It’s that time of year again where the days are longer and everyone you know is spending their spare time out in the sun. Vacations are coming up but all you can think of is how you’re going to handle the pimples you get after using sunscreen.
It really is quite a big problem for those with very sensitive skin. You either hide in the shade or risk a dreaded acne outbreak, possibly right in the middle of your summer vacation.
The reason sunscreen is such a huge aggravator is that the majority of products are heavily oil based. They are also designed to be absorbed deeply into the skin to provide maximum protection. But that means heavily blocked pores for most of the day.
No wonder that this leads to such severe pimples.
The good news is that there are sun protection products available that are specifically designed for acne sufferers. Whether it’s facial, neck, shoulders or back areas that you get the pimples, you don’t have to ruin your summer by trying to avoid sun damage.
On this page we have reviewed the most effective products available for all types of skin. They are all non-oily to make sure they don’t cause outbreaks and will safely work as part of your overall skin routine.
Top 2 - Editor's Picks
If you're in a rush, below are the top 2 Best Sunscreen for Acne Prone Skin, hands down!
UVA/UVB Rays Skin Protection
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UVA/UVB Rays Skin Protection
15 Best Sunscreens For Acne Prone Skin
Acne sufferers looking for a product designed specifically for them would do well to take a gander at the EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46. This product has been designed to not only protect the skin from harmful sun damage, but to also revitalize it.
Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide (9.0%) and Octinoxate (7.5%). Also contains pure form Niacin Amide (5%).
- Specially formulated for sensitive acne-prone skins.
- Can also work under makeup.
- Helps rejuvenate the skin damaged by acne.
- Provides protection from harmful UVA/UVB rays.
- Helps maintain clean and smooth skin.
- Touch on the expensive side.
- Don’t consider it a standalone treatment for acne. You may need to use it in conjunction with other products if you have a particularly severe breakout.
- Shake the bottle before use.
- Apply 20 minutes prior to going outdoors.
This Skinceuticals Physical Foundation UV Defense sunscreen provides SPF50 protection from the harmful rays of the skin. It provides a nice little tint to your skin, whilst also using a combination of natural ingredients to boost your skin’s defenses. Ideal if you are in the midst of recovering from acne.
Active ingredient: Numerous, although this is one of only a few products on the market to contain zinc oxide.
- Non comedogenic.
- Lasts up to three hours, one of the longer lasting products on the market.
- Helps to repair skin using a combination of various ingredients, many of them being natural.
- Can deal with heat stress of the skin.
- One of the more expensive sunscreens on the market.
- Will not prevent acne, but it will help to minimize the effects.
- Apply 15-20 minutes before sun exposure.
- This non comedogenic sunscreen from Skinceuticals is pretty thin. So, you might need to apply a double coat for ultimate protection (first, check results with a single coat).
- For best results, reapply after every 2 hours.
This lightweight moisturizer will help to prevent dehydration in the skin, whilst at the same time providing a high level of protection from damaging UVB and UVA rays. It has SPF 42.
- One of only a few sunscreens on the market which also acts as a moisturizer.
- Lightweight, suitable for daily use.
- Perfect to wear under makeup/foundation as it sinks into your skin and is virtually invisible.
- Provides a decent amount of protection from harmful rays in just about every environment.
- Bottle is fairly small and expensive, particularly if you buy this with the intention of using it every single day.
- Because it’s thin, you’ll need to apply quite a bit of it to cover up your whole face (or other parts of body).
- No fancy directions. Just apply 15 minutes prior to going outside. For maximum impact, reapply after 2 hours of application.
This La Roche-Posay sunscreen is readily absorbed by the skin. It provides a matte finish and it is practically invisible. This means that it is suitable for wearing on a day to day basis. La Roche-Posay is one of the biggest names in the world of skin care, and this sunscreen advocates why.
Active ingredient: None.
- Water resistant up to eighty minutes.
- One of the lightest sunscreens on the market. You will barely feel it on your skin.
- Works well under makeup.
- Provides the best protection against UVB and UVA rays
- To get the most benefit, you have to reapply once every 2 hours, this can be quite cumbersome.
- Because it’s readily absorbed, it may leave your skin dried.
- Apply before 15 minutes of going outdoors after shaking it well.
- You’ll need to reapply it after every 2 hours at least. If you’ve sweat too much, reapply it after 80 minutes.
This is one of the lightest sunscreens on the market. You will barely be able to tell it is there, however, you can still be sure of the highest levels of protection. It is designed especially for those with acne and rosacea prone skin.
Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide (2%), Zinc Oxide (17%).
- Lightweight and not excessively oily. This ensures that your pores are not blocked.
- Full of antioxidants, including green tea, Vitamin C, and pomegranate extract. This helps to protect the skin from bouts of acne, as well as provide quick healing for the skin.
- Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide combine well to provide protection from the harmful rays of the sun.
- Good fit for dwellers of organic formulations.
- It is a silicone based product. This means it will not work well when used in conjunction with water-based moisturizers.
- It has some reported complaints of allergic reactions. So, make sure you’re not sensitive to its active ingredients. Moreover, start off by applying it only once a day to be super safe. If it all goes good, start using it as per directions.
- Liberally apply all over your face 15 minutes before exposure to the sun.
- In case of swimming or excessive sweating, reapply after 40 minutes. Otherwise, you will only need to reapply it after every 2 hours.
This sunscreen is not just about protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun, although it does that pretty well. Instead, the Rejuvelle sunscreen for the face is a combination product. It acts as a moisturizer too.
- Best choice if you’re after a more natural product.
- Acts as a moisturizer, but is non-greasy at the same time.
- SPF-45 ensures a solid skin protection.
- Loaded with antioxidants which can help repair your skin after a bad bout of acne.
- Can be worn under makeup.
- Contains octyl methoxycinnamate, which doesn’t suite everyone and can lead to adverse side effects. So, it’s better to check whether or not you’re sensitive towards this ingredient.
Read the text on the packaging for specific directions.
If you are after younger looking skin which is well-protected from harmful sun rays, then you are going to want to take a little look at the Nu-Derm Healthy Skin Protection. It is designed to be utilized in conjunction with other products in their range, but you could certainly use it on its own.
Suitable for: All skin types.
- Designed for those who are dealing with acne.
- Has a fresh cucumber-ish smell.
- It effectively reduces and prevents the signs of inflammation.
- Shields your skin from harmful rays.
- Reduces the signs of ageing and helps rejuvenate your skin.
- Leaves your skin a bit oily immediately after application. But it sinks in after a while and keeps your skin moisturized.
- Apply evenly on your skin 15 minutes prior to sun exposure. Reapply after every 2 hours.
This clinically proven sunscreen has been designed for those with oily skin. If you are suffering from acne due to excessive oil build up on your skin, then this may be just the solution that you need.
Suitable for: Oily skin.
Active Ingredients: Octinoxate (7.5%) , Zinc Oxide (3%), Ensulizole (1%).
- Can reduce the build-up of oil on the skin for eight hours.
- Willow bark extract in this sunscreen helps to manage breakouts.
- Clears your skin of impurities.
- Helps to smooth out your skin and give it a younger looking appearance.
- Not suitable for those with dry skin as it will dry it out even further.
- Comparatively, it has a low SPF. So, if you’re not after controlling oil on your skin, there are other products that offer better sun protection.
- Apply evenly on your face, neck, and chest.
This product has been designed as a moisturizer first and a sunscreen second. It provides SPF 35 protection, so you should be easily protected from both UVB and UVA rays.
Active Ingredients: Avobenzone (1.0%), Oxybenzone (6.0%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (5.0%).
- One of the best moisturizers on the market for morning use. A single application in the morning should keep you going throughout the day.
- Various ingredients help to repair your skin. Many people report this product providing them with healthier looking skin in just a few weeks.
- Not ideal if you are only after a sunscreen.
- Cleanse your face with a good quality face wash/cleanser.
- Apply liberally on your skin 15 before going outdoors.
- Avoid contact with the T-area of your face.
This is one of the first products on the market to provide protection from the sun whilst at the same time ensuring that your skin remains clear. Neutrogena is, of course, one of the biggest names in the world of skin care.
Active Ingredient: Many, including avobenzone 2.7%, homosalate 4%, octisalate 4.5%, octocrylene 6%, oxybenzone 4.5%.
- Ultra-light and non-oily. Means it is suitable for wearing on a day to day basis.
- SPF-55, provides the highest level of protection.
- Not only protects you from the sun, but also works to ensure that your skin remains free of acne.
- Again, any specialized sunscreen like this is not intended as a standalone acne treatment. You will need to use this in combination with other products to eradicate acne.
- It can sting very bad if it runs in your eyes while sweating.
- Apply whenever going outdoors. One application should work for the whole day if you don’t cleanse it off.
Banana Boat may not be the biggest brand name in the world, but they are a company that certainly know how to put together a decent product. Supplied in a pack of three, this Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lotion has the power to keep your skin protected throughout the day.
- This sunscreen has been built for ’sport use’. Even intense sweating will not ruin the effectiveness of the lotion.
- Small bottle makes it simple to carry around.
- Non-oily. This makes it suitable for people who have excessively oily skin, although anybody can use it. This is perfect for those suffering from acne.
- It is just a small bottle. This means it can be a touch expensive if you use it constantly.
- SPF-30 is pretty strong. May not be suitable for everybody.
- Make sure you’re not sensitive towards Methylisothiazolinone, an ingredient in this sunscreen, or you’ll be inviting some unwanted side effects.
- No fancy directions. Just apply 15-20 minutes before going outside.
This Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen is perfect for those who want to keep their skin in tip-top condition. Infused with Cellular Response Technology, this sunscreen will help to protect your skin from harmful sun rays whilst also providing your skin with the tools that it needs to repair itself over time.
- SPF-50 provides best protection to your skin from harmful rays of the sun.
- Infused with vitamins and antioxidants which help rejuvenate your skin.
- Does extremely well at providing sun protection without oxybenzone, which is great.
- No fragrances or parabens included. This means that it is suitable for those with sensitive skin.
- It has a strong smell. You’ll regret buying it you dwell for fragrance-free products.
- It’super thin and gets readily absorbed. So, don’t be surprised if you run out of it too soon.
- Evenly apply on your skin15 minutes before going outside.
- Though it can be your good partner at a day in pool, beach, or a resort, it’s best to use a water resistent sunscreen in these cases.
This sunscreen has been infused with thermal spring water from Avene, the only product of its type on the market to include that. This spring water is rich with powerful anti-oxidants which can help to repair your skin.
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide (6%), Titanium oxide (4%).
- Infused with antioxidants and minerals which can help repair your skin, particularly after a severe bout of acne.
- Can help to reverse the signs of ageing.
- Good alternative to zinc-based products.
- Extremely water resistant.
- Very light, this can make it tough to use in some cases.
- Leaves residue/white patches on your skin.
- Don’t work as good under makeup.
- Apply 15 prior to going outdoors.
- Immediately reapply after towel drying your skin.
This product is a combination moisturizer and sunscreen. It is especially designed for those who are incredibly prone to acne breakouts. This particular product is made from all-natural ingredients. It can be a good fit for vegans and those who are sensitive to gluten.
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 19%.
- 19% zinc oxide provides essential broad spectrum protection.
- Claimed to contain 100% natural ingredients. This means it is particularly suitable for those with sensitive skin.
- Can be worn under makeup.
- Absorbed quickly by the skin.
- This product is not excessively oily or greasy. This ensures that your pores don’t clog.
- Natural ingredients may not be the best for the most severe of acne breakouts.
- Leaves a thin white film after application, though it’s not the case for everyone.
- Doesn’t come with drug facts label, which is kind of weird. You can’t exactly know what you’re putting on your face.
- Use as any other sun screen.
- Apply 15-20 minutes before sun exposure.
- Reapply after every 2 hours outdoors and immediately after towel drying.
This is one of only a few sunscreens on the market which contain an amino-peptide complex. This helps to reduce the impact of acne on the skin. It works from within to ensure that blemishes are quickly eradicated even after the most severe of acne bouts.
- SP-F50 for the highest level of protection from the harmful rays of the sun.
- Provides a light amount of hydration from the skin.
- Exfoliates to promote skin cell turnover, reducing the chances of acne.
- Usage results in noticeably firmer skin.
- Strong scent. Some people have reported that it can cause their allergies to act up.
- If you’re after a fragrance free formula, you won’t admire its strong artificial scent.
- It can feel a bit heavy on an oily skin.
- Apply evenly on your cleansed face and neck every day before going outdoors.
SPF in Sunscreens Explained
You will see labels such as “SPF 15,” “SPF 30” or even “SPF 50” in almost all acne sunscreens. What does it mean?
SPF is the abbreviation of the phrase “Sun Protection Factor.” Just as the name suggests, it is the calculation of a sunscreen’s ability to fight UVB radiations from the sun that damage your skin.
Following table explains the efficiency of a sunblock or sunscreen indicated by its SPF number:
|SPF||Protection from UVB rays|
Source – SkinCancer.org
There can be some more numbers between these three, but you get the idea.
In general, a higher SPF number means more protection from skin damaging UVB rays of the sun.
But there is a little loop hole in this calculation. Skin damage is caused by both UVA and UVB rays of the sun. And SPF is the calculation of only UVB protection.
So, it is misleading? Perhaps not. Although they are both part of the problem, UVB rays do considerably more damage than UVA rays alone. So, SPF can still be considered a good factor for determining the effectiveness of a sunscreen.
Additionally, as the hand-picked list of best sunscreens for acne prone skin in this post reveals, there are products that offer both UVA and UVB protection. They are generally labaled as “Multi Spectrum” or “Broad Spectrum” sunscreens. The presence of UVA fighting ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, and oxybenzone in Broad Spectrum Sunscreens enables them to offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays. This leads us to emphasize on the fact that greater SPF does not mean complete protection of your acne prone skin from sun damage.
Conclusion – The Real “Broad Spectrum” Sun Protection
Wearing a sunscreen may not encourage you to neglect other essential skin protective behaviors such as avoiding excessive sun exposure (specially between 10 AM to 2 PM), seeking shade, and wearing sun protective clothing. And this is what I call “broad spectrum” sun protection.
Do not take it for granted. Finding the perfect SPF for your skin can be a hard task. And you will need to try out a few products to figure which works best for you.
Let me know your experiences in the comments below.