6 Best Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin
Sun protection is absolutely essential for our skin. Whether fair-skinned or dark-skinned, protecting the skin from harmful rays is important to protect against skin cancer. But for those with sensitive skin, finding a sunscreen that doesn't irritate or harm their skin can be difficult.
Sunscreen is designed to stop UV rays from penetrating the skin, causing sunburn and premature ageing, and while many sunscreens can cause irritation, there are options out there for people who have sensitive skin. WIth physical and mineral options for sunscreen now becoming more popular, those of us with sensitive skin are saved the misery of sunscreen that irritates, itches, and stings our eyes as we apply it.
We've been taking a look at the best sunscreens on the market for sensitive skin and have found a few that we think are perfect. To find out more about sunscreen for sensitive skin, check out the rest of this blog post.
What is sensitive skin?
Before we take a look at sunscreens, let's find out exactly what it means to have sensitive skin.
Though not a medical diagnosis, many people around the world suffer from what is defined as sensitive skin, indeed, 50% of women report having it. Sensitive skin is usually defined as the kind of skin that has reduced tolerance to certain skincare products, such as moisturisers, cleansers, and scrubs, as well as makeup and other cosmetic products.
Sensitive skin is usually characterised by swelling, flaky and rough patches, dry patches, rough texture and redness. It is also prone to itching and stinging, especially when new products are used.
What is sensitive skin sunscreen?
Sunscreen that is designed for sensitive skin tends to be made with gentle ingredients and ingredients that are hypoallergenic. Sunscreen for sensitive skin may also use organic ingredients to protect against the harmful chemical residue found in many mainstream, non-organic products.
People with sensitive skin may find that sun protection products irritate their skin, leaving them with itchy and red skin. Some may even have allergic reactions to the chemicals used in sunscreen. For those with sensitive skin, it is best to look out for physical or mineral sunscreens where the active ingredient is zinc oxide.
These kinds of physical sunscreens form a barrier atop the skin protecting the skin from UV rays and not allowing them to penetrate.
Why do I need sun protection for my skin?
Being outside in the sun is great for reducing stress and can help your body absorb the vitamin D it needs, but it can also be dangerous if you spend too much time unprotected. Sunscreen is designed to protect the skin from UV rays.
Skin cancer can be caused by too much exposure to UV rays with unprotected skin. UV rays are a form of invisible radiation that can be found in sunlight and in the lights used in tanning beds. Protecting your skin is essential to protecting against skin cancer.
UV rays can also cause premature aging in the form of wrinkles and age spots. Protecting against these rays must be done, even when it is not necessarily a sunny day. The sun's rays can penetrate through clouds and even through windows, so sun protection must be worn at all times on skin that is not covered.
To stay protected from the sun, you can also practice tricks to reduce sun exposure like wearing protective clothing, wearing a hat and staying in the shade but it is still recommended that you wear sunscreen too.
What to look for in sunscreen for sensitive skin
When looking for sunscreen for sensitive skin, there are a few things you should look out for.
Firstly, most sunscreen for sensitive skin will be physical or mineral-based. This means that the active ingredient in these sunscreen formulas is usually zinc oxide. Make sure to check the label, even if it says it is suitable, it still may be a chemical sunscreen instead. Chemical sunscreens are known to cause irritation for those with sensitive skin. There is also some debate as to whether titanium dioxide is a good option for a physical sunscreen with some saying it is safe and others saying it is not.
The other thing you should always look out for with sensitive skin sunscreen is a broad-spectrum label. Broad-spectrum sunscreen covers both UVA and UVB rays. While UVA rays are responsible for premature ageing, like sunspots and wrinkles, UVB rays cause sunburn - and both kinds of rays can cause skin cancer.
Other things to look out for when choosing sun protection for sensitive skin types include labels like fragrance-free, ingredients like vitamin E and aloe vera that are good for your skin, and water-resistant SPF that will stay on even after a dip in the pool.
The best sunscreen for sensitive skin
So, what are the best sunscreen options for those with sensitive skin?
In our list, we have chosen products that offer broad-spectrum protection to protect from all of the sun's harmful UV rays, as well as sunscreen lotion that will be gentle on sensitive skin types. Check out our recommendations below.
OA Mineral Sunscreen
This brand offers sunscreens for the face, body, and for children. The active ingredient in all the products is zinc oxide and can offer both UVA and UVB protection. They are paraben, and fragrance-free and are all suitable for those with sensitive skin.
The face option in the OA Mineral Sunscreen range has added vitamin E for moisturising effects, meaning you can wear this in place of your usual moisturiser, and all are water-resistant - perfect for a day by the pool. All three products also have an SPF rating of 50.
Price: Face $21.00, Body $27.00, & Children $27.00
PEOPLE4OCEAN Natural Vegan Sunscreen SPF 50
Using wax from the Candelilla plant in place of beeswax, this vegan option for a mineral sunscreen is the perfect, gentle option for those with sensitive skin. Suitable for children, this is a lightweight sunscreen with an easy application made with organic ingredients.
Using highly moisturising coconut oil and spa-grade essential oils, this formula is designed for those with a sensitive skin type. With zinc oxide as the active ingredient, this broad-spectrum SPF is reef-safe and can protect sensitive skin in the gentlest way.
Surf Baby Natural Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30
Surfmud's natural sunscreen offers decent coverage with an SPF rating of 30 and broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Toxin-free and designed for baby's skin, this sunscreen is a good option for those with sensitive skin (as well as babies, of course!)
The active ingredient is zinc oxide and this sunscreen can offer four hours of water resistance before re-application is necessary. It is also BPA free.
Price: $13.00 - $25.00
Soleo Organics Natural Sunscreen SPF 30
A natural and organic sunscreen, Soleo's natural sunscreen is formulated for those with sensitive skin. Free from synthetic preservatives and using zinc oxide for sun protection, this broad-spectrum SPF is great for the whole family. The sunscreen has 3 hours of water resistance, making it perfect for beach days and has an SPF rating of 30.
WOTNOT Organic Sunscreen SPF 30
This sunscreen is designed specifically for those who suffer from skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea and uses a combination of highly moisturising and organic oils to deeply moisturise as it protects. With protection against both UVA and UVB radiation, this formula is great for those with very sensitive skin. It is preservative-free, has an easy to apply formula, and comes in a recyclable packaging making it a good choice for the environment too.
Ethical Zinc Natural Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50
And finally, this zinc-based sunscreen forms a physical barrier between the skin and UV rays helping to protect against ageing, burning and skin cancer. It has a lightweight formula made from organic ingredients and is both ocean and reef safe. It has an SPF protection level of 50 and is a broad-spectrum sunscreen. This option is perfect for those with sensitive skin.
People with sensitive skin have lots of options when it comes to broad-spectrum SPF products these days. With lots of mineral-based sunscreen lotion products on the market, those with sensitive skin are finally being catered for.
When looking for sunscreen for sensitive skin, look out for ingredients that are good for skin, like vitamin E, coconut oil, and aloe vera. You should also ensure you are using a physical sunscreen and not a chemical sunscreen as the chemical ingredients used in this kind of sunscreen can cause irritation.
There are many options for sunscreen for sensitive skin and we have listed just our favourites here. Check out the rest of our sunscreen offerings on our website to find more great products.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which type of sunscreen is best for sensitive skin?
Physical sunscreen is always recommended over chemical sunscreen for sensitive skin. This is because the chemical ingredients in chemical sunscreen are known to cause irritation for those with sensitive skin. Physical sunscreens usually contain an active ingredient called zinc oxide and work by forming a physical barrier between the skin and the sun's rays.
What sunscreens do dermatologists recommend?
Dermatologists generally recommend choosing a broad spectrum SPF that covers you for both UVA and UVB rays. They would also usually recommend wearing a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher and finding a product that is water-resistant. Additionally, wearing physical sunscreen may be better for those with sensitive skin and can stop the stinging in your eyes which is characteristic of many sunscreens. You should also look out for moisturising ingredients like vitamin E and coconut oil.
What is the best sunscreen for someone who burns easily?
The best sunscreen for someone who burns easily is a sunscreen product with a high SPF rating, at least 30 or above. It should also cover you for both UVA and UVB rays - this will be labelled as broad-spectrum. If you burn easily, you should also try to wear protective clothing and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
What is the healthiest sunscreen to use?
The healthiest sunscreen usually comes down to a choice between mineral or chemical sunscreens. While chemical sunscreens are more common, physical sunscreens are thought to be better for the planet. You could also try using an organic sunscreen to protect yourself from the harmful chemical residue found in non-organic options and opt for sunscreens that use lots of natural and moisturising ingredients. Sunscreen should protect your skin first and foremost, meaning that you need to look out for an SPF rating of 30 or higher and for sunscreens labelled broad spectrum.