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The best sunscreens for sensitive skin in 2024, tested and reviewed

Whether you're prone to allergies or breakouts, or you suffer from conditions like eczema or rosacea, these sensitive-skin SPF superstars will keep you protected from the sun.

Mineral sunscreens for sensitive skin.
Dermatologists recommend mineral sunscreens for sensitive skin, like these from La Roche-Posay, EltaMD and Cotz (Amazon)

Most of us know we need to consistently protect ourselves from the harmful effects of the sun, but if you have sensitive skin (or suffer from skin conditions like rosacea or eczema), many SPF formulas can be irritating, itchy and seriously uncomfortable. All of which makes finding the best sunscreen for sensitive skin — one you'll actually use and maybe even enjoy — of critical importance, primarily for your health (according to the American Cancer Society, 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year) but also to avoid the appearance of premature aging, "Most people think sunscreen is only about blocking harmful UV rays, but it is important to emphasize that hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, photo-damage all contribute to looking weathered and more aged," says Los Angeles dermatologist and facial plastic surgeon Dr. Kay Durairaj. "As skin ages, it also becomes more vulnerable to UV damage, which can both exacerbate signs of aging and increase the risk of skin cancer."

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What's the best kind of sunscreen for sensitive skin?

"For individuals with sensitive skin, mineral sunscreens, also known as physical blockers, are often the most suitable choice," says Durairaj. "These sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients, typically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which work by sitting on top of the skin to physically block and reflect harmful UV rays away from the skin. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which absorb UV rays and transform them into heat, mineral sunscreens provide a barrier that is less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions, making them ideal for sensitive and mature skin types." It's important to note that while mineral sunscreens tend to be more natural, in certain cases (as you'll see in our list below), chemical formulas may work best for your particular skin. Both chemical and mineral sunscreens are considered safe and effective by the American Academy of Dermatology. Those with sensitive skin may also benefit from the use of tinted sunscreens, many of which smooth facial blemishes and even reduce redness.

Experts also recommend evaluating the coverage: "Not all sun protectants guard against both UVA and UVB rays, which is important. Always look for something that is broad spectrum, meaning it covers both types of damaging rays," explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban. While broad-spectrum coverage is crucial for anyone — including those with sensitive skin — Shamban emphasizes that a higher SPF number is not always better: "The American Association of Dermatology recommends a minimum of SPF 30 with the reason that a broad-spectrum product will protect against 97% of the UVA / UVB rays. This means higher SPF [50, 70 or 90] products, which are often considerably more expensive, actually offer minuscule amounts of additional protection. Above 50 is ultimately not necessary."

Last, says Shamban, it's important to educate yourself on an SPF product's ingredients: "Certain formulas contain fragrances, essential oils, chemical filters or other preservatives that can aggravate a sensitive or super delicate complexion. Look for fragrance free!"

Experts I spoke with additionally recommended seeking out oil-free sunscreens, and, if you suffer from skin-drying conditions like eczema, those with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

If your skin is extra picky, always spot test a new product over a few days on a non-face area, like a wrist, to see how you react.

The best sunscreen for sensitive skin 2024

Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 46 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Water-Resistant: Yes | Reef Safe: No | Cruelty-Free: No

This standout mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide was recommended by most every dermatologist I interviewed. It's exceptionally good for dry, sensitive or mature skin and is packed with ingredients like hyaluronic acid to keep your face looking dewy. Of note: EltaMD is both a mineral and chemical SPF, so the texture feels smooth going on and it is absorbed fast. It's also noncomedogenic and fragrance- and oil-free.

Pros
  • Fast absorbing
  • Noncomedogenic, fragrance- and oil-free
  • Smooth texture
  • Broad-spectrum coverage
  • No white cast
Cons
  • Pricey
$43 at Amazon
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$75 at SkinStore$73 at Dermstore

Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, iron oxides | SPF: 50 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Water-Resistant: Yes | Reef Safe: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

The award-winning La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunscreen is considered among the best in the world. The texture is lightweight, almost watery (like a thin day cream), which soaked into my skin on contact.

Once on, the formula looked natural, with no greasy feel, no stickiness and no glossy sheen. In fact, this is my only complaint about the Anthelios face sunscreens: They're matte, which is not always the best for mature skin. On the plus side, they're fragrance-free, and, even when I went super close to my eyes, the cream didn't sting. All in all, I'd give the application experience a 9/10. 

You can read my in-depth review of La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunscreen here.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Smooth, easy application
  • Leaves skin feeling soft
  • Reef safe
  • Protects and nourishes skin
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Matte finish can be a tiny bit ghostly
$30 at Ulta Beauty
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$20 at Walmart$37 at Amazon

SPF: 30 | Broad Spectrum: Yes | Water-Resistant: No | Mineral or Chemical: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide 20%

This unscented formula is safe for sensitive skin — it's made with fast-absorbing zinc oxide and is packed with bonus wellness ingredients like vitamin C and green tea to help quell irritation.

Derma-E’s Sun Defense facial sunscreen is 100% fragrance-free, and that vitamin C and green tea we mentioned help fight the signs of aging and help skin to recover after sun exposure. The physical sunscreen’s zinc oxide provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection, and it’s oil-free so it won’t clog your pores.

Pros
  • Oil-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Contains anti-inflammatory green tea
  • Broad-spectrum SPF
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Texture can pill on skin
$14 at Amazon
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$16 at Vitacost$15 at FragranceNet.com

Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Water-Resistant: No | Reef Safe: No | Cruelty-Free: No

The "universal" tint in this tinted SPF 30 sunscreen blends into many skin tones and the mineral-based formula provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays while — thanks to skin-hydrating ceramides and niacinamide — locking in moisture. Keep in mind, it's not water-resistant nor reef safe, so not your best pick at the beach. Still, at $13, it's a quality sunscreen for everyday use. 

Pros
  • Strong SPF protection
  • Trusted skin care brand
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Tint blends into most skin tones
  • Moisturizing
Cons
  • Not reef safe
  • Not water-resistant
$12 at Amazon
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$17 at Ulta Beauty$11 at Target

Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide | SPF: 40 | Size: 3.5 ounces | Water-Resistant: Yes | Reef Safe: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Cotz was founded in 2002 by reconstructive plastic surgeon Dr. Harry Fallick, who set out to make a gentle, versatile everyday sunscreen his patients would actually use. The result is this water-resistant SPF 40 mineral sunscreen, which not only protects but also soothes sensitive skin. The ultra-silky cream is reef-friendly and free of dyes, fragrances, oils, preservatives, gluten and phthalates. 

Pros
  • Broad-spectrum coverage
  • Works for body and face
  • No white cast on most skin tones
  • Fragrance-free
  • Reef safe
Cons
  • Texture may be too gloopy for some users
$30 at Amazon
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$28 at Verishop$28 at CVS Pharmacy

Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 50 | Size: 1 ounce | Water-Resistant: Yes | Reef Safe: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

SkinCeuticals is among the gold standards in skin care and this ultra-moisturizing, high-SPF mineral sunscreen is no exception. It's specially formulated for extra-sensitive skin. It's also free of fragrances and chemicals and is made with plankton extracts meant to boost skin moisture.   

Pros
  • High protection
  • Fragrance Free
  • Gentle mineral formula
  • Lightweight
  • Absorbs easily
  • Broad spectrum
  • Nongreasy
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Small bottle runs out quickly
$39 at Walmart
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$50 at Shop Premium Outlets

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, 3%, homosalate 8%, octisalate 5%, octocrylene 4% | SPF: 40 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Water-Resistant: Yes | Reef Safe: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

If you are looking for a sunscreen that also acts as a makeup primer OR need your sun protection to be completely invisible (i.e., no sheen), this one's for you. It's scent-free and weightless, and provides SPF 40 protection. A "clean" chemical sunscreen, this wildly popular formula is free of oxybenzone and octinoxate. Though anyone can use it, it works particularly well for oily or acne-prone skin.

Supergoop has a range of sunscreens that we’ve tested; each is formulated to be gentle on sensitive skin.

Pros
  • Invisible
  • Weightless
  • Good for oily and acne-prone skin
  • Doubles as a makeup primer
Cons
  • Matte finish (not the best for mature skin)
  • Pricey
$38 at Amazon
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$38 at Sephora$38 at Ulta Beauty

Active Ingredients: dibutyl adipate, propanediol, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate | SPF: 50 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Water-Resistant: No | Reef Safe: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relief Sun offers powerful broad-spectrum SPF 50+ PA++++, is lightweight, ultramoisturizing and absorbs quickly with little to zero white cast. Highly concentrated rice extract, niacinamide and probiotics serve to both soften skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. This is an "organic" chemical sunscreen, free of irritating chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate.

You can read my in-depth review of Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun here.

Pros
  • Absorbs into skin quickly
  • Offers potent sun protection
  • Ultra hydrating
  • Lightweight texture
  • No white cast
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for all skin types
Cons
  • Not water resistant
$18 at Yes Style