For a product that has so many wonderful qualities — protecting us from sun damage! preventing fine lines and spots! —
sunscreen sure does come with a lot of bummer side effects. From being thick and pasty to stinging your eyes, nothing feels quite as insulting than when a formula breaks you out. You were trying to do something good for your skin, dammit. According to dermatologist Jennifer M. Segal, MD, two things can cause sunscreen-related pimples: clogged pores from comedogenic ingredients or a sensitivity to chemical UV-blocking agents. In other words, the mineral sunscreens can sit on top of your skin and gunk up pores, while the chemical ones might irritate vulnerable skin. Until now. Thanks to some forward-thinking formula innovations, sunscreen's reputation is starting to change. "Traditionally, mineral blocks have been very thick, but newer micronized formulations of zinc and titanium dioxide are smooth, cosmetically elegant, and very light," says Dr. Segal. Hallelujah . Ahead, we've rounded up tried-and-true mineral and chemical sunscreens to protect your skin without irritating it. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
Dry, combination, oily, acne-prone — this liquid sunscreen is a heavy-hitter for every skin type, tone, and texture. With a formidable SPF 50 for maximum protection, the formula leaves behind a natural-looking glow that’s neither dewy nor totally matte — and never, ever greasy.
Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, $, available at
DermStore More Paula's Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50
The satin-y finish of this sunscreen (and added skin-care benefits) make this formula ideal for anyone looking for an overachieving sunscreen that won't feel heavy on skin.
Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50, $, available at
Paula's Choice More Glossier Invisible Shield
Pinky promise, Glossier's clear water-gel formula is one that you'll
look forward to using. Between the unique, serum-like texture and no-cast finish, it checks all of the boxes.
Invisible Shield, $, available at
Glossier More Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 55
Both oil-free and non-comedogenic (which means it won't clog your pores), this sunscreen from Neutrogena with SPF 55 was actually formulated for acne-prone skin. With a watery texture, it leaves the skin completely matte.
Clear Face Liquid-Lotion Sunblock SPF 55, $, available at
Ulta Beauty More Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen
This sunscreen with SPF 40 not only goes on completely invisible on all skin tones, but it also helps control shine and prime the skin for a velvety-smooth makeup application.
Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, $, available at
DermStore More Story continues Elemis Daily Defense Shield SPF 30
This sunscreen is super thin, so if you have oily skin, you won't feel like you're adding more grease to your face. It also has the added benefit of blue light protection, so you have a line of defense against the invisible rays coming from your phone and computer screen.
Daily Defense Shield SPF 30, $, available at
Elemis More Pond's Clarant B3 SPF30 Face Moisturizer
Looking for an affordable option for daily sunscreen (you are going to be using a lot, after all)? This option from Pond's blends seamlessly into skin, while also helping with existing hyperpigmentation.
Clarant B3 SPF30 Face Moisturizer, 1.7 OZ, $, available at
CVS More Peter Thomas Roth Max Mineral Naked Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Lotion
Even the most avid sunscreen-hater can find something to love about this SPF 45 formula. The all-mineral coverage blends into skin so completely that you'd forget it's even there, if not for the complexion-perfecting universal tint (complete with diamond power for a soft-focus finish).
Peter Thomas Roth
Max Mineral Naked Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Lotion, $, available at
Peter Thomas Roth More Farmacy Green Defense Daily Mineral Sunscreen
This zinc-based sunscreen is the only one our beauty writer wore all summer (and into fall!). It's fast-absorbing and non-greasy, yet hydrating enough to use without a separate moisturizer.
Green Defense Daily Mineral Sunscreen, $, available at
You'll be the TSA's favorite traveler with this carry-on-friendly stick fused with vitamin E, coconut oil, and avocado oil.
Mineral Sport Sunscreen Stick SPF 50, $, available at
Sephora More NARS Radiance Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen
Yes, this NARS primer will make your skin sparkle, but it's also packed with SPF 35.
Radiance Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen, $, available at
Sephora More Clinique Pep Start Daily UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 50
A sunscreen that doesn't irritate sensitive skin or clog pores? That's a winner in our books. Add a subtle tint, and it's the only thing you need on rushed mornings.
Clinique Pep Start Daily UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $, available at
Ulta Beauty More Lancôme Bienfait Multi-Vital Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30
This formula protects your skin from future damage with a go-to punch of antioxidants and SPF 30, all housed in a lovely daily moisturizer.
Bienfait Multi-Vital Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $, available at
Sephora More Alba Botanica Very Emollient Fragrance Free Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
This spray sunscreen is biodegradable, waterproof for up to 80 minutes, and doesn't contain
coral reef-destroying oxybenzone
. All this, coupled with the fact that it doesn't break us out, makes it a clear winner in our book.
Very Emollient Fragrence Free Sunscreen Spray SPF 50, $, available at
Walmart More CeraVe AM Face Moisturizer with Sunscreen
On the hunt for a new day cream? You can't go wrong with this formula. It's sheer, has an SPF of 30, and plays well under makeup.
AM Face Moisturizer with Sunscreen, SPF 30, $, available at
Ulta Beauty More SkinMedica Total Defense Repair SPF 34
Sure, this tinted cream won't replace your full-coverage foundation, but it will help even out your skin tone while providing sun protection.
Total Defense Repair SPF 34 - Tinted, $, available at
DermStore More Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF35
This pricey pick is worth its weight in gold — if dropping extra dough for a high-performance hybrid SPF is a priority for you. Functioning as a sunscreen, makeup primer, and pore-smoother in one, it's skin protection on steroids.
Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF35, $, available at
Tatcha More It Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+
With a name like Your Skin But Better, it's hard to resist snatching up this tube. Based on the rave reviews on every corner of the internet, you'll be glad you did. The full-coverage CC covers pigmentation (like acne scars, the bane of any breakout-prone person's existence) and protects your face from UVA and UVB rays. We love a good quick fix that also has long-term benefits — especially when it means we don't have to sacrifice a clear complexion in order to get it.
Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50+, $, available at
Ulta Beauty More Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50
You don't often see a proper sunscreen that can also replace two other integral steps in your skin-care routine. But improbably, this SPF from rock-star derm Dr. Dennis Gross — a true guru of all things acne — does just that.
Dr. Dennis Gross
Dark Spot Sun Defense Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $, available at
Dr. Dennis Gross More Amarte Ultra Veil Ultra Light Sunsreen Fluid SPF 50 Plus
When they say "light," they aren't kidding — this Korean import sinks into the skin almost on contact, leaving your face feeling fresh and residue-free.
Ultra Veil Ultra Light Sunsreen Fluid SPF 50 Plus, $, available at
This unassuming bottle contains one of the best SPF moisturizers our skin has ever come in contact with. The Ayurvedic formula combines organic neem, shatavari (an herb), and rose — plus non-nano micronized zinc oxide — into a silky, hydrating cream that magically manages not to feel heavy or sticky on your skin.
Neem Rose Face Sunscreen SPF30, $, available at
Pratima More Bare Republic Mineral SPF 30 Face Sunscreen Lotio
Eco-friendly beauty brand
has always been one of our favorites, and we'd argue it has some of the best organic SPFs around. So, when we saw it had partnered with Target to create the exclusive line Bare Republic, we got pretty excited. This mineral sunscreen has all the great stuff we love about Coola — healthy ingredients, non-clogging formulas, gorgeous textures — at a much more wallet-friendly price.
Mineral Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 30, $, available at
Residue-free and feeling like a soft whisper on the skin, this lightweight SPF fluid from Laura Mercier goes on sheer and features technology that helps skin adapt to different temperatures — meaning you don't have to retire this innovative sunscreen once autumn rolls around.
Daily Face Shield SPF 40, $, available at
Neiman Marcus More Elta MD UV Physical Broad Spectrum SPF 41 Sunscreen
A favorite of derms for patients post-laser treatments, this tinted mineral SPF keeps your complexion safe without irritating or aggravating delicate skin.
UV Physical Broad Spectrum SPF 41 Sunscreen, $, available at
DermStore More La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light SPF 60 Sunscreen
This sunscreen has a cult following for a very good reason. It's fast-absorbing, finishes like a matte dream, and feels essentially non-existent as soon as it sinks in.
Anthelios Ultra Light SPF 60 Sunscreen, $, available at
La Roche-Posay More Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer SPF 30
This two-in-one sunscreen and primer multi-tasks, prepping skin for both makeup and sun exposure. The non-greasy formula is infused with green tea and antioxidants, so it's ideal for sensitive skin, even those with rosacea and acne.
Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer SPF 30, $, available at
The creator of this lightweight SPF was inspired to make a formula that works with breakouts — without making blemishes worse. The result is this silky concoction, which is completely undetectable on the skin and gets you in the habit of wearing daily sun protection without fear of acne.
Daily Facial SPF, $, available at
Panacea More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? Does SPF Makeup Actually Work? These Luxe Moisturizers Double As Sun Protection A Definitive Guide To All Things Sunscreen