07 July 2021 (updated)

Skin Smart: The Best Sunscreen for Your Face

Fair-toned friends already know that sunscreen protects your face from sun damage and aging. However, finding the right one for your face that won't clog pores can remain a mystery.

Though dermatologists advise using sun protection daily to prevent sunspots and promote anti-aging for all skin tones, those who have acne are often hesitant to use it. People don't want to suffer breakouts because of sunscreen. With this in mind, FamilyApp found face-friendly sunscreens for sensitive skin.

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Sunscreen Basics for Your Face

The American Academy of Dermatology (ADA) recommends using sunscreen daily to greatly reduce the chances of skin cancer. We know we should wear it, but why? The sun emits harmful ultraviolet rays year-round, which can harm the skin, age it prematurely, and damage your skin cells' DNA leading to melanoma. Cancer of the skin is the most common of all cancers, so using sunscreen for every skin type is suggested by the American Cancer Society.

The AAD recommends that everyone use broad-spectrum protection against UV rays (UVA and UVB), an SPF 30 or higher, and is water-resistant. So feel free to use your SPF 50, but skip the SPF 15.

Don't forget to apply the right amount on your face and body. Most people don't apply enough to give them lasting protection. Remember, sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours and more often if you're swimming and active. Aim for a nickel-sized amount for your face alone and two tablespoons for both your body and face.

What's the Best Face Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin?

You may be wondering the best way to protect your face without causing pimples. This is especially important if your skin is easily irritated. From K-Beauty brands to La Roche-Posay, knowing which brands to buy is confusing! Dermatologists agree that the active ingredients, rather than the brand, are the most important.

According to Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Apple Bodemer, mineral-based sunscreens that are zinc-based and contain titanium dioxide are less irritating for the acne-prone. She recommends using sunscreens for infants because they will be gentle on sensitive skin.

What Sunscreen SPF Do Dermatologists Recommend?

There's a lot to consider when choosing a zinc oxide mineral-only sunscreen or reef-friendly chemical sunscreen. It's important to protect your face from sun exposure.

"Avoid the mid-day sun and always look for shade. Also, consider UV protective clothing and wide-brim hats," says Bodemer.

Protect your skin with a big hat, sunglasses, and long sleeves.

Bodemer recommends mineral-based sunscreens like Cerave with Invisible Zinc, and for oily skin, consider Mychelle Sun Shield Liquid SPF 50. In fact, several popular options are non-comedogenic and fast-absorbing. One high-end brand that gets rave reviews is EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for Sensitive or Acne-Prone Skin. You can buy this oil-free and dermatologist approved mineral-based zinc oxide formula on Amazon.

"There's not a one size fits all when it comes to skin. People have different layers of tolerance. Know the skin you have and take care of the skin that you have," says Bodemer.

Chemical Sunscreens versus Physical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens tend to irritate sensitive skin and cause an allergic reaction more than mineral-based sunscreens, according to research. Ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate can be irritating.  Chemical sunscreens can inflame the skin.

Physical sunscreens create a barrier that reflects the sun and doesn't absorb into the skin, while chemical sunscreens do. Chemical sunscreens have active ingredients that absorb UV rays, whereas physical sunscreens block or deflect UV rays. Furthermore, chemical sunscreens require application 20 minutes before exposure to the sun. They need time to seep into the skin to work. Physical sunscreens, in contrast, will work right away.

If you know you can tolerate a chemical sunscreen, there are plenty of popular brands available at the drugstore. The cult-favorite Neutrogena UltraSheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 50+  is oxybenzone-free but contains avobenzone. If you're in the mood to go high-end with your chemical sunscreen, Coola Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF, and Supergoop Unseen are other favorites among sun worshippers.

High-End Oil-Free and Non-Comedogenic Sunscreen

If you can't tolerate chemical sunscreens but want to protect your skin, follow these tips. Lightweight physical sunscreens with a non-comedogenic formula will keep your face clear of blemishes. There are even options to avoid looking really ashy.

With that said, you pay for the higher quality mineral-based products. These brands have better formulas that don’t leave you looking ghostly. However, they also charge you for the superior, lighter weight quality. The Clinique SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Fluid For Face is a great physical sunscreen for acne-prone skin. Bonus points: it doesn’t leave a white cast.

Another pricey but highly rated product with titanium dioxide and doesn't clog pores is Kiehl's Super Fluid Daily UV Mineral Defense. This doesn't leave a heavy feel or leave a white cast, but it will set you back $40. With that said, it is specifically formulated for acne-prone sensitive skin.

Preventing Skin-Damaging Effects of the Sun

Sensitive skin shouldn't prevent you from using sunscreen. In fact, sun protection is the biggest anti-aging elixir. In addition to investing in a fashionable straw hat, don't forget to try out the many options for zinc oxide skin-care products that won't cause pimples. So go ahead and wear your Breakfast at Tiffany's Sunglasses! While you're at it, put on a nickel-sized dollop of your favorite non-comedogenic sunscreen. Enjoy the rays!



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