Sun 101 |

The Best Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

What’s the best sunscreen for acne? It takes being a little bit picky with your choices, but sunscreen and acne can and should mix––in fact, SPF can even help improve your acne (and acne scars!) over time. Keep reading to find your perfect match.

Anyone who is prone to acne knows it’s a battle to find products that calm, nourish and—most importantly—don’t wreak havoc on your temperamental skin. (We understand that sometimes the smallest things can trigger a breakout!)

One of the common skincare myths out there is that SPF is going lead to breakouts no matter what. “Foregoing sunscreen can lead to premature aging and skin cancer from the accumulation UVA and UVB damage,” notes Anna Guanche, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, California. “In addition, not wearing sunscreen could lead to worsening conditions of the skin, such as melasma, photo damage, wrinkles and brown spots.”

Also—and this is super important to point out—wearing SPF daily actually helps blemishes and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) heal faster. Exposure to the sun increases melanin, which is what causes skin cells to darken and remain dark. Conversely, protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays gives those darkly colored skin cells a chance to fade.

The main idea we want you to take away from this is that while it may seem like wearing sunscreen is going to make your acne worse, that’s just not the way to view sunscreen. Not wearing sunscreen when you have acne-prone skin will actually make your acne worse, and it leaves you more vulnerable to developing skin cancer and other skin issues.

Exposure to the sun increases melanin, which is what causes skin cells to darken and remain dark. Conversely, protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays gives those darkly colored skin cells a chance to fade.

But we’re also not saying that using any sunscreen on acne-prone skin will work. We know how much of a pain and just how truly scary it can be to put sunscreen on your delicate skin and hope that it doesn’t cause another series of breakouts that will take a significant time to go away. But we’re here to let you know that there are so many formulations that are specifically made for acne-prone skin types, which means you can stay safe from the sun’s rays and have clearer skin in the process.

Here, we’ll show you exactly what you should look for in a sunscreen if you have acne prone skin and even offer up some products that have been proven not to irritate acne prone skin.

What to look for in an acne-friendly sunscreen:

So let’s cut right to the chase: Both 100% mineral and clean chemical sunscreens can work for acne-prone skin.

There are a couple things to look for in an acne-friendly sunscreen. First, and most importantly Guanche says to seek products that are non-comedogenic, which means they are specifically formulated to not clog pores or cause breakouts. Second, seek cleanly formulated products. The more additives, oils, and fragrances there are in the ingredient list, the more likely you are to experience an acne flare-up.

Our first pick for an acne-friendly sunscreen is our newly launched Zincscreen 100 % Mineral Lotion SPF 40. This is the cleanest of clean mineral sunscreens that’s made with acne-prone skin in mind.

It’s non-comedogenic and comprised of non-nano zinc oxide particles, which means they are larger than 100 nanometers and will sit safely on top of your skin instead of being absorbed into the skin. Plus, Zincscreen contains winter cherry to protect skin from blue light, as well as blueberry extract to protect from infrared light. The best part? For a 100% mineral sunscreen, it blends in beautifully on multiple skin tones.

We’re admittedly partial, but our award-winning Unseen Sunscreen is basically a hero SPF for people who have acne-prone skin. This fragrance-free formulation boasts a clean, barely-there formulation that also protects your skin from UV rays, IRA and blue light emitted by your phone and computer.

As far as 100% mineral primer/sunscreen hybrids go, our 100% Mineral Matte Screen is one of our favorites. For starters, one of the actives is zinc oxide, which is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps soothe skin and minimize redness. The formulation itself is super lightweight and helps to keep shine under control throughout the day while also blurring the appearance of pores for an effect that’s almost like an Instagram filter for your face. It’s also slightly tinted, which means it helps reduce redness for a more even complexion, and it contains brightening white mulberry root to help calm hyperpigmentation.

One last thing to note about Matte Screen is that even though it’s a mattifying product, it’s not drying. The inclusion of argan oil — a non-comedogenic, non-greasy oil that the skin soaks up instantly — imparts just enough hydration to calm and hydrate.

For a glowy finish versus a matte one, our Glow Stick Sunscreen is a clean chemical sunscreen that boasts an impossibly light formulation that doesn’t sit heavy on your skin or clog pores. Still, it manages to impart some serious dew factor. You could even use it as a highlighter if you wanted.

For the final step in your AM routine, set either of the above with our Defense Refresh Setting Mist or 100% Mineral Invincible Setting Powder. The former is a weightless spray-on makeup setter that’s infused with the antioxidant power of rosemary oil. The latter is powder-based option that’s sweat-resistant, translucent, and helps to further nix shine. Use it throughout the day for that very purpose while also getting the extra SPF coverage.

A few final tips:

Now that you know the basics of what to look for in a sunscreen that’s approved for acne-prone skin, let’s cover just a few more things.  First, Guanche recommends keeping sunscreen that’s intended for body use separated from sunscreen that’s formulated specifically for the face, which is more sensitive.

She says, “Usually, the body sunscreens are heavier than the lighter-formulated sunscreens for the face. Also, a lot of times the facial sunscreens will be non-comedogenic or oil-free and the body ones are not.”

Second, your entire skincare regimen matters. You always want to apply sunscreen to a clean face in the morning, and in the evening it’s super important to wash everything off. She says, “At the end of the day, it is best to cleanse thoroughly to ensure the sunscreen is washed out of your pores.”

Lastly, it’s worth repeating that foregoing sunscreen out of fear isn’t the way to go. We’re lucky enough to have access to so many beautiful, high-quality, non-disruptive SPF that nourishes your skin, makes you feel gorgeous the second you apply them, and protects your skin without triggering any acne flare-ups. We’ll cheers a tube of sunscreen to that!  

+What sunscreen works best for your acne-prone skin? Let us know in the comments!