Let’s cut to the chase: There is quite simply absolutely no valid excuse for not wearing sunscreen daily. Along with seeking shade, covering up, and avoiding peak sun hours, wearing sunscreen is a crucial way to safeguard the health of your skin since unprotected UV exposure can cause sunburn, premature signs of aging, and even some cancers.
However, especially if you have oily skin, the thought of putting sunscreen on can sometimes be a little bit unappealing—especially since many formulas on the market leave a greasy, white cast once they're applied. The good news? There are plenty of matte sunscreens that offer up a nice, non-oily finish.
To help you narrow your options, we enlisted Dr. Elizabeth Houshmand, a double-board-certified dermatologist, to weigh in on what to seek out—and what to avoid—in a formula. We then cross-referenced her recommendations with the top-rated options on the market—taking finish, sun protection, and size into consideration—to curate this list of must-have sunscreens for oily skin.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
Works for all skin types
Protects against blue light
Acts as a primer
Texture takes some getting used to
There’s lightweight sunscreen, and then there’s the totally undetectable sunscreen that you totally forget you're wearing. This Supergoop formula most definitely falls into the latter camp—it's not only oil-free but also weightless, scentless, and clear. Although it's great for all skin types, we especially like it for oily skin types thanks to its completely invisible texture. Still, it packs a punch in terms of protection, guarding not only against UVA and UVB rays but also blue light, the type of light emitted from all of our electronic devices—which many of the latest studies show may be potentially damaging. As if all of that weren’t enough, it has a matte finish and layers beautifully under makeup. Devoted fans love both how it looks and feels on their skin.
Price at time of publish: $38
Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 40 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free of: Fragrance, oil, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: Up to 40 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen
Very sheer and light
Reviewers say it rubs off on clothes
Pick up this top-notch option for just under 20 dollars, it has the same efficacy and feels as great as much pricier sunscreens we’ve tried. You’ll see that it does have a bit of color to it when you pump it out, but that’s more to combat any whiteness than to impart color onto your skin; it blends in completely sheer. It also has a silky feel and never leaves behind any greasy residue or excess sheen, always a plus. Non-comedogenic and entirely mineral-based, it’s also a great pick for those whose skin is both oily and sensitive.
Price at time of publish: $25
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 4 ounces | Free of: Oxybenzone, octinoxate, oil, fragrance | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Supergoop! Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40
Smoothing and blurring
We’re big fans of the Supergoop Mattescreen here at Byrdie. We especially love that the formula is completely mineral (yet white cast-free) and mattifies shine, blurs the look of pores, and creates a smooth, even finish on bare skin or under makeup. Commerce writer Caitlyn Martyn has personally gone through about seven bottles of this formula because of how well it protects and perfects the look of her skin. It comes in one universal peachy hue, which is designed to offset the white cast synonymous with mineral formulations; it is flexible and blendable across a wide range of skin tones, we just wish the brand had other color options to perfectly suit all skin tones better.
Price at time of publish: $22
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide | SPF: 40 | Size: 0.68 and 1.5 ounces | Free of: Fragrance, oil, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: Up to 40 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
Chemical sunscreens can be irritating for some
Dermatologists love this brand, a drugstore staple, for its straightforward skincare offerings featuring ceramides, essential ingredients for helping to strengthen and maintain a healthy skin barrier. This formula has those but also delivers additional moisturizing benefits, too—thanks to the addition of hyaluronic acid—plus SPF 30 protection and a matte finish.
Price at time of publish: $19
Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free of: Fragrance, oil, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Brightening
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Very sheer and light
Also contains skincare ingredients
Yes, this featherweight, transparent formula (a favorite among dermatologists) touts an effective combo of chemical and mineral sunscreen ingredients to help effectively shield your skin from the sun. But we find even more noteworthy is the addition of two skincare ingredients: lactic acid, a gentle exfoliant, and niacinamide, an antioxidant that helps even tone and reduces redness. In tandem, they help to leave your complexion brighter and more radiant. Best of all, it absorbs easily, is non-irritating, and is great for those who love a low-maintenance routine.
Price at time of publish: $41
Type: Chemical & mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, octinoxate | SPF: 46 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free of: Fragrance, oxybenzone, oil, parabens | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Moisturizer With SPF
Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30
Effective multitasking product
Can be slightly irritating
Yes, you can—and should!—still use a moisturizer even if you have oily or acne-prone skin. We love this one because it delivers light hydration, and with an SPF of 30, a healthy dose of sun protection. But it doesn’t stop there: It also helps mattify skin and keeps excess oil at bay. Plus, because it’s non-comedogenic, there’s no need to worry about clogged pores or possible pimples.
Price at time of publish: $18
Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 4 ounces | Free of: Fragrance, oil, parabens, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Sunscreen Lotion
Comes in two shades
Reviewers say the shades lack good undertones
This non-chemical tinted lotion is more than just powerful sun protection—it delivers feel-good ingredients that are good for your skin (botanical and antioxidants that nourish and won't clog pores like Kakadu plum, eucalyptus, and red algae) as well as a powder finish to nix sweat and shine. It has an SPF of 50, it's water-resistant, and you can buy it at the drugstore. Not to mention that it also comes in two tinted shades. Score.
Price at time of publish: $16
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide | SPF: 50 | Size: 3 ounces | Free of: Oils dye, parabens, phthalates, fragrance, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
Dries clear with no chalky residue
Great for sensitive skin
When your skin is on the sensitive side, a mineral sunscreen, like this one, is always going to be your best bet. It relies on zinc oxide, a mineral that sits on top of your skin to block out the sun, and is much less likely to cause any kind of potential irritation than chemical blockers. Oil-free (important for oily skin) and fragrance-free (important for sensitive skin), it also absorbs quickly and blends into any skin tone; reviewers with darker skin note that it’s one of the only non-tinted, mineral options that they can wear without any chalkiness. While initially, it looks a bit dewy, it dries down quickly to a velvety and matte finish. Oh, and it contains a hefty dose of protective antioxidants, too.
Price at time of publish: $42
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free of: Fragrance, oil, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Acne-Prone Skin
Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Sunscreen Lotion
Very sheer and light
Can feel a little tacky at first
This oil-free, broad-spectrum sunscreen is made specifically for acne-prone skin—one of the sheerest, lightweight formulas we’ve ever tried. Both oil-free and non-comedogenic (as well as dermatologist-tested), there’s no need to stress about clogged pores, ever. Plus, it'll help you maintain a matte finish all day, all the while protecting your skin from UV light. It's a miracle worker in a bottle for oily and acne-prone skin types—trust us.
Price at time of publish: $14
Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 3 ounces | Free of: Oxybenzone, octinoxate, oil, fragrance | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Dark Skin
Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SFP 30
Dries clear with no chalky residue
Soothes the skin
Formulated by women of color for people of color, this SPF 30 is filled with natural ingredients that are good for your skin like avocado, jojoba, cacao, and vitamin C-rich carrot juice, which soothe and even out skin. There's also sunflower oil that prevents irritation from sunburns. Free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, toxins commonly found in sunscreen, this pick is great for everyday protection. Bonus points for it drying clear and without a greasy residue (even though it does contain oil).
Price at time of publish: $16
Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 3 ounces | Free of: Parabens, fragrance, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Touch-Ups
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50
Protects against UV rays and blue light
Comes in four shades
Easy to use
Best reserved for touch-ups
Breaking news: You should not only be applying sunscreen daily but also reapplying it regularly—ideally every two hours or at least any time before you go outside. This 100% mineral powder sunscreen (which also contains iron oxide to protect your skin from blue light) is great for touch-ups since it won’t mess up your makeup—in fact, it delivers a little bit of coverage, too. Not to mention that powder, in general, is a good way to absorb excess oil throughout the day. Plus, it’s self-dispensing and portable, meaning you can easily keep one to have on-hand anytime, anywhere.
Price at time of publish: $69
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide | SPF: 50 | Size: 4 ounces | Free of: Oxybenzone, octinoxate, oil, fragrance | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Under Makeup
EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35
Very sheer and light
Great for all skin tones
Layers great under makeup
Here’s one for all the sunscreen haters out there. True to the name, this feels more akin to a luxurious skincare serum than any traditional sunscreen you may have ever used. Although it’s entirely mineral-based, it blends in clear skin tones (founder Venus Williams made sure of that). The addition of hydrating prickly pear extract contributes to the more serum-like texture, which also happens to layer beautifully under makeup, making this a great pick for daily use.
Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 35 | Size: 4 ounces | Free of: Fragrance, chemical sunscreen, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Yes, it may not seem as appealing to put on sunscreen if you have oily skin, but you still have to. No stress; there are plenty of great options for oily skin out there. The Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is our top pick; it's a totally undetectable oil-free formula that’s scentless and clear, too. For an option you can pick up in the drugstore, consider the wallet-friendly CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 which is packed with ceramides and leaves skin with a matte finish.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Elizabeth Houshmand is a double-board-certified dermatologist in Hamburg, PA. She’s well-versed in both cosmetic skin treatments and dermatologic surgery and is involved in education and teaching, as well as research and clinical trials.
What to Look for in a Sunscreen for Oily Skin
At the risk of pulling a Captain Obvious, this is the most important criteria, since the last thing you want is to add more oil to your face. Houshmand recommends looking for formulas that don't contain oil—even skin-loving kinds. We love the Supergoop! Mattescreen SPF 40 because it doesn't contain oils and actually mattifies skin on contact, providing a smooth, even base either on bare skin or under makeup.
Similarly, you want to make sure that the sunscreen you choose won’t clog pores, given that those with oily skin are already more prone to clogged pores, to begin with. Cetaphil's DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30 is a dermatologist favorite for it's simple, non-pore-clogging formulation and the fact that it doubles as a sensitive skin-friendly moisturizer.
Powders and gels are an especially great option, given that they’re innately lighter and more mattifying than creams or lotions. For a great powder option, you can't go wrong with the Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50; it's travel-friendly and excellent for touch-ups. As for gel formulations, the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is the best of the best for its spreadable consistency and clear finish.
Is mineral or chemical sunscreen better for oily skin?
Whether you want to go with a chemical formula, mineral formula, or a hybrid is a matter of personal preference and is completely up to you. The key is to seek out oil-free options that are non-comedogenic.
How do you apply sunscreen for oily skin?
The same way as you would apply sunscreen onto any other type of skin. You need at least a nickel size amount for your face and neck, which is about two fingers’ worth (use your index and pointer finger). Ideally, you should also be reapplying every two hours after the fact, especially if you’re going to be spending time outdoors. That’s where powder formulas can be hugely helpful.
What ingredients in sunscreen should oily skin types avoid?
According to Houshmand, it's best to look for labels that say oil-free or non-comedogenic. "Avoid formulas with mineral oils," she says.
What type of sunscreen is best for oily skin?
Houshmand says that powder and gel sunscreens are your best bet if you have oily skin. Beyond that, she advises picking a broad-spectrum sunscreen—to shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays—and an SPF of 30 or more, which is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology (even though, she encourages an SPF 50 formula to make sure you cover your bases).
How We Researched & Tested
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, and design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then cross-referenced our favorites with experts, in this case, Dr. Houshmand, and even incorporated our own personal experiences into the mix. After all, sunscreen is something used daily, no matter your lifestyle. We then used these insights from our research and testing to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. While her skin is drier than it is oily, sunscreen is her absolute number one must-have beauty product, so she’s extremely well-versed in all of the different types and formulas available. She does incorporate some of the ones featured on this list into her daily routine (especially during the summer when her skin is slicker). Both the Bliss and Dr. Dennis Gross formulas are currently a part of her regular rotation, and she always has one of the Colorescience powder brushes on hand at all times.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough mattifying sunscreens from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
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