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Best Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

Best sunscreens for acne prone skin

We all know that the wrong makeup and sunscreen can cause acne breakouts. Till now, it was hard to find a sunscreen specially made for people with acne.

A recent study highlighted the significant impact of sun exposure on acne-prone skin and emphasized the benefits of proper photoprotection. The researchers discovered that while some individuals with acne might see a temporary improvement in the summer, many experience flares or worsening conditions due to sun exposure. The study also noted that certain acne treatments increase photosensitivity, making protection even more crucial. The researchers concluded that daily photoprotection is vital for individuals with acne, not just to mitigate the adverse effects of UV rays but also to provide hydration, enhance skin barrier function, and offer additional benefits like sebum regulation and anti-inflammatory properties.

What is the best sunscreen for people with acne?

An absolute must for any sunscreen you may choose for your acne should be the oil-free label. Regular sunscreen that is not clearly labeled oil-free will increase the risk of acne breakouts, and you should never use it.

What is the perfect SPF number for acne-prone skin?

A sunscreen with SPF 50 is not necessarily better than one with SPF 30. Sunscreens with SPF 50 provide only 1% more protection than sunscreens with SPF 30 (98% vs. 97%). Sunscreens with SPF higher than 30 contain significantly more chemicals that can cause more allergies and irritation in the skin and eyes.
Are you looking for an effective and safe sunscreen? A high-quality, broad-spectrum, water-resistant moisturizing sunscreen with SPF 30 will be your best choice.

Should I use chemical or physical sunscreen for my acne-prone skin?

There are two types of sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens use ingredients that absorb the UV rays (usually invisible), and mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (they are thicker and have a white layer on your skin). These physical sunscreens containing zinc or titanium oxide are usually thicker, stickier, and have a higher risk of clogging your pores.

Physical sunscreens are often heavier on the skin than broad-spectrum chemical sunscreens with the same SPF. Therefore, physical sunscreens are not the best for oily or acne-prone skin. Additionally, mineral actives alone offer less protection from damaging UVA radiation than chemical filters.

Safety concerns with zinc oxide and titanium oxide nanoparticles containing sunscreens. The use of zinc oxide and titanium oxide nanoparticles in spray sunscreens is allowed in some jurisdictions of the European Union. Inhaled insoluble particles of any size could pose a risk to the lungs and should be avoided.

Unlike mineral-based sunscreens, chemical sunscreens dry invisibly on the skin and do not have this white cast residue that mineral (physical) sunscreens have.

People with acne-prone skin should look for high-quality chemical sunscreens. The best for acne-prone skin would be the first kind containing the FDA-cleared approved ingredients: Octinoxate, Octisalate, and Avobenzone in a light clear, oil-free base.

Oxybenzone and phthalates in sunscreens

Looking for a good sunscreen for acne-prone skin? Try to avoid chemical sunscreens that contain phthalates of oxybenzone. Oxybenzone and phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) with estrogenic androgenic activities that worsen acne. BPA, a chemical found in certain plastic tube types, is another EDC. The best sunscreens should also come in BPA-free plastic tubes.

Are Nano Titanium Dioxide and Nano Zinc Oxide in Sunscreens Putting Your Health and the Environment at Risk?

Tiny sunscreen ingredients like nano titanium dioxide and nano zinc oxide protect our skin from harmful sun rays, but there might be risks with these tiny particles that need more study. One worry is that they might penetrate the skin, enter our blood, and cause health problems. Research shows they can damage cells or even change our DNA, potentially leading to long-lasting health issues. Another risk is their impact on the environment, especially coral reefs. When we wash off sunscreen, these particles can hurt fish and other water animals, upsetting the balance of nature and making it hard for some animals to grow and survive. The presence of nanoparticles in the water can contribute to coral bleaching and hinder coral growth and reproduction, disrupting the coral reef ecosystem. This disruption may result in the decline of coral reef health, affecting marine species that rely on them for habitat, food, and shelter. In summary, while these particles protect us from the sun, we should be cautious about their possible risks to our health and the environment, particularly coral reefs.

Is water resistance important for acne-prone skin sunscreens?

Water resistance is very important for acne-prone skin sunscreens. Regular sunscreens will lose efficacy when you sweat or go in and out of the pool. Premium Sunscreens marked water-resistant were tested in FDA-approved clinical laboratories to stay on your skin for extended periods. These types of sunscreens are part of the climate-ready beauty trend. These "climate-ready" or "climate resilient" skincare products are formulated to withstand the effects of climate change, such as extreme heat, humidity, and UV exposure. These products may also be sustainably produced and have a lower environmental impact.

Lotion vs. cream vs. spray sunscreen - what is best for people with acne?

Spray sunscreens are easy to apply and help cover hard-to-reach areas like the back and shoulders. They offer less sun protection and are more irritating than sunscreen creams and lotions. For the best facial sun protection, your best choice would be an oil-free sunscreen cream or lotion. Cream-based sunscreens are better for sensitive and acne-prone skin, offer broad-spectrum protection, and serve as moisturizers to keep water inside the skin. Oil-free chemical facial sunscreen creams can be safely used on all skin types, including oily ones. They are non-greasy, provide a matte finish, and will not clog the pores, as mineral sunscreens can do.

Can sunscreens help reduce acne?

Absolutely. As sunscreens stay on your skin for long hours, why not use them to help fight your acne and reduce pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads? The new MDacne sunscreen does precisely that. In addition to high-end sun screening qualities, the MDacne sunscreen formulation contains a unique mix of plant-based ingredients that skin redness, moisturize the skin, enhance healing, and help fade brown spots. Aloe Vera leaf extract is a potent antioxidant and an excellent hydrator for your skin among these plant-based ingredients. Green tea extract helps lighten pigmentation, even skin tone, and boost skin's natural healing. Licorice extract: A potent antioxidant, this has been shown to both prevent and fade brown spots, and Vitamin C helps lighten pigmentation, even skin tone, and boost your skin's natural healing.

Choosing the right sunscreen is crucial for people with acne-prone skin.

Though it's important to use sun protection year-round to prevent premature aging and skin cancer, using the wrong sunscreen can clog pores and cause more acne breakouts. However, using the right sunscreen will protect from the sun and prevent breakouts with the added benefit of helping prevent and fade post-acne dark spots (I.e., the dreaded "hyper-pigmentation"), especially when combined with a Dark spot treatment.

Can I apply my sunscreen with a moisturizer?

Yes, of course. People with dry skin who use a drying anti-acne medication at night can apply their moisturizer first, followed by an oil-free moisturizer. A good combination would be a niacinamide-based, oil-free moisturizer followed by an oil-free active face sunscreen. The niacinamide in the moisturizer can help protect the natural skin barrier and work with sunscreen to prevent sunburns and reduce sun damage.

Girl with acne using sunscreen

The best sunscreens for acne prone skin are:

Broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection

  1. SPF 30
  2. Oxybenzone -free
  3. Water-resistant
  4. Oil-free, ultra-light, weightless
  5. Non-greasy invisible finish
  6. Non-comedogenic
  7. FDA-cleared, clinically tested.
  8. Dermatologist-tested & approved
  9. Paraben-free, Phthalates-free, Lanolin-free
  10. Help reduce skin redness and fade post-acne dark spots.
  11. Cruelty-free and vegan
  12. BPA-free
  13. Eco-friendly (recyclable tube)

Woman applying MDacne oil-free sunscreen for acne-prone skin


What should I look for in sunscreen for acne-prone skin?

  1. Look for sunscreens labeled as oil-free to avoid pore-clogging ingredients.
  2. Choose high-quality chemical sunscreens containing FDA-approved ingredients like Octinoxate, Octisalate, and Avobenzone.
  3. Consider sunscreens with additional acne-fighting ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Green Tea Extract, Licorice Extract, and Vitamin C.

Is a higher SPF always better for acne-prone skin?

  1. Sunscreens with SPF values higher than 30 may increase the risk of allergies and skin sensitivity.
  2. An SPF of 30 is generally considered sufficient for daily protection against UV rays.

Should I use chemical or physical sunscreen for acne-prone skin?

  1. Individuals with acne-prone skin should opt for high-quality chemical sunscreens to minimize the risk of clogged pores and breakouts.
  2. Physical sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide can be thicker and stickier, potentially exacerbating acne.

Why is water resistance important for acne-prone skin sunscreens?

  1. Water resistance ensures that the sunscreen remains effective even when exposed to sweat, water, or high humidity.
  2. Water-resistant sunscreens undergo rigorous testing to ensure they stay on the skin for extended periods, providing continuous protection.


Choosing the right sunscreen for acne-prone skin is crucial for maintaining healthy and clear skin while protecting yourself from harmful UV rays. Opt for oil-free, high-quality chemical sunscreens with SPF 30 for daily protection. Look for formulations incorporating acne-fighting plant-based ingredients like Aloe Vera, Green Tea Extract, Licorice Extract, and Vitamin C. Additionally, water resistance is vital to ensure long-lasting protection during physical activities; you can enjoy the right sunscreen and sun without compromising your skin's health and beauty.


MDacne Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin, SPF 30 (Amazon).
EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 40
Paula's Choice CLEAR Ultra-Light Hydrating Oil Free Moisturizer SPF 30


  1. Comedogenicity of sunscreens. Experimental observations in rabbits. Arch Dermatol. 1982 Jun;118(6):417-9.
  2. A Prospective Study Examining Trigger Factors and Hormonal Abnormalities in Adult Female Acne." Indian Dermatology Online Journal vol. 11,4 544-550. 13 Jul. 2020,
  3. Sun Exposure, a relevant exposome factor in acne patients, and how photoprotection can improve outcomes. Piquero‐Casals J, et al. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2023.

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