In the 90s, people believed acne gets better with sun exposure, but that is definitely not true. Acne is an inflammatory disease, and you’d do well to protect your skin at all times. Indeed, if you have acne-prone skin, you can only benefit from using sunscreen: on the one hand, you’re protecting inflamed skin from sun damage; on the other hand, you’re preventing dark spots that may appear in the places where you now have pimples and breakouts. There’s just one problem. In order to benefit from these advantages, you need to find the best possible sunscreen for your acne-prone skin–and that can be tricky.
To help you choose the best sunscreen for your needs, we’ve selected ten options divided into five categories. We’ll start by looking at a couple of sunscreens that we know are often recommended by dermatologists; then, we’ll move on to sunscreens for sensitive acne-prone skin, a skin “type” that can be quite complex. From there, we’ll move on to some lightweight sunscreens that do not treat acne, but do offer lightweight protection without leaving a residue and without clogging the pores. Finally, we’ll look at Korean sunscreens for acne-prone skin–a surprisingly strong category–, and we’ll wrap up with a couple of tinted sunscreens.
Ready to get going? Then let’s not waste any more time, and let’s get into our handy list of sunscreens that may help you deal with acne.
Dermatologist-recommended sunscreen for acne-prone skin
If you go to the dermatologist, it’s likely that they’ve already recommended a great sunscreen for you. Here at Care to Beauty, we’re used to dealing with dermatologist recommendations and we know a couple of products definitely take home the prize for the most recommended.
Usually, these highly recommended sunscreens feature active ingredients that dermatologists love to include in anti-acne routines–think salicylic acid or retinol, for example. These may not sound like likely ingredients to include in a sunscreen, but you’d be surprised!
The SVR Sebiaclear Cream SPF50+ is a good example of this type of hybrid product, which offers protection but also care. With niacinamide and salicylic acid, this product calms the redness of acne-prone skin, regulates sebum production, and minimizes the proliferation of bacteria. This, combined with sun protection, translates into a product that offers complete care for acne-prone skin.
We can also recommend the Biretix Hydramat Day Fluid SPF30, a light sunscreen, specially designed for oily and acne-prone skin, that combines retinoids (RetinSphere® Technology), peptides, and niacinamide, among other ingredients. With its oil-free texture, which is lightweight and quickly absorbed, this fluid strikes the perfect balance between providing hydration and reducing sebum production to ensure a matte finish.
Sunscreen for sensitive acne-prone skin
Prone to discomfort, redness, tightness, and so many more issues, sensitive skin can hardly deal with itself. If, in addition to being sensitive, the skin is also acne-prone, it becomes particularly challenging to treat it without disrupting its balance. For this reason, we don’t recommend that this skin type use unscreens that contain anti-acne active ingredients; instead, we’d rather go minimal and recommend plain, fragrance-free sunscreens.
These two options were designed to make sure even people with the most sensitive skin can use them:
If you have sensitive and acne-prone skin, it’s always a good idea to look for sunscreens in brands that have already shown they play well with sensitive skin. The first option we’re suggesting, the Sensilis Photocorrection [Pure Age Perfection 50] Fluid SPF50, is a sebum-regulating and mattifying sunscreen that is perfectly suited to sensitive skin. Among other ingredients, the formula contains prebiotics to help rebalance the skin microbiome.
The second option is the Eucerin Sun Oil Control Gel-Cream Dry Touch SPF50+, a sunscreen that is extremely popular in our Care to Beauty community. With a high-tolerance formula that is perfect for sensitive skin, this sunscreen provides an immediate yet long-lasting mattifying effect. What’s more, the formula is ultra-light and absorbs instantly, which is ideal for oilier skin types.
Sunscreen that doesn’t clog the pores
We’ve already seen that there are sunscreens with active ingredients that help minimize the manifestations of acne. However, you may not want to invest in one of these products; maybe your anti-acne routine is already well put together, or maybe you just really want to use a product that won’t make your acne worse.
If this sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place. The following sunscreens won’t “treat” acne, but are ideal for wrapping up an anti-acne routine that already contains highly concentrated products. With these products, you can ensure that you have an effective final layer of protection:
The Vichy Capital Soleil UV-Clear Anti-Imperfections Water Fluid SPF50+ is one of the most recent launches by Vichy, and it’s really perfect for those with oily and acne-prone skin. The formula contains salicylic acid, to help fight acne, and niacinamide, to help fade dark spots associated with old blemishes and pimples. The formula is super fluid, and the finish is invisible on all skin tones–perfect for wrapping up your skincare routine.
The Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free Dry Touch SPF50 stands out for its antioxidant power. Thanks to the presence of Fernblock®+, a botanical extract that is present in all Heliocare sunscreens, this sunscreen helps protect the skin from free radical damage. The formula is further enriched with mattifying actives, which help regulate sebum production and maintain a shine-free, even complexion.
Best Korean sunscreen for acne-prone skin
Korean formulators are great at basically any cosmetic. However, sunscreen is definitely one category in which Korean brands excel at. Even though nourishing sunscreens are the most common in the K-Beauty world, you’ll also find great sunscreens for acne-prone skin. The secret to the success of these products lies in their elegant formulas with a gel-like consistency, and botanical extracts that work great on acne-prone skin.
These two sunscreens have something in common: they both offer a cooling and refreshing effect, perfect for summer. The Frudia Green Grape Sebum Control Cooling Sun Gel SPF50+ is the ideal choice for those who want to hydrate their skin and, at the same time, achieve a more even complexion with refined pores and a matte finish. The key ingredient here, as the name of the product suggests, is green grape extract.
As for the Missha All Around Safe Block Aqua Sun Gel SPF50+/PA++++, this is a light, ultra-quenching sunscreen that melts into the skin without creating a “heavy”, sticky feeling. The formula, enriched with botanical ingredients, helps to rebalance the skin. If you are looking for a Korean sunscreen, suitable for acne-prone skin, that combines a light texture with a moisturizing and calming effect, this is a great option.
Best tinted sunscreen for acne-prone skin
With acne usually comes redness–or, at the very least, angry red spots. If this problem affects you, it might make sense to choose a tinted sunscreen. It will help you conceal redness, even out your complexion, and protect your skin at the same time.
The Bioderma Photoderm Cover Touch Mineral SPF50+ is one of the most popular sunscreens in our Care to Beauty community. The tinted formula, available in several colors, offers very high sun protection with 100% mineral sun filters. The product also features the Fluidactiv™ patent, which helps regulate sebum production and mattify oily and acne-prone skin types. All in all, this sunscreen is a true multitasker.
If you’d rather go for a tinted compact, we like the YOUTH LAB Oil Free Compact Cream SPF50. This formula uses a combination of mineral and chemical filters to offer you high protection against UVA and UVB radiation. This protection is further boosted by the inclusion of vitamin E, which offers an antioxidant effect that helps prevent free radical damage. The last ingredient to take into account here is corn starch, which reduces excess shine while minimizing the appearance of pores and softening any imperfections.
As you can see, there are several sunscreens that can help you deal with acne–from sunscreens with active ingredients, which also help minimize acne, to tinted sunscreens, which can help you conceal some breakouts. In short, it’s not mandatory that your sunscreen be designed to treat acne. It’s always more important that your choice flawlessly fits your skin and your existing routine. With so many sunscreens that can work for acne-prone skin, you just need to find the best one for you!
Pharmacy Technician & Beauty Writer