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Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin

Sunlight can be both good and bad for our skin

Woman Sunbathing at the beach
image credit: Diane Walder, MD

Sunshine is good because it increases the natural production of vitamin D in your body. When it touches your skin, it causes your body to produce this essential vitamin. This vitamin makes your teeth and bones stronger, reduces high blood pressure, improves brain function, promotes quality sleep, and helps in losing weight.

However, too much exposure to the sun can damage your skin. It creates fine lines and wrinkles as well as freckles, promotes pigmentation and skin discoloration, exposes small veins and capillaries, and speed up the loss of elasticity.

If the skin is unprotected out in the sun for a prolonged time every day is unhealthy, while overprotected skin is unhealthy as well. All of us, whether we have acne or not, need a little sun. With a bit of help from sunscreen, it makes our skin clearer and cancer-free.

Skin Types and Sunscreens

If you have dry skin, choose a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, or a combination of zinc oxide and titanium oxide. These are ingredients selected by individuals who prefer a non-chemical sunscreen because they stay on the skin and reflect, scatter the rays of the sun instead of absorbing into the skin. However, zinc oxide is known to dry out the skin, and so skin professionals recommend to find a sunscreen that includes glycerin, aloe, oils, and lanolin. Gels or sprays with alcohol can be extremely drying, and therefore, skin experts warn us to avoid them.

Darker Skin

For individuals with darker skin, find a sunscreen with broad-spectrum formulas that are lightweight, invisible, and absorbs fast. Whatever, you have been told about your skin type, you still need sunscreen. With some trial-and-error, you will be able to find the sun protection you need without experiencing white or grey cast. You can always visit and consult a dermatologist.

Sensitive Skin

If you have a sensitive skin type and acne-prone skin, zinc is a good remedy. Look for non-comedogenic, oil-free, and fragrance-free sunscreens, especially during summer time.

Older Skin

With age, the production of sebum slows down causing to dryness, fine lines, wrinkles, and flakiness. The skin becomes dull, and in time it will start to burn and itch. For women, the shifting balance of hormones with menopause can cause changes. The skin becomes very thin after menopause and very sensitive to sun damage and weather. For people who are exposed to the sun for a prolonged period, their problem is hyperpigmentation. Find sunscreens with antioxidants and ingredients that can relief signs of sun damage and protect your skin from sun-induced age spots.

Young Children

Before an individual reaches the age of 3, take note that sunscreen cannot give enough protection for a developing skin. The best protection, then, is to keep them from exposure from the sun to a minimum. Skin professionals do not recommend spray sunscreen for kids because these products do not give even coating on their young skin. Try finding sunscreen lotion with broad spectrum so that you can regulate the distribution on the youthful skin. Young skin is sensitive to reactions. Find sunscreens that are fragrance-free, dye-free, and paraben-free. Check first for any allergic reaction before using any product on your kids by applying sunscreen on a small patch of the skin for several days in a row and observe. Our best recommendation when in doubt, consult a dermatologist.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

Choose sunscreens that are non-comedogenic and oil-free

Oil-free products help keep your face from feeling greasy. Non-comedogenic products do not have ingredients that can cause pores to clog. Avoid using sunscreens that are meant for the body on your face. These types of sunscreen are usually very thick, greasy, and heavy that can result in breakouts.

Sprays, Fluids, and Gels are suitable for extremely oily skin types

Sunscreen creams and lotions are good for normal and dry skin. If you have oily skin, choose a product that absorbs faster. Sunscreen gel is aqueous and absorbs completely into the skin without a trace. Gels can be applied on areas where you cannot use a lotion – the scalp. They are generally formulated to shield your head without making your hair look greasy. They can be applied to body areas with lots of hair, including the chest and legs. Sprays are very lightweight. Spray enough so that your skin glistens.

Choose broad-spectrum protection

Use products labeled “broad spectrum.” It will shield your skin from UVA and UVB rays. The UVB (burn-and-tan) rays are responsible for the sun damage on your skin. UVA rays harm your skin, causes aging, and overexposure can result in skin cancer. Choose a sunscreen that can shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

Pick SPF 30 or even higher

Sun Protection Factor or SPF is a system to measure protection from the harmful UVB rays. The higher the SFP, the more shield it will provide you. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 or even higher daily. It targets to block at least 97% of UV rays. Take note that sunscreen should always be used daily, all year round for your best protection, whether it’s rainy or cloudy.

Avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and PABA if you have a sensitive skin type

This means that aside from having sensitive skin, avoid sunscreen with oxybenzone and PABA if you also have rosacea, eczema, psoriasis because these ingredients can worsen your skin problems.

If you have extremely sensitive skin, try natural sunscreen with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide

These ingredients are less irritating to the skin compared to other sunscreen ingredients.

You can also try a facial moisturizer with sunscreen

With the addition of sun protection into a moisturizer means you need not get more products and will save you money.

You may apply sunscreen with your acne treatment products like topical acne medication. Apply the acne treatment product first, and wait for about 20 minutes or until it is completely absorbed. Then, apply your sunscreen over the top.

Understanding what SPF in sunscreens means

Sunscreens are rated by their sun protection factor or SPF. SPF refers to the amount of time it takes for the sun-exposed skin to become “red.” Your skin burns typically in 10 minutes, a sunscreen with SPF 15 will protect you 15 times longer, or 150 minutes, considering that you do not get wet or sweat.

However, this equation changes at SPF above 30. According to  Environmental Working Group, sunscreen with SPF 50 hinders only about 1.3% more UVB rays than SPF 30. Applying SPF 15 may be enough as long as you are sure to re-apply within the proper amount of time.

SPF protection
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10 Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin

1. EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum 46

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum 46

The EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum 46 is a lightweight sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. It has a non-comedogenic formula that does not clog skin pores, irritate acne, or cause sensitivity. This facial sunscreen from EltaMD Skincare contains niacinamide that helps relieve inflammation, blemishes, and discoloration while protecting your skin. It has 9% transparent zinc oxide and 7.5% octinoxate that helps protect your skin. Hyaluronic helps moisturize the skin. It also contains lactic acid and antioxidant-rich vitamin E for healthier-looking skin. This sunscreen is gentle that you can wear under makeup. It also helps prevent future signs of photoaging including wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots. This suits all types of skin.


  • Helps clear acne-prone skin with its  5% high-purity niacinamide.
  • Helps maintain clear and smooth skin.
  • Non-greasy and will not leave a residue.
  • Paraben-free, fragrance-free, oil-free


  • Expensive
  • This product is not a standalone treatment for acne; needs other acne products if you have severe breakouts.

Instructions: Shake the bottle before using it. Apply 20 minutes before going outdoors.

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum 46

2. Olay Regenerist Regenerating Face Lotion with Sunscreen

Olay Regenerist Regenerating Face Lotion

The Olay Regenerist Regenerating Face Lotion is a daytime moisturizer with a higher level of sun protection that feels like lightweight and silky compared from a heavy occlusive sunscreen. It has a broad spectrum SPF of 50 that helps moisturizes and minimizes the growth of wrinkles and fine lines while protecting your skin from the harmful UVB and UVA rays. This is ideal for all types of skin.


  • SPF 50 for the highest level of protection against harmful rays of the sun.
  • Gives a light amount of hydration from your skin.
  • Helps exfoliated to promote skin cell turnover, minimizing the chances of acne.


  • Has strong scent that may cause allergies to some people.
  • May feel a bit heavy on the skin.

Instructions: Apply evenly on your cleansed face and neck daily before going outdoors.

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum 46

3. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra Light Face Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra Light Face Sunscreen

The La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra Light Face Sunscreen with a revolutionary SPF 50 has dual protecting formulation. It has an advanced filtering system with titanium dioxide for long-wearing broad spectrum protection. Its Cell-Ox Shield (patent pending) fights against environmental damage. It has a light formula that dissolves fast into your skin.


  • Water resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • For all skin types including sensitive skin and rosacea-prone skin.
  • One of the lightest sunscreens; you will barely feel it on your skin.
  • Works under your makeup.
  • Excellent protection against UVB and UVA rays.
  • Fragrance-free, paraben-free, non-comedogenic.


  • You need to re-apply the product once every two hours.
  • Is causing your skin dry.

Instructions:  Shake it well and apply 15 minutes before going outdoors. You will have to reapply this every after two hours, at least. If you have sweat too much, reapply after 80 minutes.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra Light Face Sunscreen

4. Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen SPF 55

Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen SPF 55

The Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen SPF 55 is the best selling, oil-free sunscreen for acne-prone skin formulated with Helioplex technology. This sunscreen gives excellent broad spectrum for UVA/UVB skin protection without causing breakouts. This liquid sunscreen lotion is good for the face and body. It has a water-light texture leaving a weightless, matte finish for the skin to breathe. This sunscreen contains several active ingredients including 6% octocrylene, 4.5% oxybenzone, 4.5% octisalate, 4% homosalate, and 2.7% avobenzone.


  • Non-oily, ultra-light.
  • SPF 55 gives the highest level of protection.
  • Helps your skin stays acne-free.
  • For acne-prone skin, oily skin.


  • Cannot be used as a standalone acne treatment; need other products to combine with this sunscreen to remove acne.
  • May sting if it contacts your eyes due to sweating.

Instructions: Apply before going outdoors. A single application will work for the entire day if you do not cleanse it off.

Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen SPF 55

5. Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen

Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50

The Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 with Cellular Response Technology protects your skin from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Its formula is rich with moisturizers and antioxidants. This oil-free sunscreen helps absorb quickly into your skin, neutralizing free radicals for a lightweight, smooth finish free from harsh scents. It contains rosewood, lemon, orange, and eucalyptus oils that help hydrate, condition, and shield your skin.


  • Good for acne-prone skin, oily skin, sensitive skin, mature skin, combination skin, dry skin, and normal skin types.
  • Contains vitamins and antioxidants that help rejuvenate the skin.
  • Does not contain oxybenzone
  • Water-resistant and fast-absorbing
  • Oil-free, sulfate-free, gluten-free, fragrance-free, natural, vegan
  • Certified cruelty-free
  • Available in 2.4 fl.oz, 7.5 fl.oz, 18 Fl.oz.


  • Has a scent that may be harsh to some individuals
  • Very thin and gets easily absorbed; it may run out of the content too quickly.

Instructions: Apply liberally to your face and body at least 15 minutes before going outdoors, especially if you will spend the day at the pool, beach, on the court, or course. Re-apply at least every 2 hours. For children below six months, ask your doctor before using on them.

Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50

6. Devita International Solar Protective Moisturizer with SPF 30

Devita International Solar Protective Moisturizer (SPF 30)

The Devita International Solar Protective Moisturizer (SPF 30) is a light, mineral moisturizer sunscreen.  This sunscreen is very light that is enough to wear under makeup and absorbs after a few rubs. It offers full broad spectrum SPF 30+ for UVA/UVB sun protection. This sunscreen is safe for adults and children.


  • For all types of skin
  • The active ingredient is zinc oxide (19%) for essential broad-spectrum protection
  • Paraben-free, GMO-free, without titanium dioxide
  • Helps prevent sunburn, if the product is applied as directed with other sun protection measures.
  • Reduces risks of skin diseases and early skin aging caused by sun exposure.


  • Non-waterproof, you need to re-apply after water activity or perspiring
  • Leaves a thin white film after application for some

Instructions: Apply liberally on your body before sun exposure. Re-apply every after 90 minutes or after swimming, excessive perspiring, or after towel drying.

Devita International Solar Protective Moisturizer (SPF 30)

7. MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme (SPF 50)

MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 50

The MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme SPF 50 is a lightweight mineral sunscreen with antioxidant benefits and silky finish gentle for those with sensitive skin. This sunscreen is formulated by a dermatologic oncologist to help provide physical UV shield. It is rich with antioxidants such as vitamin C, cranberry fruit extract, green tea, and pomegranate extract. It helps improve skin tone firming it, shield from free radicals, and all-around anti-aging. This product can be used every day leaving no white cast that most mineral sunscreens leave behind. It is naturally formulated and derived safer Eco-cert zinc oxide that helps minimize risks of photoaging and skin cancer. It is non-irritating, oil-free, and water-resistant that will not clog your skin pores. This product is gentle enough even for those with sensitive skin and for children six months and older.


  • Active ingredients are 2% titanium dioxide and 17% zinc oxide for protection against the harmful rays of the sun
  • Lightweight and is not very oily.
  • Gives broad spectrum protection
  • Water resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Unique gel-cream texture for smooth application
  • Fragrance-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, sulfate-free


  • Silicone-based product; may not work well when this product is used with water-based moisturizers.
  • Some complaints are reported for allergic reactions to some. Check on the active ingredients and avoid using this product if you have an allergic history on even one ingredient.

Instructions: Shake well, and then apply to sun-exposed skin. Massage well, Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, and right away after towel drying. Or, re-apply at least every 2 hours.

Avoid using this product on damaged or broken skin. Discontinue using the product if rashes occur.

MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme SPF 50

8. Rejuvelle Sunscreen SPF 45

Rejuvelle Sunscreen SPF 45

The Rejuvelle Sunscreen SPF 45 contains several ingredients that help shield your skin against the harmful rays of the sun and other environmental harsh conditions.


  • For all types of skin, especially for individuals with sensitive, acne-prone skin; for all athletes.
  • Contains cucumber, aloe vera, with antioxidants C, D, and E to fight against free radical damages.
  • Helps minimize risks of skin cancer and early skin aging when used with other skin protection measures.
  • Oil-free, water-resistant, non-greasy
  • Can wear under makeup
  • Available in 4 fl. oz.


  • Contains octyl methoxycinnamate which may not suit everybody, causing some adverse effects. Check if you are sensitive to this particular. Read the text on packaging for specific instructions.
  • Limited availability as they are bought online.
  • Expensive.

Rejuvelle Sunscreen SPF 45

9. Shiseido Sun Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector SPF 42

Shiseido Sun Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector SPF 42

The Shiseido Sun Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector SPF 42 is an ultra-light, oil-free fluid for everyday skin protection that helps absorb excess sebum for a fresh, matte-finish feeling. This water- and a sweat-resistant product has a fast-absorbing formula that helps shield from 3 main causes of skin cell damages: the UV rays, oxidation, and over-production of sebum for radiant healthy-looking skin!


  • For normal, oily, combination, and dry skin types.
  • Also acts as a moisturizer.
  • Can be applied under makeup or foundation as it absorbs into your skin.


  • The bottle is small and expensive, especially if you buy this with the intention of applying it every day.

Instructions: Apply 15 minutes before going outdoors. For optimum effect, apply more to cover up your entire face, or other parts of the body.

Shiseido Sun Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector SPF 42

10. Obagi Nu-Derm Healthy Skin Protection SPF 35

Obagi Nu-Derm Healthy Skin Protection SPF 35

The Obagi Nu-Derm Healthy Skin Protection SPF 35 offers the sun protection that you need every day. It has a lightweight Z-Cote formula that absorbs fast, leaving your skin protected from the harsh UVA and UVB rays. For best results, use this as part of the Nu-Derm skin care system.


  • Recommended for individuals with dry, oily, normal, and mature skins types.
  • Contains octinoxate (7.5%) and zinc oxide (9%) for sun protection, and help prevent premature wrinkles and dark spots
  • Has “cucumber-ish” small.
  • Available in 3 oz.


  • Leaves your skin oily right after the application but it sinks in after a while, keeping your skin moisturized.

Instructions: Apply generously before going outdoors. Re-apply at least every two hours. Use a water-resistant sunscreen if you are swimming or sweating. If you are thinking of using this product on children less than six months old, consult first a doctor.

Obagi Nu-Derm Healthy Skin Protection SPF 35

Remember that you can go beyond sunscreen to shield your skin…

There is no perfect sunscreen that can protect you 100% from the rays of the sun. Other protection can include your clothing, hats, and other barriers, so you have to plan what you will wear before going outdoors. Skin professionals suggest that “more clothing” coverage means more protection. Your clothing material is also important to consider. Woven fabrics have small holes between its threads. The Skin Cancer Foundation advises that “synthetic fibers such as polyester, lycra, nylon, and acrylic are more protective than bleached cotton, and shiny or lustrous semi-synthetic fabrics like rayon reflect more UV than do matte ones, such as linens.”

Now It’s Your Turn…

I hoped you enjoyed my 10 Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin Post.

Now I want to hear from you:

Which of these sunscreens in this post are you most excited to try?

Are you going to use any of them? Or do you have a suggestion for something that has worked for you?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment.


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Written by Maria

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