Melissa Juried Kriebel
If you’re prone to breakouts, slathering on a thick, goopy, greasy sunscreen is likely dead last on the list of things you want to do. We get it. But SPF is non-negotiable (safety first, people!), so finding the best sunscreen that will A) protect you from the sun’s harmful rays and B) not make pimples pop up by the dozen needs to make its way to the top of your agenda. The good news? Everyone from EltaMD and Supergoop! to La Roche-Posay have formulated oil-free, non-comedogenic, and occasionally mattifying mineral and chemical sunscreens ideal for acne-prone skin.
Whether you like a gel formula that works well under makeup or have been on a never-ending hunt for a sunscreen for your oily skin, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ve rounded up the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin.
What to Look For
The biggest buzzwords to look for on your sunscreen bottle? Dr. Kenneth Howe, board-certified dermatologist at UnionDerm in New York City says to be on the hunt for terms like “lightweight, non-occlusive, oil-free, and non-comedogenic,” noting that they’re typically designed for acne sufferers. He also suggests searching for SPFs with antioxidants like niacinamide and hydrating agents such as hyaluronic acid. “These reduce inflammation and soothe acne-prone skin,” he adds.
Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin
The Best Treatment Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Elta MD UV Clear
Dermatologists across the board are *obsessed* with this lightweight sunscreen because it was designed with sensitive skin in mind. Have acne? Prone to hyperpigmentation? Suffer from rosacea? Elta MD is the way to go. “This is a very lightweight, fast-absorbing sunscreen that hydrates the skin with hyaluronic acid,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Karen Hammerman. “It has lactic acid to gently exfoliate and help prevent sebum buildup, and niacinamide, a form of B3 that reduces redness. It is also oil-free and fragrance free so it will not cause further skin irritation.”
Pros: Derm-approved; Exfoliating; Redness reducing
Cons: Only one tint; might pill on some
The Best Tinted Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
ColorScience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50
“This has multiple shades and is a pure mineral formula,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal. The active ingredient, zinc oxide, deflects the sun’s rays to keep your skin sunburn-free (shout out SPF 50!). It’s also going to be water-resistant and sweat-resistant for around 40 minutes, so you can workout or swim without worry. On the acne front? Don’t worry—it’s not going to break you out. In fact, it should actually minimize breakouts. “It even has technology built to fight off pollution, which can contribute to acne.”
Pros: Derm-approved; Water-resistant; Environmental protection
Cons: Some reviewers say it feels heavy
The Best Antioxidant-Packed Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Eucerin Oil Control SPF Face Lotion
Eucerin does hydration just as well as it does oil control—it’s pretty much perfect. This particular sunscreen feels lightweight, is non-comedogenic, and even goes so far as to mattify the skin. “It has oil-absorbing minerals which can help reduce acne flares from excessive oiliness,” explains Dr. Lal. You’ll be amazed at how your skin is able to stay shine-free even with layers of protection. And still, there’s more to love. This SPF is also fortified with an antioxidant complex that protects against free radicals.
Pros: Derm-approved; Mattifying; Environmental protection
Cons: Contains alcohol, so not ideal for sensitive skin
The Best Affordable Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30
You don’t have to shell out a crazy amount of money to get high-performing protection; this Cetaphil SPF is all the proof you need. “This is a moisturizer and sunscreen, which is a great duo for acne patients,” explains Dr. Lal. He points out that the formula contains silica, an ingredient that’s great at absorbing excess oil. While it certainly reduces shine, we promise it won’t leave your skin feeling sandpaper-y or too tight. The non-sticky SPF also contains hydrating ingredients like glycerin, which help create a balanced complexion.
Pros: Derm-approved; Affordable; Dual purpose
Cons: Not enough protection for days spent in heavy sun
The Best Pore-Minimizing Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Bliss Block Star Mineral Daily Sunscreen
“A rockstar sunscreen that I use all the time, this has a vanishing tint and has oils that reduce pore size,” says Dr. Lal. Powered by titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, this mineral formula is amazing for sensitive skin types—and those dealing with excess oil. Thanks to an ingredient called rose canina fruit oil, it’s able to mattify the skin and minimize the look of pores. “It also smells very good, but isn’t the best for those sensitive to scents,” points out Dr. Lal.
Pros: Derm-approved; Mattifying; Good for sensitive skin
Cons: Contains fragrance
The Best Gel Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen
Hate sunscreen? We challenge you to take this Supergoop! formula for a spin. It’s essentially the antithesis of everything you dislike. There’s no heavy texture, no scent, and no greasy residue. Honestly, it barely feels like sunscreen at all. The colorless SPF has a more primer-like texture that glides on with ease. It’s also one of my personal favorite products for a beach day—I can layer it every two hours without any pilling (!!).
Pros: Elegant texture; Works great under makeup
Cons: Not reef-safe
The Best Shine-Control Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Image Skincare Revision Daily Matte
If your skin is both acne-prone and oily, layering on a cream and SPF back-to-back might seem like a pore-clogging disaster waiting to happen. Enter, Image. The derm- and beauty editor-loved brand has a two-in-one moisturizer and sunscreen that will give your skin the protection and hydration it needs in a single application. The zinc oxide-based formula is also fortified with a special technology that soaks up extra oil and keeps shine at bay.
Pros: Multi-purpose; Hydrating
Cons: Some say it’s oily
The Best Sunscreen for Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
U Beauty Multimodal Defender
Anyone dealing with acne is probably well acquainted with the dark marks that linger well after the pimple has made its exit. While this redness, a.k.a. post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, will fade over time, U Beauty’s vitamin C-packed SPF can help speed up the process. This luxe formula will have your skin looking brighter and more even in roughly four weeks’ time. It leaves a bit of glow behind, which is ideal for those who don’t want a matte finish.
Pros: Brightening; Great for hyperpigmentation
Cons: Feels a little thick
The Best Pore Minimizing Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Paula’s Choice Clear Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid
This chemical SPF has one of the most elegant formulas in the game—it glides onto the skin and sinks in without a trace. Honestly, I didn’t believe just how weightless it was until I tried it for myself. Its sleek formula isn’t the only reason this SPF should be on your radar though; it’s also wildly effective at calming down acne-induced redness thanks to the inclusion of chamomile, a proven soothing botanical.
Pros: Lightweight; Redness reducing
Cons: Some report flaking
The Best Tinted Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
iS Clinical Eclipse SPF 50+
White casts are a no-go—plain and simple. But that can be a hard thing to find when you want a mineral formula. That’s where this tinted sunscreen comes into play; the beige hue eliminates any chalky residue that can be left behind by zinc. As for the ingredient list? It’s free of common acne irritants like fragrance and essential oils. This product also has a matte finish, making it the perfect product to put on before makeup.
Pros: Tinted; Great with makeup
Cons: Might feel thick to some
The Best Reef-Safe Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Tula Skincare Mineral Magic Oil Free Mineral Sunscreen
This SPF has a lightweight mineral formula, doesn’t include oxybenzone or octinoxate (two ingredients that have been shown to damage coral reefs), and won’t leave a greasy or tacky finish on the skin. That’s all well and good, but we have to shout out that this SPF goes the extra mile for acne-prone people. It’s infused with red algae, which is helpful for absorbing excess oil. Scoop this up, your t-zone will thank you.
Pros: Reef-safe; Shine control
Cons: Slight scent
The Best Redness-Reducing Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Yon-Ka Paris Skincare Solar Care Sunscreen Cream SPF 50
Acne isn’t mutually exclusive with other skin conditions. If you’re dealing with redness or dryness too, allow us to direct your attention to this French beauty brand. Their SPF is fortified with licorice and green tea extract to calm down redness and has a super rich and nourishing texture (it almost feels like a cream upon application). Don’t let the latter scare you though—this chemical sunscreen won’t clog your pores.
Pros: Calming; Redness reducing
Cons: Some report a thicker than desired texture
The Best Sunscreen for Adult Acne
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
There’s truly nothing better than a multi-tasking product, so it shouldn’t shock you that we’re in a bit of a love affair with this silky, smooth SPF. It’s oil-free, plumps fine lines and wrinkles, and protects against blue lights. How, you ask? Its star ingredients, lingonberry and sea buckthorn, are packed with antioxidants (vitamin C! Vitamin E!), have the ability to reduce the look of dark spots, and manage to even out skin tone.
Pros: Multi-benefit; Plumping
Cons: Doesn’t mattify
The Best Luxe Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
La Prairie Cellular Swiss UV Protection Veil SPF 30
Perhaps the most annoying thing about sunscreen is pilling under makeup. The wrong formula can create little clumps the second you apply foundation. Such is not the case with this high-end formula—so long as you let the formula completely dry down before makeup application. The elegant SPF melts onto the skin and leaves behind a semi-matte finish. It does come at a steeper price point than most, but I promise it will be the solve to your sunscreen woes.
Pros: Works great under makeup; elegant texture
The Best Brightening Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Sobel Skin Rx Mineral-Based Broad Spectrum SPF 50
If a multi-step skincare routine isn’t in the cards, it’s about time this mineral SPF, which is packed with hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, and niacinamide, landed on your radar. This one product is not only going to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, it’s also going to help brighten your complexion, even out skin tone, help treat acne, and shrink pores. What more could you ask for?
Pros: Multi-benefit; Brightening; Has niacinamide to treat acne
The Best Firming Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin
Eve Lom Daily Protection SPF 50
Dealing with acne as an adult is totally normal; more than 50 percent of women over 25 have breakouts. While there may be other factors at play (read: hormones, genetics, etc.), derms suggest steering clear of common irritants. This SPF doesn’t use any synthetic colorants or fragrances, avoids parabens, and is non-comedogenic. As for what ingredients made the cut? You’ll find brightening vitamin C and niacinamide on the list.
Pros: Brightening; Free of irritants
Meet the Dermatologists
As a cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Howe is known for his light touch. He believes that smaller, earlier interventions allow patients to maintain a youthful appearance while at the same time preventing or slowing further aging. Calm and reassuring in manner, Dr. Howe is an expert in guiding patients through the variety of available options, from the simplest topical agents to cutting edge procedures. He values maintaining an open dialogue between doctor and patient throughout this process. The goal of all aesthetic treatments, in Dr. Howe’s view, is to achieve and maintain a completely natural look. What is done must be dictated in each case by careful study of the anatomy and structure of the individual face. This approach is particularly noteworthy in Dr. Howe’s use of injectable fillers and toxins, of which he is a recognized expert.
Dr. Hammerman is a native New Yorker who was raised on Long Island. She attended Barnard College, where she majored in environmental biology and graduated with honors. She received her M.D. degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, where she then completed a preliminary year in general surgery followed by a two year research fellowship in skin regeneration and wound repair at NYU Medical Center. She completed her dermatology residency at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Hammerman’s research has been published in several peer-reviewed journals. She has authored and co-authored wound healing book chapters, and has written NIH research grants in the fields of wound healing and regeneration, stem cells, and the management of chronic wounds. She is a voluntary house staff dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she teaches residents and medical students.
Originally from New York City, he grew up in Queens and attended Hunter Science High School in Manhattan. He graduated summa cum laude from the New York Institute of Technology, where he completed a rigorous seven-year accelerated combined medical program. He was selected to be an academic medical scholar, during which he received a Master of Science in neuroscience and a scholarship for three years of medical school and graduate training. He was elected to the Sigma Sigma Phi and Psi Sigma Alpha medical honor societies. He completed his internal medicine internship at the University of Connecticut Medical Center where he was elected intern of the year. He completed a three-year dermatology residency at the University of Massachusetts, where he was elected chief resident. He continued at the University of Massachusetts to complete a pediatric dermatology fellowship, where he gained an interest in vascular anomalies, pediatric laser, and dermatologic surgery of pediatric patients. Dr. Lal specializes in pediatric and adult dermatology, laser surgery, soft tissue filler augmentation, body sculpting, melanocyte keratinocyte transplant surgery for vitiligo and hypopigmentation, pigmentary abnormalities of the skin and enjoys treating patients from birth onwards. He is an expert in atopic dermatitis, vitiligo, melasma, psoriasis, and hidradenitis and has worked in specialty clinics among experts. He is the only board-certified pediatric and fellowship-trained cosmetic dermatologist in the country.