The Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin

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sunscreens with spf

We know that wearing sunscreen every day is non-negotiable, but slathering on just any formula can irritate acne-prone skin and potentially lead to breakouts. Thankfully, there are SPF options that not only prevent new breakouts but can also help to minimize (and camouflage!) existing acne flare ups.

Some key ingredients to search for: niacinamide and lactic acid. “Niacinamide is anti-inflammatory, strengthens the skin barrier, and can help to reduce the appearance of acne scars,” says Illinois-based dermatologist Jessie Cheung, M.D. “And lactic acid will gently exfoliate clogged pores, which will help to improve texture over time.”

Most importantly, don’t make the mistake of believing the myth that the sun will help to dry out your acne, warns Dr. Cheung. “Don’t tan to camouflage your blemishes! The sun will damage and dry out your skin, causing irritation, clogged pores, and can darken scars.”

And when it comes to choosing the perfect sunscreen for acne-prone skin, it can be overwhelming to narrow down the best of the best, so we asked Dr. Cheung to whip up a list of the products she recommends—here’s what made the cut.

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The Everyday Go-To

UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46



Dr. Cheung recommends this formula because it gives broad-spectrum protection, has lightweight hyaluronic acid to hydrate (remember: acne-prone skin needs moisture too), and it contains lactic acid to gently exfoliate.


Great For On-The-Go

High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50



This purse-friendly sunscreen compact has a mirror and sponge built-in. Plus, “it contains thermal spring water with a unique microflora that soothes the skin and is lightweight but highly pigmented for blemish coverage,” says Dr. Cheung. Just remember to wash the sponge regularly!


Best Tinted SPF

UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 Sunscreen – Tinted



According to Dr. Cheung, this mineral formula is loaded with antioxidants (like linoleic acid, quercetin, and thioctic acid), which can actually make your SPF more effective! Bonus: The subtle tint gives your skin a natural-looking, even-toned glow.


The Sheerest Formula Out There

Ultra-Light Fluid Face Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60

La Roche-Posay Anthelios


It’s easy to forget you’re wearing this sunscreen. “The ultra-sheer mineral sunscreen melts into the skin,” says Dr. Cheung. And, more importantly, “it fights environmental damage with Cell-Ox Shield—a combo of broad spectrum UVA/UVB filters and senna alata, a tropical leaf extract that helps neutralize the free radicals that can cause the skin to age.”


Easiest Touch-Ups Ever

Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Brush-On Shield SPF 50



This one is a game changer. A pure mineral powder built right into a brush so you can dust it on over your makeup anytime, anyplace. Aside from quickly and conveniently protecting your skin, Dr. Cheung notes that it also has iron oxides to protect from the damaging blue light emitted by fluorescent lighting, LEDs, flat screen LED televisions, computer monitors, smart phones, tablet screens, and more.


Best Mattifying Finish

Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50



Need to nix shine? “The lightweight mousse dries to a powder finish,” explains Dr. Cheung. “It has silica to absorb oil,” she adds, which helps keep skin silky (not slick) even on super warm summer days.


Easiest Allover Application

PLAY 100 Mineral Body Mist SPF 30



“This 100% mineral non-aerosol mist offers broad spectrum protection in a spray,” Dr. Cheung says. It also includes botanical extracts and antioxidants (like marigold, sunflower antioxidants and aloe vera) to soothe redness and inflammation.

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