We’ll be the first people to admit that the sunscreen market has a lot of making up to do. Those greasy, sticky, ultra-goopy formulas of the past are responsible for turning so many people off of sunscreen — despite its proven health and cosmetic benefits. What this has proven to brands is that the application experience and feel of a product are just as important as what the product is actually intended to protect you from (in this case, skin cancer and sun damage). And this rings especially true if you’re someone with acne-prone skin.
Those prone to breakouts want to protect themselves from UV rays but, understandably, not at the expense of contributing to further breakouts or ending up with a thick, oily mess on their hands. Thankfully, many of the sunscreen formulas of today don’t have to be simply tolerated — they actually blend in seamlessly with other products in your skin-care routine, wear beautifully throughout the day, and, most importantly, won’t lead to breakouts.
So, how are you to choose your perfect match? Mineral sunscreens, also referred to as physical sunscreens, stay on the surface of the skin and deflect the sun’s harmful UV rays, says Elaine F. Kung, MD, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Future Bright Dermatology. The zinc oxide and titanium dioxide you’ll find in such sunscreens are noncomedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, making them a fantastic choice for someone with acne-prone skin.
That being said, Nazanin Saedi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, says you should use what feels good on your skin, even if that means you reach for a chemical sunscreen. “With sunscreen, there is a lot of trial and error to see what feels nice on your skin and what doesn’t make you break out,” Dr. Saedi tells Allure. “I tell patients that the right sunscreen is out there — just have the patience to find it.”
Below, we’ve done all the dirty work for you in finding the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin that’ll protect your skin without aggravating existing blemishes or causing future breakouts.
The EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 has been a longtime dermatologist-recommended product, specifically for those with acne-prone skin types. Why? It goes on clear, boasts a light-as-a-feather feel, and won’t trigger breakouts, thanks to lactic acid, which clears pores and reduces shine caused by excess oil. Plus, Christopher O’Connell, a board-certified dermatologist in Miami, previously told Allure that the formula “contains niacinamide to help give the skin a glow” — making it great for those who are acne-prone and dry.