The 12 Best Sunscreens For Acne-Prone Skin + What To Look For
In This Article
If you have acne-prone skin, I can wager you are precious with what you put on your face. Not only do you want to use ingredients and products to help ease your breakouts, but it's imperative you don't use products that will further trigger inflammation and clog pores.
It's a delicate balance, and one many struggle with. But of course, dealing with acne isn't the only thing you should be mindful of: While breakouts may be top of mind, you also need to help your skin long term by protecting it from UV damage.
This naturally brings us to the concern at hand: So many people complain that SPF causes them to break out and look more oily and causes irritation.
And while some formulas likely still have these issues, so many of the new facial sunscreens are light-as-air, silky smooth, and noncomedogenic. Not to mention, several incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients, which can help with breakouts too. Here, our favorites:
mbg's picks for the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin
How we picked
We believe mineral sunscreens are the better option for skin and the planet. Plus, zinc oxide may be beneficial for acne-prone skin as it is an anti-inflammatory.
As you may know, dehydrated skin can lead to even more breakouts down the road, and a dry, cakey sunscreen is pretty unenjoyable to apply. You can be sure these picks include hydrators to send the skin a splash of moisture and make the texture spreadable and creamy.
While zinc oxide is nearly impossible to go on completely clear (at least without any tints), we made sure to choose formulas that do not leave a strong white cast.
Every product on this list comes recommended by skin care experts, real users, or editors.
mbg's picks for the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin
Best overall: Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen
- Mattifies & minimizes the appearance of pores
This is ideal for those with acne and anti-aging concerns, thanks to the botanical blend that helps lift skin and tighten pores. There's the Japanese wild rose extract that has potent antioxidant properties, as well as a signature complex of green tea extract, rice, and algae to restore skin health. The mattifying texture will blur enlarged pores and keep your skin soft all day long.
Best for dry & acne-prone skin: Biossance Squalane Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen
- Nourishes dry patches
- Not the best for oily skin
This brand's signature squalane makes this formula as hydrating as it is effective. Our skin naturally produces the oil, and replenishing it with a plant-derived option can help restore the skin's natural barrier. (Those with acne often have a compromised barrier.) Plus, it contains water lily, which can cool and calm skin—ideal for those with inflamed acne.
Best for oily skin: Ren Clean Skincare Mattifying Face Sunscreen
- Rice starch mattifies & absorbs excess oil
- Can be difficult to spread
A silicone-free option that absorbs oil, reduces shine, and blurs pores and breakouts—all thanks to the rice starch. This additionally contains yellow passion-fruit seed extract that aids in neutralizing free radical damage that comes from UV and pollution exposure.
Best to reapply: ColoreScience Sunforgettable Total Protection
- Easy to reapply
- Great for scalp protection
- Difficult to know if you’re applying enough
Mineral powders work in three ways: First, they offer physical protection from UV rays. Second, they are tinted and thus can work as a foundation as well (since many with acne-prone skin opt to wear cover-up anyway, why not do both in one product?). Finally, they make for easy reapplication throughout the day, as all you need to do is brush it on.
Best for sensitive skin: Coola Full Spectrum 360 Mineral Sun Silk
- Contains 70%+ certified organic ingredients
- Slight white cast
While we're not of the camp that those with acne shouldn't use oil (oils are great for all skin types, especially those with sensitive and acne-prone skin!), we are sympathetic to the fact that some people simply don't like them. Well, this organic, oil-free formula provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection—as well as niacinamide, which acts as a brightening and anti-inflammatory ingredient. Plus, it's fragrance-free, so it won't irritate easily reactive skin.
Best blendable formula: UnSun Cosmetics Mineral Tinted Face SunScreen
- Functions as a sunscreen, primer & color corrector
- No white cast
While we love zinc oxide as a sun protectant, one notorious downside is its heavy white cast. Formulas have gone a long way toward alleviating this, but it still tends to be a problem for those with medium to dark skin tones. That's why this option has become so popular—not only is it a sensorially delightful formula, but it blends in more effortlessly.
Best for inflamed skin: Suntegrity 5-in-1 Tinted Moisturizing Face Sunscreen
- Provides coverage & sun protection
- Pricey for a small bottle
We love this product for the cocktail of botanicals that not only make the fluid go on with ease but can help restore inflamed, reactive, and breakout-prone skin. There's jojoba oil (a go-to oil for those with acne as it's fast-absorbing and lightweight), green tea (for soothing), pomegranate (for antioxidants and antibacterial properties), and hyaluronic acid (for moisture that won't clog your pores).
Best for dark spots: Grown Alchemist Natural Hydrating Sunscreen
- Melts easily into an oil
A personal favorite brand, there are few formulas from them that I don't fall for. This sunscreen is no exception; it combines several herbs and plants we love for skin health. There's rosehip, which can tend to hyperpigmentation (a common side effect of breakouts); parsley, which is rich in vitamin C; and several hydrating oils.
Best before makeup: Kypris Heliotropic SPF Primer
- Essential oil-free
- Dipping your fingers in the jar can introduce bacteria
We adore the idea of combining an SPF, moisturizer, and primer. (Talk about a do-it-all.) This helps plump and prep the skin while protecting it with sustainably sourced zinc oxide. Then it's layered with sweet iris stem cells to smooth out uneven texture—and sunflower extracts full of fatty acids and beta-carotene.
Best sunscreen serum: EleVen Unrivaled Sun Serum
- Easy to layer under makeup
- Formula can build up in the dropper, which makes it difficult to get product out
This new brand founded by Venus Williams has a host of potent, unique, clean products. This sunscreen contains prickly pear that delivers all-day hydration while helping to calm skin. We also love it for the demi-matte finish, which is great for those with oily skin who want to bring down the shine—but just not all the way.
Best for teens: Kinship Self Reflect Sunscreen
- Smells like vanilla
- Nourishes the skin microbiome
- Small bottle
We love this playful mineral option, which is great for acne-prone teens and young adults just starting to get into skin care. Not only does it protect skin from UV damage, but it has biome-friendly ingredients that can help balance your skin microbiome.
Best sunscreen moisturizer: Relevant One & Done Everyday Cream
- Creamy formula that applies like a moisturizer
- Small bottle
This moisturizer-slash-sunscreen is packed with skin-loving ingredients. Along with hyaluronic acid, squalane, and oat extract to hydrate and calm, the brand’s “R-Rev Complex” contains botanicals and actives known for refining and strengthening the skin. Think: niacinamide to balance oil production, green tea to soothe inflammation, and plum oil to replenish moisture and deliver antioxidants. And even though it’s a 100% mineral formula (it combines zinc and titanium dioxide), there’s zero white cast.
What to look for in sunscreens for acne-prone skin.
Want to know how we got to the above list? Here's a peek at what we look for in sunscreens—especially those formulated for acne-prone skin:
- Mineral activities. Here at mindbodygreen, we believe that mineral sunscreens are the better option for skin and the planet. The two mineral options available in the U.S. and approved by the FDA for sun protection are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Be sure you find a formula that has the latter ingredient, as it protects against both UVA and UVB rays; titanium dioxide only shields against UVB.
- Anti-inflammatory actives. Since acne is an inflammatory condition by nature, it's important to find formulas that help ease and calm the skin. Look for soothing botanicals and antioxidants.
- Lightweight hydrators. Some SPFs do run a touch thick (which is great for people with dry skin), but for those whose pores clog easily, find silky formulas. A few good hydrators to keep an eye out for include squalane, hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, and glycerin.
mbg review process.
At mbg, high standards are earned—and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It's a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it's important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).
Our high standards also come from testing products—many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don't simply rave about products we've slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we've tried and loved.
Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here.
Don't be afraid of sunscreen if you have acne-prone skin: While past goopy formulas may have clogged pores and increased shine, the new batch of clean, physical SPFs are a delight to wear.
Heal Your Skin.
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Alexandra Engler is the Beauty Director at mindbodygreen. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She has worked at many top publications and brands including Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends and updates in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as travel, financial wellness, and parenting. She has reported on the intricacies of product formulations, the diversification of the beauty industry, and and in-depth look on how to treat acne from the inside, out (after a decade-long struggle with the skin condition herself). She lives in Brooklyn, New York.