What Is the Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

It’s often confusing choosing a skincare product like sunscreen. This is especially true if you have delicate skin. You may also find yourself wondering: what is the best sunscreen for sensitive skin if you have one.

What Is the Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Photo Credit: Mary Ann, flickr.com

How Do You Know You have Sensitive Skin?

You have sensitive skin if you’re prone to breakouts, stings, itches, redness, burns, and dryness. These reactions occur when the skin is exposed to conditions like weather, ultraviolet (UVA/UVB) rays, or chemical substances.

These ultraviolet rays are harmful to the skin. The UVA rays are carcinogenic; that means they cause skin cancer and bring about premature ageing. UVB rays are also responsible for skin burns.

People with sensitive skin are the most affected by UV rays, and so need more sun protection to avoid skin irritation. Due to your skin’s vulnerability, you need a good sunscreen to get by, unlike people with other skin types.

According to dermatologists, chemical (organic carbon-based) sunscreens cause skin irritation, while physical ones soothe the skin.

They, therefore, advise that you go for physical sunscreens with SPF between 15-60. Sunscreens with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) within this range give between 93%-98% protection, so anything above is misleading.

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What is the Difference Between Physical and Chemical Sunscreen?

The differences between physical and chemical sunscreen are:

1. Physical Sunscreen contains active minerals and natural antimicrobials

2. Physical Sunscreen does not block pores

3. Chemical Sunscreen is made with carbon-based composites

4. Chemical sunscreens are lightweight and last in the body system

5. Chemical sunscreens are endocrine disruptors

Physical Sunscreen Contains Natural Antimicrobials

Physical sunscreen contains active mineral constituents, with natural antimicrobials for sensitive skin. These ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sit at the topmost layer of your skin to fend off and make the UV rays ineffective.

Physical sunscreen is also called mineral or natural sunscreen.

Physical Sunscreen Does not Block Pores

How Do People with Sensitive Skin Benefit From the Non-Comedogenic Quality of Physical Sunscreen?

The non-comedogenic quality of physical sunscreen means that people with sensitive skin will not have blocked pores, leading to allergic reactions.

The antioxidants it usually contains also means there will be no chemical reaction in the skin that will produce free radicals. Instead, the skin is protected. The physical sunscreen mostly feel heavy when applied, and can wear off easily too.

Free radicals are oxygen molecules that can damage the skin as well as the body cells. The antioxidants in the physical sunscreen work as a safeguard by counteracting the effect of the free radicals.

This makes free radicals less effective and reduces the quantity of radiation felt. Free radicals need to be checked so they do not lead to chain reactions, that can damage your cells.

Chemical Sunscreen is Made with Carbon-Based Composites

Chemical sunscreen is made with carbon-based composites such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, octinoxate, and homosalate. They convert both UV rays to heat in the skin and then release the heat as sweat.

Chemical Sunscreens Are Lightweight

What Serious Risk Can be Associated with Lightweight Chemical Sunscreen?

Lightweight chemical sunscreens pose a higher risk of skin irritation though they are easily spreadable when applied. Furthermore, not only do chemical sunscreens get absorbed into the bloodstream, but they cannot also be excreted through natural detoxification.

Research shows that chemical sunscreens can last up to 48-72 hours in body fluids like urine, blood, and breast milk.

Chemical Sunscreens Are Endocrine Disruptors

Chemical sunscreens disrupt some body functions such that they are called endocrine disruptors. This means that they interfere with the natural functioning of some hormones like estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and thyroid.

This interference can lead to abnormal developments like cancer and early puberty in children.

Video: Sunscreen Types and Common Questions About Sunscreen

The video below explains the difference between the two sunscreen types, and answers other questions you may have about sunscreens.

What Are the Additives to Avoid When Choosing a Sunscreen?

The additives you need to avoid when choosing a sunscreen are:

1. Fragrance

2. Alcohol

3. Paraben

4. Chemicals


Why Do People with Sensitive Skin Need to Stay Away from Fragrances?

People with sensitive skin need to stay away from fragrances because they are allergens and irritants. Fragrances also cause inflammation and weaken skin layers. Though fragrances are not chemicals, they are composed of about 3,000 ingredients.

Among these chemicals are suspected sensitizers and allergens, neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors, and phthalates. Fragrances are also powerfully evocative, commercially and proprietary sensitive.

According to dermatologists, fragrances are the cause of around 30 to 40 per cent of hypersensitive dermatitis cases.

So, if your skin is sensitive, try as much as possible to avoid sunscreens that contain fragrance. You should also be cautious of some “fragrance-free” sunscreens. There may be a presence of undiscernible fragrance in them to cover up the smell of some of the other ingredients.

Make your inquiry well and get from trusted and certified brands.


How Does Alcohol Work Against Sensitive Skin?

Alcohol works against sensitive skin by draining the skin’s moisture consistency, leaving it dry, itchy and irritated. Not only does alcohol-based sunscreens dehydrate the skin, they also damage and kill skin cells faster than usual.

Many skincare products have this ingredient in common because it’s an antimicrobial agent, and delivers a dry and quick finish. If your skin is irritable, then you should eliminate this from your routine.


Paraben is a synthetic preservative and is bad for sensitive skin because it is easily absorbed into the skin. When this happens, it becomes problematic to your sensitive skin.

Studies show that products consisting of paraben are carcinogenic, and can interfere with the functioning of the endocrine system. What this means is that using products that have synthetic preservative can lead to early puberty in children.

As good as this may sound, paraben is not good for sensitive skin. Some common paraben you should look out for on product labels is; methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben.


Chemicals such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, octinoxate, and homosalate are bad for sensitive skin. Although normal skin may have no issues with these chemicals, they are still a problem for sensitive skin because they irritate.

If you have sensitive skin, be sure that these chemicals are not present in any sunscreen you want to buy.


What Makes Sulfates Bad for Sensitive Skin?

Sulfates, like sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate, are bad for sensitive skin because they are irritating and harsh ingredients. They can strip your skin of its natural oil, resulting in rashes, dryness, and blemishes.

The sulfate family drastically changes your skin’s PH balance, and this is bad especially if you have sensitive skin. This causes P.acnes, the bacteria that triggers acne to inhabit in your skin because its natural PH level has been disrupted.

If you have sensitive skin, run away from sunscreens that are made with any of the sulfate family. If you’re easily irritated and tired of changing your sunscreen all the time, then your choice could be the problem.

Because you have hypersensitive skin, what works for someone with normal skin may not work for you. Go for those sunscreens without the additives mentioned above.

What Are the Constituents You Should Consider When Choosing A Sunscreen?

You should consider these constituents before choosing a sunscreen. The constituents are:

1. Green Tea Leaf and White Tea Extract

2. Sunflower Oil

3. Bisabolol

Green Tea Leaf and White Tea Extract

How Effective Are Green Tea Leaf and White Tea Extract to Sensitive Skin?

Green Tea Leaf and White Tea Extract soothe sensitive skin, reducing easy irritation. They also support skin circulation. They are able to do these because they are enriched with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

If you have sensitive skin, you should embrace sunscreen with green tea leaf and white tea extract because of its natural and gentle antioxidant. We are aware of the numerous health benefits of green tea so go for it.

I bet you are surprised with the information that tea extract is also medicinal if used topically. This is why you see tea extract as an ingredient in some skincare products which have medicinal value.

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Sunflower Oil

How Much Protection Does Sunflower Oil Profer for Sensitive Skin?

Sunflower oil reduces inflammation, improves the skin’s health, helps to prevent cancer, regenerates and repairs cells. Sunflower oil also moisturizes the skin,

Sunflower oil is a non-volatile oil that is enriched with Vitamin E. This means that your skin is protected against UV rays, with its antioxidant adding extra natural shine to your skin.

If you have dry and easily irritated skin then you should try a sunscreen with sunflower oil. Say bye-bye to flaky and cracked skin when you embrace sunflower oil skincare products.

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How Bisabol Helps with Sensitive Skin:

Bisabolol helps with sensitive skin by improving the look of damaged and dehydrated skin. This is because it is a conditioning agent for the skin. Bisabolol is also being used for medicinal purposes, and it’s believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-irritant properties.

Due to its high concentration of panthenol (a kind of Vitamin-B), Bisabolol is a good anti-ageing agent. What this means is that it locks in moisture, and reduces wrinkles. Research has also shown that panthenol reduces the risk of acne breakout.

Bisabolol also called levomenol, is extracted from chamomile and is the basic component of essential oil. To stay younger, consider getting a sunscreen with Bisabolol additive.

Some of these additives have healing properties that will help nourish and soothe your skin. They reduce redness and subside inflammation and skin sensitivity symptoms.

The next time you are buying your sunscreen, check and be sure that whatever sunscreen you are to buy has one or more of these ingredients.

What is the Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin?

The best sunscreen for sensitive skin is the physical (mineral or natural) sunscreen made with:

tea extract,

sunflower oil,

and bisabolol fragrance.

These mineral or natural sunscreens should have SPF between 15-60 because sunscreens with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) within this range give between 93%-98% protection

Chemical sunscreens made with alcohol, paraben, chemicals, and sulfate worsen the irritation, thus they should be avoided.

Using the tips above, you can get yourself a sunscreen suitable for your sensitive skin, and not worry about irritations. Check out this physical sunscreen without the irritant additives.

Find below a few additional tips to help guide you when it comes to your beauty and skincare routine.

Extra Skincare Safety Tips

  • Consult a doctor before getting a sunscreen or sunblock for your infant.
  • Carefully read every product’s leaflet and check the expiry date.
  • When using a product for the first time, apply to an insignificant portion of the skin. Don’t use it until after 24 hours to be sure you don’t react to it.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going under the sun.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours.
  • Do not stay under the sun for a long time, and try to stay indoors from noon till 4.00 pm.
  • Use sunscreens as part of your beauty routine irrespective of the time of the year.
  • Give your skin some time before switching to a different skincare product.
  • Stop product usage and report to a doctor once you notice any side effects, or in the case of ingestion.

Here are some other amazing articles on sunscreen:


Like you do the things you value the most, we advise that you take good care of your skin. You get a positive result when you understand your skin and its requirements.

We know it’s difficult and sometimes frustrating when searching for the particular sunscreen suitable for your sensitive skin. We hope this article helps you when next you go looking for one.

What is the Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin?– Related FAQs

How Can I Protect My Face From the Sun Without Sunscreen?

You can protect your face from the sun without sunscreen by doing the following:

1. Use sunglasses: Invest in sunglasses this summer. When buying one, insist on one that can purify 99-100% of UVB and UVA rays. You can also use the sunglasses alongside a face moisturizer that contains a sun protection factor.

2. Change your clothing: If you have always been a sleeveless clothes fan, now is time to switch to long sleeves and trousers.

3. Other suggestions are using UV- repellent detergents which shield your clothing by providing a protective coat, staying under shaded regions when enjoying outside your home and avoiding UV lights from some tanning products.

What Does A Sunscreen Allergy Look Like?

Sunscreen allergy manifests as reddish, itchy rashes and also looks like the burn resulting from a heat rash. Other signs of sunscreen allergy are:

1. Pain

2. Raised bumps

3. Blisters

4. Swelling

5. Scaling

6. Hives

7. Bleeding

Sunscreen allergy differs from one individual to another. The manifestation of these symptoms also takes different lengths of time. For some, it shows in minutes while for others, it takes days. 

For some other people, they do not get these indications until when the sunlight hits their skin. This is termed photo-allergic contact dermatitis. To be on the safe end, tread with caution immediately you get a new sunscreen especially if sunscreen allergies run in the family.

Should I Wear Sunscreen Even if I Don’t Go Outside?

You should wear sunscreen even if you don’t go outside. Some reasons for this are:

1. You run the risk of increasing the chances of skin cancer when you don’t wear sunscreen within the confines of your home. Glass, house coverings, windows, and windshield do not shield us totally from all the UV rays. So, if you are close to your windows, there is still a significant possibility that these ultra-violet rays get to harm the skin.

2. The ultraviolet rays (UVB rays) are tough and powerful. This means their effect can be felt in our DNA even inside the house. These UV rays are the greatest culprit for most sunburns that are associated with most cancers of the skin. 

Which is Better: Sunblock or Sunscreen?

Let us review sunblock and sunscreen so we can understand their importance.

1. Protection of the skin: Sunscreen and sunblock protect the skin from ultraviolet rays but work in different capacities. While sunscreen sucks up the rays, sunblock works by forming a shade or shield.

2. Application: Sunblock can be dabbed on the skin as it doesn’t require absorption but for the sunscreen, you need to rub it and also allow your skin to suck it up before you leave your house. 30 minutes can get it done. 

Go for sunblock if your skin is delicate because they carry protective elements such as zinc and titanium oxide. The ultimate goal is protecting your skin.

What Ingredient in Sunscreen Causes Rash?

The outbreak of rash resulting from your sunscreen is from oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) which is an agent used in shielding the effect of UVA rays. It is the best- known cause of sunscreen-induced photo-allergic contact dermatitis. Apart from oxybenzone, cinnamate, and dibenazoylmethanes also have such an effect.

To forestall such occurrences, go for the combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which have an outstanding guarantee for UVA1, UVA2, and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide will provide broad-spectrum safety as well, with little or no irritation.

Can You Still Tan Using SPF 50?

You can still tan using Sun Protection Factor fifty. Basically, the sun protection factor does not, in any way, hinder your tanning nor does it influence the colour achieved. The SPF allows you to bask longer in the sun, before when you experience signs of burning.

The Sun Protection Factor of your sunscreen acts as a shade. Only a little amount of ultraviolet rays touches your skin. 

For instance, if your bare skin (without sunscreen) would have lasted 10 minutes before showing burning signs, then generously applying SPF 50 will work against this as the burning signs will take a longer time.

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