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You probably already take a lot of measures to keep your rosacea flare-ups to a minimum. You eat the right foods and manage your stress.

But are you using the right sunscreen? Being out in the sun is already a common trigger for rosacea. If you have rosacea, you’ll need to take a few extra precautions when you pick out a sunscreen.

Sun exposure is a very common trigger for flare-ups of rosacea. UV rays can cause rosacea to become more apparent on the cheeks and can cause cell growth in blood vessels. This can lead to small, noticeable vessels on the surface of the skin. However, there are different types of rosacea that show up on the skin in different ways.

Using a sunscreen that contains certain chemical absorbers known to cause skin irritation can lead to rosacea flare-ups with aggressive symptoms.

People with rosacea often complain of stinging and burning in their faces and eyes after using certain creams and sunscreens. Some preservatives and fragrances in these products can cause a rosacea flare-up.

It’s important to find a sunscreen with sufficient UV protection and rosacea-friendly ingredients that aren’t harsh on your skin.

In this article, we look into what ingredients to look for, factors and considerations before you make your purchase, and some top recommendations for rosacea-safe sunscreens.

Learning the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens, and the ingredients in both types can help you keep a baseline of what sunscreens could be best for you. The two types aren’t really what they seem at first. This guide will help you remember how to choose between the two.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified ingredients in sunscreens in categories:

  • Category I: “GRASE,” which stands for generally recognized as safe and effective. Only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are Category I.
  • Category II: non-GRASE. Two ingredients are classified as Category II: para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and trolamine salicylate, which have been banned by the FDA.
  • Category III: requires further evaluation. Category III ingredients include dioxybenzone, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone, avobenzone, cinoxate, octinoxate, octisalate, homosalate, padimate O, ensulizole, meradimate, and octocrylene. All these ingredientes are being re-evaluated by the FDA due to systemic absorption, as well as not being reef-safe.

Physical (inorganic) sunscreen

This is the type of sunscreen you want if you’re looking to reduce rosacea flare-ups.

Physical sunscreen is sometimes called “inorganic” because of its ingredients and the way it filters UV light. Nowadays, “organic” seems like a synonym for “good for you.” But that’s not the case with these sunscreen types if you have rosacea.

Physical sunscreens are typically made with zinc oxide and titanium oxide. These ingredients, often in combination with other synthetic ingredients, act as a barrier to both UVA and UVB rays by reflecting and scattering them away from your skin.

Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are naturally occurring chemical compounds. Powdered zinc oxide used in physical sunscreen is made in a lab by electrocuting a solution that contains baking soda.

Keep in mind that tiny particles in physical sunscreens may not fully break down when you rub them into your skin. This can cause your skin to have a whitish sheen to it. There are more widely available mineral-based sunscreens that are tinted and don’t give off too much white cast.

Also, some physical sunscreens use other chemicals to make the solution easier to apply to your face. These may be irritating to your skin. Keep an eye out for extra ingredients besides zinc oxide and titanium oxide that may cause a rosacea flare-up, such as:

Chemical (organic) sunscreen

This category basically includes any sunscreens that don’t use zinc oxide or titanium oxide to shield your skin from UV rays. This includes numerous chemicals that absorb light before it can enter your skin rather than physically blocking the UV rays.

Don’t let the “organic” label mislead you — what the term refers to in this case is the chemical makeup of the main ingredients in the sunscreen.

While physical sunscreen blocks rays, chemical sunscreen sinks into your skin and reacts with UV rays that make contact with your skin. This results in a chemical process that turns UV rays into harmless byproducts like heat.

The chemical compounds used to achieve this effect are potential skin irritants for rosacea, including:

  • oxybenzone
  • octinoxate
  • octisalate
  • avobenzone

As there have been recent studies and an FDA notice on the safety of these ingredients in higher amounts, it may be best to steer clear of chemical sunscreens if you have rosacea.

None of the following sunscreens contain any fragrances, alcohols, or other artificial ingredients known to cause flare-ups. They’re picked based on top consumer reviews. We shopped from trusted brands and include a good price range.

We also looked at other factors, such as:

  • Application. Does it apply quickly and easily? What kind of applicator does the product use?
  • Water-resistance levels. Some sunscreens are not water-resistant, while others have a water-resistance range of 40 to 80 minutes before they need to be reapplied.
  • Ingredients that gently help other skin concerns. Some options include a tint for evening out skin tone, and others include soothing ingredients and even antioxidants.
  • Product size. We point out size (when it matters). Some reviewers complain about bottle size. Some brands offer multiple sizes.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = $15–$35
  • $$$ = over $35

Here’s a good place to start if you’re ready to look at all the options for rosacea-friendly sunscreen and compare their pros and cons.

Best rosacea-tested sunscreen

Daylong Extreme SPF 50+ Lotion

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: tinsorb M, tinsorb S, liposoms, aloe vera, vitamin E
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 50
  • Sizes available: 1.69-ounce (oz.) bottle

This preservative and fragrance-free sunscreen has been tested for performance on rosacea-prone skin. One small 2017 study showed that this lotion was well-tolerated by the study’s subjects.

It’s worth pointing out that the study was funded by the producer and developer of the lotion, although the study states no conflicts of interest were found.

This pick has promising Google reviews, has a high SPF level, keeps out harsh chemicals, and the formula also uses aloe vera and vitamin E for nourishment. It may be tough to find a larger bottle though; some Amazon shoppers say they receive a smaller bottle than advertised.

Pros

  • tested in a controlled study for rosacea tolerance with good results
  • SPF 50+ for powerful UV ray protection
  • also works as a moisturizer
  • broad-spectrum SPF
  • contains aloe for soothing properties

Cons

  • price
  • some possible side effects, including skin dryness, scaly skin, and pauples
  • The study was funded by the producer and developer of the sunscreen.
  • contains several new chemicals that are approved in Europe, but not by the FDA
  • contains alcohol, which can dry out the skin

Best face and body stick sunscreen for rosacea

Thinkbaby Sunscreen Stick

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 30
  • Sizes available: 0.64-oz. stick

Although this product’s name brand implies it’s only for use on babies, the manufacturer says on its website that adults can use this gentle sunscreen and get the same benefits.

Sunscreen sticks are convenient for quickly applying SPF on the go, usually with less mess compared with lotions. Some sun sticks are intended only for facial use, but this mineral sunscreen stick can be applied to both the face and body.

The formula uses zinc oxide (mineral sunscreen) at 20 percent and has a water-resistance time of 80 minutes.

Pros

  • SPF 30
  • known for not having an oily or greasy feel to it
  • comes as a small stick applicator that’s convenient and easy to transport
  • mineral-based sunscreen
  • no fragrances

Cons

  • price
  • may not spread as easily as lotion

Best pollution-protection sunscreen for rosacea

Murad City Skin Broad-Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: $$-$$$
  • Key ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 50
  • Sizes available: 0.6-oz. bottle or 1.7-oz. bottle

This mineral sunscreen is intended for use on the face, neck, and chest. It’s formulated to address aging concerns, and the brand encourages it for other uses, too — to protect from pollution and blue light and, of course, outdoor UVA and UVB rays.

The brand says it’s safe for sensitive skin types and leaves behind a pearlized finish. It’s also cruelty-free and free from fragrances, parabens, and, of course, chemical sunscreen.

Two things to note here, though, are the size and price. The Amazon option is only a 0.6-oz bottle, but there’s a bigger version available on the brand’s website and at Ulta. The bigger option is a 1.7-oz bottle that comes at a much higher price.

Pros

  • doesn’t cause stinging or burning when it gets into your eyes, a symptom reported with use of many physical sunscreens
  • has a light, nonoily, nongreasy formula
  • natural tint so your skin color is visible
  • contains multiple antioxidants

Cons

  • price
  • small bottle on Amazon

Best smart sunscreen for rosacea

Blue Lizard Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 50
  • Sizes available: 8.75-oz. bottle

“Smart” sunscreen is sunscreen that reminds you when it’s time to lather up again. This high SPF mineral sunscreen comes in a bottle that uses a dye to turn the bottle blue or pink when it’s time to reapply.

This can be a helpful reminder since it’s easy to forget that you need to reapply every 2 hours to keep yourself fully protected. The sunscreen itself won’t change color though, but it’s free from fragrances and parabens and stays resistant to water for up to 80 minutes.

Pros

  • broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection
  • The bottle changes colors when hit by harmful UV rays to indicate when you need to apply.
  • relatively inexpensive for a rosacea-friendly sunscreen

Cons

  • may need to spend extra time rubbing it in for white cast to disappear

Best face stick sunscreen for rosacea

Raw Elements Face Stick Certified Natural Sunscreen

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: non-nano zinc oxide, sunflower oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 30
  • Sizes available: 0.5-oz. stick

This mineral sunscreen stick is intended for use on just your face, and it has some unusual highlights to mention. Here are some things to know about this stick:

The brand takes pride in its water-resistance time (80 minutes) and says that you can apply this product underwater if you’d like to.

The company also says that with the applicator, you have a few options for applying: heavy and opaque, or rubbed completely into the skin.

Pros

  • easy to transport stick container
  • contains some certified organic ingredients
  • high percentage of non-nano zinc oxide (23 percent)
  • certified cruelty-free and comes in biodegradable packaging

Cons

  • price
  • reported as leaving thick white sheen on your skin

Best lip sunscreen for rosacea

Vanicream Lip Protectant/Sunscreen SPF 30

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 30
  • Sizes available: 0.35-oz. tube

It’s pretty easy to forget that lips need sun protection, too. This broad-spectrum option from Vanicream keeps your lips protected from the sun and prevents moisture loss.

It uses mineral sunscreens, just like the other items on our list, and it’s also free from:

  • dyes
  • flavoring
  • formaldehyde
  • fragrance
  • lanolin
  • parabens

Pros

  • highly rated for lip protection for those with rosacea
  • good for moisturizing chapped lips as well as sun protection
  • water-resistant up to 80 minutes, much longer than many other SPF lip balms

Cons

  • reported as having a strong plastic-like smell
  • can be oily on certain skin types
  • may leave a whitish sheen on your lips

Best moisturizing sunscreen for rosacea

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 PA +++

  • Price: $$-$$$
  • Key ingredients: non-nano zinc oxide, squalane, water lily
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 30
  • Sizes available: 1.7-oz. bottle or 3.38-oz. bottle

It’s nice when you find skincare that can gently multitask. This vegan mineral sunscreen is a sheer option by Biossance, formulated for daily moisturization and protection from the sun. The brand even says this pick can replace your daily moisturizer if you’d like.

The formula uses zinc oxide at 14 percent and includes squalane to boost moisture and water lily for calming skin after it’s exposed to heat.

One thing to note: Some users have mentioned an allergic reaction, so it may be wise to patch test before applying to larger areas.

A note about the price: Biossance is having a summer sale on their products, and this sunscreen currently has gone down to $29.40 from it’s usual $42!

Pros

  • lightweight
  • moisturizing
  • leaves a dewy finish
  • 14 percent zinc oxide

Cons

  • not water resistant
  • doesn’t protect from blue light
  • may need to patch test before use

Best mineral and chemical sunscreen for rosacea

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide, octinoxate
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 46
  • Sizes available: 1.7-oz. bottle

This lightweight, unscented sunscreen uses both physical and chemical sunscreen ingredients, but it’s formulated with sensitive, acne-prone, and rosacea skin types in mind.

It uses zinc oxide (mineral sunscreen ingredient) at 9 percent and a common chemical UV filter known as octinoxate. This ingredient is used at the maximum concentration level approved by the FDA, which is 7.5 percent.

If you’d like to read our full review of this sunscreen, we get into the details of how well it applies and performs for sensitive skin types.

Overall, the biggest benefits are how it applies like a moisturizer, holds up well during workouts, and doesn’t leave a white cast. The drawback, of course, is that it includes the chemical UV filter octinoxate.

There’s also a tinted version of this product available at a slightly higher price.

Pros

  • good coverage and sun protection
  • reasonably priced for high-quality ingredients
  • nongreasy and pleasant smell
  • contains niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid, which can help decrease inflammation

Cons

  • some reported breakouts
  • includes chemical UV filter
  • not water resistant

Best tinted sunscreen for rosacea

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: titanium dioxide, vitamin E
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 50
  • Sizes available: 1.7-oz. bottle

Adding a tint to your SPF can even out skin tone, and some people may choose to skip makeup when using tinted sunscreen. This tinted option from La Roche-Posay can also be used under makeup.

This mineral sunscreen is said to leave a matte finish, so it may be a nice pick for oily skin types. It’s noncomedogenic, so it shouldn’t clog your pores. It’s also free from oils, parabens, and fragrances.

There’s only one shade, so it’s not likely to suit all skin tones.

Pros

  • lightweight
  • nongreasy
  • fast-absorbing
  • mineral-based
  • 11 percent titanium dioxide

Cons

  • only comes in one shade
  • water resistant for only 40 minutes

Best sunscreen for rosacea with antioxidants

DERMA E Sun Defense Mineral Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 30

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide, aloe vera, vitamin C, green tea
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 30
  • Sizes available: 2-oz. bottle

Some sunscreens include antioxidants, which is a nice way to multitask your skin care needs as long as the formula is gentle. This clear mineral sunscreen is gentle but it’s for your face only.

It’s vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.

The formula contains a high percentage of clear zinc oxide at 19.5 percent, and it also uses titanium dioxide at 2.64 percent.

It tosses in soothing aloe vera, and includes skin-happy antioxidants, such as vitamin C (known for its help with hyperpigmentation) and green tea, which may help skin fend off environmental stressors.

Pros

  • cruelty-free and vegan
  • includes skin-beneficial antioxidants, such as vitamin C and green tea
  • free from parabens, sulfates, and mineral oil
  • 20 percent zinc oxide

Cons

  • only for use on the face
  • may leave a white cast

Best drugstore sunscreen for rosacea

Vanicream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide
  • SPF ranges offered: SPF 50
  • Sizes available: 3-oz. bottle

A drugstore pick can give peace of mind — you can usually find these options easily on the go. This affordable, gentle sunscreen is all mineral, using 12 percent zinc oxide.

It’s free from parabens, fragrances, and gluten. It’s also noncomedogenic, and is said to be safe and gentle on sensitive skin types. It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Some reviewers say this product leaves behind a white cast. This is a common complaint about mineral sunscreen, although some formulas are easier to fully rub in than others. Otherwise, reviewers with sensitive skin are very pleased with this sunscreen’s performance.

Pros

  • relatively affordable
  • formulated for sensitive skin
  • easy to find

Cons

  • may leave a noticeable white cast behind

Some questions to consider when buying sunscreen are:

  • Does it contain any artificial dyes, fragrances, or silicone?
  • Does it provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays?
  • Is it SPF 30 or higher for maximum protection?
  • Will it work for both face and body?
  • Is it safe for adults?
  • Is it water-resistant?

Other considerations

Here are some additional things to consider before buying any sunscreen:

  • Prone to acne? Choose a sunscreen that contains ingredients that won’t irritate existing pimples or skin conditions, or ones that contain safe ingredients that can treat acne.
  • Want a tinted moisturizer? Look for sunscreens that double as lotions and contain natural colors to help you achieve the color and look of your natural skin tone.
  • Want your sunscreen to double as makeup? Choose a foundation, lip balm, or BB/CC cream that contains SPF and no ingredients that can irritate rosacea.
  • Want to protect the planet? Choose a sunscreen that comes in an eco-friendly, biodegradable container. Even better, look for the B corp logo. This means that the manufacturer follows sustainable sourcing and fair business practices, such as paying suppliers and employees a living wage. You can also look for reef-safe sunscreens, which are the zinc oxide, titanium-based, and non-nano sunscreens.

Does wearing sunscreen help rosacea?

Yes, sunscreen absolutely helps rosacea. Sun exposure is a common trigger for rosacea, so wearing proper sunscreen daily can prevent flare-ups and keep redness from worsening.

How do you protect your rosacea from the sun?

The best way to keep rosacea protected from the sun is to apply a broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every day.

Try to find a sunscreen that’s free from chemicals, fragrances, and added dyes or preservatives. It’s also a good idea to take other protective measures like wearing a wide-brimmed hat or other sun-protective clothing.

Does SPF from the sunscreen eliminate redness?

SPF may not eliminate existing redness from rosacea. Continuous flares increase redness and broken vessels, so wearing sunscreen daily will help prevent or decrease this.

A safe and gentle sunscreen formula, like the ones on our list, can keep redness from worsening and may prevent flare-ups, since sun exposure is a trigger for rosacea.

How often should you apply sunscreen for rosacea?

Everyone, including those who experience rosacea, should apply sunscreen every 2 hours. If you’re swimming, you may need to reapply more often, as even water-resistant formulas may need reapplication after 40 minutes or longer.

Sunscreen is important for rosacea because it minimizes flare-ups due to sun exposure. Using the right type of sunscreen is important, because certain ingredients can be irritating to skin in people with rosacea.

Remember that zinc oxide and titanium oxide are key ingredients to a good, safe sunscreen for your rosacea. Chemical sunscreens can be irritating to your skin. Other ingredients like fragrance and alcohols can also result in flare-ups.

Talk with a dermatologist if you’d like more insight into your rosacea and your treatment options.