Finding the best sunscreen for acne-prone skin can feel like an impossible task. After all, so many sunscreens are known to clog pores and exacerbate already inflamed acne. Your skin feels like it’s suffocating. They weigh heavy on your skin. You feel greasy. That’s not a glow on your skin, it’s just downright shiny from excess oil.
Sound familiar? Well, guess what – you don’t need to put up with that to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
There are plenty of sunscreens on the market that will not clog your pores. That not only won’t aggravate acne but will help it. That are lightweight and leave your skin with a matte finish. It’s just a matter of knowing what to look for and what to avoid.
To begin with, the first thing you need to know is that there are two types of sunscreen ingredients: physical and chemical.
Physical sunscreens sit on your skin and deflect UV rays. You know them. Back in the day, they were thick, white, and visible. No longer. The formulas have been refined and the ingredients micronized so they are light, smooth, and easily absorbed into the skin.
The best part? Physical sunscreens provide maximum broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. Natural minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are physical sunscreen ingredients.
Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, penetrate the skin and absorb the sun’s rays. Because they are absorbed, your skin is more susceptible to irritation and various other adverse reactions. Also, chemical sunscreen formulas, as a rule, need multiple synthetic ingredients to get broad spectrum coverage. A few of the chemical ingredients and their effects are:
- Oxybenzone aids other ingredients in penetrating your skin, but it can also cause a long-lasting rash.
- Octinoxate also aids with penetration but can produce free radicals that contribute to premature aging.
- Homosalate, again, helps your skin absorb the sunscreen, but it can accumulate in your body. When it does, it becomes toxic.
- Octocrylene also can accumulate in your body, produces oxygen radicals that can damage tissues.
Those are unpleasant to extremely dire consequences, and we really don’t mean to alarm. Often, those ingredients are tempered with antioxidants and a physical sunscreen ingredient. It’s a personal choice. Obviously, our choice is the physical sunscreen.
Another thing to note – while choosing among the many sunscreens available, do not trust “oil-free” on the label. The product needs to be “non-comedogenic” (doesn’t clog pores). It’s possible for a product to be oil free and still contain ingredients that will cause or aggravate acne. Oh, those tricky marketers.
Also, avoid products that are thick and/or overly creamy. The best sunscreen for acne prone skin should feel light and delicate on your skin, not like a suffocating second skin!
Now that you know what’s up, let’s take a look at some of the best sunscreen picks on the market. The following sunscreens all offer broad spectrum protection from the sun while taking good care of your acne-prone skin!
Murad Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15
If you can get away with a lower SPF and you’re looking for a lightweight, acne-fighting and oil-banishing lotion, Murad’s Oil-Control Mattifier is perfect. A combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provides broad spectrum protection from the sun from the moment you apply it to your skin. Biotin, vitamin B7 (known as the “beauty vitamin”), does double duty: it contributes to protecting your skin from the sun and protects the skin’s natural moisture to keep oil glands from overproducing.
In addition, willow bark extract (salicylic acid) controls oil production and battles the bacteria and debris that are lodged in your pores. Argan oil, rich in vitamin E, hydrates and nourishes the skin. Tea tree oil detoxifies your pores, dries up acne blemishes, and moisturizes. Extracts of saw palmetto, sesame seed, and pomegranate banish shine for an all-day matte finish and promote a clear and healthy complexion.
You can use this sunscreen alone or as a base for your foundation. As a base, it will keep your makeup fresh all day while providing essential hydration.
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Coola Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
This is hands down one of the best sunscreens for acne prone skin out there. Coola Mineral Sunscreen works for all skin types, including sensitive. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are suspended in a moisturizing base filled with antioxidants, and SPF protection begins immediately upon application.
The all-natural ingredients include shea butter, which smooths and hydrates, evening primrose oil that improves elasticity and helps skin retain moisture, and rose hip oil with vitamin C to fight free radicals. A relatively new ingredient in the skin care arsenal is phytoplankton, microscopic marine plants that contain vitamin B, which penetrates deep into your skin for long-lasting moisture.
This sunscreen has a satin-soft texture and feels weightless on your skin. The subtle beige tint (best for light to medium skin tones) masks flaws, evens out skin tone, and gives your skin a matte finish all day.
Apply evenly over your face. No extra makeup is necessary. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive perspiration.
- Lightly tinted
- Immediate line-smoothing finish
- Water Resistant (40 minutes)
Supergoop! Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40
Take note, sensitive skinned beauties! Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen is a soothing everyday sunscreen containing zinc oxide that creates a physical barrier on the skin’s surface and protects from the sun as soon as it is applied. Supergoop! is all about protection from sun. The company incorporates UV protection into all of their skin care formulas so you are covered even with your daily skin care products.
Olive oil was once known as “liquid gold” for the skin. Its chemical structure is much like the skin’s natural oil, and olive polyphenols are potent antioxidants that are absorbed directly into the skin to encourage new cell growth, calm redness and irritation, and brighten and even skin tone.
The sunscreen is lightweight and blends easily into your skin. It’s suitable for even the most sensitive skin. It also does a great job multitasking as a base for your foundation.
Reapply every two hours or more often if you have been swimming or perspiring heavily.
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Peter Thomas Roth Oily Problem Skin Instant Mineral SPF 30
Love the sun protection sunscreen provides but not the extra stickiness? You’ll want to meet this brush-on powder sunscreen – it’s a silky mineral powder perfect for oily and acne-prone skin. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide provide maximum and immediate protection from the sun.
The formula contains willow bark extract (salicylic acid), which naturally exfoliates, encourages cell turnover, and tones your skin. Kaolin clay absorbs oil from your skin to prevent future outbreaks. Vitamins A, C, and E provide a bevy of antioxidant benefits. The powder leaves your skin soft and smooth with a transparent matte finish for a radiant complexion.
Additionally, the convenient size fits into your pocket or your purse for easy access throughout the day. Shake before using.
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EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
EltaMD UV Clear combines zinc oxide, a physical sunscreen, and octinoxate, a chemical sunscreen. It’s a formula that protects sensitive skin and acne-prone skin, absorbs nicely, and dries invisibly. Niacinamide reduces inflammation, calms irritated skin, and reduces hyperpigmentation that leaves scars after your acne is gone. Lactic acid gently exfoliates and refines the skin. Together with hyaluronic acid, it also moisturizes.
This sunscreen is ultra-light and silky and can be worn alone or with makeup. It’s available in both tinted and untinted formulas. The tinted formula blends well on different skin tones. Both tinted and untinted make an excellent base for your foundation.
An extra advantage to this sunscreen is the pump that dispenses a pea-sized amount—exactly what you need for one application.
- Mineral-based face sunscreen with 9.0% transparent zinc oxide
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La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid
Say hello to one of the most popular sunscreens of all time. This lightweight, 100% mineral sunscreen contains a powerful blend of minerals. Titanium dioxide and zinc provide long-lasting protection from the sun in combination with La Roche-Posay’s Cell-Ox Shield technology, a combination of physical sun filters in various particle sizes. It also nourishes and hydrates to leave your skin refined and smooth.
This sunscreen is suitable for all skin types. It’s light and absorbs easily, leaving your skin with a healthy glow. It’s lightly tinted for a matte finish that covers up blemishes. It also works as a base for your makeup.
Shake well. Reapply every 2 hours or after 40 minutes of swimming or perspiring.
- Broad Spectrum SPF 50
- Water resistant (40 minutes)
- Light tint, fast absorbing, weightless texture, matte finish
SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50
This 100% physical sunscreen contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide processed with aerated silica technology. Aerated silica can absorb 15 times its weight in oil. Together with oil-absorbing powders, the silica continuously mattifies your skin even in the most humid conditions. It’s ideal for oily or combination skin.
This sunscreen has a lightweight mousse-like texture that absorbs immediately, repels oil, smooths your skin, and minimizes the appearance of pores. It’s a great makeup base. The slight tint can be used by all skin tones due to the inclusion of translucent color spheres in the formula.
Reapply every two hours and after swimming or excessive perspiration
- 100% physical broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection with a matte finish
- Smoothens skin texture and minimizes appearance of pores
- Weightless mousse dries to a powder finish, optimizing make-up application
MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 30
This tinted cream is a mineral sunscreen that contains naturally derived zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and MDSolarSciences’s proprietary ProVention-R™, a powerful complex of antioxidants that includes vitamin C, green tea, cranberry extract, and pomegranate extract. The ultra-light formula is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin.
Vitamin C defends your skin against acne-causing toxins, encourages new cell growth, and calms inflamed skin. Green tea kills bacteria, clears out clogged pores, and curbs excess oil production. Cranberry extract clears your skin of excess oil, and pomegranate extract accelerates collagen production to heal the skin and any residual acne scars.
The formula feels like silk. Because of the flawless matte finish it provides, you can use it as a long-lasting primer. Or you may want to use it alone. The tint can be used on light to medium skin tones.
Smooth a thin layer onto your clean face before applying makeup—or before going out in the sun. Reapply every two hours.
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You no longer have to choose between risking sun damage or hiding away indoors with your acne. These products are the cream of the crop (yes, a bad pun) of sunscreens that you can use with complete confidence!