How to Pick Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

This is your friendly but firm reminder that you should be applying sunscreen daily. Rain or shine, no matter what skin tone, it is arguably the the most important step in your beauty routine. It’s even more important if you have sensitive skin and tend to burn up before you can even say, “It’s so nice out!”

So, what should you look for in a sunscreen? “Physical sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are best for sensitive skin because they don’t irritate as easily as chemical sunscreens do,” explains dermatologist Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “Also look for ingredients that are naturally calming and anti-inflammatory—think niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and green tea extract—which can soothe easily inflamed skin.” Or don’t, because we’ve already done the work for you ahead.

1. Very High Protection Mineral Cream by Avène

The SPF50+ sunscreen (S$28.45) comes in a water resistant cream, formulated for intolerant, sensitive skin types. Image source: Guardian.
The SPF50+ sunscreen (S$28.45) comes in a water resistant cream, formulated for intolerant, sensitive skin types. Image source: Guardian.

This sunscreen‘s minerals (titanium dioxide) work by deflecting the sun’s UV rays. The water-resistant formula delivers protection from both short and long UV rays and, because it’s a rich cream infused with thermal spring water, it soothes and hydrates the upper skin layers of the face.

2. Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid SPF50+ by La Roche-Posay

An extra-large bottle of La Roche Posay's Anthelios Ultra-Light Fluid (S$46.90). Image source: La Roche Posay.
A bottle of La Roche Posay’s Anthelios Ultra-Light Fluid (S$46.90). Image source: La Roche Posay.

The Anthelios range was formulated for sensitive or sun-intolerant skin — otherwise individuals with sun allergies. The non-greasy, non-irritating formula absorbs quickly into the skin, offering broad spectrum UV protection.

3. Essence UV Sunscreen Mild Milk by Anessa

The Japanese brand, Anessa's Essence UV Mild Milk (S$35.91 for 60ml). Image source: Watsons.
The Japanese brand, Anessa’s Essence UV Mild Milk (S$35.91 for 60ml). Image source: Watsons.

This “safe for babies” and sensitive skin sunscreen comes with a no-sting, fragrance-free formula. 50 percent of its ingredients, including glycerin, contributes to its moisturising and skincare capabilities.

4. Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion SPF60+ by Neutrogena

A sunscreen lotion (approximately S$16) formulated for sensitive skin types. Image source: Neutrogena.
A sunscreen lotion (approximately S$16) formulated for sensitive skin types. Image source: Neutrogena.

The mineral-based sunscreen is completely naturally sourced to provide UVA/UVB protection. While some non-chemical blockers can be greasy or thick, Neutrogena’s broad spectrum protection is particularly matte and sheer.

5. Everyday Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF50 by Supergoop!

The Everyday Sunscreen SPF50 (S$28). Image source: Sephora.
The Everyday Sunscreen SPF50 (S$28). Image source: Sephora.

A sunscreen that’s also a serum and a perfume. Apart from the UVA, UVB, and IRA ray protection, the product boasts unique oat-beta-glucan that delivers lasting moisture and helps fight the sun’s effects after prolonged exposure. The added lemon, orange, and basil team up for a zippy citrus scent. It’s important to note this product is not chemical-free, but still provides gentle, non-irritating protection.

6. Global Suncare Perfect UV Protector Sensitive SPF50+ by Shiseido

A formula for sensitive skin (S$63). Image source: Sephora.
A formula for sensitive skin (S$63). Image source: Sephora.

If it’s good enough for children (they are our future) this should be just fine for your sensitive skin. For starters, it’s free of chemical agents, fragrance, and alcohol. And the sun protection factor comes from the mineral-based formula, but it also contains Shiseido’s WetForce technology which actually makes the sunscreen more powerful for 15 minutes after exposure to water or sweat.

7. Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin by Vanicream

A lightweight sunscreen formula that's fragrance-free to boot. Image from PSICO.
A lightweight sunscreen formula that’s fragrance-free to boot. Image source: PSICO.

This lightweight formula absorbs into the skin quickly, but won’t clog your pores or leave any of that embarrassing chalky residue. Zinc oxide creates a barrier that reflects and absorbs UVA and UVB rays. The product also uses omega fatty acids and vegetable squalane to combat redness and irritation.

8. Natural Mineral Sunscreen For Body by Suntegrity

An unscented natural mineral sunscreen for the body with SPF30 (S$45). Image from Lazada.
An unscented natural mineral sunscreen for the body with SPF30 (S$45). Image source: Lazada.

The secret ingredient in this sunscreen? Green tea. The zingy leaves work to protect against free-radical damage as zinc oxide repels and absorbs rays. The formula also includes soothing aloe vera and cucumber.

9. Sensitive Sunscreen by Blue Lizard

Blue Lizard's sunscreen for sensitive skin types (S$24.68 from iHerb). Image source: Blue Lizard.
Blue Lizard’s sunscreen for sensitive skin types (S$24.68 from iHerb). Image source: Blue Lizard.

The 10 percent zinc oxide base shields your skin for the UV rays and works to absorb the heat. Plus, the patented BPA-free plastic cap is UV photo-sensitive so it changes colour when harmful rays are present—a handy visual reminder to lather up.

10. UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF41 Sunscreen by EltaMD

The US Skin Cancer Foundation recommends Elta MD's sunscreen. Image source: Elta MD.
The US Skin Cancer Foundation recommends Elta MD’s sunscreen. Image source: Elta MD.

This brand is a favourite among dermatologists. The mineral-based formula is free from irritating chemicals and utilises zinc oxide to ward off UVB and UVA rays. It’s scent free and doesn’t leave any white residue. After just one use, you’ll want to give in to the hype. 

11. Active Mineral Sunscreen Cream for Face & Body by Badger

The Badger Company's zinc oxide sunscreen cream with SPF30 sun protection (S$18.54 on iHerb). Image source: Badger.
The Badger Company’s zinc oxide sunscreen cream with SPF30 sun protection (S$18.54 on iHerb). Image source: Badger.

Badger’s active mineral sunscreen is an organic option that contains sunflower oil, seabuckthorn oil, and beeswax to hydrate and support the skin. It’s organic-certified and full of fatty acids and antioxidants that reduce inflammation and calm sensitive skin.  

12. Chem-Free Active Defense SPF30 by NYDG Skincare

NYDG's SPF30 sunscreen (approximately S$130). Image source: NYDG Skincare.
NYDG’s SPF30 sunscreen (approximately S$130). Image source: NYDG Skincare.

A skincare splurge that won’t send your sensitive skin into a complete meltdown. Key ingredients squalane and argan provide protection against environmental skin stressors, like pollution, while ginseng stimulates collagen growth and improves texture.

This story first appeared on ELLE.com.