Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin: 7 Best Sensitive Sunscreens

Sunny days mean warm skin, cool drinks, and relaxed moods — but sun protection goes hand in hand with summer to make sure your skin stays protected.

Sunscreen is a daily necessity, no matter the weather. UV rays can penetrate through cloud cover, rainstorms, and even glass when you’re inside your home or car.

Wearing SPF is key, but you likely have questions about how to choose the right one. Which type of sunscreen is best for sensitive skin? What sunscreen to use if allergic? What ingredients should you avoid in sunscreen with sensitive skin? And what about making sure you’re adequately protected from sun damage with a high enough SPF level?

Let’s chat about why some sunscreen can be irritating and which options are best for sensitive skin while still providing skincare benefits and sun protection.

Can Sunscreen Irritate Sensitive Skin?

As with all skincare products, it’s important to choose the right product for your specific skin concerns and needs. Choosing the wrong ingredients or formulas can lead to skin irritation, clogged pores, breakouts, or redness depending on your skin type — and this is especially true if your skin is particularly sensitive.

That said, though, you don’t need to eliminate sunscreen from your routine to avoid irritation (and, in fact, you shouldn’t). Sunscreen is a crucial part of a skincare routine to make sure you’re adequately protected from UVA and UVB rays. 

Knowing what to look for when it comes to choosing the right formula for your skin is key, and with a few tips and recommendations, you can find the perfect SPF. 

What Ingredients Should You Look for If Your Skin Is Sensitive?

Sensitive skin can develop redness, itching, or breakouts in reaction to the wrong products. If your skin is oily or acne-prone, look for non-comedogenic, oil-free sunscreen formulas for a non-greasy shield that won’t clog pores.

Further, it can be helpful to opt for a mineral sunscreen over a chemical sunscreen, because it won’t sink into your skin but remains on the surface. The two main ingredients of mineral SPF — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — are known to be soothing and gentle on the skin. 

Zinc calms irritated and acne-prone skin , while titanium dioxide is safe for sensitive skin due to being non-comedogenic. Chemical sunscreen penetrates into the skin to fight UV rays, but some of its active ingredients may be irritating (like octinoxate and oxybenzone).

When it comes to allergic reactions and contact dermatitis from sunscreen, it’s usually the preservatives or synthetic fragrances triggering a reaction . Scent-free, paraben-free, hypoallergenic SPFs may be the safest bet to avoid a flare-up if you’re concerned.

What Are the Best Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin?

If you have sensitive skin, it can feel overwhelming to need to add another product to your skincare routine. We understand worry about your skin reacting to a new product like sunscreen, especially if you’ve never found one that’s well-suited to your skin.

Let’s remove the uncertainty from the process of choosing sunscreen and explore seven high-quality SPFs tailored to sensitive skin.

1. Dune The Mineral Melt SPF 30

Dune’s The Mineral Melt SPF 30 is a mineral sunscreen that hydrates dry skin. Because it adapts to the skin without leaving a white cast, it’s suitable for all skin tones. Plant antioxidants help restore the appearance of skin while supporting a more firm and supple skin barrier.

It’s non-comedogenic and packed with skin-loving ingredients like vitamin E, sunflower extract, carrot root, and rock rose extract. “These ingredients promote cellular turnover to enhance a youthful appearance and soothe skin,” highlights Johannah Gregg, Certified Family Nurse Practitioner.

2. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Gentle Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

The La Roche-Posay Anthelios Gentle Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 is a gentle formula ideal for sensitive and oil-prone skin. 

Made without oil, it also contains silica to absorb excess sebum produced by the skin. With water resistance up to 80 minutes, it’s sweat-proof and swim-proof. It’s also non-greasy and non-comedogenic and has been tested on sensitive skin. “This is an excellent option for active people, such as runners,” notes Gregg. 

3. Supergoop! Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40

The Supergoop! Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40 is a non-nano mineral sunscreen, meaning it will remain on the surface of the skin and not be absorbed. This helps skin that’s prone to clogged pores. 

Due to its subtle pink tint, this formula is suitable for all skin tones. The glowy shade masks any residue caused by it sitting on the skin's surface. Because there’s no white cast, layering makeup over the top of it is also smoother, and antioxidants like winter cherry and blueberry help protect the skin during exposure to pollutants that can cause signs of aging.

4. SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30

The SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30 is a mineral blend that gently protects sensitive skin. This sunscreen shields the skin from UVA and UVB rays while aiding in the integrity of the skin barrier.

Dry skin can also benefit from the moisturizing properties of Artemia Salina , a plankton extract that helps protect against sunlight while supporting firmer skin.

5. EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+

The EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ is like a daily moisturizing facial in a bottle with the added benefit of UVA and UVB sun protection. Dry, mature, and vulnerable post-procedure skin can benefit from this sunscreen, but it’s also suitable for other sensitivities.

This facial sunscreen is formulated with hyaluronic acid to support smooth, supple-looking skin. After applying, the skin looks firm and plump, ideal for going without makeup or layering beauty products over top. This blend is vegan and cruelty-free, non-comedogenic, and free from fragrances and parabens.

6. Solara Suncare Clean Freak Unscented SPF 30

The Solara Suncare Clean Freak Unscented SPF 30 is a body moisturizer that contains protective sunscreen SPF 30. It contains AO Certified Tahitian Monoi for ultimate hydration, as well as plant botanicals and extracts that nurture your complexion.

This sensitive mineral sunscreen is water resistant for up to 40 minutes, making it ideal for active lifestyles. We love that Solara Suncare replaces more than 2500 questionable skincare ingredients with better alternatives that are known to benefit the skin. All skin types, no matter the sensitivity, can know their skin is protected.

7. M-61 Hydraboost Moisturizer SPF 30

The M-61 Hydraboost Moisturizer SPF 30 is a healing and protecting formula that’s perfect for sensitive or aging skin. With an infusion of skincare ingredients — vitamin B5, vitamin E, antioxidants, and tamarind — this sunscreen helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while improving skin hydration levels.

As a daily moisturizer with SPF 30, it supports your skin’s water levels and shields your skin from the sun, making it rewarding to reapply throughout the day.

This SPF is dermatologist-tested and allergy-tested to ensure it’s suitable for a range of sensitivities. It’s also free of synthetic fragrance, another reason why this formula is a great choice for sensitive skin.

Sensitive Sunscreens for Sunny Days

Certain sunscreen formulas can be irritating to sensitive skin based on their ingredient list and formulation. However, it’s crucial to cover up your exposed skin from UV rays. Fortunately, with high-quality sunscreen options that are designed for sensitive, allergic, or acne-prone skin, you don’t have to choose between protected skin and happy skin.

Sources:

5 Sneaky Ways You’re Being Exposed to the Sun’s UV Rays | Skin Cancer Foundation

Anti-Aging Effects of the Proteins from Artemia Extract on Human Fibroblasts Cell Proliferation 

and Collagen Expression in Induced Aging Conditions | MedDocs

Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation | American Cancer Society

Yes, Your Sunscreen Might Be Causing Your Eczema to Flare | National Eczema Association

Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review | Dermatology Research and Practice