Others have chemical filters that absorb UV radiation. These ingredients include octinoxate and oxybenzone.
Neither category of sunscreen, whether mineral or chemical, blocks 100% of UV radiation.
But both groups may offer broad-spectrum protection. This simply means they protect against sunburn (UV-B rays) and premature aging (UV-A).
For example, SPF30 filters out 97%. But SPF 100 still only blocks 99%. You could still burn after extended exposure, which is why taking cover and wearing protective clothing is a good idea.
In either case, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen if you’re outside for more than a couple of hours.
That’s especially true if you’ve been in the water or sweating. Some sunscreens are water-resistant for only 40 minutes, and others, up to 80 minutes (3).
If you’re having a hard time choosing between sunscreens, get one made for sensitive skin. This is the type that dermatologists usually recommend. You don’t need a nice fragrance or flashy extras to keep your skin safe (4).
Top Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin
Now, let’s review the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin.
Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen, SPF 55
One of the dermatologist-recommended sunscreens for oily skin is made by Neutrogena.
In fact, Neutrogena makes several different sunscreens, which complicates choosing between them.
For example, this one is designed for the face. But feel free to use it on your body.
(You can always use a face sunscreen on your body, but please don’t use a body sunscreen on your face if you have acne.)
The SPF 55 rating means it filters out 98% of harmful UV rays.
Moreover, it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic. It doesn’t contain a fragrance, either.
This is the ideal sunscreen, whether you’ll be out with friends or sitting by the pool. It lasts up to 80 minutes in the water.
Even better, it absorbs without leaving a residue. Your complexion will stay matte, not shiny. You might even forget that you put it on.
The active sunscreen ingredients include octisalate, octocrylene, avobenzone, homosalate, and oxybenzone. These are all chemical sunscreen filters that absorb harmful rays to keep them from penetrating into the skin.
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Oxide Dry-Touch Mineral Face Sunscreen, SPF 50
Why might you choose this sunscreen for your face instead of the one above? After all, they have similar levels of protection.
The difference lies in the active ingredients.
This one is based on 21.6% zinc oxide instead of chemical filters. The zinc oxide reflects harmful rays, and that’s preferable for people with sensitive skin.
If you’re concerned, most users say that it doesn’t leave any kind of residue or white cast.
Furthermore, it has Dry-Touch technology. If you have an oily complexion, it won’t clog pores, and it won’t feel greasy.
It’s water-resistant up to 80 minutes and free of artificial fragrances, parabens, and colors. It won’t even make your eyes sting if you wear it underneath makeup.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Sunscreen SPF 100+
Is it worth it to use SPF 100 sunscreen?
It is if you are easily sunburned. It’s also helpful if you have rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, or other skin conditions that are aggravated by sun exposure.
SPF 100 filters out 99% of the harmful rays from the sun. And Neutrogena’s Helioplex Technology defends against both UVA and UVB radiation.
For something so powerful, it’s awfully lightweight on the skin. Once you put it on, it sets to a matte finish.
It’s non-comedogenic. However, it does have an artificial fragrance.
Neutrogena Beach Defense Water-Resistant Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum SPF 70
Here’s Neutrogena’s body sunscreen. Luckily, it won’t trigger acne on your back or chest.
It has the same Helioplex Technology that the face sunscreen has. It’s also very lightweight and oil-free.
Choose from lotion or spray. Both are water-resistant up to 80 minutes.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen
Here’s an award-winning sunscreen for your face or body. Oprah Magazine, Glamour, and Family Circle are all fans.
It has a proprietary technology called Cell-OX Shield. This comprises protection against UVA and UVB radiation plus antioxidants.
Why are antioxidants important in a sunscreen?
Well, a tiny bit of UV radiation gets through no matter what sunscreen you use. Then, those rays can cause havoc with your skin. They send free radicals tearing through your tissue, causing all sorts of damage at a cellular level.
Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals so that your skin stays healthy.
What’s more, this sunscreen also mattifies oily skin.
It contains silica and perlite to absorb oil and leave a silky, natural texture. This technology works even in high humidity. Yes, you can wear it underneath makeup.
It’s free of artificial fragrances, parabens, and oil.
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
How about a sunscreen recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation? You can’t get a better recommendation than that.
EltaMD created this product for complexions that are prone to acne or rosacea. It’s available in clear and tinted versions.
Not only does it defend against sun damage, but it also reduces redness and evens skin tone. It has antioxidants that cancel out the adverse effects of UV radiation and infrared, too.
It’s mineral-based, with 9% transparent zinc oxide. It also has hyaluronic acid, an excellent lightweight moisturizer.
What’s more, it doesn’t make the skin feel tacky or greasy. It has no fragrance, no oil, and no parabens.
EltaMD UV Aero Full-Body Spray Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 45
This is another mineral-based sunscreen. It’s a spray that comes out like mousse. Massage it into the skin, and it absorbs in seconds.
It won’t leave a white cast even on dark skin. Yet this sheer coverage lasts up to 80 minutes in the water.
It contains 9.3% transparent zinc oxide.
Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Daily Sunscreen
Aveeno uses 100% naturally-sourced zinc oxide in this sunscreen. It has no artificial fragrance, phthalates, color, or parabens.
Developed for sensitive skin, it also performs well on acne-prone complexions. That’s because it’s non-comedogenic and it mattifies the skin to reduce shine.
You can wear it at the pool as it stands up to 80 minutes in the water. Or if you sweat, it won’t sting your eyes.
Like other products from Aveeno, it contains oat extract to soothe the skin. Plus, it has vitamin E and feverfew to promote healing.
Olay Sun SPF 35 Face Lotion + Shine Control
Get ready faster in the morning when you use this sunscreen as makeup primer.
It contains micro-powders that soak up excess oil. It keeps your complexion velvety soft while it prevents oil slicks during the day.
Olay says they were inspired by Asian sunscreen technology.
There are other benefits besides protection and mattification. For one, an antioxidant complex cancels out the damage caused by free radicals.
And two, it’s completely translucent, perfect for all skin tones.
Cetaphil Pro Oil-Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30
It’s a moisturizer with sunscreen, and it’s perfect for acne-prone skin.
Cetaphil’s product has MicroPearl and Oleosome technology. The former absorbs oil to leave the skin matte, but not flat.
Then, the latter ensures that the skin stays hydrated and not irritated.
Furthermore, this is another non-comedogenic product that doesn’t have parabens or perfumes.
Users say that it has no odor, and it sinks in fast. They like how it keeps them from having to blot their face during the day.
Cerave 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
CeraVe uses a blend of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect the skin. Both minerals reflect harmful rays.
Also important, if you go to the beach, this is a Hawaii-compliant sunscreen. In other words, it doesn’t contain chemical sunscreen filters that can harm wildlife in natural waterways.
Therefore, it’s kind to the environment and gentle to the skin. It’s been allergy-tested to be safe for kids. It’s also free of oil, parabens, and fragrances.
Finally, it has three essential ceramides that fortify the skin’s natural barrier. These help prevent dehydration when you spend a lot of time in the sun.
Blue Lizard Face Sunscreen with Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid, SPF 30+
Don’t be reluctant to moisturize even if you have an oily complexion. Your skin needs hydration to keep it from overproducing sebum.
Hyaluronic acid is the outstanding moisturizer in this sunscreen. It keeps your skin happy when you’re outdoors in the wind and the sun.
The sunscreen formula is more like a gel than a lotion. It soothes the skin with green tea and vitamin E.
Next, the broad-spectrum protection comes from zinc oxide and a chemical filter called octinoxate. It has no fragrance or parabens.
Lastly, Blue Lizard’s sunscreen has Smart Cap Technology. It turns blue under bright sunlight to remind you to apply more sunscreen.
PURITO Centella Green Level Safe Sun SPF50+ PA++++ Sunscreen
Purito is a Korean skincare company. They’ve created this reef-safe sunscreen with a multitude of benefits.
First, it’s oil-free and contains no nanoparticle ingredients. Also, it’s free of irritants that trigger acne. It doesn’t have ethylhexyl salicylate or several other problematic compounds. It won’t even make your eyes burn.
Second, it won’t turn the skin white or make it feel sticky or greasy.
Third, it prevents wrinkles and sun damage. It has anti-aging ingredients and moisturizers like hyaluronic acid. Feel free to wear it underneath makeup.
Fourth, it’s vegan and cruelty-free.
Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ / PA+++ | Sebum-free
Here’s another of the best Korean sunscreens for acne-prone skin.
In case you’re wondering what the “PA+++” means, I can explain. It stands for protection grade against UVA rays. (Meanwhile, SPF used to stand for protection against UVB rays only.)
The PA grading system is based on a standard called the Persistent Pigment Darkening scale. In short, when you see more pluses, you get more protection.
If you have light-colored skin, you need as many pluses as you can get.
But besides the excellent defense the sunscreen provides, it has a crucial benefit people with acne.
It absorbs oil and reduces sebum production throughout the day.
Natural ingredients like açai, Barbados cherry, and centella nourish the skin. Concurrently, hyaluronic acid, and aloe quench its thirst.
Supergoop! Super Power SPF 50 Sunscreen Mousse
Why glop on a goopy lotion when you can enjoy a mousse that’s as light as air?
Supergoop’s sunscreen is ultra-lightweight, yet water-resistant up to 80 minutes.
It’s packed with antioxidants from olive extract and blue sea kale.
Moreover, it’s mild enough for the whole family to enjoy.
COOLA Organic Scalp & Hair Sunscreen Mist
Have you ever sunburned your scalp? Many people forget to protect their heads in the sunshine. This leads to painful consequences as well as hair dye fading.
Worse, wearing a hat might trigger acne. So, what’s the solution?
Try this hair sunscreen mist. It can handle up to 80 minutes in the water. (Fortunately, it’s reef-friendly.)
It protects sensitive skin with plant-based antioxidants.
Keep acne in check by preventing sunburn. Use a sunscreen designed for acne-prone skin.
You’ll also be preventing age spots, wrinkles, and possibly skin cancer down the road.
It’s a small investment, but it pays off with long-lasting rewards.
If the reviews today helped you find your new favorite sunscreen, please come back and tell us about your experience.
1. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/qa/can-i-wear-sunscreen-if-i-have-acne accessed July 20, 2020
2. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/qa/what-kind-of-sunscreen-should-i-use-if-i-have-acne accessed July 20, 2020
3. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen/how-to-select-sunscreen accessed July 20, 2020
4. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen/understand-sunscreen-labels accessed July 20, 2020