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If your skin feels greasy and looks shiny a few hours after washing your face, then you likely have oily skin. Having oily skin means that the sebaceous glands underneath your hair follicles are overactive and produce more sebum than normal.
The last thing you want is to add more oil to your skin with skin care products. You may assume this means that you shouldn’t wear sunscreen if you have oily skin, but every skin type needs sunscreen.
The key is to find the right products that won’t add more oil to your skin and lead to breakouts.
Healthline’s team of dermatology experts have sifted through the sunscreen market to find the best products for oily skin.
Keep in mind that, as with any skin care product, the process can entail a bit of trial and error until you find the sunscreen that works best with your skin.
Our dermatologists aren’t affiliated with any of the companies below.
One way to get in your daily dose of sunscreen without adding more product is with a dual moisturizer and sunscreen.
Healthline’s dermatologists like this anti-aging sunscreen because it offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays while still being lightweight. The key active ingredients are chemicals that help to absorb UV rays, including:
-doesn’t feel greasy
-is both oil-free and noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores
-dual sunscreen and moisturizer, saving you from having to apply two different products
-purportedly reduces the appearance of dark spots for a more even skin tone
-it’s not clear why this product is less oily than other moisturizers on the market
-while hypoallergenic, the sunscreen contains soy, which may be off-limits if you have a soybean allergy
-may stain clothing and other fabrics
If you’re looking for a bit more SPF, you may consider EltaMD’s facial sunscreen. Like Aveeno’s facial moisturizer, it’s broad-spectrum but also has a bit more protection with an SPF of 46.
Its primary active ingredients are zinc oxide and octinoxate, a combination of physical and chemical blockers that may absorb and reflect UV rays away from the skin.
-oil-free and lightweight
-mineral-based with zinc oxide, offering sun protection without a greasy appearance
-tinted to help even out skin tone
-also safe to use for rosacea
–niacinamide (vitamin B-3) helps calm inflammation, which can be a precursor to acne
-more expensive than competitors
-isn’t labeled as noncomedogenic
While EltaMD UV Clear is designed for oily and acne-prone skin, not everyone wants the extreme matte finish the product offers. If this sounds like you, then you might consider another facial sunscreen with a mattifying, yet slightly thicker finish, such as this one from La Roche-Posay.
-has a “cell-ox shield,” which deflects UV rays and free radicals
-lightweight feel and absorbs fast
-may even skin tone
-may leave your skin feeling slightly greasier
-might work best for aging skin that needs a bit more moisture
-SPF 60 can be misleading — SPF 15 blocks 90 percent of UV rays, while SPF 45 blocks up to 98 percent
-more expensive than competitors
If you’re looking for a more affordable sunscreen for your oily skin, consider Olay Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30.
While slightly thicker than the mattifying effects of EltaMD and La Roche-Posay products, Olay’s version is still oil-free and noncomedogenic. The main active ingredients in this sunscreen are:
-noncomedogenic and oil-free
-contains vitamins B-3, B-5, and vitamin E for anti-aging benefits
-has aloe to soothe the skin for a light conditioning effect
-suitable for sensitive skin
-may be a bit greasier than other facial sunscreens in this list
-can’t be applied to damaged skin, which can be challenging if you’re recovering from an acne breakout or rosacea
-doesn’t even out skin tone
Known for their line of products for sensitive skin, CeraVe is a leading brand for skin inflammation.
CeraVe’s Skin Renewing Day Cream has the added benefit of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30, the minimum protection recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.
With that being said, our dermatologists have found that this facial sunscreen has a heavier texture than the previous products, something that may not be ideal if you have oily skin and live in a more humid climate.
Aside from the active sun-protecting ingredients zinc oxide and octinoxate, this product also has retinoids to treat fine lines and wrinkles.
-suitable for sensitive skin
-has anti-aging ingredients, including retinoids to treat wrinkles and hyaluronic acid to lubricate the skin
-contains ceramides, which may have plumping effects on the skin
-might work better for more combination skin types because of its heavier texture
-best for mature skin
-can leave a greasier feel
Nia 24 Sun Damage Prevention is a broad-spectrum sunscreen that doesn’t make your skin feel overly greasy.
Unlike the other sunscreens on this list, Nia 24 is intended to help treat moderate to severe damage from the sun. This is all thanks to its blend of zinc and titanium oxide minerals, along with vitamin B-3 that can help even out your skin tone and texture.
-helps protect from sun damage and treats the signs of previous sun damage
-contains 5 percent pro-niacin formula to improve both skin tone and texture
-has vitamin E to help neutralize free radicals that may further damage the skin
-feels a bit heavier
-takes a little extra time to absorb in the skin
-difficult to rub in if you have facial hair, according to our dermatologists
Neutrogena is perhaps one of the best-known skin care brands for oily skin. The brand offers an SPF 15 moisturizer-sunscreen combination.
While advertised as oil-free, our dermatologists have found that this moisturizer may leave skin feeling greasy. Part of this has to do with the fact that its active ingredients aren’t mineral-based. These include:
-oil-free and noncomedogenic
-well-known brand and affordable line of products
-not as greasy as other dual moisturizers from the same brand
-moisture is advertised as lasting up to 12 hours at a time
-might work best during the dry winter months when your skin may not be as oily
-leaves a greasy residue, according to our dermatologists
-has a heavy feel, which might make it difficult to wear underneath makeup
Wearing sunscreen every day can help protect your skin from sun damage, and some of the products on this list may even help minimize the signs of preexisting damage.
With oily skin though, you may need to take other measures to keep your skin looking its best — all without added grease and shine. You can help treat oily skin by:
- washing your face with a gel cleanser twice a day, especially after exercise
- using a toner to help absorb any leftover sebum and remove dead skin cells
- applying a retinoid-based serum or benzoyl peroxide spot treatment, especially if you have regular acne breakouts
- following up with a moisturizer, or any one of the dual moisturizers on this list
- gently blotting your skin throughout the day to absorb excess oil
- making sure all your cosmetics are labeled oil-fee and noncomedogenic
- asking a doctor about medications, such as isotretinoin or oral contraceptives if you have severe acne
When you have oily skin, it may be tempting to skip out on sunscreen out of fear of making your skin even oilier. However, not only can UV rays lead to skin damage and skin cancer, but sunburns can dry out surface oils, which can make your sebaceous glands even more active.
The key is to select a sunscreen that will protect your skin without making it oilier. You can start with the ones on our list until you find the product that works best for you.
When in doubt, check out the product label and look for terms such as “sheer,” “water-based,” and “oil-free.”