The idea that sunscreens are universally greasy, heavy, and pore-clogging is just one of the many misconceptions we need to put to rest. It's 2020! Skin care brands are more than equipped to formulate sunscreens that are appropriate for oily and acne-prone skin, without sacrificing the broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection you need every day. So in addition to having an SPF of at least 30, the best sunscreens for oily skin are non-comedogenic, oil-free (of course), lightweight, and often have a matte finish. Sometimes, they’re labelled as such; other times, you need to know what to look for in the ingredients list.
Most face sunscreens have some type of moisturizer in them to counteract any potentially drying mattifying ingredients, which also provides the added boon of comfort and blendability. If you have oily skin, look for hyaluronic acid and ceramides in your sunscreen (and in your normal moisturizer, too) — they’re both powerful hydrators, but they’re totally free of oil. Meanwhile, ingredients that absorb excess oil can be anything from finely ground minerals to clay to skin-safe synthetics. It’s also a good idea to look for fragrance-free formulas if your skin is on the sensitive or reactive side.
Keep your skin protected, balanced, and shine-free with one of the seven best sunscreens for oily skin, below.
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1. The Overall Best Sunscreen For Oily Skin
This mineral-based EltaMD sunscreen shows up on pretty much every “best-of sunscreen” list you may come across, and there's a good chance your derm would recommend it, too. It works for essentially every skin type, because it’s formulated for the skin types that are toughest to shop for — i.e., those prone to acne, rosacea, breakouts, and other forms of irritation. And perhaps inadvertently, it has a matte but non-drying finish, which makes it ideal for oily or combination skin. Other than providing broad-spectrum sun protection, this contains some ingredients that actively benefit your skin, like hydrating hyaluronic acid, protective antioxidants, and niacinamide, which helps promote a more even-looking complexion.
2. The Best Moisturizing Sunscreen
Technically, this CeraVe sunscreen is a moisturizing lotion first, but it does both jobs — the moisturizing and the protecting — equally well. The oil-free formula features both ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which work together to impart moisture, seal it in, and restore your skin’s protective barrier to ensure long-term hydration. An SPF of 30 provides broad-spectrum sun protection for up to 80 minutes, and it's lightweight enough so it won't clog pores or aggravate breakouts. You can't do much better for less than $20!
3. The Best Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin
La Roche-Posay makes some of the best skin care products for sensitive skin, so their Anthelios sunscreen line should be a go-to if most face sunscreens feel itchy, uncomfortable, or cause reactions on your skin. This Clear Skin Dry Touch sunscreen is the standout for oily skin in particular. Silica and perlite, two naturally occurring minerals, help absorb excess oil, while cassia alata leaf works to keep redness and inflammation at bay. Reviewers also say this absorbs nice and quickly, and doesn’t pill or clump under makeup.
4. The Best Mattifying Sunscreen
All of the sunscreens on this list have a shine-free finish, but this IMAGE Daily Matte Moisturizer is among the more actively mattifying sunscreens I’ve come across. This one is also marketed as a moisturizer, and it does feel comfortable and breathable on my skin’s drier spots, but an SPF of 35 means it's nice and protective. The addition of dimethicone gives it a smoothing, blurring effect as well, so I like to use this in lieu of an oil-absorbing primer.
5. The Best Mattifying Sunscreen With Natural Ingredients
This sustainably packaged sunscreen from COOLA contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, plus a ton of plant-based extracts (70% of which are certified organic) for added skin care benefits. Keep in mind that this isn’t 100% natural: It contains a few non-comedogenic synthetics, like dimethicone, for its velvety texture. It's reef-safe, too, blends in sheer, and, similar to IMAGE's sunscreen, has a matte, soft-focus finish that leaves skin looking smooth.
6. The Best Japanese Sunscreen
Japanese cosmetic companies are at the forefront of sunscreen formulations, so it's hard to go wrong with any of them. But this Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Sunscreen is one of the most universally beloved. The “watery” aspect is courtesy of hyaluronic acid and non-comedogenic royal jelly, which give the consistency its smooth glide and easy blendability. It dries down to a matte finish despite that refreshing, fluid feel. And it doesn’t leave a chalky film over your skin, like so many face sunscreens do, so it’s a great choice for darker skin tones.
7. The Best Face & Body Sunscreen
This grease-free, sweat-resistant Paula’s Choice sunscreen is formulated to be safe for use on your face, but this 5-ounce bottle is conducive to slathering it all over the rest of your body, too. This is an especially good choice if you have acne-prone skin, or if you’re currently experiencing breakouts on your face or body. The formula contains kaolin and bentonite clay to absorb oil and soften your skin, while aloe restores hydration and soothes inflammation. Vitamins A, C, and E offer antioxidant benefits, too. Amazon reviewers say this one also works beautifully for dark skin, since it doesn’t leave behind a white cast.