These Are the 10 Best Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin, According to Experts

With so many things to consider when choosing a sunscreen—factor, price point and texture to name just three—deciding on a decent SPF can be tricky at the best of times. But when you have sensitive skin as well? The quest to find a sun cream can feel overwhelming to say the least.

“There are many different sunscreen formulas on the market which use different types of UV filters,” explains Pippa Harman, Cosmetic Scientist and Formulator and Co-Founder of Renude. “With synthetic (commonly referred to as chemical) sunscreens, you need to ensure a range of filters to block the full range of the UV spectrum. Some of these synthetic filters can cause irritation in more sensitive skin types—usually itchy or watery eyes, or itchy skin.”

So, does this mean that people with sensitive skin should avoid chemical sunscreens entirely? Dr. Hiva Fassihi, La Roche-Posay Consulatant Dermatologist believes that first it’s important to work out why you might have sensitive skin—as everyone’s definition of sensitivity differs. If you’re dealing with facial eczema, rosacea or hayfever then Dr. Fassihi recommends seeking advice from a doctor or dermatologist “for advice on the management of the underlying cause of skin sensitivity so that they can tolerate sunscreens better”. However, Dr. Fassihi also pointed out one possible cause of skin sensitivity that can be managed at home—harsh skincare ingredients. “Many individuals overuse active ingredients, such as retinoids or acids (AHA/BHAs) in their daily routine, which can damage their skin barrier,” Dr. Fassihi explains. By dialling back on some of the stronger ingredients in your skincare routine during the summer months, you might find that chemical sunscreens are no issue after all.

But what if you really do have sensitive skin year-round, then what are your options when it comes to sun protection? “It is generally recommended that people with sensitive skin should opt for a physical (a.k.a. mineral) formula where possible,” advises Harman. “There are just two types of mineral filter on the market, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are both white powders and offer broad spectrum protection.” There is a downside though, and it’s a big one. “The problem with these filters is that they can create a white cast on medium and deep skin tones, so they are not suitable for everyone,” says Harman. Instead, Harman suggests looking for a sunscreen labelled hypoallergenic. “Although there is no standardised definition for this term, it means that the product has been tested on people with sensitive skin and caused a reaction in a very small number, typically under a set threshold like 5%. It doesn’t mean it is guaranteed not to cause a reaction, but it means it is less likely to than products that haven’t passed this type of testing.”

And if you are going to stick with a chemical sunscreen rather than a physical one, then there are some key ingredients to try and avoid. “Any ingredient can cause allergic reactions, but the most common are chemical UV filters like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene,  methoxycinnamate, benzophenone-2 and benzophenone-3,” advises Ada Ooi MAcS TCM, NADA, celebrity facialist and founder of 001 Skincare. “If you suffer from sensitive skin, you may also want to avoid fragrance and dyes in your sunscreens as these are common causes of skin allergies. The best way to avoid irritating your skin is to patch test the product behind your ear or on your wrist, and wait around 48 hours so that you can see if any irritation occurs before you apply it all over your skin.” Want to know more? Keep scrolling for the 10 best sunscreens for sensitive skin, as recommended by our skin experts.

If you’re looking for the best sun cream for sensitive skin that’s also prone to oiliness or acne then Ooi recommends this mineral formula from Australian suncare brand Ultra Violette. “It provides broad spectrum protection, spreads and gets absorbed easily, and is magnified with added antioxidants to combat free radicals,” Ooi explains.

When it comes to brilliant sunscreens, La Roche-Posay is a brand that is loved by dermatologists and beauty editors alike. And while this is a chemical sunscreen, it has been created specifically with sensitive skin types in mind. “Anthelios contains a new intelligent polymer that entraps the [chemical] filters inside droplets surrounded by water, creating a network which forms a uniform layer on the skin and reduces migration and eye-stinging,” explains Dr. Fassihi.

When choosing a sunscreen for sensitive skin, Harman points out that there are plenty of factors to take into account “such as skin type, specific concerns like breakouts and pigmentation, and budget”, but this mineral SPF from Heliocare is one the firm favourites at Renude for its beautifully dewy finish.

Another of Ooi’s picks comes in the form of this mineral sunscreen from Murad—which happens to be one of my personal favourites, too. “It’s great for dry or dehydrated sensitive skin,” says Ooi. “It comes in an adaptable tint and vitamin C to help brighten the skin.”

All of our experts agreed that a compromised skin barrier was one of the key causes of sensitivity, and Byoma is a brand that’s main purpose is to improve the health of our skin barrier to restore health and moisture. This new moisturising SPF has a gorgeously glowy finish, offers broad spectrum protection and is packed with kind-to-skin ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid that won’t aggravate sensitive skin.

SVR is one of Harman’s recommended chemical sun cream brands, as they test their formulations on people with sensitive skin as standard. This one has a velvety-soft texture with a totally transparent finish, and it’s so gentle that it’s safe for use on babies and children too. Harman describes it as a “great all-rounder”.

“For protection around the eyes, Hello Sunday The One For Your Eyes has mineral filters that aim to bounce off UV [rays] to prevent ageing around the delicate area,” explains Ooi. “Also, wear sunglasses!”

If you’re really not sure where to start when it comes to choosing the best sun cream for sensitive skin then Dr. Fassihi recommends trying an SPF for kids. “Children’s formulations and those with a predominant mineral content are [usually] well tolerated,” she explains. This one offers high protection, a non-sticky texture and sinks in well without leaving behind a white cast. 

Harman recommends this high-protection sunscreen for sensitive skin that are “redness-prone or with a compromised skin barrier”. It’s specially created for skin that’s in the midst of irritation or overheating and has a calming formulation packed with hyaluronic acid to rehydrate skin and zinc for antibacterial soothing.

While Avène do offer mineral formulations, they are a dermatologist-developed brand that create all of their products to care for sensitive skin—and this sun cream is no exception. Not only does it provide high protection against UVA and UVB rays, but it also protects skin from the skin-ageing effects of blue light. And all while keeping irritation at bay. Up Next: These Are Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin.