The 7 Best Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin

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The 7 Best Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin
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Photo: Getty Images

Riddle us this: Have you ever slathered on a seemingly innocent sunscreen to your super-sensitive skin, only to have your face erupt in redness, irritation, and stinging? Yeah, we’ve been there, and it sucks. But trust us when we say not all sunscreens are hiding in dark corners, waiting to destroy your skin—you may just be using the wrong type of sunscreen, namely a chemical formulation instead of a physical formulation, and yes, there’s a big difference between the two.

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Alright, so we all know that both chemical and physical sunscreens protect your skin from harmful UV rays, preventing skin cancer, dark spots and premature aging (yes, we are founding presidents of the Sunscreen Fan Club), right? But you may not know that both work in totally different ways, and are not suited for all skin types. In a nutshell, physical sunscreens, which are formulated with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, tend to be thicker and more opaque (think: the sunblock on a lifeguard’s nose) and sit on top of your skin to form a ray-deflecting barrier, like a shield. Chemical sunscreens, however, have a bigger concoction of micro ingredients, like avobenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate, which slowly sink into your skin to absorb and destroy UV rays.

Pretty Clear Skin

Photo: ImaxTree

OK, cool, but what does this have to do with you and your sensitive skin? Well, although chemical sunscreens tend to be more cosmetically elegant, and, thus, more popular, their mix of skin-penetrating ingredients can be hella irritating to sensitive skin types. And while either choice will still protect your face from the sun, you may want to switch to a physical sunscreen if your skin tends to freak out at anything harsher than a gust of air.

Luckily, though, it’s 2017, and physical sunscreen formulations have come a long way since “Baywatch” days, feeling more silky and sheer than ever before. And to prove it, we’ve rounded up the seven best physical sunscreens that will make even your angry, hard-to-please, baby-like skin happy. Click through them all, below, and welcome to the Sunscreen Fan Club.

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Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30, $29; at Paula’s Choice

Photo: Paula’s Choice
Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60+
Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60+

Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60+, $10.99; at Neutrogena

Photo: Neutrogena
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, $33.50; at La Roche-Posay

Photo: La Roche-Posay
Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer
Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer

Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer, Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $45; at Suntegrity Skin Care

Photo: Suntegrity
Cerave Sunscreen Face Lotion with SPF 50
Cerave Sunscreen Face Lotion with SPF 50

Cerave Sunscreen Face Lotion with SPF 50, $11.29; at Target

Photo: Cerave
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad Spectrum
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad Spectrum

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad Spectrum, $30; at Sephora

Photo: First Aid Beauty
Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50+
Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50+

Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50+, $18.99; at Walgreens

Photo: Vanicream
Photo: ImaxTree

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  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
  • Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60+
  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid
  • Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer
  • Cerave Sunscreen Face Lotion with SPF 50
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad Spectrum
  • Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50+

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