14 Best Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin That Won’t Itch or Irritate

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Editor Tip: This pediatrician-approved formula is a great sunscreen for the entire family, including babies.

Key Ingredients: 8% titanium dioxide, 10% zinc oxide, vitamin E | Tinted: No | Who It’s For: Everyone | Type: Mineral


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I benefit from sunscreen for sensitive skin?

As we mentioned, it could be hard for those with sensitive skin to find a sunscreen that won’t irritate them due to common irritants from chemical sun blockers. If that’s you, you’ll want to try a gentler, mineral sunscreen.

Even if you’re not sensitive to every chemical present in a chemical sunscreen, discerning which one is irritating to your skin is complicated. “Even if you identify which [kind of] product it is, you don’t know which chemical it is [because] formulas typically contain up to four [photoprotective chemicals],” says board-certified dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama. Thus, a mineral sunscreen with no chemicals rids you of the root issue. Plus, cosmetic chemist Ginger King previously told Allure that mineral sunscreens are less pore-clogging.

Another consideration is “to avoid mineral sunscreens that have parabens, phthalates, and added fragrances, as these can cause irritation, redness, and inflammation of the skin,” board-certified dermatologist and Ever/Body’s supervising physician, Joel Lamm, MD, says. The lesson at hand: Always read the ingredient list, especially as some sunscreens are hybrid formulas and contain physical and chemical UV filters.

What’s the difference between a chemical and a mineral sunscreen?

Dr. Lamm notes that mineral sunscreens are gentler but still have high SPF protection options for sensitive skin. “Physical sunscreens (a.k.a. mineral) work by reflecting the UV rays off skin,” he says. Conversely, Dr. Lamm explains that chemical-filter sun protection products work by absorbing the sun’s rays that hit your skin, rather than bouncing them off.

Mineral-based products utilize, well, mineral filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are usually gentler than chemical options. “Mineral sunscreens also typically do not irritate the eyes like chemical sunscreens,” he says. Plus, they’re photostable, so they don’t need to be applied as regularly as chemical sunscreens, according to New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD.

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When Allure tests a product, our editors look at it from every angle in an effort to best serve you. We review ingredients, scrutinize brand claims, and, when necessary, examine peer-reviewed scientific and medical studies. In addition to testing each and every product that’s included in each and every review, we rely on experts who shape their fields, including dermatology, cosmetic chemistry, and medicine, to help us vet the ingredients and formulas.

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