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- Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
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- Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?
- Best for rosacea-prone skin: EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
- Best for antioxidant boost: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid
- Best daily moisturizing formula: Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer
- Best formula for no white cast: Thrive Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin SPF 30
- Best for eczema-prone skin: Neutrogena SheerZinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion
- Best water-resistant formula: Blue Lizard Sensitive Skin SPF 30
- Best tinted formula: Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Fluid Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
- Best four-in-one formula: Naked Sundays SPF50+ Collagen Glow Mineral Perfecting Priming Lotion
If you have sensitive skin, you’re probably already aware of this catch-22: Your skin is irritated by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, but many sunscreens also irritate your skin.
Some people with highly sensitive skin may find that they’re allergic to sunscreen, though this is usually a reaction to ingredients found in chemical sunscreens.
Chemical UV blockers found in many common sunscreens can aggravate sensitive skin — think burning, stinging, and red itchy bumps.
That’s why Healthline’s dermatology experts have identified some of the best sunscreens for sensitive skin. Healthline isn’t affiliated with any of these companies; our experts simply think that these formulas protect the skin with a low likelihood of irritation.
Typically, physical sunscreens like zinc or titanium dioxide are the best options for sensitive skin. Fragrance-free formulas and those that are free of ingredients like phthalates and parabens will also reduce your exposure to formulas that might irritate your skin.
Look for sunscreens that are designed for all skin types, or specifically marketed toward those with sensitive skin.
To put together our recommendations for the best sunscreens for sensitive skin, we looked for mineral-based formulas with minimal ingredients and great ratings. We also looked for broad-spectrum sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, of at least 30. Finally, we prioritized formulas that contained ingredients known for their skin-calming properties.
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20-$40
- $$$ = over $40
Best for rosacea-prone skin
- Price: $$$
A favorite among people with rosacea-prone skin, this sunscreen contains octinoxate and transparent zinc oxide, which means it shouldn’t leave a white residue.
With an SPF of 46, EltaMD is a broad-spectrum formula, meaning it’s designed to protect against UVA (ultraviolet aging) and UVB (ultraviolet burning) rays.
- paraben-free, fragrance-free
- contains hyaluronic acid, which may help reduce the appearance of fine lines
- mineral formula
- higher price than other comparable options
- may clog pores
Best for antioxidant boost
- Price: $$
Those who like the effects of EltaMD but are looking for a slightly lower price point may want to check out La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen fluid.
Paraben- and fragrance-free, both of which can be irritating to even non-sensitive skin, the lightweight, matte formula is designed for layering under makeup. It offers broad-spectrum protection with SPF 50.
It’s good to keep in mind, however, that an SPF of 45 has been shown to filter out 98 percent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, so an SPF higher than 45 may be unnecessary.
A higher SPF may encourage people to stay in the sun for too long, so remember that regardless of the SPF you’re using, it’s important to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
- formulated with “cell-ox shield,” which filters UV rays and gives skin a dose of antioxidants
- meant to protect against UVA and UVB rays
- lightweight moisturizer
- may leave skin feeling greasy
- high price point for everyday use
Best daily moisturizing formula
- Price: $$
Moisturizer and sunscreen don’t have to be mutually exclusive, especially when you’re short on time. This moisturizer contains broad-spectrum SPF 30 coverage and is completely mineral-based, made with sensitive skin in mind.
Additionally, this formula contains feverfew, which may help calm redness and rosacea. It also includes oat, which has been known to help soothe dry, itchy skin.
- hypoallergenic and designed to keep pores clean
- oil- and fragrance-free
- lower price point
- contains soy, which may not be suitable for people with a soy allergy
- some reviewers say it makes their skin appear oily
- slow to absorb
Best formula for no white cast
- Price: $$
This lightweight, non-greasy daily sunscreen is made with 20 percent non-nano zinc oxide. It’s meant to be quick to absorb with no white cast, and leave a dewy finish.
The SPF 30 formula includes plant-derived ingredients like kelp and was made to be safe for the ocean’s reefs, which may help lessen environmental stressors while also protecting against irritation.
- won’t even skin tone
- may leave skin looking a little shiny
Best for eczema-prone skin
- Price: $$
Neutrogena’s SheerZinc Dry-Touch in SPF 30 or 50 has received the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, which means that it’s formulated without known irritants to the skin. It’s generally considered safe for people who have eczema.
This is an option worth considering when you’re on a hike, rafting, or other times when sun protection is your top priority.
The formula works well but can be difficult to rub into the face or blend over facial hair, and it may leave a white residue. It’s best for special events and may not work well as a daily option.
- mineral formula
- fragrance-free, paraben-free, dye-free
- sweat- and sun-resistant for up to 80 minutes
- lower price point
- thick consistency
- may leave residue on skin
Best water-resistant formula
- Price: $
This paraben- and fragrance-free formula offers broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection.
Blue Lizard is a well-known Australian brand — and Aussies take their sun care seriously. Designed for days when you’re surfing or swimming, this formula is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes and contains no coral-harming chemical ingredients.
- fragrance-free, paraben-free
- broad spectrum SPF 30 protection
- not sweat-resistant
- doesn’t contain moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid or antioxidants like other formulas do
Best tinted formula
- Price: $
This ultra-light formula is designed to blend easily. It’s fragrance-free and formulated with non-nano zinc oxide and sustainably-sourced passionfruit seed oil, which may help to soften and hydrate the skin, according to the company.
It’s also hypoallergenic and designed with sensitive skin in mind. Plus, this sunscreen lotion comes in tinted and non-tinted options.
- fragrance-free and suitable for all skin types
- broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection
- not water-resistant
- may leave a white cast on darker skin tones
Best priming formula
- Price: $$
Naked Sundays is another Aussie brand, and the company’s SPF50+ mineral sunscreen is infused with vegan collagen to smooth the appearance of fine lines and boost moisture, according to its creators. The four-in-one formula is designed to serve as a primer, moisturizer, SPF, and collagen booster.
The reef-safe, vegan formula looks tinted but goes on transparently, with no intentions of leaving a white cast. Instead, it’s meant to leave a mildly dewy finish without looking greasy. It’s made with non-nano zinc for UV protection and iron oxide to help protect the skin from blue light damage.
Naked Sundays recommends applying it with their SPF BFF brush for the best finish.
- tinted formula
- infused with vegan collagen
- 4-in-1 formula
- water resistant for up to 80 minutes
- thick formula
- higher price point for daily use
We know that wearing sunscreen is essential, especially when it comes to preventing skin cancer. You may still have questions about sunscreen, and it turns out that many people are using sunscreen incorrectly.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using at least 1 ounce, or enough to fill a shot glass, to cover a full body. This amount will vary slightly but is a good place to start.
Typically, an SPF of 30 or higher is considered safe and you’ll want to apply it to all bare skin. Don’t forget the ears and the tops of the feet!
Wait at least 15 minutes from the initial application before going outside, and don’t forget to reapply every 2 hours. It’s important to wear sunscreen all year, even on cloudy days.
If you’ve tried mineral sunscreens and formulas marketed for sensitive skin but you’re still experiencing symptoms like dryness, burning, itching, or stinging, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor.
Finding an SPF that doesn’t irritate your sensitive skin could be a process of trial and error, and your doctor should have some recommendations.
Does sunscreen make your skin sensitive?
While sunscreen won’t make your skin sensitive, you may have a reaction to an ingredient in a particular sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens with fragrances and preservatives are more likely to cause reactions like stinging, redness, or a burning sensation. These reactions should go away once you stop using that particular sunscreen.
How do I know if I’m allergic to a sunscreen?
If you apply a sunscreen and notice redness, burning, stinging, or dryness, you may be experiencing a reaction to a specific ingredient. If that happens, discontinue use of the sunscreen and look for another formula that doesn’t contain the same active ingredients.
Which sunscreen is good for sensitive skin but won’t leave a white cast?
Mineral-based sunscreens are often a good choice for sensitive skin, but they can leave a white cast. Look for tinted options or lightweight formulas to minimize this effect, and remember to take your time blending in the sunscreen. A makeup brush may also help you apply mineral sunscreen for a better finish.
Everyone needs to wear sunscreen — ideally every day — but finding a non-irritating sunscreen can be a challenge for those with sensitive skin.
You may have sensitive skin if your skin is prone to redness, dryness, or burns, itches, or stings when using products.
When sensitive skin reacts to sunscreen, it’s typically reacting to a chemical ingredient in the formula.
While these sunscreens are considered safe for all skin types, it’s always best to test a new product on a small area of your skin before using it everywhere. As with most products, what may work for one person may not work well for someone else.