Got Sensitive Skin? These Sunscreens Were Made for You

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Got Sensitive Skin? These Sunscreens Are for YouSiena Gagliano/Courtesy


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As a beauty editor, having sensitive skin sucks. Like, yeah, I want to try every single new beauty product, but my fragrance allergies, rosacea, melasma, and hormonal acne prevent me from doing so. But a non-negotiable? Sunscreen—which, FYI, is the most crucial and important step in any skincare routine—and you bet I test each and every new sunscreen for sensitive skin that comes out on the market.

That's right, I risked potential itchiness, redness, inflammation, breakouts, and a whole lot of skin anxiety to find the best sunscreens for sensitive skin available, and I've got all my personal testing and reviews below for you to check out. I also chatted with board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD, and referenced tips from Mona Gohara, MD, so you can make better-informed skincare decisions in the future when I'm not here. Not all sunscreens are created equal, but I'm here to help you find a formula that works for your sensitive skin so you can stop worrying about irritation and sunscreen-related breakouts—pinky promise.

Now, keep reading for the full breakdown of the best sunscreens for sensitive skin, according to product reviewers, my personal testing, and tips from dermatologists on how to choose the best sunscreens for sensitive skin and what to look for before you buy.

transparent Mineral Face Liquid Sunscreen

Right here is the crème de la crème of sunscreens for sensitive skin. Not only is it free of a bunch of potentially sensitizing additives (including dyes and fragrances), but it's a drugstore sunscreen that comes in at a very affordable price point. This top-rated (and derm-loved) sunscreen lotion from Cetaphil protects your skin with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and feels super lightweight. Every morning after I finish my skincare routine, I apply this sunscreen and then do the rest of my makeup. I find that it creates a great primer and base sans the pilling other sunscreens can cause.

  • SPF: 50

  • Tinted? No

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide (SPF); niacinamide, vitamin E, allantoin, bisabolol

Glowing Customer Review: "I use this every day. First I put it on my face, neck, and chest. Then I wait three minutes for it to dry. Then I put on my liquid foundation and they work great together. Other sunscreens create a weird makeup finish," one tester writes. "It blends nicely into the skin and leaves a nice finish—it has a white cast when first applied, but five minutes later you can’t even tell!" writes another.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HJKQP7X?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10049.g.26015502%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>transparent Mineral Face Liquid Sunscreen</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$11.99</p><span class="copyright">Courtesy Image</span>

Unseen Sunscreen

This sensitive-skin sunscreen with SPF 40 doubles as a lightweight, skin-smoothing primer, and is actually the product that got beauty editor Beth Gillette to commit to wearing sunscreen every day. "Of every sunscreen in my arsenal, I keep coming back to Supergoop's Unseen because it's truly the best," she says, adding, "It basically disappears into a smoothing, blurring makeup primer on my skin, so it's great under foundation every day or when I'm sitting by the pool sweatin' away."

  • SPF: 40

  • Tinted? No

  • Key ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene (SPF); vitamin E, jojoba esters

Glowing Customer Review: "I have tried so many brands, expensive and inexpensive sunscreens for the face and or body and this one is perfect for my very sensitive skin. And NO white cast at all on my tan skin complexion. Definitely recommend. And will be purchasing again."

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08CFVM1TT?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10049.g.26015502%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Unseen Sunscreen</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$38.00</p>

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Unseen Sunscreen

amazon.com

$38.00

DreamBeam

Not only does Cosmo as a whole love this mineral-based clean sunscreen (case in point: it's a 2024 Clean Beauty award winner), but it's also one of deputy beauty director Lauren Balsamo's personal faves. "Hailey Bieber is obsessed with this, and so am I; it blurs, lightly hydrates, and protects skin with zinc-oxide-based SPF 40." If that wasn't enough to convince you, maybe the MVP ingredient list will—hi, soothing allantoin, plumping peptides, strengthening ceramides, and hydrating hyaluronic acid. 'Nuff said.

  • SPF: 40

  • Tinted? Yes* (*two shades, one formula with just shimmer, and another with shimmer and bronze tint)

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide (SPF); allantoin, peptides, ceramides, hyaluronic acid

Glowing Customer Review: "After using this sunscreen for a couple of weeks, I noticed it held up well for all-day use, gave a nice glow to my skin, and didn’t break me out. It’s now become my go-to for a light all-day light coverage makeup product. Also layers well under my foundation for my evening look."

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Fdreambeam-moisturizing-mineral-sunscreen-spf-40-with-ceramides-and-peptides-P505327&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cosmopolitan.com%2Fstyle-beauty%2Fbeauty%2Fg26015502%2Fsunscreen-for-sensitive-skin%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>DreamBeam</p><p>sephora.com</p><p>$40.00</p>

UV Restore Tinted Face Sunscreen

If you've inhabited the TikTok beauty space at all in the past year, you've undoubtedly seen Hailey Bieber's viral video ft. the EltaMD tinted sunscreen. If you haven't hopped on board yet and purchased the glowy SPF for yourself, this is your sign. Filled with ingredients like glycerin and squalane (for moisture), antioxidants (to protect against free radical damage), and vitamin C (for brightening), this zinc oxide-based SPF will give you the glowiest, healthy-looking skin ever.

  • SPF: 40

  • Tinted? Yes* (*there is also an untinted option)

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide (SPF); antioxidants, glycerin, squalane

Glowing Customer Review: "I've been using the Elta MD's Restore Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 for a couple of years now and I love this product. I wear it every day and it gives me a natural coverage without the feeling of wearing SPF. It also is made with an anti-aging formula to [potentially] restore sun-damaged skin."

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FW63P3B?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10049.g.26015502%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>UV Restore Tinted Face Sunscreen</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$47.00</p>

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UV Restore Tinted Face Sunscreen

amazon.com

$47.00

The Protector: Face & Neck Moisturizer

This SPF 40 is perfect for sensitive skin types looking to address signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles. This product combines moisturizing agents, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid that work to boost your skin's moisture while preventing fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, the ultra-gentle formula is designed for sensitive and post-procedure skin by a plastic surgeon—meaning people who are naturally prone to irritation or anyone who has just gotten an intense treatment like a chemical peel, microneedling, or Fraxel.

  • SPF: 40

  • Tinted? No

  • Key ingredients: Zinc Oxide, octinoxate (SPF); vitamin E, glycerin, hyaluronic acid

Glowing Customer Review: "I am very picky about what I use on my face. This is the second time I ordered this product, and it feels great, isn't too greasy, there's nothing harmful, and it just makes me feel safe using it daily."

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fsunnieskin.com%2Fproducts%2Fthe-protector-spf-40-face-and-neck-moisturizer&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cosmopolitan.com%2Fstyle-beauty%2Fbeauty%2Fg26015502%2Fsunscreen-for-sensitive-skin%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>The Protector: Face & Neck Moisturizer</p><p>sunnieskin.com</p><p>$58.00</p>

Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense

This super-silky, mineral-based sunscreen for sensitive skin has a silicone base that instantly “blurs” fine lines and mattifies your skin, leaving you with a soft, smooth finish. And it’s infused with soothing ingredients like bisabolol and willow bark to reduce redness, along with antioxidants to help defend skin from free radical damage and premature aging down the road.

  • SPF: 30

  • Tinted? Yes* (*super transparent tint ensures it blends in without a white cast)

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide (SPF); willow bark extract, bisabolol, antioxidants

Glowing Customer Review: "I have sensitive, acne-prone, and oily fair skin. I have tried so many sunscreens over the years and they all end up being too greasy, sting my eyes, or cannot sit well under makeup. This sunscreen absorbs so well into my skin and leaves a matte, natural finish. The tint removes some of my redness but isn’t too dark for my very fair complexion. I’ve worn it every day for two weeks now and it does not melt off my makeup, but keeps oil at bay throughout the day."

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Fpaula-s-choice-resist-super-light-daily-wrinkle-defense-spf-30-P469524&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cosmopolitan.com%2Fstyle-beauty%2Fbeauty%2Fg26015502%2Fsunscreen-for-sensitive-skin%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense</p><p>sephora.com</p><p>$35.00</p>

Daily UV Defense Mineral Sunscreen

This moisturizing sunscreen is perfect for sensitive skin that’s dry or dehydrated. The blend of sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer—aka, a "cross-linked" from of hyaluronic acid five times more hydrating than normal HA—hydrates hella-thirsty skin and softens rough patches. It’s the perfect daily hydrator with SPF for anyone who wants baby-soft skin...with a major dose of sun protection. Oh, and did I mention that it also has a transparent green tint that neutralizes any redness? A dream for reaction-prone individuals.

  • SPF: 35

  • Tinted? Yes* (*green to counteract redness)

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide (SPF); niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, squalane, vitamin B5, vitamin E

Glowing Customer Review: "I absolutely love this product! I have very fair, very sensitive skin. This product leaves my skin glowing and does not cause me to break out. For me, as long as I rub in the sunscreen all the way, it does not leave a white cast."

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Finnisfree-daily-uv-defense-mineral-sunscreen-broad-spectrum-spf-45-P510354&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cosmopolitan.com%2Fstyle-beauty%2Fbeauty%2Fg26015502%2Fsunscreen-for-sensitive-skin%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Daily UV Defense Mineral Sunscreen</p><p>sephora.com</p><p>$22.00</p>

Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30

Behold: The perfect everyday sunscreen for anyone dealing with sensitivity *and* breakouts. It's zinc-based with an airy, lightweight texture that's oil-free and uses ingredients that are anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, which are great for those with acne-prone skin. Plus, it soaks into skin in seconds, so you'll never experience that thick, greasy feel that some SPFs can create.

  • SPF: 30

  • Tinted? No

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide (SPF); glycerin, bisabolol, green tea extract, antioxidants

Glowing Customer Review: "This sinks into the skin better than any other affordable mineral sunscreen I've tried. I haven't noticed it clogging my acne-prone skin and I've exclusively used this sunscreen for six months at this point."

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09R4HGZYW?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10049.g.26015502%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$19.98</p>

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Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30

amazon.com

$19.98

Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light Face Sunscreen

This beloved French brand is famous for its sunscreens—including this lightweight mineral option for sensitive skin. Because of its barely-there matte finish, the SPF is ideal for wearing under makeup. It's also sweat and water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, which makes it a great option for days when it's hot and humid, or you're swimming.

  • SPF: 50

  • Tinted? No

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide (SPF); vitamin E

Glowing Customer Review: "It's one of the easiest SPFs to tolerate. I have tried many face sunscreens and all of them make me transpire (problematic, especially with makeup) and sometimes leave a crust behind. Apparently, this is an issue, especially with mineral sunscreens but I consider it a small price to pay given the bigger picture. This one is the most tolerable I've tried with minimal sweating and no crust, thus justifying its 'ultralight' feature."

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004W55086?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10049.g.26015502%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light Face Sunscreen</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$36.99</p>

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Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light Face Sunscreen

amazon.com

$36.99

Beauty SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen Foundation

This is truly the best tinted sunscreen for sensitive skin types—not only does the SPF 30 formula come in 14 buildable shades to cover everything from hyperpigmentation to angry breakouts, but it also has the National Eczema Association's seal of approval, so you know it's a safe bet for sensitive-prone skin.

  • SPF: 30

  • Tinted? Yes

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide (SPF); antioxidants, glycerin, jojoba esters

Glowing Customer Review: "I love this product! Most tinted sunscreens have a 'luminous' or 'radiant' finish that I really don’t like. This blends so easily with just enough coverage and the perfect natural, your skin but better, finish. I bought it for beach days but have started wearing it daily because it’s that good."

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Ftower-28-sunnydays-spf-30-tinted-sunscreen-foundation-P477829&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cosmopolitan.com%2Fstyle-beauty%2Fbeauty%2Fg26015502%2Fsunscreen-for-sensitive-skin%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Beauty SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen Foundation</p><p>sephora.com</p><p>$32.00</p>

Solar Stick

Finally, a stick sunscreen for sensitive skin that doesn't irritate the shit out of your face when you rub it on. The fragrance-free and dye-free formula is made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for superior sun defense, plus antioxidants and shea butter to protect and moisturize sensitive skin.

  • SPF: 40

  • Tinted? No

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide (SPF); vitamin C, vitamin E

Glowing Customer Review: "Purchased this to keep in my purse for when I’m out and need to apply sunscreen on the go—it’s tiny and powerful."

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dermstore.com%2Fmdsolarsciences-solar-stick-spf40-0.6-oz%2F12901630.html&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cosmopolitan.com%2Fstyle-beauty%2Fbeauty%2Fg26015502%2Fsunscreen-for-sensitive-skin%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Solar Stick</p><p>dermstore.com</p><p>$22.00</p><span class="copyright">Courtesy Image</span>

Smart Tone Sunscreen

Let's address the elephant in the room first: She's pricey. And while I'm all for an inexpensive beauty product, I will also splurge a little when a product is just that good. Enter ZO Skin Health's Smart Tone Sunscreen. Now, normally, I wouldn't recommend an SPF for sensitive skin that has fragrance. However, my extremely irritation-prone skin absolutely loves this product. The lightweight SPF is self-adjusting to your skin tone and filled with skin-soothing ingredients and loads of antioxidants, so while your skin is being protected from the sun, it's also protected from free radical damage. Plus, this formulation was awarded the Seal of Recommendation by the Skin Cancer Foundation, and the high-protection SPF 50 isn't such a bad deal either.

  • SPF: 50

  • Tinted? Yes* (*adjusts to your unique skin tone)

  • Key ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, titanium dioxide (SPF); glycerin, vitamin C, antioxidants

Glowing Customer Review: "I love this sunscreen. It is a perfect balance of moisture, does not break me out, and protects well from sun exposure. I love how it gives me transparent coverage and glow because I don’t like to wear makeup."

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07P7KFRW7?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10049.g.26015502%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Smart Tone Sunscreen</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$64.89</p>

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Smart Tone Sunscreen

amazon.com

$64.89

Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen

If you have melanated skin, finding a sunscreen that doesn’t make you look ashy can be a challenge–especially when you're specifically looking for a mineral-based formula (hi, notorious white casts). Unsun, a brand that was created for women of color by a woman of color, solves that problem. The lightweight SPF cream has a subtle tint that blends into the deepest of skin tones. Plus, it's packed with shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E for some major moisture.

  • SPF: 30

  • Tinted? Yes

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide (SPF); shea butter, coconut oil, vitamin E

Glowing Customer Review: "This sunscreen is very moisturizing and easy to apply when I followed the instructions on how to apply it! I have very sensitive skin and this product did not irritate my skin at all! Very grateful for this clean sunscreen that doesn’t leave me with a white cast!"

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071NGRDXY?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10049.g.26015502%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$21.75</p>

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Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen

amazon.com

$21.75

Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen

In addition to its mineral UV blockers, soothing probiotics, and turmeric extract, this sunscreen for sensitive skin gives skin a super dewy, hydrated glow. It's also vegan, cruelty-free, and made with clean ingredients and sustainable packaging, too. This means that it is also a reef-safe sunscreen, so while you're protecting your skin, you're also protecting the ocean's coral reefs. Win-win.

  • SPF: 32

  • Tinted? Yes* (*very lightly tinted glowy color)

  • Key ingredients: Zinc oxide (SPF); glycerin, aloe vera, vitamin E

Glowing Customer Review: "I've been on an endless hunt for a daily SPF that doesn't irritate my skin. I'm one of the 'lucky' ones who seems utterly incompatible with SPF, whether mineral or not. I've been using it daily for over a week and these are my initial impressions: 1. I have not had any irritation, which is rare. 2. It has not aggravated my acne or caused any new breakouts. 3. It does have a slight cast upon initial application, but it seems to blend away pretty efficiently and becomes undetectable after soaking into the skin."

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ulta.com%2Fp%2Fself-reflect-probiotic-moisturizing-sunscreen-zinc-oxide-spf-32-pimprod2017785&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cosmopolitan.com%2Fstyle-beauty%2Fbeauty%2Fg26015502%2Fsunscreen-for-sensitive-skin%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen</p><p>ulta.com</p><p>$25.00</p><span class="copyright">Courtesy Image</span>

Cicapair Tiger Grass Camo Drops

This sunscreen is ideal for anyone with rosacea or any type of inflammation. It uses tiny green pigments to neutralize redness on contact (just like a color corrector), plus SPF 35 to protect from harmful UVA and UVB rays.

  • SPF: 35

  • Tinted? Yes* (*green to counteract redness)

  • Key ingredients: Zinc Oxide, titanium dioxide (SPF); niacinamide, antioxidants

Glowing Customer Review: One tester with oily, acne-prone, sensitive skin writes, "I apply my toner, sunscreen, and then this, and I have the most beautiful glow, and my redness is covered!" Another writes, "I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by this magic potion. It isn’t “tinted” and it doesn’t have any weird white-cast, it blends beautifully and makes a HUGE difference in how my foundation looks and wears. I also love the SPF."

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sephora.com%2Fproduct%2Fcicapair-tiger-grass-camo-drops-P429250&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cosmopolitan.com%2Fstyle-beauty%2Fbeauty%2Fg26015502%2Fsunscreen-for-sensitive-skin%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Cicapair Tiger Grass Camo Drops</p><p>sephora.com</p><p>$46.00</p>

Which type of sunscreen is best for sensitive skin?

"The best sunscreen for sensitive skin is a good unscented, mineral sunscreen since the lack of chemical filters will help prevent irritation of your skin," says board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, adding that some chemical sunscreen may contain ingredients that can be adverse for sensitive skin.

Just FYI, no clinical studies prove that there are any issues with the use of chemical sunscreen, so it's important to note that chemical sunscreen is not 'less safe' than mineral sunscreen, but in some cases, sensitive skin may do better with a mineral formula. Because of the serious advancements in science, there are a lot of chemical formulas that are made for sensitive skin in mind. Truly, the only way you'll be able to tell which one works best for you is with a wear test. For added safety, start by testing it on your inner wrist, and see how your skin reacts.

In this story, we included mostly mineral formulas, as well as a few chemical ones that have been wear-tested on my sensitive skin and other sensitive skin reviewers.

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What is the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen?

The difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen comes down to this: Mineral sunscreens are formulated with mineral-based sun blockers (e.g., zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide) that sit on top of your skin to physically block the sun’s rays for gentle protection. And chemical sunscreens—i.e., the most common, traditional type—use chemical-based sun blockers (e.g., oxybenzone and octinoxate) that sink into your skin to absorb UV rays.

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How to choose the best sunscreen for sensitive skin:

Make sure it's fragrance-free

If you know your skin doesn't do well with added scent, opt for a fragrance-free formula (fragrances, including the natural kind from essential oils, are known skin irritants). The same goes for synthetic dyes and certain drying alcohols. My sensitive skin is sometimes okay with fragrance, depending on the concentration and type, but if you have any hesitations, it's best to skip it altogether.

Check the ingredients

Look for a sunscreen made with soothing ingredients, like aloe vera, allantoin, or niacinamide to help reduce inflammation. And if your sensitive skin is acne-prone, go with an oil-free lotion or gel-cream (it'll be less likely to clog your pores).

"Most mineral sunscreens contain natural ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide that work to reflect UV rays away from your skin without using irritating chemicals," says Dr. Marmur, adding that when it comes to sensitive skin, those are the ingredients you should look for.

Ensure that it has SPF 30 or more

The absolute bare minimum SPF you need on your face is SPF 30,” Dr. Gohara previously told Cosmo. Sorry, but using sunscreen with less than SPF 30 won't give your skin the protection it needs. Make it a habit to apply a nickel-size amount of sunscreen with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or more every morning— and don't forget to reapply it throughout the day too.

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Meet the experts:

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Why trust Cosmo?

Siena Gagliano is an associate editor who writes beauty at Cosmopolitan and has four years of experience writing about beauty, fashion, and lifestyle news. She’s an expert at researching and writing skincare stories, like the differences between mineral vs. chemical sunscreen and the best clear sunscreens, and feels especially knowledgeable about sunscreens for sensitive skin, thanks to her personal experiences with her own sensitive skin. She regularly tests and analyzes sunscreens on her own skin for efficacy, while working with the industry’s top dermatologists to assess new formulas and products.

Lauren Balsamo is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan with eight years of experience researching, writing, and editing skincare stories that range from laser skin tightening to the best sunscreens for oily skin. Her picks were based on product reviews, personal testing, and information from experts.

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