These Are the 13 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."


(Image credit: @alllisonho)

So does this mean that people with sensitive skin should avoid chemical sunscreens entirely? Hiva Fassihi, La Roche-Posay's consultant dermatologist, believes that 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 hay fever, then Fassihi recommends consulting a doctor or dermatologist "for advice on the management of the underlying cause of skin sensitivity so that they can tolerate sunscreens better."

However, 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," 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.


(Image credit: @dronme)

But 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 (aka 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%," she adds. "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."


(Image credit: @lucywilliams02)

If you are going to stick with a chemical sunscreen rather than a physical one, then there are some key ingredients to 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 celebrity facialist Ada Ooi MAcS, TCM, NADA, the 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 13 best sunscreens for sensitive skin, as recommended by our skin experts.

Shop the Best Sunscreens For Sensitive Skin:

1. Ultra Violette Lean Screen Mineral Mattifying Fragrance Free Skinscreen SPF 50+

2. La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMune 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50+ Sun Cream 

3. Heliocare 360 Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF 50

4. Murad City Skin Broad Spectrum SPF50 PA ++++

5. Byoma SPF 30 Gel Moisturiser

6. SVR Sun Secure Milk SPF50+ 

7. Hello Sunday The One for Your Eyes SPF50

8. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Kids Body Milk SPF50+

9. Bioderma Cicabio Repairing Cream SPF50+

10. Avène Very High Protection Cream SPF50+ Face Sun Cream for Sensitive Skin 

11. Paula's Choice CALM Barrier Protect Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

12. Thank You Farmer Sun Project Skin Relief Sun Cream Fragrance-Free SPF50

13. Kate Somerville Daily Deflector Mineral Sunscreen

This story was previously published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Mica Ricketts