Best sunscreen for sensitive skin for face and body

·9-min read
 (Pexels)
(Pexels)

What’s worse: greasy, oily, broken out skin - or burnt skin?

Dermatologists will likely tell you the latter but if you’re someone who struggles with sensitive skin, there’s a chance you’d say the former.

We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen on the daily and, if you’re over the age of 25, it’s probably something you’ve been warned of multiple times. But for those with sensitive skin who may struggle with inflammation or breakouts from ‘standard’ SPF, it’s not quite so easy to force yourself to apply a layer each morning.

Enter: the world of sensitive sunscreens. These products come bursting at the seams with all of the skin-loving ingredients to keep your skin protected without any irritation in sight. However, there are a lot of them around and not all of them are quite as impressive (or sensitive) as their branding may suggest.

We spoke to the experts about what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to choosing your next sunscreen.

Jennifer Rock, Dermal Facialist and founder of Skingredients, says: “If you have sensitive or reactive skin, rest assured that sunscreen has come a long way since the thick, chalky formulations of the past. If you have oily or blemish-prone skin, make sure you use oil-free formulas, and look for an SPF that’s non-comedogenic, which means that it shouldn’t clog pores.

Some people find that chemical sunscreens (those containing ingredients such as avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate) cause irritation and allergic reactions – although this tends to be more the case with older formulations. Some prefer to use mineral formulas containing zinc oxide, titanium oxide or calamine as these are less likely to upset your skin barrier.

You can even opt for an SPF designed for children, because these formulas are less likely to contain ingredients that can irritate the skin, such as fragrances.”

Dr Adam Friedmann, consultant dermatologist at Stratum Clinics, adds: “Mineral and chemical sunblocks fundamentally work differently - chemical sunscreens are absorbed by the skin and are effective by dispersing the UV rays and mineral sunscreens lay on top of the skin’s surface and reflect the UV rays away from the body.

I would usually recommend a factor 30 as a minimum but it does depend on skin type.  At least SPF 30 for pale skin, preferably SPF 50.”

While Dr Ophelia Veraitch, leading Harley Street consultant dermatologist, says: “For those with poorly controlled inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, it’s important to treat the eczema first; otherwise putting SPF on inflamed skin could exacerbate the problem. Clothing and behaviour are also very important aspects of sun protection. Don’t forget your sunglasses, sunhats and sensible clothes and don’t spend too much time lying out in the sun!”

We’ve rounded up all of the best sunscreen for sensitive skin.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sun Protection SPF50+ Milk

Ideal for those prone to sensitivity, sun intolerance or prickly heat rash, La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Sun Protection SPF50+ Milk is something of a hero in the skincare world. This ever-popular brand is a name you’ll hear often by those who love to point out they already apply SPF daily - even on cloudy days.

But there’s a good reason why La Roche-Posay is quite so popular: its formula truly is one of a kind. The brand’s patented filtering system, Mexoplex, offers extremely high protection against UVA, UVB and infrared light while its Thermal Spring Water, an exclusive La Roche-Posay complex, helps to keep skin hydrated and supple. It’s also water-resistant, if you weren’t already convinced.

Buy now £17.60, Lookfantastic

Dr David Jack All Day Long SPF

Not a fan of applying layer after layer in the morning when you’re on holiday? Dr David Jack’s All Day Long SPF is a two in one product of moisturiser and SPF.

This SPF is ideal for saving space in your suitcase by incorporating both moisturising and sun protection properties into one sleek bottle.

This sheer day cream features the very latest protective filters, including SPF50 and blue light protection and settles into the skin similarly to your favourite moisturiser. Unlike many sunscreens which leave a greasy, built up residue on the skin, this formula is almost weightless after application.

With Niacinamide, Gluthione, Hyaluronic Acid and Carrot Extract, it’s filled with skin-nourishing ingredients.

Buy now £95.00, Dr David Jack

Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Sun Milk SPF30 Face

Not only does Hawaiian Tropic’s Mineral Sun Milk SPF smell absolutely delicious but it’s also one of the best budget friendly sensitive sunscreens, too. A little lighter than the brand’s usual offering, this mineral-based cream features filters for both UVA and UVB protection as well as skin-loving ingredients enriched with Hawaiian inspired botanicals including kukui nut and coconut. Better yet, it’s  vegan, cruelty free and reef friendly too: everything you need to get into holiday mode next time you’re jetting off.

Buy now £8.33, Boots

Grüum SPF50 Face Sunscreen

Grüum’s sunscreen packs a powerful punch with a SPF50 rating and dermatologist approval. This small but mighty bottle goes a long way with a rich yet silky smooth formula that’s perfect for carrying around in even the smallest of beach bags.

With UVA and UVB SPF50 protection, its water resistant formula is hypoallergenic and easily absorbed, making it ideal for applying in a rush without spending too long rubbing it in. Its lightweight nature also means it works well under makeup without leaving any greasy residue.

Buy now £6.00, Beauty Bay

Skingredients Skin Shield SPF 50 PA+++

Enter: that gorgeous, dewy, “just back from Santorini” kind of look with not a scrap of makeup in sight.

Skingredients’ colourful branding will get you into a summertime mood before you’ve even taken off the lid. Created by dermal facialist Jennifer Rock, this vegan sunscreen features both niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) and vitamin E for antioxidant protection.

One of the best things about Skingredients’ SPF? It’s not totally clear, offering a subtle, concealer-like hue that’s perfect for evening your skin tone without wearing makeup on top.

It’s worth pointing out that Skingredients’ SPF isn’t suitable for darker skin tones but that’s something they’re working on changing.

Buy now £46.00, Cult Beauty

UpCircle SPF25 with Raspberry Seed Oil

UpCircle makes perhaps some of the most premium feeling suncream around. This luxe-looking tub is one of the most delicious sensitive sunscreens available and feels more like you’re applying a serum or face cream rather than a traditional layer of sun protection.

Lightweight and silky, it comes enriched with Raspberry Seed Oil to give it a little extra moisturising edge. Its naturally-derived non-nano zinc oxide protects the skin whilst that subtly scented antioxidant raspberry seed oil defends against free radical damage while you’re enjoying the sunshine.

Buy now £24.99, Feel Unique

Jurlique UV Defence Lotion

Jurlique’s UV Defence Lotion is maybe a little pricier than your standard sunscreen but it’s one of the best options for sensitive skin and smells delicious at the same time. If you’re someone who often can’t be bothered to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, prepare to change perspective when you’ve felt this cream’s fragrant, light formulation on the skin.

The perfect primer for use under makeup, this lotion is non-sticky, has an oil-free texture and promises fast absorption. It’s also infused with soothing botanicals like Calendula, Chamomile, Marshmallow and Echinacea extracts.

Buy now £38.00, Feel Unique

Nivea Sun Luminous 630 Anti-Pigment Fluid Spf50

Nivea’s a staple name for anyone with sensitive skin and the brand’s SPF is no exception. A great choice for not only protecting skin against the sun’s rays but also reducing any signs of ageing simultaneously, this hard-working formula ticks all the boxes.

The light and non-greasy sun fluid prevents and visibly reduces sun-induced spots thanks to Nivea’s “Luminous630” patented ingredient. Enriched with Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E, it works to protect your delicate facial skin against UVA and UVB induced skin damage and is free from harmful ingredients like Octinoxate, Oxybenzone and Octocrylene.

Buy now £10.00, Boots

Pai Skincare British Summer Time SPF

As a long-term fan of Pai’s skincare it wasn’t too surprising to discover its sunscreen is one of the best around if you tend to react or break out when applying suncream lotion too often.

This non-nano Zinc Oxide sunscreen boasts blue-light and infra-red protection as well as all the usuals (UVA + UVB) and sits smoothly on the skin. Designed with sensitive skin in mind, this vegan formula took seven years to complete but was well worth the wait: a small amount goes a long way and takes no time at all to settle down.

Buy now £39.00, Pai Skincare

Boots Soltan Sensitive Lotion SPF50+

It’s hard to beat Boots’ Soltan range if you’re looking for budget-friendly sunscreen, particularly if you’re the type of person to keep one in your hand luggage, one in your suitcase, one in your beach bag and maybe even one in your handbag for good measure.

The brand’s Sensitive Lotion features all of the benefits of the original launch but comes slightly more tailored for those who react to ‘standard’ formulas. With an SPF50+ rating it’s perfect for pale skin and is water resistant, colour free and fragrance free.

Buy now £6.50, Boots

Lisa Franklin Sol-Protect Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF30

Lisa Franklin's award winning Sol-Protect Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF30 comes in two varieties: clear or tinted. A broad-spectrum SPF that promises to keep your skin safe from not just UVA/UVB rays but also pollution and light from phones and other electronic devices, it's one you'll swear by after trialling it out.

It's made from transparent zinc oxide, a few powerful anti-oxidants and one surprise key ingredient that you may not have anticipated in suncream: diamond particles. Next time someone says you've got a summer glow, you know what's responsible.

Buy now £38.00, Lisa Franklin

Verdict

Be prepared to become one of those people who whips out their miniature bottles of suncream at the first sign of sunshine: our favourite sunscreen for sensitive skin has to be La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Sun Protection SPF50+ Milk. With its impressive formula, high SPF rating and water-resistant finish, it’s perfect for daily wear as well as summer holidays.

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