Bye-Bye, Breakouts: The 15 Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin

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woman applying sunscreen

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At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you should be wearing SPF every day, year-round, even if you only spend a few minutes outside. While we realize some folks resist this crucial skincare step for fear it'll cause breakouts, sun protection is nonetheless vital for the acne-prone set. The good news is that there are lots of fab formulas that not only won't exacerbate the issue but might also help it improve.

So, what type of sunscreen is best for pimple prevention? "Ideally, you need to avoid heavy oils that can clog the pores (coconut oil, for example) and certain silicone derivatives such as dimethicone," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Martha H. Viera.

Generally speaking, she tells Byrdie that oil-free, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free formulas fare better for those battling breakouts. With expert pointers and specific recommendations from Dr. Viera in mind, we found standout formulas that support a clear complexion.

Here are the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin.

Our Top Picks
This lightweight, fast-absorbing formula gently exfoliates with lactic acid to prevent future breakouts.
This wallet-friendly option provides SPF 30 protection while moisturizing with shea butter and silk proteins.
This drugstore pick is free of pore-clogging oils and irritating fragrance, leaving behind a matte, shine-free finish.
This oil-free, non-irritating formula delivers SPF 60 protection with a sheer, matte finish.
This non-greasy SPF 50 sunscreen absorbs remarkably fast and contains antibacterial cica to help calm inflammation.
This innovative sunscreen-serum hybrid keeps skin protected with SPF 50 while priming skin for makeup.
This lightweight water-gel formula absorbs in an instant, making it a great pick for those who dread wearing sunscreen.
The luxuriously lightweight, oil-free sunscreen is packed with skin-loving ingredients to keep shine and large pores at bay.
This lightweight mineral sunscreen delivers a matte finish sans that dreaded greasy feel.
This antioxidant-packed translucent gel sunscreen can stand up to sweat and splashing for a full 80 minutes.

Best Overall: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
What We Like
  • Sheer formula

  • Fragrance-free

  • Mildly exfoliating

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

When it comes to applying sunscreen on your face, a clear formula is clutch. That's why we appreciate EltaMD UV Clear, which offers invisible, broad-spectrum protection from the sun's harmful rays.

Dr. Viera is also a big fan of EltaMD for acne-prone skin. The exceedingly lightweight, fast-absorbing formula hydrates the skin with hyaluronic acid and leaves behind a sheer, shine-free finish. What's more, this oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreen calls on lactic acid to gently exfoliate and help prevent future breakouts.

Type: Chemical/mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, octinoxate, lactic acid | SPF: 46 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Oil, fragrance | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

"This is easily the most non-irritating, absorbent, and low-maintenance facial sunscreen I’ve come across; it’s essentially a nice mid-range moisturizer that happens to have SPF 46." — Kelsey Clark, Product Tester

Best Budget: Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Face Sunscreen

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Sunscreen Face Lotion
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

  • Contains fragrance

On a budget? Go with Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration. This incredibly smooth, virtually weightless sunscreen moisturizes with shea butter and silk proteins, then offers SPF 30 protection. Since it's a chemical SPF formula (meaning it uses organic chemical compounds rather than minerals to protect the skin), make sure you apply it at least 15 minutes before heading outside.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Mineral SPF, oil | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30

Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

Don't sleep on drugstore sunscreen. Developed with oily complexions in mind, Cetaphil's DermaControl Moisturizer is free of irritating fragrance and pore-clogging oils. A favorite of Dr. Viera, the smooth formula offers SPF 30 protection while minimizing greasiness and leaving a matte finish in its wake.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 4 ounces | Free Of: Mineral SPF, oil, fragrance | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best SPF 50+: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Light Fluid Face Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60

Sunscreen
What We Like
  • Water-resistant

  • Fragrance-free

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

  • Not cruelty-free

Want something higher than SPF 50? Dr. Viera recommends La Roche-Posay Anthelios. This fancy French sunscreen delivers SPF 60 protection from both UVA and UVB rays. The oil-free, non-irritating formula goes on sheer, provides a matte finish, and is water-resistant for 80 minutes.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 60 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Mineral SPF, oxybenzone, oil, fragrance | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best K-Beauty: Suntique I'm Pure Cica Suncream

Suntique I'm Pure Cica Suncream
What We Like
  • Mineral formula

  • Calms inflammation

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

For Korean beauty stans, we suggest Suntiques I'm Pure. This non-greasy, never-sticky SPF 50 sunscreen absorbs remarkably fast and leaves behind a nice matte finish. We also like that it contains cica (centella asiatica), a naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory herb that promotes healing.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 50+ | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Chemical SPF, fragrance | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Serum: ZitSticka MegaShade Sunscreen Serum SPF 50

ZitSticka MegaShade Sunscreen Serum SPF 50
What We Like
  • Hybrid formula

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

A sunscreen serum can be used as your main source of SPF or as an added layer. Dr. Viera likes ZitSticka MegaShade, which provides full-spectrum protection from zinc oxide and gentle chemical compounds. The hybrid formula goes on clear, absorbs quickly, primes your skin for makeup, and won't block your pores.

Type: Mineral/chemical | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, octisalate, octinoxate, homosalate | SPF: 50 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates, titanium dioxide, fragrance | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Black Friday Deal

Best Gel: Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 35

Invisible Shield SPF 35
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Nice consistency

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

Glossier's Invisible Shield boasts a brilliantly lightweight water-gel formula that absorbs instantly and plays well with makeup. Formulated for folks who dread wearing sunscreen, it goes on like a serum and won't leave your face feeling greasy.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate | SPF: 35 | Size: 1.6 ounces | Free Of: Mineral SPF, mineral oil | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Oil-Free: Dermalogica Oil Free Matte SPF 30

Dermalogica Oil Free Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 30
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Mattifying

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

  • Pricey

Dermalogica's Active Clearing sunscreen is a godsend for acne-prone complexions. The luxuriously lightweight, oil-free formula offers SPF 30 protection, but it doesn't stop there. Packed with skin-loving ingredients like niacinamide (vitamin B3), yeast extract, and caffeine, you can count on this formula to help minimize the appearance of pores and deliver a shine-free finish.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, oxybenzone | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Oil, mineral SPF, synthetic fragrance | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Mattifying: Supergoop! Mineral Matte Screen SPF 40

Supergoop! Mineral Matte Screen SPF 40
What We Like
  • Mineral formula

  • Fragrance-free

  • Water-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Supergoop! is kind of an authority when it comes to sunscreens. The brand's Mattescreen is ideal for acne-prone skin, offering lightweight, sheer mineral protection and a matte finish without that dreaded greasy feel.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 40 | Size: 1.5 ounces | Free Of: Fragrance, parabens, sulfates, chemical SPF | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Water-Resistant: Sonrei Sea Clearly Translucent Gel Sunscreen SPF 50

Sonrei Sea Clearly Translucent Gel Sunscreen SPF 50
What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • Reef-safe

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

If you're planning an ocean getaway or poolside vacation, look for a water-resistant formula, like Sonrei Sea Clearly. The reef-safe, antioxidant-rich, translucent gel offers SPF 50 protection and stands up to sweat and splashing for a full 80 minutes.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Homosalate, octocrylene, octisalate, avobenzone | SPF: 50 | Size: 3.4 ounces | Free Of: Fragrance, mineral SPF, parabens, gluten | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Tinted: Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen

Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen
What We Like
  • Mineral formula

  • No white cast

  • Water-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • Contains coconut oil

This triple-threat product from UnSun is a face lotion, sunscreen, and tinted moisturizer all in one. It comes in medium/dark and light/medium, both of which offer just a hint of color and flatter a range of skin tones. 

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 30 | Size: 1.7 ounces | Free Of: Chemical SPF, synthetic ingredients | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Eczema-Prone Skin: CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 Face Lotion

CeraVe Mineral Sunscreen Lotion for Face
What We Like
  • Mineral formula

  • Fragrance-free

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • Not cruelty-free

You'll be glad to have CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen in your bag if you have eczema. The non-comedogenic, fragrance-free lotion offers SPF 50 mineral protection while working to restore the skin's natural barrier with essential ceramides and skin-soothing niacinamide.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 50 | Size: 2.5 ounces | Free Of: Chemical SPF, fragrance, oil, parabens | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Melanin-Rich Skin: AbsoluteJOI Daily Hydrating Moisturizing Cream with Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40

AbsoluteJOI Daily Hydrating Moisturizing Cream with Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40
What We Like
  • Mineral formula

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Melanin-rich skin isn't immune to sunburn. With this in mind, Absolute Joi made this SPF 40 hydrating cream moisturizer. Available in two tinted shades, it goes on sheer and effortlessly blends without leaving a white cast.

Type: Mineral | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide | SPF: 40 | Size: 1.7 | Free Of: Chemical SPF, fragrance | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dark Skin Tones: Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

Black Girl Sunscreen
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Sheer formula

  • No white cast

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

Made for people of color by a woman of color, Black Girl Sunscreen is ideal for dark skin tones. The zinc-free formula moisturizes the skin and acts as a lightweight makeup primer or a standalone face lotion—no white cast in sight.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | SPF: 30 | Size: 3 ounces | Free Of: Zinc, parabens, oxybenzone, octinoxate | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Stick: Sun Bum Face Stick

Sun Bum Original Sunscreen
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Easy to apply

  • Portable

What We Don't Like
  • No physical SPF

  • Contains fragrance

You're supposed to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, but it's not always easy when you're on the go. That's why we love Sun Bum's pocket-sized Face Stick, which glides on smoothly and delivers broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection anytime, anywhere.

Type: Chemical | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate | SPF: 30 | Size: 0.45 ounces | Free Of: Mineral SPF | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

The best sunscreen for acne-prone skin is undoubtedly EltaMD's UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, a mineral-chemical hybrid boasting an invisible, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic formula. However, Hawaiian Tropic's Silk Hydration Weightless Sunscreen (view at Amazon) is an excellent budget-friendly option, as is Cetaphil's DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30 (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in a Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

Oil-Free

Sounds obvious, but choosing an oil-free formulation is one of the easiest ways to make sure it won’t exacerbate or cause breakouts.

Non-Comedogenic

This indicates that it is not supposed to clog pores, another key factor for those prone to acne or even just blackheads and whiteheads.

Broad-Spectrum

This is less about the oily skin side of things and more about the sunscreen part of things. You want to make sure the product you pick can shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays; a "broad-spectrum" indication is proof that it does.

FAQ
  • What types of sunscreen are best for acne-prone skin?

    To avoid clogged pores, Dr. Viera says, "It is best to look for oil-free or non-comedogenic products." She also suggests looking for a mineral formula to avoid irritation, though everyone's skin is different, even among the acne-prone camp.

    Some mineral sunscreens can leave a white cast or a greasy residue, but there are many sheer, mattifying formulas on the market. Additionally, you can find mineral-chemical hybrids, which provide SPF protection from minerals such as zinc or titanium dioxide, as well as organic chemical compounds, like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octocrylene.

  • What ingredients should you avoid in sunscreens for acne-prone skin?

    According to Dr. Viera, oil-free formulas are ideal for those with acne-prone skin, but a small amount of plant-based oil may not be an issue for some people. "Chemical filters in the sunscreen, such as oxybenzone and octocrylene, [and] certain fragrances can also be irritating and may induce skin allergies," she adds.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Theresa Holland is a freelance content creator specializing in commerce, lifestyle, and beauty. For this article, she interviewed a board-certified dermatologist and researched various sunscreen types, ingredients, and formulations that fare best for acne-prone skin. She looked at products from myriad brands and retailers, carefully considering the key attributes of each one before making her final selections. Having tried a plethora of sunscreens over the years, Theresa is personally fond of EltaMD, Tatcha, La Roche-Posay, and CeraVe. She has been writing for Byrdie since 2020, where she covers skincare, makeup, and workout apparel.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Martha H. Viera, MD FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Miami, Florida. She is a fellow member of several dermatological organizations, including the Women's Dermatologic Society, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery.

How We Test Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain products; you can read more about our product review methodology here.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  3. Ratz-Łyko A, Arct J, Pytkowska K. Moisturizing and antiinflammatory properties of cosmetic formulations containing Centella asiatica extractIndian J Pharm Sci. 2016;78(1):27-33. doi:10.4103/0250-474x.180247

  4. Rai R, Shanmuga SC, Srinivas C. Update on photoprotectionIndian J Dermatol. 2012;57(5):335-342. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.100472

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  6. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Sunscreen FAQs.

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