If You Have Sensitive Skin, These 19 Sunscreens Are the Very Best

Hot weather has finally reached the UK, and while we're keen to solidify our summer wardrobe essentials and stockpile ice lollies for the freezer, we're also turning to SPF as the temperatures rise. While we need to wear SPF year-round to protect our skin from ageing (yes, really—UV rays account for around 80-90% of skin ageing), it's particularly important to protect your skin in the summer months.

However, finding a great face SPF can be tricky, and not all SPFs are created equal. In fact, there are two kinds of sunscreen that you need to know about: mineral sunscreens and chemical sunscreens.


(Image credit: @emmahoareau)

What is the difference between mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen?


(Image credit: @bettinalooney)

Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun's UV rays and converting the light to heat, which then dissipates from the skin. This chemical reaction is what gives chemical sunscreens their name. However, they can be problematic for sensitive skin, causing stinging or watery eyes upon application. Additionally, for those who have melasma (a skin condition that results in stubborn skin pigmentation, which is often exacerbated by the sun and heat), chemical sunscreens can sometimes make this worse, as the conversion of the light into heat can trigger pigmentation.

On the other hand, mineral sunscreens physically block UV rays from the skin. They're sometimes referred to as physical sunscreens for this reason. Not only are mineral sunscreens typically better for sensitive or acne-prone skin, but the ingredients tend to be kinder to the environment, too. (You'll often see many mineral SPFs labelled "reef-safe" for this reason.)

Typically, mineral-based SPFs tend to have ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. However, these ingredients tend to give sunscreen a white cast, which is the main con of mineral SPFs, and particularly so for darker skin tones. Therefore, it's a good idea to try mineral sunscreens before you buy them if you can. Thankfully, formulations have come a long way, and there are now more sophisticated mineral sunscreen formulas that are sheerer and work with all skin tones. Ahead, we've rounded up some of the best mineral sunscreens across budgets.

The 19 Best Mineral Sunscreens

Up Next: 5 Products We Should All Be Using This Summer, According to Skin Experts

Eleanor Vousden
Beauty Editor, Who What Wear UK

Eleanor Vousden is the beauty editor for Who What Wear UK. She was previously deputy editor at Hairdressers Journal, health writer at Woman & Home and junior beauty editor at beauty website Powder. She has also contributed to Wallpaper and Elle Collections with written and styling work.Working as a beauty journalist since 2015 after graduating in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion, she has been highly commended at the BSME Talent Awards for her work on Powder and also contributed to the title winning Website of the Year at the PPA Awards.Eleanor’s journalistic focus is to provide readers with honest and helpful beauty content. Through words, video and live broadcast, she has interviewed several celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists and top dermatologists throughout her career, as well as celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Scarlett Johansson. She has a particular interest in finding solutions for acne and eczema, which she has experienced firsthand. She has also amassed a large collection of fragrances and can never say no to a new candle.When she’s not writing or testing the latest beauty product or treatments, she’s on the seafront in her hometown of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her partner and her miniature dachshund.