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by Lisa Fogarty
If you're here, you already know how important it is to wear sunscreen every day to protect your skin from harmful rays. But people with sensitive skin need one that also won't leave it looking and feeling as raw as the worst sunburn. Luckily, the best sunscreens for sensitive skin have all the UVA and UVB protection your skin is begging for, without the irritation.
“Sensitivities to sunscreen can fall under a few categories,” Dr. Erum Ilyas of Schweiger Dermatology Group tells Bustle. “There can be an actual allergy or sensitivity to one of the active ingredients in the sunscreen. There can be an actual allergy or sensitivity to one of the inactive ingredients, i.e., the preservatives or fragrance, in the sunscreen. Some people experience burning in their eyes once they start sweating from the sunscreen product actually running into their eyes.”
Sensitive skin types tend to react more to chemicals in products, so it's easy to see why certain chemicals should be avoided at all costs. The simplest way to address this is to focus your search on sunscreens that use zinc and/or titanium as their active ingredients and avoid preservatives such as parabens, as well as fragrances, dyes, and formaldehyde.
“Zinc and titanium tend to be ‘inert,’ meaning that they are less likely to cause true allergic reactions,” Dr. Ilyas says. “If there are still sensitivities to these sunscreen products, patch testing patients to determine the true cause of the reaction can be helpful. Routinely these results have indicated that the preservatives and/or fragrances added to sunscreen products are often the true cause of the reactions. By seeking products that minimize preservatives and fragrances, the chances of feeling burning or stinging in the eyes with sweating is also less likely.”
The good news is there are more amazing sunscreens for sensitive skin out there than ever before and they aren't all the same goopy, white cream formula from the past. These nine sunscreens are designed for sensitive skin that needs that little bit of extra TLC, including skin that suffers from rosacea or eczema. Plus they offer optimum protection, too.
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Which brand sunscreen is best for sensitive skin? ›
- Elta MD Skin Care UV Glow SPF 36. ...
- Tatcha The Silk Sunscreen SPF 50. ...
- SuperGoop! ...
- Bare Republic Mineral Sport Sunscreen Stick SPF 50. ...
- Cotz Face Prime & Protect Tinted SPF 40. ...
- Neutrogena Mineral Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Face and Body Stick SPF 50.
Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Face Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50. Saedi recommends this mineral sunscreen for people with atopic dermatitis, as it is specially formulated for those with sensitive skin. It boasts a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free formula that's waterproof and sweatproof for long-lasting wear.What sunscreen can I use to not have allergic reaction? ›
- 1) Vanicream Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30. ...
- 2) Cotz Sensitive SPF 40. ...
- 3) Badger Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30. ...
- 4) Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen. ...
- 5) Suntegrity Unscented Natural Mineral Sunscreen.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the chemical sunscreen ingredients that have been found to most commonly cause allergic reactions in the skin are oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), dibenzoylmethanes, cinnamates, and benzophenones.Why does my skin get irritated from sunscreen? ›
This is usually a result of an allergy to the active ingredients, but it can also be due to a reaction to the fragrances or preservatives in the product. The reaction may look like severe sunburn or eczema, and most commonly occurs on the face, arms, back of hands, chest and lower neck.What ingredient in sunscreen causes eczema? ›
Dr. Yu explained that oxybenzone and avobenzone are two common allergens in sunscreen that “have been linked to allergic contact dermatitis,” so it's best to avoid products with those ingredients.What is being allergic to sunscreen called? ›
While contact dermatitis to sunscreens is not as common as cosmetic allergies, it is not a rare condition. The reaction to sunscreens can occur anywhere on the body where the substance is applied. It tends to be more common in the areas of the body with the most sun exposure. This is called photo-contact dermatitis.Can the sun make dermatitis worse? ›
Sunlight exposure can either trigger a flare or alleviate inflamed, itchy skin. Either way, take steps to protect your skin in the sun by applying sunscreen. Talk with your doctor about any medications and remedies you're using that may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.Why is my skin reacting to everything all of a sudden? ›
Maybe you ate a certain food or touched/inhaled something, like dust or certain plants. These things are called allergy triggers. The most common type of skin allergy is contact dermatitis, also called atopic dermatitis. It happens when you're exposed to an irritant, such as laundry detergent, latex, or poison ivy.What do I do if I'm allergic to sunscreen? ›
A sunscreen allergy is treated similarly to other allergic skin reactions. In milder cases, the rash will subside on its own. Moderate to severe cases may require topical or oral steroids to reduce inflammation and the reaction. Oral antihistamines can also help with itching and allergic response.
Which sunscreen is best for sensitive skin physical or chemical? ›
Physical sunscreen is better for sensitive skin because it doesn't contain any chemicals that could potentially cause a reaction. If you have sensitive skin, be sure to choose a physical sunscreen that doesn't contain any fragrance or other potential irritants.Which sunscreen is best according to dermatologist? ›
- Truderma Sunscreen Gel SPF 50.
- Z Block 25% Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Gel.
- Bello Photostable Sunscreen Gel.
- Tvaksh Face Guard Sunscreen.
- IPCA Acne UV Gel.
- UV Doux Silicone Sunscreen Gel.
- La Shield Fisico Matte Sunscreen Gel.
- La Sheild Lite Anti-Tanning Sunscreen.
Cetaphil mineral facial sunscreen SPF 50
Formulated for sensitive skin, Cetaphil's product passes all our filters, as does its matching body SPF lotion. (Which itself is safe for the face, too.)
- Unsun Hydrating Full Coverage Body Lotion SPF 30. ...
- Grown Alchemist Natural Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30. ...
- Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen. ...
- Saie Sunvisor. ...
- The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 50. ...
- MARA Algae + Zinc Sea Kale Sunscreen Serum. ...
- Supergoop Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40.
Mineral-based sunscreens considered safest
For now, if you are concerned about health effects, the safest choice is a so-called “mineral” or “physical” sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, dermatologists say.
Causes of sun allergy include immune system reactions to sunlight, certain medications and chemicals that make the skin more sensitive to the sun. It isn't clear why some people have a sun allergy and others don't. Inherited traits may play a role.Can zinc oxide cause skin irritation? ›
If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, remember that your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if this unlikely side effect occurs: skin irritation.What sunscreen should I use if I have eczema? ›
Use high protection SPF (minimum SPF30) with 4-5 UVA stars. Apply 15-30 minutes before going out, and every 2 hours after that. Sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protection are ideal – these are sometimes labelled 'broad spectrum' sunscreens.Does vitamin D help eczema? ›
In a small study (11 participants) of children ages 2–13 with eczema, 80% of those taking 1,000 IU of vitamin per day for one month showed improvement in their symptoms. In another study with 30 participants, all of those taking 1,600 IU of vitamin D daily showed significant improvement in their eczema.Is Cerave sunscreen good for eczema? ›
Cerave Spf 50 Sunscreen Body Lotion
Developed with dermatologists, the ceramides in this lightweight formula are designed to maintain a protective barrier against moisture loss (a problem for eczema sufferers).
What vitamins cause sun sensitivity? ›
Vitamins and Herbs
Another pill that might put you at risk: niacin, a form of Vitamin B3 that's used to treat high cholesterol. It can cause skin reactions, Rech said, "so it could potentially cause [sun sensitivity]."
- Artificial sweeteners.
Solar urticaria is a rare allergic reaction to sun exposure. The condition causes an itchy rash or hives that appear on any skin that has been exposed to the sun. The more skin that is exposed to sunlight, the more serious the reaction will be. There is no cure for solar urticaria.How do you calm a dermatitis flare up? ›
- Moisturize your skin at least twice a day. ...
- Apply an anti-itch cream to the affected area. ...
- Take an oral allergy or anti-itch medication. ...
- Don't scratch. ...
- Take a daily bath or shower.
- Wheat and gluten.
- Citrus fruits.
- Dairy, including yogurt, cow's milk, cheese, and butter.
Your doctor can prescribe a steroid cream to stop the itch and clear your rash, or topical creams called calcineurin inhibitors like pimecrolimus (Elidel) or tacrolimus (Protopic) that protect your skin and prevent eczema outbreaks. Hydrocortisone cream is available over the counter (OTC) and eases mild itching.How do you calm sensitive skin? ›
- take short 5 to 10 minute showers with warm — not hot — water.
- avoid harsh astringents and exfoliants.
- use a gentle, fragrance-free soap.
- use essential oils instead of perfumes.
- use a gentle, fragrance-free laundry detergent.
- try using organic cleaning supplies.
- Tomato juice.
- Coconut oil.
- Raw milk.
- Baking soda.
- Sugar as a natural exfoliant.
- Olive oil.
When it comes to food allergies, peanuts, wheat, eggs, cow's milk, soy and shellfish are among the most common culprits. The itchiness caused by these foods and subsequent scratching can then lead to flare-ups or worsening of dermatitis symptoms.Do dermatologists recommend mineral or chemical sunscreen? ›
"They form a physical barrier that reflects the light rays away from the skin." The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a mineral sunscreen (instead of a chemical sunscreen) if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.
How do I know if my sunscreen is a mineral or chemical? ›
You can tell if your sunscreen is chemical or physical by reading the ingredients. If you see minerals such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide, then that is a physical sunscreen. Another way is by looking at the consistency of the formula. Chemical sunscreens tend to be more transparent and less thick.Is zinc oxide or titanium dioxide better for sensitive skin? ›
Non-comedogenic and gentle on skin: Just like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide is also noncomedogenic. It's extremely gentle, making it a great choice for those with sensitive skin.What sunscreen doesn't sting your eyes? ›
1. Blue Lizard Sensitive Face Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30+ This mineral sunscreen is made specifically for use on the face. It's oil-free and lightweight, making it easy to apply and comfortable to wear.What sunscreen does not irritate your eyes? ›
CeraVe Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 uses mineral filters to offer broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays, and it was also developed with dermatologists to be non-irritating.How do I know if my sunscreen is irritating? ›
Symptoms of a sunscreen allergy look similar to that of a sun allergy (also called sun poisoning), as well as a heat rash or sunburn. All of these conditions involve red, sometimes itchy, rashes. Other symptoms of sunscreen allergy may include: hives.Are mineral sunscreens less irritating? ›
For someone with sensitive skin or skin that's easily irritated, Christenson definitely recommends choosing mineral-based sunscreens over chemical ones. "The heat that's generated as a chemical sunscreen deactivates UV rays can trigger irritation for people with sensitive skin," explains Christenson.What is in sunscreen that keeps you from burning? ›
Inorganic compounds, containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, shield the skin to reflect and scatter UV radiation. A broad-spectrum sunscreen contains compounds that absorb and/or reflect UVB rays in addition to Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, the ones that age skin and cause wrinkles.How do you make sunscreen not sting? ›
Now that we know what to do to relieve the burn, here are some tips on how to prevent sunscreen from getting into your eyes. Never spray sunscreen directly on your face. Apply it first to your hand, and then to your face, avoiding the eyes. Look for sunscreens made with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.What sunscreen to use around eyes? ›
Mineral formulas, made with zinc or titanium dioxide, are a good choice, as they are made for sensitive skin and won't sting your eyes as you sweat. Stick sunscreens work well with the eyes as the product won't melt and it makes application less messy.Why does sunscreen burn my face and eyes? ›
Sunscreens commonly contain ingredients that may irritate the eye itself. Fragrance, the active ingredients in sunscreens, especially the chemical filters, preservatives, and other ingredients may cause eye stinging and burning if applied too close to the eye.