Are you one of those individuals whose skin reacts with a rash the moment it encounters the sun’s rays?
If your skin launches a full-on protest, manifesting hives, red and inflamed skin, or even blisters at the mere greeting of those warm rays, you might be grappling with a sun allergy.
Feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to move forward? We’re diving deep into the world of sunscreens that are less kryptonite and more superpower for those with sun allergies.
Because everyone deserves to enjoy a cloudless day without turning into a lobster or itching like they’ve hugged a cactus, right?
How Do Sun Allergies Work?
A sun allergy (which is also known as photodermatosis) is caused by your immune system reacting to sunlight. Basically, your immune system has decided that the sun is deadly dangerous and no joke — so it’ll attack as soon as it sniffs even a whiff of a ray.
There are a few different types of sun allergies, but the most common is known as Polymorphous Light Eruption (PMLE), often turns a pleasant sunlit moment into a discomforting episode.
If your skin tends to throw an itchy rash party as soon as your skin touches sunlight, you could have PMLE. In fact, it’s believed that 10-15% of the US population are affected by PMLE. But, you should get in touch with your dermatologist to confirm, as there are some other issues that could cause your skin to get irritated besides PMLE.
The good news is that even if you don’t have PMLE, the sunscreens we’re highlighting today are ultra gentle and should work well on easily-irritated skin, regardless of exactly why your skin is picking a fight.
How to Select the Best Sunscreen for Sun Allergy Prone Skin
How do you choose the best sunscreen when you have a sun allergy? There are a few major considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when shopping:
- Potent SPF Factor. To get real protection from sun exposure, you’ll need to lock down a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher at a minimum! And don’t forget, since your skin goes nuts at even a hint of sun, you’ll need to be diligent about reapplying. Many people think an SPF 100 means they don’t need to re-apply as much, but this isn’t the case. It’s all about reapplication for the win!
- Unwavering Broad Spectrum Protection. Your defense against UV villainy must be airtight. A broad spectrum sunscreen is the hero you deserve, shielding you from the sneaky UVA rays that age and the brazen UVB rays that burn. Check the label to confirm your sunscreen’s credentials (and note: all the sunscreens listed here are broad spectrum).
- Mineral vs. Chemical Ingredients: Choose Your Fighter. Mineral sunscreens, with natural minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, acts as reflective shields, bouncing back UV rays like a boss. Although they can be tricky to apply without the white residue, they’re super gentle on sensitive skin. Chemical sunscreens, however, have a more cloak-and-dagger approach, absorbing into your skin and then absorbing UV rays before they can do damage. But be warned — chemical ingredients can cause problems for sensitive skin types, often resulting in irritation and itching. Just do a patch test to be sure!
- Application-On-The-Fly. Reapplication shouldn’t feel like a chore! Whether you’re catching waves or playing volleyball on the sand, a sunscreen that comes in a spray or stick can make the re-up process a breeze – keeping you covered from sun exposure without pausing the fun. That being said, lotions tend to offer more reliable and through coverage (it’s super easy to under-apply with spray), so consider how advantageous ease of application is for you.
- Gentle on Sensitive Skin. For sun allergy sufferers, the sunscreen hunt is more like navigating a minefield. Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic formulations are your allies, reducing the risk of reactions (because chances are, if you have a sun allergy, you probably have a host of other skin sensitivities too). Chemical ingredients often lead the charge for irritation, while mineral sunscreens play the peacekeepers.
Best Sunscreens for Sun Allergy Sufferers: Our Top Picks!
1. Cerave Tinted Mineral Sunscreen
CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
- 100% Mineral-based sunscreen with broad spectrum UVA/UVB coverage
- Can often leave a white cast - apply evenly in thin layers and thoroughly massage into skin
- Suitable for use under foundation and face makeup
- Oxybenzone free, avobenzone free, and benzene free, making it Hawaii-compliant
- Includes three essential ceramides (1, 3, 6-II) to help restore the skin’s natural barrier
- Oil free, fragrance-free, noncomedogenic, and suitable for sensitive skin
About: CeraVe Tinted Sunscreen isn’t just a bottle of sunscreen; it’s a skin savior for sun allergy sufferers in a chic tube. This gem from the skincare treasury of CeraVe, a brand renowned for its dedication to skin health and skin barrier support, is more than meets the eye.
CeraVe steps up its game by combining sun protection with perfection – not only does it protect your skin from the sun exposure and UV rays that cause skin cancer, but it also dolls you up with a lovely tint! Think of it as a little black dress at the beach: essential, stylish, and universally flattering.
This one’s a fan favorite of our team — many of our staff regularly use CeraVe sunscreen, and it never fails to impress (without taking out a huge wad from your wallet).
- Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Protection: This sunscreen is your trusty sidekick against the dastardly deeds of both UVA and UVB rays – because your skin deserves a shield that’s as broad-minded as it is broad spectrum.
- Tinted for Triumph: Why go bare when you can wear a subtle glow? This sunscreen’s tint works like a charm to enhance your natural radiance – no Instagram filter needed! The fantastic tint and gentle composition is why we recommend this sunscreen for keratosis pilaris as well.
- Mineral Based Magic: Made with the gentle power of 100% mineral ingredients, this sunscreen treats your skin like it’s a precious cargo, because it is! No harsh chemicals here, and no irritant-prone ingredient — only good vibes!
- Ideal for skin that throws a tantrum in the presence of chemical sunscreens. Peace out, irritation!
- The tint adjusts and evens out your skin tone, leaving a beautifully unified complexion.
- The tint may not cater to every skin tone, leaving some beachgoers feeling a bit mismatched.
2. BLUE LIZARD Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen
About: Meet this sensitive mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide – a gallant guardian against those pesky solar villains when you have a sun allergy. This SPF 50 heavyweight champ delivers a knockout to harmful rays while pampering your sensitive skin.
Blue Lizard has tailored this formula for the sun-conscious, skin-sensitive, and eco-friendly folks who want robust UVA and UVB protection without the drama of harsh chemicals.
- Zinc Oxide Fortification: Ready to face the sun’s challenge head-on, this sunscreen sports zinc oxide armor, providing a potent mineral-only barrier so your skin won’t have to raise the white flag.
- Designed for Sensitive Skin: Carefully crafted to be as gentle as a whisper, this sunscreen understands the language of sensitive skin, ensuring your outdoor escapades are serene and spotless.
- Fragrance-Free and Paraben-Free Bliss: Your nose and skin breathe a sigh of relief with this uncomplicated formula—no fragrance, no parabens, just pure sun protection.
- Water Resistant Resilience: Like the best beach buddy, this sunscreen sticks with you for a solid 40 minutes of water time, so dive in and enjoy the splash without a second thought.
- Reef-Safe Responsibility: Donning this sunscreen doesn’t just protect you—it also means high-fives from the fishies, thanks to the absence of oxybenzone and octinoxate or any other types of chemical filters. Good for your skin, good for the planet!
- Sidesteps skin woes with a zinc-only approach that keeps your complexion in the clear.
- It’s reef-safe, so you’re saving your skin and the seas.
- There’s a chance it could leave behind a white caste, turning you into a friendly beach ghost — but most folks don’t seem to consider it all that bad.
3. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Mineral Stick
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen Stick
A zinc oxide mineral-based sunscreen stick that's clear and sheer.
- SPF 50 + broad spectrum mineral sunscreen stick with zinc oxide
- Formulated with 21.6% zinc oxide mineral and vitamin E
- Nn-greasy, dry touch finish, and no white residue.
- Water resistant for up to 80 minutes and doesn't run into the eyes and sting
- Gentle and mild for sensitive skin -- free of fragrances, parabens, sulfates, phthalates and mineral oil
About: Whip out the fanfare for Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SPF 50 Mineral Stick – your pocket-sized pal ready to protect and pamper your epidermis.
Strutting its stuff with SPF 50, Neutrogena – a household name synonymous with skincare swagger – offers a sunscreen that’s handy, dandy, and geared for the demands of modern skin savants.
With this easy-to-apply stick design that acts more like a deodorant, you can keep your skin safe and covered without the messy slathering — it’s also one of our favorites for the best stick sunscreens for face use too!
- Broad Spectrum Protection: Unleash your inner sun goddess as this broad-spectrum warrior braves both UVA and UVB assaults.
- Dry-Touch Technology: The non-greasy, matte-finish sorcery ensures that your skin stays as matte without the stickiness!
- Water-Resistant: Like the loyal beachside buddy it is, this sunscreen isn’t scared of a little water or perspiration. Dive in and enjoy 80 minutes of splash-proof bliss.
- Light ‘n’ Easy Formula: The lightweight formula and stick-style design spreads onto your skin faster than a gossip in a small town.
- Non-Comedogenic: Your pores will throw a ‘no blockage’ block party, celebrating the freedom to breathe without the fear of break out blemishes, keeping your skin clear.
- Oil-Free Freshness: With this oil-free formula, you can enjoy squeaky-clean protection that keeps the shine at bay.
- High-quality, high-SPF protection that doesn’t pilfer your piggy bank.
- We love how easy it is to apply and re-apply with this glide stick.
- With chemical agents in the mix, the more delicate among us might find this sunscreen a bit too sassy for their sensitive skin.
4. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen
A super popular lightweight sunscreen that's invisible on skin
- SPF 40 broad spectrum chemical sunscreen
- Weightless, scentless, oil-free formula
- Controls shine with velvety finish that plays nice with makeup
- Oxybenzone and octinoxate-free formula
- Water-resistant up to 40 minutes
- Antioxidant-rich ingredients like frankincense and hydrating meadowfoam seed
About: If sunscreen were a stealth ninja, it would be Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen – a silent sentinel for your skin in the eternal battle against the sun’s relentless rays.
This high-flying, covert UV protector specializes in vanishing acts, thanks to a formula that boasts invisibility and is as smooth as moves on a dance floor.
Supergoop!, a brand with a knack for mingling sunscreen with skin sorcery, offers a potion that’s not just about defense; it’s about enhancing your offense with a base that’s perfect under makeup or on its natural magnificent own.
- Oil-Free Oasis: This sunscreen offers a moisturizing haven without the slick, oil-laden aftermath, which is why it’s a fan-favorite on our list of best oil-free sunscreens as well.
- Lighter Than Air: A featherlight champion, so comfortable you might just question whether you put it on or if you’re dreaming. Spoiler: you’re not dreaming.
- Scent-Free Serenity: The fragrant-free composition means that this sunscreen won’t overwhelm your olfactory sense and isn’t as likely to irritate your skin.
- Perfect Makeup Primer: The Picasso of primers, this is more than a sunscreen – it’s a canvas prepper, ensuring your artistic makeup stays vibrant and sun-safe from dawn to dramatic dusk.
- Wear your invisible shield with zero ghostly side-effects—just a smooth, velvety finish.
- This one’s a fan favorite for a reason — it goes on easy and feels great!
- A splurge worthy of the sun UV protection crown, but it might stretch the purse strings a bit.
- While generally gentle and with few skin complaints, this still relies on a chemical formula that has the potential to irritate some people’s skin.
5. Thinksport Mineral Sunscreen
About: Embrace the brawn of Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen, your adventures’ trusted companion whether you’re scaling mountains or riding the waves. Tailored for sport use and those who push their limits under the sun, Thinksport flexes its SPF 50+ muscle to shield your skin from solar onslaughts.
It’s a solid, no-nonsense mineral sunscreen that’s perfect for covering your body head to toe in irritant-free sun protection.
- Marathon-Proof Durability: Sweat it out or make a splash! This sunscreen holds firm for 80 minutes, championing you through the final lap or the last wave.
- Athlete-Approved Protection: Tailor-made for the sports enthusiast in you, this is the gold medalist in sun defense that doesn’t bail when the game heats up — it’s a great sunscreen for those who work outside too, with it’s long lasting protection.
- Leaping Bunny Leap of Faith: This sunscreen doesn’t test on our furry friends, earning the Leaping Bunny stamp and a round of a-paws!
- Reef-Safe Revolution: Packed with mineral might and free from chemical ingredients, it’s a salute to reefs and skin alike – safe, sound, and sustainably minded.
- It’s gentle as a lamb, making tender or oily skin types sigh in relief—no harsh reactions here!
- Cruelty-free, toxin-free; your conscience can rest easy with this tube in your tote.
- This lotion asks for a bit more effort when smoothing it on, but most agree, it’s worth the effort!
6. Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Stick
Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick
A reef-friendly zinc-based mineral sunscreen that comes in stick form
- SPF 50 + broad spectrum zinc-based mineral sunscreen
- Easy roll-on design for quick application
- Lightweight and silky feel
- Waterproof and sweatproof for 80 minutes
- Gluten and cruelty-free
About: Sun Bum Mineral Stick is the beachside buddy that respects your skin as much as you do the sea. With an SPF 50 rating, this physical mineral sunscreen offers a healthy dose of gentle, non-skin-irritating protection.
Sun Bum, with its cool, surf-inspired vibe, delivers a conscious concoction that’s as friendly to marine life as it is to your sun-kissed skin. And this version’s stick-based design means its easy and breeze to apply and reapply for all-day protection.
- Featherlight, Silky Coolness in a Stick: Glide this sunscreen stick on for a finish that’s lightweight and smooth.
- Water Resistant Warrior: Dive in and make a splash! With 80 minutes of water-resistant prowess, it’s your trusty wingman for both beach frolicking and poolside lounging.
- Zinc Oxide Zen: Made with with soul-soothing zinc oxide, this sunscreen offers peace of mind for sensitive skin folks who’ve been burned by harsh chemical filters in the past.
- Sensitive Skin Safe Haven: Free from fragrances and full of hypoallergic harmony, it’s a perfect pick for skin that’s delicate or allergy prone.
- The stick deodorant-style design means its effortless to apply — even on squirmy kiddos.
- Gentle mineral formula won’t irritate even ultra sensitive skin.
- Gluten-free, cruelty-free, and as kind-hearted to animals as it is to your skin.
- While covering small areas of skin with a stick can be fast and easy, it can be more burdensome for larger swaths of skin.
7. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Mineral
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Sunscreen
- Broad spectrum SPF 50 protection
- Ultra lightweight 100% mineral tinted face sunscreen (with titanium dioxide)
- Developed specifically for sensitive skin
- Non-greasy, fast-absorbing texture leaves a tinted matte finish
- Fragrance free, paraben free and water resistant (40 minutes)
About: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Sunscreen rolls out the red carpet for your face, ensuring you step into the sun with armored elegance.
This physical mineral sunscreen, enhanced with a chic tint, serves as a valuable ally to your allergy prone skin. Don’t worry, no sun is getting past this all-star guard.
La Roche-Posay, a brand that’s practically skincare royalty, crafts formulas steeped in science and sophistication. So, primp your skin with prestige while shielding it from solar indiscretions. C’est magnifique, non?
- Ultralight, Matte Finish: This sunscreen glides onto your skin with a light touch and a velvety matte finish.
- Chic, Smooth Coverage: Catered to complement your complexion, the tinted formula blends seamlessly for a natural, I-woke-up-like-this kind of beauty.
- Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide Delight: This mineral formula is gentle on sensitive skin while leaving behind irritating chemical filters.
- Oil-Free Elegance: With zero oils and zero fragrance, this sunscreen is akin to the perfect guest—no mess, no fuss, no allergies.
- This gentle tint is an all-star at covering blemishes and redness when they appear.
- Allergy-tested and tailored for skin sensitivities — your skin’s comfort is non-negotiable.
- Tinted sunscreens won’t work for all skin shades, so test this one out first!
So, there you have it, sun-sensitive friends!
With the right sunscreen on your side, you can battle the UV beasts without a sun allergy flare up. Remember, the best sunscreen for sun allergy is one that’s gentle on your skin and feels great too!
Now that you’re armed with all this sun-smart intel, it’s time to face the great outdoors with confidence (and a lot less itchiness). Do you have a go-to sunscreen that keeps your sun allergy in check? Spill the tea in the comments below—we’re all in this sunny saga together!