Best Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin, According to Skincare Experts
Sensitive skin means something different to everyone. Whether you’re faced with eczema, acne, rosacea, dryness, or just plain old irritation, anyone with sensitive skin wants to make sure they’re using products that won’t inflame skin. People “with sensitive skin are often more sensitive to UV light, so it’s extremely important to wear a daily sunscreen to avoid sunburn and rashes,” says Anne Chapas, M.D., a dermatologist and director at Union Square Laser Dermatology and instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
1 # UV Clear SPF 46 Face Sunscreen
Although this sunscreen wasn’t a part of our formal test, it’s still a popular pick found in tons of dermatologists’ offices. Plus, it’s the best-selling facial sunscreen on Amazon! This smooth, lightweight formula is often recommended for acne-prone skin and it doesn’t contain any fragrance, which is a common skin irritant. EltaMD is even the sunscreen of choice for a few experts and editors on the Good Housekeeping team.
2 # AntiOxidant+ SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
This sunscreen lotion from Hawaiian Tropic earned the overall highest score in the GH Beauty Lab’s test of body sunscreens, including perfect scores for not making skin feel dry or irritated. It gets better: Our testers loved this sunscreen’s beachy scent (a combination of jasmine and coconut). They also said it absorbed well into their skin without leaving white residue, and that it didn’t feel greasy or tacky.
3 # LiftActiv Sunscreen Peptide-C Face Moisturizer with SPF 30
A top performer in GH Beauty Lab face sunscreen testing, Vichy’s formula ranked at the top for being gentle and making skin feel hydrated. 100% of testers strongly agreed it didn’t cause redness, irritation, stinging, or burning. The lotion also scored highest for not being tacky and not leaving a white cast or residue on skin. One tester called it “a perfect product”.
4 # Pure & Simple SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
A bargain mineral sunscreen that can be used on both body and face, Coppertone’s fragrance-free zinc oxide lotion was among the most gentle in GH Beauty Lab testing. 94% of consumer testers reported that it didn’t sting or irritate skin. Unlike other mineral sunscreens, users found it easy to apply and moisturizing; it also rinsed off well and didn’t stain clothing. The formula tallied near-perfect marks for effectively protecting skin from the sun. A caveat: Some said it left a tacky white coating that had to be rubbed in.
5 # Mineral SPF 30 Non-Tinted Sunscreen Face Lotion
A top mineral sunscreen in GH Beauty Lab testing, Sun Bum’s lotion made with naturally-derived active ingredients also contains no artificial fragrances. It earned a near-perfect score for not causing skin redness or irritation. “This product feels silky on my skin and looks so natural,” a tester noted.
6 # SunComfort SPF 50 Sunscreen
Banana Boat’s easy-applying aerosol spray sunscreen earned top scores all around in GH Beauty Lab testing. Our testers raved about how lightweight it felt and how it immediately soaked into their skin. The formula earned high scores on average for not stinging or irritating skin, though one person said they felt a burning sensation on freshly-shaven skin. It has a mild fruity scent (that most testers liked!) but some found it too sweet.
7 # Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen
From the dermatologist-recommended brand MDSolarSciences, this SPF cream earned a perfect score in GH Beauty Lab testing for not causing any stinging or irritation. Even though it’s a fragrance-free formula, it still has a pleasant scent. Testers loved its creamy texture, with one person saying that “it made my skin feel soft without being oily.” It’s a mineral sunscreen, so there’s a chance that it may leave white residue on your skin — shake the tube before applying to avoid separation!
8 # Organic Body Sunscreen SPF 50
Coola’s SPF cream, made from 70% organic ingredients, including soothing aloe and botanical oils, proved mild enough for even reactive skin and effectively protected against sunburn in GH Beauty Lab testing. The formula earned a perfect score for gentleness, with 100% of testers saying it didn’t sting or irritate. Two called it “the perfect sunscreen” and praised its “hydrating” feel. “Disappears like a light body lotion,” one said. “It didn’t irritate sensitive skin,” another reported.
At the Good Housekeeping Institute, our Beauty Lab regularly tests and evaluates all types of sunscreens on the market — including lotions, creams, sprays, and formulas for face and body, for kids and more. In order to find out which ones are the best, our experts evaluate these sunscreens in our Lab while real consumer testers (over 1,300 people!) test them in the sun for at least one week. We select testers based on their preferences, and our consumer panel then rates the sunscreens across various criteria, including sun protection efficacy, irritation, scent, absorption, look and feel on skin, and overall satisfaction.
Based on the GH Beauty Lab’s extensive testing and dermatologist recommendations, these are the best sunscreens for sensitive skin to buy in 2021, whether you’re looking for a spray, chemical-free natural formula, no white cast, and more: