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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 after-effect 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. "Look for labels that say oil-free or non-comedogenic," she says, "But avoid formulas with mineral oils." She also says that in terms of application type, powder and gel sunscreens are your best bet. 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, personally, she encourages an SPF 50 formula to make sure you cover your bases).
Scroll for our picks of the best matte sunscreens for oily skin.
Best Overall: Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting SPF 35 Sunscreen
Tatcha's sunscreen delivers a lightweight, silky texture and a mattifying effect each time you apply. In fact, a few of our editors prefer it to traditional, non-SPF primer as it never leaves a chalky finish, smoothes and blurs pores, and keeps shine to a minimum. It's a perfect everyday sunscreen, one that doesn't feel greasy like the traditional options and is completely non-irritating, non-sensitizing, and dermatologist-tested. It's pricey, yes, but in this case, you get what you pay for.
Best Budget: CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
Ceramides are a part of a complex family of fats or lipids called a sphingolipid. They work to restore the skin barrier and lock in moisture.
Dermatologists love this brand for its simple and 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.
Best for Sensitive Skin: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
When your skin is on the sensitive side, mineral sunscreen is always going to be your best bet. These formulas use, you guessed it, minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that sit on top of your skin to block out the sun, and are 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), this has plenty of other good-for-your-skin ingredients, like vitamin E, gently exfoliating lactic acid, and anti-inflammatory niacinamide to help calm redness.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Dermalogica Oil Free Matte SPF 30
Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants. In skincare, it helps to stimulate blood flow and decrease puffiness, as well as works to dissolve fat, which makes it a choice cellulite treatment.
Dermalogica's oil-free, broad-spectrum sunscreen is made specifically for breakout-prone skin, as the ultra-sheer formula contains a blend of zinc gluconate, caffeine, niacinamide, biotin, and yeast extract to help regulate oil production and soothe inflammation. 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.
Best Lightweight: Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
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.
Best Under Makeup: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Daily Face Primer with Sunscreen SPF 50
When you need to up the staying power of your makeup, the easiest thing to do is make a primer the first step in your routine. So, why not choose a primer that’s going to offer your daily dose of sun protection, too? This one does just that, with SPF 50, while still delivering the skin-smoothing, imperfection-blurring, makeup-enhancing power of a regular primer. Not only is it oil-free, but it’s also non-comedogenic. Reviewers comment on how it keeps shine at bay and also plays nicely with all kinds of foundations.
Best Value: Clinique Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 40
This broad-spectrum, oil-free sunscreen from Clinique has an antioxidant-rich formula that protects against UVA/UVB rays and environmental irritants. It's no surprise, then, that it's a favorite of Dr. Houshmand's: "Its formula is lightweight and sheer," she says. She also loved that it was versatile, pointing out that it has anti-aging benefits and can also be used as a makeup primer. What's not to love?
Best Moisturizer with SPF: Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30
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.
Best Tinted: Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36
This broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen is another go-to for Dr. Houshmand. Its lightweight formula—which includes titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—is also rich in antioxidants that shield you against environmental pollution. A bonus? It's also slightly tinted to enhance your skin tone and give you a bit of extra shimmer.
Runner-Up, Best Tinted: Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Sunscreen Lotion
This non-chemical tinted lotion is more than just powerful sun protection—it delivers feel-good ingredients that are actually 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. Score.
Best for Dark Skin: Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
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 that it dries clear and without a greasy residue.
Best With Antioxidants: Kiehl's Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+
Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also helps soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.
Brimming with vitamin E to help neutralize free radicals, this broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against environmental aggressors (which cause the first signs of aging). It's lightweight, non-comedogenic, absorbs quickly, and leaves a matte, transparent finish.
Best Mineral: Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45
If creams and lotions aren't your things (or chemicals, for that matter), try Peter Thomas Roth's brush-on powder mineral sunscreen. It's ultra-portable (you can really apply it anywhere!), self-dispensing, and provides all-mineral protection with a matte finish. It also can be worn alone or with your usual makeup.
Best for Touch-Ups: Avène High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50
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-percent mineral powder is perfect 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.
Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF 50
When it comes to moisturizers, gel formulas are choice for oily skin types; they contain more water than heavier hydrating ingredients, which make them feel less thick or greasy. The same rules apply to sunscreens. Despite how lightweight this gel option is, it’s still hydrating. Credit hyaluronic acid, which attracts water and holds it in the skin—so much so that it hydrates for up to eight hours.
Best Water-Resistant: Paula's Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50
Cover yourself in this lightweight and grease-free sunscreen for ultimate protection. Sweat- and water-resistant, this pick is ready for serious outdoor workouts and pool days. We love that it provides a light matte finish so it can comfortably be worn under makeup, or even by itself.
Yes, it may not seem as appealing to put on sunscreen if you have oily skin, but you still have to. Happily, there are plenty of great options for oily skin out there. The Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting SPF 35 Sunscreen is one of our favorites for its lightweight and silky texture and perfectly mattifying effect. The Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is another amazingly undetectable oil-free pick that’s scentless and clear, too. The La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anti-Aging Primer SPF 50 Sunscreen layers beautifully under makeup, always a major win. And if you’re on a budget, be sure to check out the wallet-friendly CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF.
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.
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.
Powders and gels are an especially great option, given that they’re innately lighter and more mattifying than creams or lotions.
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.
How we test sunscreens for oily skin
Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain products; you can read more about our product review methodology here.
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/clinical trials.
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.