FYI: These Are the Only 9 Sunscreens Dermatologists Recommend for Sensitive Skin

If choosing a sunscreen isn't complicated enough, the task feels impossible when you have sensitive skin. Not only are there a million sunscreen formulas and SPF levels, but there's also the chemical-or-mineral-sunscreen debate. Talk about daunting—especially since sensitive skin can mean different things to different people.

"As a dermatologist, it becomes tricky to tease out what people mean when they tell us they have sensitive skin," explains Anna Guanche, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, California. "People often self-assign themselves as 'sensitive,' which can mean they break out easily, have allergic reactions, have 'thin skin,' or are especially prone to flushing or pigmentation when they apply certain products."


(Image credit: Getty Images)

That said, true sensitive skin—as defined by dermatologists—is usually related to an underlying condition such as eczema (approximately 10% of the population has it) or rosacea.

"Many people think they have sensitive skin, but they are actually sensitized by the overuse of aggressive products," adds Suneel Chilukuri, MD, of Refresh Dermatology in Houston, Texas. "Either way, those with a genetic predisposition or those with external causes have a skin barrier that isn't functioning properly. In these patients, we want to repair the skin barrier while using products [that] aren't going to further damage their epidermal barrier."

So back to the sunscreen debate. Bearing all the above in mind, dermatologists typically recommend opting for mineral (also known as physical) sunscreen formulas versus chemical ones, as sensitive skin is more reactionary to potentially irritating ingredients. Mineral formulas usually have fewer ingredients, and their trademark sun blockers—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—are less inflammatory than avobenzone or oxybenzone, which are found in chemical sunscreens.

Curious to know more? We asked three leading dermatologists for the specific sunscreen formulas they recommend to clients with sensitive skin. Keep scrolling for their nine expert picks!

The 9 Best Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin

1. Best Overall: CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

2. Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Daily Sunscreen Lotion With SPF 50

3. La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen

4. EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 Sunscreen

5. Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

6. PCA Skin Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45

7. Senté Invisible Shield Full Physical SPF 52 Sunscreen

8. SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair SPF 34

9. Avène Antirougeurs Day Redness-Relief Soothing Cream SPF 25

4 More Important Sensitive-Skin Tips

1. Never Forget to Wear Moisturizer

2. Don't Use Aloe Vera

3. Always Wear Sun-Protective Clothing and Accessories

4. Don't Forget Your Lips

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.