When you have skin that’s easily irritated by what can feel like everything under the sun, then it’s time to grab one of the best sunscreens for sensitive skin. Delicate, easily-irritated skin types should be wary about what products they put on their faces — sunscreen included. “People with sensitive skin can have a hard time finding sunscreens, as most are made with chemical UV blockers that can cause stinging, burning, irritation, and redness when applied to the skin,” says New York City-based dermatologist Shari Marchbein, MD.
According to board-certified dermatologist and Ever/Body’s supervising physician, Joel Lamm, MD, chemical-filter sun protection products work by absorbing the UV rays that hit your skin. While these sunscreens are effective, he says chemical filters are also known to agitate the skin.
Thankfully, Dr. Lamm notes, physical sunscreens, also known as mineral sunscreens, are a gentler SPF option for sensitive skin. “Physical sunscreens work by reflecting the UV rays off skin,” he says. These products utilize mineral filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are usually gentler than chemical options. “Mineral sunscreens also typically do not irritate the eyes as do chemical sunscreens,” he says.
Always be careful to read the ingredient list, as Dr. Marchbein says that some sunscreens are hybrids, meaning they contain both physical and chemical UV filters. “If you have sensitive skin, it’s important to avoid mineral sunscreens that have parabens, phthalates, and added fragrances, as these can cause irritation, redness, and inflammation of the skin,” Dr. Lamm adds.
Fortunately, the ever-growing skin-care market is catering more than ever to those with reactive skin, so it’s no longer difficult to find a formula that will suit you and your sensitivity. Ahead, find 17 of the best sunscreens for sensitive skin recommended by dermatologists and editors that will leave your skin comfortable and, most importantly, protected from the sun.