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We all know how important it is to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every single day, but what’s less often spoken about is sunscreen formulas for those with rosacea. Rosacea is a common condition where the skin flushes more easily, resulting in redness, sensitivity, and uneven texture.
Once triggers are identified, it can be managed pretty well, but sunscreen presents a tricky topic because they often contain sensitizing ingredients (such as fragrance and chemical filters). But as facialist and aesthetician Melanie Grant explains, those with rosacea are also highly susceptible to sun damage and UV radiation which will break down collagen and elastin, plus contribute to inflammation, so it’s extremely important to find an SPF formula that protects without irritating.
And luckily, there are some effective, skin-soothing products on the market—you just have to know where to look.
Keep scrolling for our edit of the best sunscreens for rosacea.
Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 50
Effectively gives maximum UV protection
Water-resistant for up to 40 minutes
Takes some rubbing in
Who else recommends it? Marie Claire also picked the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 50.
What do buyers say? 87% of 10,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Leave it to the French to create a gentle, milky, high-protection sunscreen that doesn’t aggravate the skin or cause flare-ups. Fragrance and paraben-free, it’s a great choice for all complexions given its natural finish and lightweight texture (which isn’t easy for a 50+ zinc-based product).
Type: Physical/Mineral Tinted | SPF: 50 | Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 11% | Size: 1.7 oz. | Free of: Octinoxate, Oils, Parabens, Chemical Sunscreen Filters, Fragrance, Oxybenzone | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Drugstore: CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 Face Lotion
Blocks UV rays very well
Restores the protective skin barrier with ceramides
Attracts moisture with hyaluronic acid
Can leave a white film on skin
Made using both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, this simple facial sunscreen is bolstered with niacinamide and ceramides in the formula that can help to firm up the skin barrier and prevent irritation. It’s quite thick but does sink in, leaving the skin soft and velvety once absorbed.
Type: Physical/Mineral | SPF: 50 | Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 9%, Zinc Oxide 7% | Size: 2.5 oz. | Free of: Oxybenzone, Oils, Fragrance, Parabens, Chemical UV Filters | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Moisturizer: InstaNatural Vitamin C Moisturizer
Full of natural ingredients
Replenishes skin with vitamins and minerals
Supports healthy collagen production
According to Brand Development Director and Lead Esthetician at InstaNatural Heather Wilson, this moisturizer actually boasts a sun protection factor of 30, plus botanical extracts that will help nourish and care for the skin. It’s also rich in antioxidants.
Type: Physical/Natural | SPF: 15 | Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide | Size: 3.4 oz. | Free of: Oxybenzone, Parabens | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Acne: EltaMD UV Daily Face Sunscreen SPF 46
Thick for protection in cold environments
Smooth in application
Might leave a white residue
Derms and celebs alike are big fans of this SPF from Ulta MD, probably because it’s designed specifically for pigmented, oily and acne-prone skin types. It's formulated with zinc oxide and octinoxate, plus niacinamide, lactic acid, and hyaluronic acid meant to help refine the skin and prevent congestion.
Type: Physical/Zinc Oxide | SPF: 46 | Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 9%, Octinoxate 7.5% | Size: 1.7 oz. | Free of: Oxybenzone, Oils | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Sensitive Skin: Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
Full of botanical extracts
Offers solid amount of zinc oxide
Takes a while to not feel greasy
This blend, rich in zinc oxide, antioxidants, and oils, promises to protect and nourish fragile skin. Light and creamy, it absorbs well and is free from potential ingredient triggers like fragrance, essential oils, and oxybenzone.
Type: Physical/Zinc Oxide | SPF: 30 | Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide | Size: 2 oz. | Free of: Oxybenzone, Oils, Fragrance, Essential Oils, Drying Alcohols, Silicones, Chemical Screens, Dyes, and SLS | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Combination Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
Sea buckthorn protects against free radicals
High concentration of vitamins C and E
Absorbs in minutes
This new launch from Dr. Dennis Gross is made using a clear form of zinc oxide, so it blends well with zero white cast. It’s also rich in nourishing sea buckthorn, so you’ll feel hydrated and soft while you're wearing it.
Type: All-Physical/Zinc Oxide | SPF: 30 | Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 16% | Size: 1.7 oz. | Free of: Oxybenzone, Oils, Gluten, Fragrance, and Octinoxate | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Fair to Medium Skin Tones: Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF30
Looks natural on skin
Rapidly neutralizes the look of redness
Included tiger grass repairs and soothes
More suited for lighter complexions
This stuff is magic when it comes to neutralizing the redness associated with rosacea. The secret lies in the green-ish undertone and the inclusion of soothing Centella in the formula–both of which are meant to reduce redness and even out tone. It’s quite rich, so it works great on drier complexions.
Type: Physical/Mineral | SPF: 30 | Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide | Size: 0.5 oz. or 1.7 oz. | Free of: Oxybenzone | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Dry Skin: Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen
Leaves a soft finish
Can be drying for some
Parched skin types will relish in this creamy SPF offering from Biossance. Rich in the brand’s signature squalane, this formula promises to help calm and moisturize stressed-out skin while protecting it from UV rays.
Type: Physical/Sheer Mineral | SPF: 30 | Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide | Size: 8.7 oz. or 3.38 oz. | Free of: Oxybenzone, Parabens, Octinoxate, Gluten, and Oils | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Normal Skin: Skinceuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30
A little goes a long way
Good for winter protection
Slightly grainy feel
Doesn't blend well
We’ve never met a Skinceuticals product we didn’t like! The Physical UV Defense is a great all-rounder, thanks to the fact it has a natural-feeling finish. It’s completely physical and specifically formulated for sensitive, post-procedure skin, making it suitable for those with rosacea.
Type: Physical/Tripeptide | SPF: 30 | Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 4.99%, Zinc Oxide 3.99% | Size: 1.7 oz. | Free of: Oxybenzone, Oils | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for a Dewy Finish: Dermalogica Super Sensitive Shield SPF 30
Doesn't dry out skin or create flakiness
May leave white cast on darker skin
If you don’t want to irritate the skin but still want a dewy finish, this Dermalogica pick is top-notch. Formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the fragrance-free cream applies beautifully, leaving the skin soft, hydrated, and most importantly, protected.
Type: Physical/Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide | SPF: 30 | Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 7%, Zinc Oxide 9% | Size: 1.7 oz. | Free of: Oxybenzone | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Sunscreen is a personal skincare choice and really comes down to your complexion goals and desired finish. But with that being said, there are three standouts in the above list that we’ve crowned team Byrdie favorites. First of all, there’s La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen For Face SPF 50 (view at Ulta) for its light, hydrating, skin-soothing formula that just so happens to be appropriately priced. Then there’s Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46—the best SPF for troublesome, sensitive skin. And finally, Skinceuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30 because it’s a great all-rounder that sinks in fast, feels good, and won’t trigger redness.
What to Look For in a Sunscreen for Rosacea-Prone Skin
Chemical vs. Physical Filters
While there are always exceptions to the rule, Grant suggests that those who have rosacea opt for physical or inorganic sunscreens as they are typically less irritating: “It’s important to avoid ingredients that will cause further irritation to the skin, including fragrance, drying alcohols, oxybenzone, and avobenzone. Reach for a mineral-based formula with calming, restorative zinc oxide or titanium dioxide,” Grant explains. “For those of us with sensitive skin or rosacea, always test a new product behind your ear or on the side of your neck before slathering it all over your face.”
On the flip side, calming ingredients are great to look out for when buying sunscreen. Grant suggests reaching for a formula that contains niacinamide, peptides, panthenol, ceramides, and fatty acids to help boost barrier function and soothe the complexion.
What are the benefits of sunscreen for rosacea?
According to a survey by the National Rosacea Society, sun exposure was a top trigger for rosacea flare-ups in 81 percent of patients who participated and was connected to visible blood vessels and redness. Sensitive, non-chemical sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays can prevent skin damage and keep your rosacea at bay.
How often should you apply sunscreen for rosacea?
The National Rosacea Society says sunscreen takes 15 to 30 minutes to set in and work effectively, so you’ll want to apply it before you’re exposed to the sun rather than when you find yourself outdoors. Regardless of the SPF listed, sunscreen typically only lasts for 2 hours according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. Remember to reapply it regularly to prevent skin damage as well as rosacea flare-ups.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Aside from having a few rosacea-prone team members, Emily Algar is dedicated to seeking out the best recommendations for all skin types and concerns, especially in a category such as sunscreen. And as always, Emily has called on an expert in the field (in this instance, facialist and aesthetician Melanie Grant) to explain exactly what we should and shouldn't be looking out for.
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 any sunscreens for rosacea from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. 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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The 26 Best Sunscreens Ever for Your Face and Body. Marie Claire. https://www.marieclaire.com/beauty/makeup/g659/best-sunscreen-products/
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National Rosacea Society. Sunscreen for Rosacea.
National Rosacea Society. Sunscreen: are you doing it right?.