The 19 Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin of 2022 That Keep Breakouts At Bay

The EltaMD Facial Sunscreen SPF 46 earned our Best Overall pick

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The 15 Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin of 2022

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you should be wearing SPF every day, year-round, even if you only spend a few minutes outside. While we realize some folks resist this crucial skincare step for fear it'll cause breakouts, sun protection is nonetheless vital for the acne-prone set. The good news is that there are lots of fab formulas that not only won't exacerbate the issue but might also help it improve.

So, what type of sunscreen is best for pimple prevention? "Ideally, you need to avoid heavy oils that can clog the pores (coconut oil, for example) and certain silicone derivatives such as dimethicone," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Martha H. Viera.

Generally speaking, she tells Byrdie that oil-free, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free formulas fare better for those battling breakouts. With expert pointers and specific recommendations from Dr. Viera in mind, we found standout formulas that support a clear complexion.

Here are the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin.

Best Overall: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

5
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Mildly exfoliating

  • Dries quickly

  • No white cast

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Who else recommends it? Forbes and The Strategist both picked EltaMD Facial Sunscreen SPF 46.

What do buyers say? 93% of 30,800+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

When it comes to applying sunscreen on your face, a clear formula is clutch. That's why we appreciate EltaMD UV Clear, which offers invisible, broad-spectrum protection from the sun's harmful rays.

Dr. Viera is also a big fan of EltaMD for acne-prone skin. The exceedingly lightweight, fast-absorbing formula hydrates the skin with hyaluronic acid and leaves behind a sheer, shine-free finish. What's more, this oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreen calls on lactic acid to gently exfoliate and help prevent future breakouts.

Type: Chemical/mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, octinoxate, lactic acid | SPF: 46 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Oil, fragrance | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $39

What Our Testers Say

"This is easily the most non-irritating, absorbent, and low-maintenance facial sunscreen I’ve come across; it’s essentially a nice mid-range moisturizer that happens to have SPF 46." — Kelsey Clark, Product Tester

Best Budget: Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Face Sunscreen

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Sunscreen Face Lotion
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Hydrating

  • No white cast

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

On a budget? Go with Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration. This incredibly smooth, virtually weightless sunscreen moisturizes with shea butter and silk proteins, then offers SPF 30 protection. Since it's a chemical SPF formula (meaning it uses organic chemical compounds rather than minerals to protect the skin), make sure you apply it at least 15 minutes before heading outside.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Oil | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $10

Best Drugstore: Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30

4.7
Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Matte finish

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

Don't sleep on drugstore sunscreen. Developed with oily complexions in mind, Cetaphil's DermaControl Moisturizer is free of irritating fragrance and pore-clogging oils. A favorite of Dr. Viera, the smooth formula offers SPF 30 protection while minimizing greasiness and leaving a matte finish in its wake.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 4 ounces | Free Of: Oil, fragrance | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $18

Best SPF 50+: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Light Fluid Face Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60

Sunscreen

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Non-comedogenic

  • Lightweight

  • Matte finish

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

Want something higher than SPF 50? Dr. Viera recommends La Roche-Posay Anthelios. This fancy French sunscreen delivers SPF 60 protection from both UVA and UVB rays. The oil-free, non-irritating formula goes on sheer, provides a matte finish, and is water-resistant for 80 minutes.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 60 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Oxybenzone, oil, fragrance | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $32

Best K-Beauty: Suntique I'm Pure Cica Suncream

Suntique I'm Pure Cica Suncream
What We Like
  • Calms inflammation

  • Lightweight

  • Dries quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it has a strange smell

For Korean beauty stans, we suggest Suntiques I'm Pure. This non-greasy, never-sticky SPF 50 sunscreen absorbs remarkably fast and leaves behind a nice matte finish. We also like that it contains cica (centella asiatica), a naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory herb that promotes healing.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 50+ | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Fragrance, avobenzone, oxybenzone | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $24

Best Serum: ZitSticka MegaShade Sunscreen Serum SPF 50

ZitSticka MegaShade Sunscreen Serum SPF 50

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Hybrid formula

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

A sunscreen serum can be used as your main source of SPF or as an added layer. Dr. Viera likes ZitSticka MegaShade, which provides full-spectrum protection from zinc oxide and gentle chemical compounds. The hybrid formula goes on clear, absorbs quickly, primes your skin for makeup, and won't block your pores.

Type: Mineral/chemical | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, octisalate, octinoxate, homosalate | SPF: 50 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates, titanium dioxide, fragrance | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $40

Best Gel: Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35

4.8
Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35

Glossier

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Nice consistency

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

Glossier's Invisible Shield boasts a brilliantly lightweight water-gel formula that absorbs instantly and plays well with makeup. Formulated for folks who dread wearing sunscreen, it goes on like a serum and won't leave your face feeling greasy.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate | SPF: 35 | Size: 1.6 ounces | Free Of: Mineral oil | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $25

Best Oil-Free: Dermalogica Oil-Free Matte SPF 30

Dermalogica Oil Free Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Mattifying

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Dermalogica's Active Clearing sunscreen is a godsend for acne-prone complexions. The luxuriously lightweight, oil-free formula offers SPF 30 protection, but it doesn't stop there. Packed with skin-loving ingredients like niacinamide (vitamin B3), yeast extract, and caffeine, you can count on this formula to help minimize the appearance of pores and deliver a shine-free finish.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, oxybenzone | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Oil, synthetic fragrance | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $55

Best Mattifying: Supergoop! Mineral Mattescreen SPF 40

5
Supergoop Mineral Mattescreen Sunscreen SPF 40

Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Matte finish

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Supergoop! is kind of an authority when it comes to sunscreens. The brand's Mattescreen is ideal for acne-prone skin, offering lightweight, sheer mineral protection and a matte finish without that dreaded greasy feel.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 40 | Size: 1.5 ounces | Free Of: Fragrance, parabens, sulfates | Water-Resistant: Up to 40 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $38

Best Water-Resistant: Sonrei Sea Clearly Translucent Gel Sunscreen SPF 50

Sonrei Sea Clearly Translucent Gel Sunscreen SPF 50

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Reef-safe

  • Can be used on face and body

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

If you're planning an ocean getaway or poolside vacation, look for a water-resistant formula, like Sonrei Sea Clearly. The reef-safe, antioxidant-rich, translucent gel offers SPF 50 protection and stands up to sweat and splashing for a full 80 minutes.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Homosalate, octocrylene, octisalate, avobenzone | SPF: 50 | Size: 3.4 ounces | Free Of: Fragrance, parabens, gluten | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $35

Best Tinted: Unsun Cosmetics Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

Unsun Cosmetics Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

Amazon

What We Like
  • No white cast

  • Reef-safe

What We Don't Like
  • Contains coconut oil

This triple-threat product from UnSun is a face lotion, sunscreen, and tinted moisturizer all in one. It comes in medium/dark and light/medium, both of which offer just a hint of color and flatter a range of skin tones. 

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Synthetic ingredients | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $29

Best for Eczema-Prone Skin: CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 Face Lotion

CeraVe Mineral Sunscreen Lotion for Face
What We Like
  • Non-comedogenic

  • Restores skin barrier

What We Don't Like
  • May leave a white cast

You'll be glad to have CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen in your bag if you have eczema. The non-comedogenic, fragrance-free lotion offers SPF 50 mineral protection while working to restore the skin's natural barrier with essential ceramides and skin-soothing niacinamide.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 50 | Size: 2.5 ounces | Free Of: Fragrance, oil, parabens | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $16

Best for Melanin-Rich Skin: AbsoluteJOI Daily Hydrating Moisturizing Cream with Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40

AbsoluteJOI Daily Hydrating Moisturizing Cream with Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40
What We Like
  • Non-comedogenic

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Melanin-rich skin isn't immune to sunburn. With this in mind, Absolute Joi made this SPF 40 hydrating cream moisturizer. Available in two tinted shades, it goes on sheer and effortlessly blends without leaving a white cast.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 40 | Size: 1.7 | Free Of: Fragrance | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $42

Best for Dark Skin Tones: Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

5
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

Ulta

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Sheer formula

  • No white cast

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

Made for people of color by a woman of color, Black Girl Sunscreen is ideal for dark skin tones. The zinc-free formula moisturizes the skin and acts as a lightweight makeup primer or a standalone face lotion—no white cast in sight.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 3 ounces | Free Of: Parabens, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $20

Best Stick: Sun Bum Face Stick

Sun Bum Original Sunscreen
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Easy to apply

  • Portable

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

  • Contains fragrance

You're supposed to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, but it's not always easy when you're on the go. That's why we love Sun Bum's pocket-sized Face Stick, which glides on smoothly and delivers broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection anytime, anywhere.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate | SPF: 30 | Size: 0.45 ounces | Free Of: Parabens | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $10

Best Crueltry-Free Formula: Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 PA +++
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Applies sheer

  • Non-greasy

What We Don't Like
  • Takes some time to set into the skin

This invisible mineral sunscreen has both Sephora's Clean and Planet Positive seal of approval, meaning it doesn't contain ingredients that could potentially harm your skin and the environment. In fact, the formula is full of hydrating, clean, and soothing ingredients, such as squalane and water lily, that are extremely lightweight on the skin, and leave it with a beautiful dewy finish. It is also reef-safe and non-toxic, and will actively calm and protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays, or whenever your skin is sun-stressed.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc-oxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.70 ounces | Free Of: Parabens, synthetic fragrances, PEGs | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $34

Best Non-Comedogenic: Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Sunscreen Lotion

Target Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Sunscreen Lotion

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Absorbs well

  • Treats acne

  • Doesn't have a strong scent

What We Don't Like
  • Consistency might be too thick for some people

Neutrogena is always a favorite of ours when it comes to sunscreen, and this oil-free and non-comedogenic lotion by the brand proves why. Outside of providing optimal sun care, the formula has a water-like texture to leave your skin with a light, breathable matte finish, resulting in fewer breakouts and a clearer complexion.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 50 | Size: 3 ounces | Free Of: Oxybenzone, synthetic fragrances | Water-Resistant: Up to 80 minutes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $16

Most Hydrating: Paula's Choice CLEAR Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+

Sephora Paula's Choice CLEAR Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Leaves a matte finish

  • Helps with flaking

What We Don't Like
  • Greasy

This sheer, shine-free sunscreen is a true multitasker. Not only does it minimize pore size, it also keeps your skin hydrated to help tame breakouts and oil production. This is thanks to anti-oxidant rich ingredients like vitamin E and chamomile flower extract, which work to soothe any redness and flaking caused by acne.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 2 ounces | Free Of: Parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, oxybenzone | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $37

Best for Sensitive Skin: Hero Cosmetics Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Hero Cosmetics Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Courtesy of Hero Cosmetics

What We Like
  • Works under make-up

  • Reduces redness

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Might cause white cast if not blended well

A gem for acne-prone skin types that deal with sensitivity, Hero Cosmetics created the perfect mineral sunscreen for you. Its barely-there green tint counteracts any redness, and can be used as a primer prior to applying make-up. And because the product is formulated without any fragrance or other irritating ingredients that could cause breakouts, you will just have to worry about re-applying every two hours.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 1. 6 ounces | Free Of: Fragrance, silicone, parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum | Water-Resistant: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $20

Final Verdict

The best sunscreen for acne-prone skin is undoubtedly EltaMD's UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, a mineral-chemical hybrid boasting an invisible, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic formula. However, Hawaiian Tropic's Silk Hydration Weightless Sunscreen is an excellent budget-friendly option, as is Cetaphil's DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30.

What to Look for in a Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

Oil-Free

Sounds obvious, but choosing an oil-free formulation is one of the easiest ways to make sure it won’t exacerbate or cause breakouts (our favorite is the Dermalogica Oil Free Matte SPF 30).

Non-Comedogenic

This indicates that it is not supposed to clog pores, another key factor for those prone to acne or even just blackheads and whiteheads.

Broad-Spectrum

This is less about the oily skin side of things and more about the sunscreen part of things. You want to make sure the product you pick can shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays (we suggest our Best Overall pick, the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46); a "broad-spectrum" indication is proof that it does.

FAQ
  • What types of sunscreen are best for acne-prone skin?

    To avoid clogged pores, Dr. Viera says, "It is best to look for oil-free or non-comedogenic products." She also suggests looking for a mineral formula to avoid irritation, though everyone's skin is different, even among the acne-prone camp.

    Some mineral sunscreens can leave a white cast or a greasy residue, but there are many sheer, mattifying formulas on the market. Additionally, you can find mineral-chemical hybrids, which provide SPF protection from minerals such as zinc or titanium dioxide, as well as organic chemical compounds, like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octocrylene.

  • What ingredients should you avoid in sunscreens for acne-prone skin?

    Even if you have acne-prone skin, you should still use sunscreen—it is all about finding the right product for your skin type. According to Dr. Viera, oil-free formulas are ideal for those with acne-prone skin, but a small amount of plant-based oil may not be an issue for some people. "Chemical filters in the sunscreen, such as oxybenzone and octocrylene, [and] certain fragrances can also be irritating and may induce skin allergies," she adds.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Theresa Holland is a freelance content creator specializing in commerce, lifestyle, and beauty. For this article, she interviewed a board-certified dermatologist and researched various sunscreen types, ingredients, and formulations that fare best for acne-prone skin. She looked at products from myriad brands and retailers, carefully considering the key attributes of each one before making her final selections. Having tried a plethora of sunscreens over the years, Theresa is personally fond of EltaMD, Tatcha, La Roche-Posay, and CeraVe. She has been writing for Byrdie since 2020, where she covers skincare, makeup, and workout apparel.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Martha H. Viera, MD FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Miami, Florida. She is a fellow member of several dermatological organizations, including the Women's Dermatologic Society, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery.

How We Test Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain products; you can read more about our product review methodology here.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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