There is no denying that sunscreen application is an integral skincare routine for achieving that healthy, age-defying skin. However, for people with sensitive skin, sifting through the marketing tricks and getting the right sunscreen is like looking for a needle in a haystack! With so many brands in the market, it is difficult to discern what works and what doesn’t.
The good news is that with the advancement skincare technology, we have a proliferation of brands in the market that offer sunscreens uniquely designed to meet the needs of different skin types. There are sunscreens for oily, dry, and for sensitive skins.
On the downside, you need to be careful as some brands may be labeled “for sensitive skin” yet contain the same ingredients that clog the pores leading to allergies, inflammation, or irritation.
If you have delicate skin, then you require a sunscreen that is fragrance-free and does not contain parabens, chemicals or preservatives. Some people have opted to use sunscreens intended for babies.
However, some baby sunscreens may contain the same harmful ingredients found in adult-sunscreens. Sometimes the word “baby” may be a marketing gimmick to get you to purchase the product.
Some of the best sunscreens include the following:
Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen ($11.99).
The chemical filters used in sunscreens, such as PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), which protects the skin from UVB can cause a reaction. In response to this, the Neutrogena sunscreen uses ingredients extracted from nature to offer a broad spectrum UVA-UVB protection.
The product contains two key ingredients in sunscreens; titanium dioxide (4.9%) and zinc oxide (4.7%). Moreover, all the remaining ingredients contained in the product are FDA approved. What makes this sunscreen preferable is that it utilizes physical barriers of the sun (the zinc oxide and titanium oxide) which are known to be gentle compared to chemical filters. And lest I forget, the product is fragrance-free, water resistant, and hypoallergenic.
True Natural SPF 50 Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin ($23.99)
This 100% mineral-based, unscented, non-greasy sunscreen is designed for a skin that is sensitive. Similar to Neutrogena, it contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are great minerals for protecting you from UVA and UVB. On the downside, the product is too viscous and can leave your skin white/pasty. However, there are some who have benefitted from this product yet they have delicate skins. So you can give it a try.
Bioderma Hotoderm Mineral Spf 50+ Spray (£14.00)
Bioderma is the best brand to try out if you have hypersensitive skin. This sunscreen is designed for people who are allergic to chemical filters.
Modern companies are creating sunscreens with both physical barriers and chemical filters. Here, the chemical filters act like a shield that absorbs UVA and UVB radiation and convert them to infrared heat. On the other hand, zinc oxide and titanium oxide minerals reflect the rays away from your skin.
A key strength of Bioderma Is that it is free of chemical filters. Chemical filters are likely to cause irritations. Moreover, the product contains photoderm minerals as well as vitamin E which not only protect the skin but also prevent aging.
Avene High Protection Mineral Cream SPF 50+ ($26.00)
This Avene sunscreen is fragrance-free, paraben free, certified UVA-compliant, and free from chemical filters. It offers a broad spectrum skin protection while at the same time nourishing it. The product contains Pre-Tocopheryl (a form of vitamin E), that protects the skin from external triggers. Moreover, it is water resistant and long-lasting. Dermatologists recommend this sunscreen for post-procedure face, intolerant, and skin that is allergic to chemicals.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Sunscreen Tinted for Face, Ultra-Light Fluid SPF 50 with Antioxidants ($33.50)
La Roche Posay sunscreen is a product highly recommended by dermatologists. This sunscreen is fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, paraben free, and allergy tested. The product is a powerful combination of physical sun filters and antioxidants that all work together to nourish and protect your skin. What I love about this product is that it has been tested on sensitive skin. It also has a broad spectrum and blends so well on the skin (it is non-sticky).
Clinique City Block Sheer SPF 25+ ($25):
A lightweight sunscreen that offers UVA and UVB protection. Has no parabens and happens to be oil-free, making it ideal for people with dry skin. One unique feature of this product is that it is safe to use around the eyes. If you it is dry, it is advisable to apply a moisturizer before the sunscreen as it may leave dry patches on your face.
Aveeno Natural Protection Lotion Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum ($10.99)
Aveeno is well known for its nature-based brands. This product contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, along with oat extract. Oats are anti-inflammatory and help soothe the skin while at the same time minimizing irritation. The product is oil-free, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and can be used by eczema patients.
Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 30 ($15)
If you suffer from eczema and rosacea, then this product is highly recommended for you. The product is more of a sunblock and happens to be fragrance-free, contains few chemicals, and is non-comedogenic. Antioxidants in the product help to nourish the skin. Also, it contains zinc oxide (5%), and titanium dioxide (5%), which makes it ideal for providing broad coverage against UV rays. This sunscreen can be used on children above the age of 6 months. On the downside, the product tends to be extremely greasy.
Tips for Choosing the best sunscreen for this skin type
Look for a sunscreen that is fragrance-free, no parabens, chemical filters, or harmful preservatives. Also, avoid sunscreens containing alcohol, salicylates, ecamsule, and Oxybenzone or Benzophenone-3 as they are likely to cause irritations.
It is advisable to go for sunscreens that have a broad spectrum (SPF of 30 and higher). Such sunscreens contain the key UVA blocking ingredients-zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
If you have acne prone skin, then go for gel-based sunscreens as they are likely to cause a drying effect, thereby limiting the risk of aggravating the condition. Avoid greasy (creamy) sunscreens unless you are on topical acne medication.
If you have dry-sensitive skin, then you can look for a sunscreen that also moisturizes, for example, the Elta Facial Moisturizer and Block SPF 30/32.
Lastly, be sure to carry out a patch test before trying the product on your face.
With these simple rules and hints, I’m sure you’ll be fine.
- Bill Gottlieb, The Editors of Prevention. Health-Defense: How to Stay Vibrantly Healthy in a Toxic World, Rodale, 2015