When most people think of sunscreen, they think of sun protection. But when someone with sensitive skin thinks of sunscreen, all they see is a bottle full of itchiness, redness, and breakouts. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Once you’ve found a formula that caters to your skin’s high-maintenance needs (hey, it’s not your fault!), you’ll officially be free of irritation and sunscreen-related breakouts. But since it can be a headache finding gentle products (especially sunscreens) that won’t make your skin freak out, I did you a favor and rounded up the 13 safest sunscreens for sensitive skin, below.
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But First: Only Use Mineral Sunscreen
If you have sensitive skin and don’t know the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen, listen up: Mineral sunscreens are formulated with mineral sun blockers (e.g., zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide) that sit on top of your skin to physically block the sun’s rays for gentle, non-irritating protection. And chemical sunscreens—i.e., the most common, traditional type—use chemical sun blockers (e.g., oxybenzone and octinoxate) that sink into your skin to absorb UV rays—a process that can cause redness and irritation.
Basically, always reach for a mineral/physical-based sunscreen, like one of these 13, below:
This Stick Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+
This Drugstore Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen for Face Broad Spectrum SPF 50
PSA: You don’t need to drop all your dollars to get your hands on a sunscreen for sensitive skin that actually works. This top-rated (and derm loved) sunscreen lotion from Aveeno protects skin with SPF 50 and is available at the drugstore for less than $8. A dream!
This Glow-Boosting Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield Glow SPF 50
In addition to its mineral UV blockers and soothing niacinamide, this sunscreen for sensitive skin is infused with bronzy, light-reflecting pigments to give skin a subtle glow. It’s also sweat and water resistant for up to 40 minutes, which makes it a great option for days when it’s hot and humid.
This Sheer Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30
Fact: Zinc sunscreen is ideal for sensitive skin. Also fact: zinc sunscreens can leave a less-than-ideal white, ghostly-looking cast on skin. But not this one. The sheer, gentle formula is pretty much invisible (provided you rub it in for a few seconds) and protects skin with SPF 30 and antioxidants.
This Water-Resistant Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Vanicream Sunscreen Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 35
Simpler sunscreens tend to be gentler on sensitive skin, and this one is about as basic as it gets. The list of ingredients is short, and the formula is free from potentially irritating fragrances, dyes, harsh preservatives, and formaldehyde. But the best part? It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it a great sunscreen option for days when you’re sweating and running around outside.
This Moisturizing Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer SPF 40
This hydrating sunscreen is perfect for sensitive skin that’s dry or dehydrated. The blend of nourishing shea butter, soothing oatmeal, and protective antioxidants hydrates hella-thirsty skin and softens rough patches. It’s the perfect daily moisturizer with SPF for anyone who wants baby-soft skin…with a major dose of sun protection.
This Anti-Acne Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 46
You really can’t go wrong with any of the sunscreens in EltaMD’s line (derms love them, and derms love skin, so), but this one in particular is the best if you’re dealing with acne. The lightweight, oil-free lotion contains niacinamide (aka vitamin b3), which reduces excess oil and inflammation to help prevent breakouts. Niacinamide also has brightening properties that can help fade dark marks from old breakouts, so you’ll be covered both ways.
This Oil-Free Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Skinmedica Essential Defense Everyday Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 47
This Mattifying Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Supergoop Smooth and Poreless 100% Mineral Matte Screen SPF 40
This sensitive-skin sunscreen with SPF 40 doubles as a lightweight, skin-smoothing primer. The all-zinc formula has a sheer tint and a mattifying, mousse-like texture that minimizes pores and helps any makeup look better and last longer after you apply it.
This Anti-Aging Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 50
This super-silky, mineral-based sunscreen for sensitive skin has a silicone base that instantly “blurs” fine lines and mattifies skin, leaving you with a soft, smooth finish. And it’s infused with three different antioxidants—green tea, pomegranate, and cranberry fruit extracts—to help defend skin from free radical damage and premature aging down the road.
This Natural Sunscreen Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Suntegrity Skincare Natural Moisturizing Sunscreen and Primer SPF 30
Love natural beauty products? Then this gentle SPF 30 sunscreen lotion for sensitive skin is for you. It contains a moisturizing blend of organic aloe vera, jojoba oil, and sunflower extract and non-nano zinc oxide (i.e., it won’t penetrate your skin at all) to protect your face from UV damage and redness.
This Anti-Redness Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Is Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30
Sensitive skin is prone to redness, and this sunscreen helps keep it in check. The super-gentle formula has SPF 30 to prevent UV-induced redness, along with calming Centella asiatica (an antioxidant-rich herb) and olive leaf extract to help minimize redness and blotchiness that’s caused by rosacea, sensitive skin, or irritation.
This Anti-Pollution Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50
While exposure to pollution isn’t linked to skin cancer the way UV is, it’s definitely a precursor to premature aging. Luckily, this liquid mineral sunscreen for sensitive skin shields you from both. The zinc and titanium offer up give SPF 50, while vitamin C and dirt-repelling polymers protect your face from pollution and dark spots.
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