The Best Sunscreens for Oily Skin & Acne-Prone Skin – The benefits of putting on daily sunscreen is not exactly news but people with oily or acne-prone skin are still hesitant to use sunscreens because they’re afraid that it can cause or aggravate their condition.
Normal sunscreen formulations are indeed thick and add a greasy layer on the skin, so this belief is not unwarranted.
For people like us with oily skin, choosing the right sunscreen is (really) easier said than done; especially with thousands of products out there and with our health on the line.
What you need from your sunscreen goes beyond sun protection–it should complement your skin and adjust to your skin’s needs at every turn.
Luckily, sunscreens have come a long way from making you look like a geisha on the street!
The key is choosing a sunscreen that not only has solid sun protection but also has the right formulation that suits your needs and skin type. One that makes you look good and feel great.
In this article, we’ll tackle the type of sunscreen products those with oily and acne-prone skin types should be choosing, as well as a list of the highest-rated and best-performing ones out in the market today.
By the end, we want you to be an educated consumer and make an informed choice when choosing the perfect sunscreen. 🙂
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Recommendations are based on our research, results, a comprehensive analysis of the products' formulation, claims, and value for money. We make an effort to be as objective as possible and give advice in good faith; however, our reviews are 100% honest and therefore may still contain conjectures and opinions based on our personal experiences.
It’s important to know that as with any product (especially cosmetics), what may be perfect for you may not be right for the next person. So as much as we want to guarantee that these will be everyone’s next holy grail, results can still be affected by individual factors like your current skin condition, the environment you’re in, use of the product, reaction to your other skincare, and so on. For best results, make sure to choose products that are suited for your skin type and skin issues.
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- 1 Editor’s Choice: The Best Sunscreens for Oily Skin
- 1.1 Obagi Medical – Sun Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Matte Sunscreen Lotion
- 1.2 MDSolarSciences™ – Mineral Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen
- 1.3 Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories – Super Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50
- 1.4 Physician’s Choice – PCA Skin Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45
- 1.5 TIZO 2 – Non-Tinted Facial Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40
- 1.6 Jan Marini – Skin Research Marini Physical Protectant SPF 45
- 1.7 Vichy – Idéal Capital Soleil SPF 45 Silkscreen Dry-Finish Sunscreen Lotion for Face & Body with Antioxidants
- 1.8 Replenix – UltiMATTE Perfection SPF 50+
- 1.9 COUI Skincare – Moisturizing SPF 30 Facial Sunscreen Lotion
- 1.10 La Roche-Posay – Anthelios Cooling Water-Lotion Sunscreen, Body & Face Sunscreen with Antioxidants
- 2 Product Comparison Table: The Best Sunscreens for Oily Skin
- 3 FAQ: The Ultimate Guide to Using Sunscreen for Oily Skin
- 3.1 How To Make Sunscreen Work Under Makeup
- 3.2 Natural Aging vs. Premature Skin Aging from Sun Damage
- 3.3 How Sunscreens Protect your Skin: Understanding UVA and UVB Rays
- 3.4 Types of Sun Protection: Chemical Sunscreen vs. Physical Sunblock
- 3.5 Choosing the Right Sunscreens for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin: What to Look For
- 4 The Oily Skin Solution
Editor’s Choice: The Best Sunscreens for Oily Skin
The selection below are based on our analysis of the highest consumer-rated sunscreens, cross-checked with the necessary specifications for a top performing sunscreen and its compatibility with oily and acne-prone skin.
As with any skincare product, make sure to also choose a sunscreen that is best suited for your skin type and skin issues.
Here are our 10 top picks for the best sunscreens for oily skin:
Product Comparison Table: The Best Sunscreens for Oily Skin
|wdt_ID||Brand / Product Name||Our Verdict||Key Sun Protection||Best for (Skin Type & Condition)||Product Image||Jump to Review|
|1||Obagi Medical - Sun Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Matte Sunscreen Lotion||Best sunscreen for oily skin under makeup||Broad Spectrum SPF 50. Hybrid sunscreen: 10.5% Zinc Oxide, 7.5% Octinoxate.||All Skin types especially Oily and Acne-prone Skin|
|3||MDSolarSciences - Mineral Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen||Best mineral sunscreen for oily skin; Best sunscreen for oily & sensitive skin||Broad Spectrum SPF 50. Physical sunblock: 2% Titanium Dioxide, 17% Zinc Oxide.||All Skin Types especially Oily Sensitive, & Acne-prone skin, Rosacea|
|4||Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories - Super Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50||Best sunscreen for oily & dehydrated skin; Best sunscreen for oily & sensitive skin||Broad Spectrum SPF 50. Hybrid sunscreen: 0.5% Zinc Oxide, 7.5% Octinoxate.||All skin types including Oily Skin & Dehydrated Skin|
|5||PCA SKIN - Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45||Best sunscreen for acne prone & oily skin||Broad Spectrum SPF 45. Hybrid sunscreen: 9.0% Zinc Oxide, 7.5% Octinoxate.||Oily, Acne-prone, and Sensitive Skin; Daily Use|
|6||TIZO 2 - Non-Tinted Facial Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40||Best face sunscreen for oily, sensitive skin||Broad Spectrum SPF 40. Physical sunblock: Titanium Dioxide 8%, Zinc Oxide 3.8%||Oily and Sensitive Skin, Post-procedures like peels and lasers|
|7||Jan Marini - Skin Research Marini Physical Protectant SPF 45||Best physical sunscreen for oily skin, Best sunblock for oily skin||Broad Spectrum SPF 45. Physical sunblock: Titanium Dioxide 6%, Zinc Oxide 8%.||Normal to Oily Skin, Acne-Prone Skin, Sensitive Skin concerned with irritants from chemical sunscreens, Looking for protection from free-radicals|
|8||Vichy - Idéal Capital Soleil Sunscreen SPF 45 Dry-Finish Body and Face Sunscreen with Antioxidants & Vitamin E||Best drugstore sunscreen for oily face||Broad Spectrum SPF 45. Chemical sunscreen: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 15%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 5%, Oxybenzone 6%.||All Skin Types especially Oily, Acne-prone skin, and Sensitive skin; Outdoor Activities|
|9||Replenix - UltiMATTE Perfection SPF 50+||Best tinted sunscreen for oily skin||Broad Spectrum SPF 50. Physical sunblock: 16.2% Micronized Zinc Oxide||Oily skin, Acne-prone skin, All Skin types especially post-procedure, melasma, and sensitive skin; Minimizing pores & fine lines, Anti-aging|
|10||COUI - Skincare Moisturizing SPF 30 Facial Sunscreen Lotion||Best sunscreen lotion for oily skin||Broad Spectrum SPF 30. Hybrid sunscreen: Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5%, Zinc Oxide 7% (Z-Cote)||Oily and Sensitive skin, Cruelty-free|
|11||La Roche-Posay - Anthelios Cooling Water-Lotion Sunscreen, Body & Face Sunscreen with Antioxidants||Best drugstore sunscreen for oily face||Broad Spectrum SPF 60. Chemical sunscreen: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10.72%, Octisalate 3.21%, Octocrylene 6%, Oxybenzone 3.86%||Oily and Sensitive skin, All skin types|
FAQ: The Ultimate Guide to Using Sunscreen for Oily Skin
How To Make Sunscreen Work Under Makeup
No one wants to look like a melted geisha in the middle of summer. One of the seemingly more difficult tasks of working with sunscreen is how to make it blend flawlessly with your makeup (and stay there!). Mishaps may include: a white cast that ends up looking like an irl insta filter gone wrong, the sunscreen making your makeup slide off, etc.
Here are a few tips and tricks to applying sunscreen like a pro.
Video: How to make sunscreen work under makeup | by Dr. Sam Bunting
Natural Aging vs. Premature Skin Aging from Sun Damage
A picture paints a thousand words. So instead of waxing lectures about the importance of using sunscreen (a PSA which I’m sure you’ve heard a million times), I’ll let the results speak for themselves. These are visual examples of accelerated skin aging as a result of long-term sun damage.
For 28 years, this truck driver has had his left side exposed to UVA rays through his window glass–whereas his right side was relatively normal. He has photodamage on the left side of this face, resulting in abnormal thickening and wrinkling of the skin, destruction of elastic fibers, multiple open comedones, and nodular elastosis (cysts and comedone formation).
Photo: New England Journal of Medicine.
How Sunscreens Protect your Skin: Understanding UVA and UVB Rays
We all need protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV). This includes UVA and UVB wavelengths.
Prolonged exposure can damage DNA, cause premature skin aging (the leading cause of wrinkles, fine lines, rubbery skin, loss of skin elasticity, degeneration of collagen, etc.), and promote the development of potentially deadly skin cancer. The scariest thing about this is you usually don’t see any of this until it’s too late.
When it comes to skin protection, prevention is the key.
It is recommended to use sunscreen daily because unless you live in a cave, you’re always at risk. Pay special attention as well when you’re exposed for prolonged periods like at the beach or among snow when the reflectivity of water and ice amplifies the sun’s rays.
These types are categorized according to the depth of penetration of their wavelength.
- UVA – Long length UVA rays that penetrates deep into the skin. Contributes to the development of skin cancer. Accelerates photoaging. Blocked by Broad Spectrum Protection.
- UVB – Medium length rays that reach the skin’s superficial layers. The primary cause of sunburn and skin redness. Contributes to hyperpigmentation and signs of photoaging. Blocked by SPF (Sun Protection Factor).
Types of Sun Protection: Chemical Sunscreen vs. Physical Sunblock
There’s always been a continuous debate on which type of sunscreen is the best. Do you use a physical sunblock or a chemical sunscreen? Which one should you choose? What are the pros and cons?
When people look at sunscreens, most people zero in on the SPF rating and assume that the higher it is, the more effective it will be. Because surely, an SPF 60 is twice as better than an SPF 30 right? The answer: Not necessarily.
SPF is only a measure of UVB burn time. It is a non-linear scale of how much UVB radiation is needed to give protected skin sunburn. It does not measure UVA.
While the premise that higher is better, the minimum requirement of SPF 15 already blocks 93% of UVB rays. You get a slight increase as you jump to SPF 30 blocking 97% of UVB, and SPF 50 blocking 98%.
SPF is based on the quality of sun exposure. So how much time you have before you start to burn really depends on a long list of factors including genetics, and where/where/how you spend time under the sun. (PSA: Children under 6 months should have almost no sun exposure as their protective mechanisms have not developed yet and will only likely absorb the sunscreen.)
To help you decide which one is most suited for your skin, let’s take a step back and understand the two types of sunscreens:
- Mineral or Physical Sunscreens – deflects UV rays with inorganic blockers like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide acting as a physical barrier
- PROS: Once you put it on, it will start to take effect immediately. Usually has higher UVA protection, which also protects your collagen. As it only sits on the skin and is not absorbed, there are fewer chances of skin irritation and potentially harmful effects. If you plan on swimming in the ocean, this is better for the environment as they don’t damage coral reefs.
- CONS: More expensive. Usually harder to apply and leaves a telltale sheen of white on the skin.
- Chemical Sunscreens – uses carbon-based compounds to absorb UV photons that are then harmlessly dissipated as heat.
- PROS: Cheaper alternative. More transparent when applied.
- CONS: 95% of products have less UVA protection compared to physical sunscreens. You need to wait at least 15-20 minutes for the sunscreen to absorb and start to take effect. Higher potential for skin irritation or allergic reactions. Carbon chemicals can harm marine life and coral reefs. Photosensitive—they deteriorate more quickly as their ability to absorb the sun’s rays diminishes.
- Hybrid Sunscreens – formulations that combine both physical and chemical compounds.
Video: Ultimate Sunscreen Guide: How to Apply Correctly + Wearing With Makeup + What is SPF by Beauty Within.
Choosing the Right Sunscreens for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin: What to Look For
Remember, skincare is as individualized as you are. We all have different needs depending on our lifestyle and skin conditions.
Right now, there are thousands of options in the market. Finding not only the best performing sunscreen but one that is also the right fit for you can be a challenge.
And with your skin health on the line, you should expect only the best.
That’s why we’ve compiled the necessary specifications for a top performing sunscreen and cross-checked it with our list of recommended and highest consumer-rated sunscreens that are aimed for oily and acne-prone skin.
These are what you should consider when choosing sunscreens for oily and acne-prone skin:
- Application method – this can impact the amount of coverage and actual protection you get, as well as the likelihood that you’ll use it.
- Lotions – Cheaper than sprays. Better chances of getting enough product per application as you can actually measure it. Can be more time consuming to work into the skin.
- Sprays – Very convenient to put on, especially when you’re wet. The biggest issue is that most people don’t apply a thick enough layer to get full protection. You’ll need several coats to get enough every time. There’s also the possible health risks of inhaling some of the spray cloud.
- Key Sun Protection – it should have broad spectrum coverage and have minimum SPF 30 for full UVA and UVB protection.
- Active Ingredients – This determines the type of sunscreen it is. Physical or mineral sunscreens are top tier, while hybrid and chemical sunscreens are your more affordable options.
- Cosmetic Elegance – It is crucial that you like the feel, consistency, texture, tint, and finish of the product on your skin. You should like your sunscreen enough that putting it on would be an enjoyable experience—not a task. No one wants to put on a product that feels off–even if it’s for our own protection! Loving a product is one of the keys to a fully effective skincare regimen.
For oily skin that may be acne-prone, dermatologists recommend using a non-comedogenic sunscreen with fluid, lightweight formulas that have a matte finish so they control oil and don’t clog the pores. If you also have sensitive skin, it should be hypoallergenic and fragrance-free as well.Another technical factor in cosmetic elegance is: the smaller the particles are, the less reflection of light you get (white cast). A great sunscreen should blend flawlessly into your skin for an invisible protection.
BONUS: The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation – granted to brands that have been tested by and have met the rigorous standards of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s photobiology experts. Having this seal means the product has solid scientific data showing that it can sufficiently and safely prevent sun damage to the skin.
The Seal of Recommendation for sunscreens has two categories:
- Daily Use Seal – for sunscreens that are used to protect the skin from incidental exposures over short periods of time.
- Active Seal – intended to protect the skin from extended sun exposure, e.g. sports, outdoor activities. Products under this seal have higher SPFs, UVA protection, and requires it to be water-resistant.
Regarding which sunscreen is ultimately better–once we’ve ticked all the boxes above, it all comes down to its compatibility to your skin.
Make sure to check the Best for line above to see which one is most suited for your skin condition.
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- Topixpharm.com. (2018). Replenix.
- Gordon, J., & Brieva, J. (2012). Unilateral Dermatoheliosis. New England Journal Of Medicine, 366(16), e25. doi: 10.1056/nejmicm1104059
- Vichyusa.com. (2017). Vichy Skin Care | Vichy Laboratories.