How To Choose The Best Sunscreen For Acne Prone Skin

how to pick the best sunscreen
by Samantha

Not only does sun exposure cause premature aging, but it can also make acne and  acne scars worse, making SPF a necessary step in your daily skincare routine.

Plus, if you’re using any acne treatments or other photosensitizing products on your skin (benzoyl peroxide, AHAs, Retin-A, Accutane), you need to be using sunscreen that much more!

These products, coupled with sun exposure, can cause irritation, inflammation, burning, and even a chemical reaction that discolors your skin. 

I know that wearing a daily facial SPF comes with its annoyances and struggles, especially for those of us with acne – but this doesn’t mean we’re doomed to an endless search for the best sunscreen for acne-prone skin.

Most people dislike wearing sunscreens because they can be greasy, thick, pore-clogging, irritating and everything someone with acne hates.

Does Sunscreen Cause Acne?

To put it in short terms, yes sunscreen CAN cause acne - but not always and here's why.

We all know that everyone’s skin is different and reacts differently to different ingredients within products. That is no different when it comes to sunscreen. There are a couple of things that can cause a sunscreen to make you breakout.

Reasons a sunscreen might cause acne:
Comedogenic Ingredients: often in sunscreens & can clog your pores.
UV-blocking agents : often times people have a sensitivity to chemical UV-blocking agents.

With this being said, I think it is a really good idea to stick to Mineral Based SPF’s if you have acne-prone skin.

What makes mineral suncreens so special is that their active ingredients (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) act as physical UV blockers. They create a protective barrier on your skin and reflect the harmful UV rays before they can make content with your skin.

Also, don't even try ineffective DIY sunscreen recipes, there are lots of good options out there to prevent skin cancer and sun damage and there really is a sunscreen out there for everyone.

Whether you prefer a  physical or chemical SPF product, you might just find the best sunscreen for your acne-prone skin in the list below.

My Top Picks

The type of sunscreen you choose will depend on what you need.

Types Of Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens tend to sit on top of the skin and make it hard to remove it all. Those with acne-prone skin need to be especially diligent in removing it (try an oil cleanse before your regular cleanser), but mineral sunscreens are a fantastic option for some people and are usually the best sunscreen for sensitive skin types.  The downside is that mineral sunscreens may have some white cast due to their ingredient content and the level of white cast can vary from formula to formula. 

Chemical sunscreens are more likely to irritate, due to various factors, so it may not be suitable for your skin type depending on the ingredients. Some people react to the heat that results from the chemical reactions on the skin, while others are simply sensitive to irritating ingredients in the sunscreen.  The plus is that chemical sunscreens don't leave any white cast since its not creating a physical barrier. 

Whichever option you choose, the best sunscreen for you may not be the best sunscreen for someone else. Both types of sunscreens have their pros and cons – what matters most is that you find an option that works for you.

Picking Sunscreens That Won't Break Me Out

Like I stated above, I believe that Mineral Sunscreens are the way to go and they are typically better for people with any type of skin issues like sensitive skin, acne prone.  

Mineral Sunscreens 

Banish The Defender SPF 50  

The defender is a mineral based facial sunscreen with non nano zinc so it's reef safe and won't enter into your bloodsteam.  It's a very lightweight formula that doesn't cake up and doesn't feel oily or greasy at all.  Won't cause breakouts, fragrace-free and very gentle even for those with sensitive skin! Has a nice skin-like finish. Applying this adds a mild skin blurring effect for the pores too which is a nice plus. 

The Defender is the perfect sunscreen for all skin types. The Defender has a base of Organic Aloe Vera Leaf juice, which has so many amazing benefits for the skin - which is why we wanted to create a unique formula that blocks out the harmful UV rays, while still nourishing your skin with great ingredients.

This mineral based sunscreen absorbs into skin without leaving skin greasy. This broad spectrum mineral based sunscreen contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to reflect UV rays away from your skin. No fragrance, no parabens, no benzones, no artificial colors. 


Chemical Sunscreens or Chemical Mixed with Mineral




My top favorite chemical sunscreen is actually a mix of physical (zinc) and chemical (octinoxate) protection. This is the best chemical option for sensitive skin types and acne-prone skin alike and is perfect for daily wear. It contains non-irritating, soothing ingredients. It’s alcohol and fragrance-free, super lightweight, and hydrating.

How To Apply Sunscreen

The general two finger rule works to apply the correct amount of sunscreen for your face and neck to get the rated SPF protection.   Sunscreen can degrade as the UV rays and heat from the sun hit it, so it's best to reapply after 2 hours to continue getting that sun protection.

While layering SPF is recommended (in cosmetics and makeup products), it is still encouraged to use one SPF product evenly over the entire face to ensure adequate and consistent coverage and protection.

Using just makeup products with SPF is  not considered adequate protection on its own. And don’t forget to protect your lips throughout the day with an SPF lip balm!

Remember that not all sunscreens are the same, and just because a few don’t work for you, doesn’t mean there isn’t a sunscreen out there for you. Don’t give up looking just because it’s a challenge – your skin needs protection! 

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