These Are the Best Sunscreens for Acne Prone Skin

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These Are the Best Sunscreens for Acne Prone Skin featured image

Experts and consumers alike have different opinions when it comes to skin care, but one universal truth is that SPF is a non-negotiable. Whether you’re hitting the beach or working from home, SPF should be a never-skipped part of your skin-care routine in order to protect the skin from UV and blue light rays that can cause skin cancers, sun damage, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and more.

But, if you’re someone who struggles with acne-prone skin, finding an SPF that doesn’t cause excessive breakouts can be a difficult task. Some SPF formulas are too oily or thick for acne-prone skin, and can cause irritation even though they’re protecting from UV rays. This doesn’t mean that acne-prone individuals should skip sunscreen, though. Ahead, experts walk us through the best sunscreen formulas for protecting acne-prone skin and keeping it clear.

Acne Prone? Don’t Skip Sunscreen

“Choosing the right SPF for acne-prone skin can be tricky, especially because clients with acne issues want to avoid putting a lot of product on their skin,” begins medical aesthetician and founder of Skincare by Amy Peterson Medspa, Amy Petereson. “Even a moisturizer often feels like too much for these clients. It is very important to use SPF especially with acne prone patients, though, in order to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and post-inflammatory erythema (PIE).”

President of the skin cancer foundation, Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD adds that “if you have acne-prone skin, you should be extra-vigilant about protecting yourself from the sun. Unprotected sun exposure can cause dryness, which in turn can trigger excess oil production. Oil clogs pores and can cause more pimples.” While navigating SPF for acne-prone skin can be hard, here are a few simple tips and tricks to make the search easier.

Sunscreens for Acne: How to Choose

Look for broad-spectrum, non-comedogenic formulas

As Peterson explains, “these types of sunscreens are less likely to clog pores and trigger breakouts,” making them an ideal candidate for those with acne-prone skin. “At The Skin Cancer Foundation, we believe the best sunscreen is the one you will use every day,” Dr. Sarnoff adds. “What matters most is that you are choosing a product that is labeled broad-spectrum and has an SPF of at least 30. You can also look for a product that is labeled noncomedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores.”

Choose a mineral sunscreen or one with skin-clearing ingredients

Mineral sunscreens, like those containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, sit on top of the skin and physically block UV rays, making them less likely to irritate sensitive skin,” Peterson notes. “Sunscreens that are specifically formulated for the face may include different combinations of skin-care ingredients along with UV filters,” adds Dr. Sarnoff, who recommends “trying a moisturizing sunscreen product that also includes niacinamide, for example, which can address both sun protection and acne concerns.

Consider your skin type

“If you have dry skin, you may prefer a hydrating sunscreen,” Peterson says. “If you have oily skin, a mattifying sunscreen may be a better choice.” Dr. Sarnoff reiterates this thought, noting that oil-free or matte sunscreens are often popular amongst acne-prone individuals since they protect the skin without leaving a greasy finish or clogging pores with excess oil.

Acne-Safe Sunscreens: 7 to Try

Here, our skin-care experts and renowned dermatologists reveal their top picks for acne-safe sunscreens and SPF formulas that won’t cause breakouts.

1 / 7

CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Face Sunscreen ($14)

Suitable for sensitive skin and packed with skin-loving ingredients like ceramides and niacinamide, “this affordable sunscreen is fragrance-free, oil-free and non-comedogenic,” Peterson explains. “It is also a good option for people with dry skin.”

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2 / 7

Skin Medica Total Defense and Repair SPF 34 ($70)

Montclair, NJ dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD recommends this SkinMedica SPF to clients with acne as she loves how the formula “rubs right into all skin tones and is UVA, UVB blue light and infrared protective.”

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3 / 7

ZO Skin Health Gel Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 ($70)

Another one of Dr. Downie’s acne-safe SPF picks, ZO Skin Health’s Gel Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 is a clear, unscented gel SPF that uses exclusive antioxidant and plant stem cell complexes to minimize signs of aging while it protects.

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SENTÉ Even Tone Mineral Sunscreen ($75)

One of Dr. Downie’s favorites as a “great tinted broad spectrum sunscreen,” this all-mineral formula is great for acne-prone skin and protects skin against inflammation and hyperpigmentation while it fends off UV rays.

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La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sunscreens (starting at $33)

Dr. Downie loves the La-Roche Posay line of Anthelios sunscreens as they are “great for face and body, come in multiple formulations, and rub right in and protects against UVA and UVB rays.”


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EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 ($43)

Somewhat of a cult-classic in the world of sunscreen, Peterson loves this SPF since “this mineral sunscreen is fragrance-free, oil-free, and non-comedogenic and also comes in a tinted version that can help even out skin tone.”

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Alastin SilkSHIELD All Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($70)

“This is a lightweight, fast-absorbing, broad-spectrum sunscreen that blends in sheer,” Peterson explains. “It provides protection from UVA/UVB, IR rays, pollution and blue light, and may be used on sensitive or vulnerable skin, including post-cosmetic treatment skin. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, fragrance-free and oil-free.”

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