These SPF formulas are gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin types.
You diligently slather on SPF to protect yourself from dangerous UV exposure that can lead to skin cancer, as well as prevent dark spots and other signs of aging. So, for those with sensitive skin in particular, it's frustrating when sunscreen has the opposite effect, triggering irritation or redness rather than protecting and improving your complexion.
Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, tells us that there are a few important factors people with sensitive skin should consider in a sunscreen formula. The biggest is to choose a physical or mineral sunscreen (such as one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) over chemical formulas. "Chemicals are more likely to cause irritation," she explains.
The formula you apply should also always be unscented, Dr. Jaliman adds, since many people with this skin type are irritated by fragrance; look for products that say "unscented" or "fragrance-free" on the label.
Here, five dermatologist-approved sunscreens that will shield skin from UV rays without causing a reaction.
Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream
This unscented cream formula is ideal for anyone with fragrance sensitivities, Dr. Jaliman says, adding that she also likes that it contains sunflower oil to moisturize and antioxidant-rich vitamin E. Plus, the ingredient list is super short—there are just five recognizable ingredients.
EltaMD UV Physical Broad Spectrum SPF 41 Sunscreen
Another one of Dr. Jaliman's favorites is this physical sunscreen from EltaMD, which provides UV protection with both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. "It's good for sensitive skin and skin prone to eczema and rosacea," she tells us. The lightly tinted, fragrance-free formula applies smoothly without looking greasy, making it an ideal base before (or in lieu of) makeup.
CeraVe Face Lotion SPF 50
This ultra-gentle sunscreen has a cult following for a reason. The lightweight formula absorbs into skin instantly (and doesn't leave behind a white cast), while titanium dioxide and zinc oxide deliver SPF 50 protection. Also good: The formula contains niacinamide to improve the appearance of skin while also protecting against sun damage.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Tinted Mineral Ultra Fluid Sunscreen
Ava Shamban, MD, a dermatologist based in Beverly Hills and founder of SKINxFIVE, agrees that mineral sunscreens are best for sensitive skin types. She recommends this fragrance-free and lightly tinted pick from La Roche-Posay, which has a water-resistant, lightweight formula and protects with titanium dioxide.
Vanicream Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin, SPF 40
Dr. Shamban also loves this Vanicream sunscreen, which was specifically formulated with sensitive skin in mind. Not only does this mineral SPF protect against UV damage with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide without any fragrance, but it's free of other potential irritants as well, such as dyes, lanolin, parabens, and preservatives.