Skincare brands have improved their sunscreens to cater to acne-prone skin. You might have heard time and time again that sunscreen is essential in your morning skincare routine. Sunscreen will help prevent dark spots, sun damage, and signs of aging. However, some sunscreen formulas can clog pores, which causes acne and breakouts.
Acne and breakouts are preventable if you know how to select the right sunscreen for acne-prone skin. This article will guide you in choosing the right sunscreen that will protect you from UV rays while avoiding breakouts - with some comments and tips from dermatologist Dr. Katrina Erika Habaluyas Luz. Plus, look out for our top 10 picks your face will thank you for!
Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz is the face behind Ask Your Derma. She is a board-certified dermatologist in Metro Manila. She is also an educator and digital creator on all things skin, hair, and nails. She is a Diplomate of the Philippine Dermatological Society and offers online video consultations. You can also catch her on her Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.
Our recommendation articles are carefully researched and crafted by the mybest Philippines team of writers and editors. To stay true to our company’s mission and vision to help users’ selection process easier, we also collaborate with experts from various fields to ensure that our content stays factual and useful.
The expert oversees the Buying Guide only, and does not determine the products and services featured.
The products and services listed are ranked independently by the editorial team based on the points mentioned in our thoroughly researched buying guide (as of 01-16-2023).
Table of Contents
Sunscreen protects us against long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVA rays penetrate through the inner layers of our skin, while UVB rays target the outer layer. Sunscreen protects our face from these harmful rays, which causes dark spots, wrinkles, signs of aging, sunburn, and in worst cases, skin cancer.
Before, most sunscreens only protect you from UVB- which causes sunburn, not UVA- which causes dark spots and premature aging. Luckily, skincare brands have been aware of UVA's harmful effects and developed sunscreens with broad-spectrum protection, which protects your skin against UVB and UVA.
Sunscreens protect the skin by preventing and minimizing the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. Now, UV radiation has a broad spectrum ranging from 40 to 400nm and is divided into different portions. Particularly important for us are UVB (290–320nm) and UVA (320–400nm).
UVB and UVA can lead to sunburns, photoaging, and even skin cancer. So, make sure you choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen as it is able to filter UV radiation from both the UVA and UVB portions.
The Sun Protection Factor or SPF shows how long the sunscreen will protect you from the UVB rays. It is recommended to have a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, which shields against 97% of the UVB rays, making it ideal for daily use.
On the other hand, SPF 50 protects you from 98%, perfect for beach days or even just spending more hours under the sun. You might notice some sunscreens have a PA rating as well. Protection Grade of UVA or PA indicates the level of protection from UVA rays. The levels are often labeled as PA+, PA++, PA+++, wherein the more plus signs it has, the more protection from UVA rays.
SPF basically measures protection against erythema (or redness) after exposure to the sun. Now, you would need at least an SPF 30 as this would filter ~97% of UVB rays. If you can get one with SPF 50, even better, as it can filter ~98% of UVB rays.
Remember though, the amount of sunscreen specified for SPF testing is 2mg/cm2, equal to 30ml of sunscreen to cover the entire body surface. So if you didn't apply the right amount of sunscreen, you definitely would not be as protected as you think!
There are both active and inactive ingredients in the sunscreen, which congests the pores and some that are good for your acne-prone skin. So, it is essential to pay attention to these ingredients.
Silicones and mineral oils lessen the amount of sweat released through pores and keep it under the surface of your skin, causing irritation and inflammation. Most skin types can tolerate beeswax and plant wax. Those who have acne-prone skin should be cautious around this ingredient because it can cause skin irritation.
Heavy comedogenic oils and butters such as cocoa butter, coconut, and soybean oil are natural ingredients, but it can potentially clog pores, which causes breakouts. Like other skincare products, avoid sunscreens with fragrance because it has unknown ingredients which trigger allergic reactions and irritates your skin.
In terms of comedogenicity, the term "non-comedogenic" is actually more a marketing term. Comedogenicity is a spectrum and, in fact, there isn't a standardized test to determine whether an ingredient will in fact clog pores or trigger acne. It comes down also to the overall formulation of the product. So if a product is labeled "non-comedogenic" there are limitations to that claim and what it means!
There are also ingredients that are beneficial for acne-prone skin such as hyaluronic acid which brings out moisture into the skin, hydrating your skin. Niacinamide helps in building cells in the skin which shrinks pores and protects your skin from sunlight and pollution.
Of course, there are more ingredients that are great for acne-prone skin, so it is important to take note of these ingredients and do your research. Aside from the ingredients, make sure to check if the sunscreen is non-comedogenic, which means that the product will not clog your pores.
It is definitely important to be a label reader and take a look at what ingredients are incorporated into your sunscreen. For example, a lot of sunscreens have now been incorporated with moisturizing ingredients or, vice versa, moisturizers with SPF.
Patients with acne-prone skin and/or acne will benefit from moisturizing ingredients because moisturizers aid in restoring the disrupted skin barrier. At the same time, it also helps reduce dryness and prevents irritation that may result from some of the topicals prescribed for acne.
The two types of sunscreen are chemical and mineral. Mineral sunscreens sit on top of your skin and deflect UV rays away from the skin. The formulas containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are known to be gentle on the skin and less likely to clog pores, which makes them ideal for people with acne-prone skin.
On the other hand, chemical sunscreens are absorbed by the skin, which can trigger allergic reactions and cause skin irritation. However, some chemical sunscreens are designed for sensitive and acne-prone skin, so it is your choice to make an exception or not.
For simplicity's sake, sunscreens can be divided into two types - mineral/ inorganic sunscreens vs. chemical/ organic sunscreens. For acne-prone skin, patients definitely need a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Usually, patients will be better off with a mineral sunscreen - look for ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these are generally less irritating.
Click to purchase
UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
All-Around Protection While Giving Your Skin That Healthy Glow
Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk
Provides UV Protection That Becomes Even Stronger With Heat, Sweat, and Water
Hydrating Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 30
A Tinted Sunscreen That Also Sustains Long-Term Moisturization
Antioxidant-Rich Sunscreen That Primes and Protects Your Skin
Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen for Face SPF 50
Light as a Feather With a Beautiful Matte Finish
Some by Mi
Truecica Mineral Calming Tone up Sunscreen
Triple-Function Sunscreen That Also Calms Sensitive Skin
Ultra Light Daily UV Mineral Defense
Blemish-Prone Skin’s Best Pick
All Around Safe Waterproof Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++
Lightweight, Non-sticky Sunscreen With Anti-inflammatory Properties
Reef-Safe Sunscreen Lotion
Protects Your Skin, the Reefs, and Ocean
Cetaphil Sun SPF50+ Gel
A Highly-Water Resistant Sunscreen for Your Summer Excursions
EltaMD's UV Clear Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen is heaven-sent! This sunscreen protects sensitive skin types who are prone to discoloration and breakouts. It is also fragrance-free, oil-free, paraben-free, sensitivity-free, and noncomedogenic.
This mineral-based sunscreen has niacinamide (vitamin B3), which shrinks pores and balances oil production. Plus, it has hyaluronic and lactic acid, which hydrates and moisturizes your skin. It will give your skin that healthy glow and, at the same time, prevent signs of aging and loss of elasticity.
It is very lightweight and does not feel greasy, so you won't even notice you have any sunscreen on! You can also choose to wear it with or without makeup. It offers broad-spectrum protection and is SPF 46, perfect for daily use!
Anessa has been Japan's number 1 sunscreen brand for a long time for a reason, and it's because they have developed a sunscreen that adapts to its environment. This sunscreen features Triple UV Defense Technology.
First, it uses the Thermo Booster Technology that strengthens protection with the sun's heat. Second, the Aqua Booster EX Technology enhances the sunscreen when exposed to sweat or water minerals. Lastly, its intense water resistance ensures that the sunscreen stays put even after 80 minutes of pool time.
Half of its ingredients also prevent photoaging caused by UV rays. It contains yellow flower extract and Kyoto Uji Green Tea Leaf extract that hydrate and protect the skin from dryness. On top of that, it is lightweight and smoothly spreads on your skin. It is ideal for sports or just for daily use.
CeraVe has increased in popularity over the years and has become a cult favorite. Well, it's no wonder since the brand has created skincare products that cater to every skin type and concern, not to mention it comes in a less hefty price tag compared to other skincare lines.
This CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen has broad-spectrum protection that can shield your skin from harmful UVB and UVA rays. Its formula also contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to block the sun's rays without irritating your acne-prone skin.
Since it's tinted, it offers better protection against visible light, which usually triggers dark spots. Its tint also works well with different skin tones. Moreover, it contains three essential ceramides that strengthen your skin barrier. It has niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, which keep your skin hydrated.
The Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen is a multitasker. Apart from serving as reliable sun protection, it also goes well with your makeup routine. It doubles as a primer you can use under your foundation if you want more coverage and a stable, long-lasting base.
Your skin will love its formula as well because it's oil-free and rich in antioxidants. It contains frankincense, which is an anti-acne and anti-wrinkle remedy. Moreover, it has a complex derived from meadowfoam seed, which promotes hydration for even skin texture.
Several customer reviews mention how it is highly suited for oily and acne-prone skin. Many of them noted that they experienced no breakouts or irritation while using it. Furthermore, it is invisible and weightless—you might even forget that you're wearing sunscreen.
This La Roche-Posay mineral sunscreen is a treat for those with acne-prone and sensitive skin. It has a lightweight and fast-absorbing texture that also leaves a tinted matte finish on your skin, giving you a healthy glow that doesn't feel heavy on the face and won't leave your skin extra shiny.
It is formulated with Cell-Ox Shield Technology, which delivers broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Plus, it contains Senna Alata, a leaf extract that protects your skin from free radicals that accelerates skin aging. You can also use this sunscreen when taking a dip in the pool because it is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.
Apart from functioning as a reliable sun shield that offers SPF50+ PA++++ protection, this sunscreen from Some by Mi also has toning up, anti-aging, and skin-calming effects. It contains resveratrol and pear flower extract that provide an instant brightening finish upon application.
Formulated for sensitive skin types, this mineral sunscreen is also infused with tea tree and madecassoside that actively work to soothe redness and irritation. More than that, it contains glycerin that prevents the sunscreen from drying your skin out and niacinamide content that smoothes wrinkles and provides several anti-aging benefits.
This non-comedogenic sunscreen by Kiehl's is dermatologist-tested to be safe for those with sensitive and blemish-prone skin. Thus, it is another great pick if you're looking for sun protection that won't irritate your skin. It features a fast-absorbing and lightweight formula that results in a matte finish, perfect if you hate the overly-greasy look that some sunscreen leaves.
It uses Titanium Dioxide, a gentle UV filter often used in sunscreens for sensitive skin. It can also defend your skin against UVA and UVB rays with broad-spectrum SPF 50 PA+++. Plus, it's infused with vitamin E, which helps neutralize skin-damaging free radicals. It can also enhance your natural skin tone since it's lightly tinted!
Offering broad-spectrum protection without any sticky residue, this lightweight sunscreen is one you won't mind wearing under the scorching heat. It is easy to spread, and it settles in a clear finish that disappears in the skin—you might even forget that you're wearing sun protection!
Despite that, it provides long-lasting sun protection resistant to sweat, water, and sebum. Another great thing we love about this is that it does more than shield your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Its formula contains eucalyptus leaf extract that keeps your skin refreshed and supple. But the absolute superstar is its green tea infusion, which serves as an anti-aging ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties that prevent acne and skin issues, like rosacea
Most sunscreens contain ingredients that are harmful to corals. That is why Magwai, a local brand, has come up with a formula that not only protects your skin but protects coral reefs as well. They use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, natural ingredients that ensure protection from harmful UV rays and are gentle on sensitive skin.
Both ingredients are non-comedogenic, so this sunscreen does not clog pores and cause breakouts. Another factor to love about this sunscreen is its commitment to protecting oceans. Magwai works with their partner stores in collecting empty Magwai tubes, and they recycle them, reducing plastic waste that may end up in the oceans.
Cetaphil has always been dedicated to providing skincare products catered to consumers with sensitive skin. That is why it's one of the chemical sunscreens we'll make an exception to. This sunscreen defends your skin from UVA and UVB rays, preventing skin pigmentation and premature skin aging.
It provides high broad-spectrum protection for both the face and body as well. Plus, it is highly water-resistant, so you can use it when swimming under the sun or just for everyday protection. Not only that but it is formulated for sensitive skin. It is dermatologically tested, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and paraben-free.
Now that you know how to select your sunscreen and have familiarized yourself with the best sunscreens for acne-prone skin, here are some tips in applying your sunscreen from Allure!
Once you've found the right sunscreen, actually apply it - and correctly too!
Let's start with the correct amount. Ideally, 2.0 mg per square centimeter of skin should be applied! For easy reference, that's equivalent to two fingerbreadths just for the face. As for the application, it's important to slather it on, making sure that all surfaces are covered. Don't forget the eyelids and the ears too!
If you still have some unanswered questions in your mind, let Dr. Katrina Luz educate you and answer some of the internet's most asked questions.
Sunscreen per se doesn't cause acne. Acne is actually caused by a combination of the following 4 factors: 1) buildup of oil or sebum; 2) clogged skin pores; 3) bacteria in the skin, and 4) inflammation. However, certain ingredients incorporated in sunscreens can predispose us to acne, especially if they clog our pores.
Remember, not all sunscreens were created equal - so it's just a matter of choosing the right one for your skin. In addition, it's important to find out what the ingredients are in the sunscreen in order to reduce the chances of developing breakouts from a product or developing an irritation presenting as acne-like eruptions. When in doubt, Ask Your Derma!
Sunscreens in themselves will not help acne scars fade. But sunscreens can definitely help reduce residual hyperpigmentation or prevent the scars from becoming even darker when exposed to the sun.
When it comes to the application of sunscreen on inflamed acne, best to pat it in - strike a balance between ensuring that all the surfaces are covered and preventing it from rupturing prematurely.
If you can opt to stay home, all the better. Although I'm still an advocate of sunscreen application at home, if you're not working by the window, then at least you can opt to apply the sunscreen simply once in the morning. No need for reapplication in this case only, especially if you won't work up a sweat!
The choice of sunscreen is a very personal one. Therefore, it is important to try out different sunscreens in order to see if you like the texture, fragrance, spreadability, and especially appearance on the skin after application. These, after all, will determine whether you actually apply the sunscreen or not on a daily basis.
Additional tip! Go for sunscreens with a thinner, gel-like, or liquid consistency rather than heavy-duty creams.
Want to improve your skincare routine? Head over to these articles featuring skincare products that will help you achieve that healthy and glowing skin!
Author: Khrisanta Rea
Re-editor: R. Victoriano
Our buying guide was carefully researched and crafted by the mybest team of writers and editors, in collaboration with the expert featured in this article. We used the buying guide as a basis for choosing and ranking the product recommendations, and we looked at reviews and ratings from different E-commerce sites like Lazada, Shopee, and more.
No. 1：EltaMD｜UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
No. 2：Anessa｜Perfect UV Sunscreen Skincare Milk
No. 3：CeraVe｜Hydrating Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 30
No. 4：Supergoop!｜Unseen Sunscreen
No. 5：La Roche-Posay｜Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen for Face SPF 50
View Full Ranking
When you purchase products mentioned in the article, part of the sales may be returned to mybest.
The descriptions of each product is referenced from the content available from the manufacturer, e-commerce sites etc.
BeautyBody care, Makeup, Skincare
CamerasCamera supplies, Digital cameras, Drones and multirotors
HealthBeauty supplements, Medical supplies, Feminine care
Household goodsAir treatment, Bath and shower supplies, Blankets
PCs and laptopsComputer accessories, Computer components, Desktop pcs
Home appliances and electronicsAir conditioners and coolers, Air treatment, Blenders, mixers, and food processors
Food and drinksAlcoholic beverages, Baked goods and desserts, Baking
Kitchen suppliesBaking tools, Coffee and tea accessories, Food containers
ClothingBrands and shops, Men's coats and jackets, Men's innerwear
ShoesMen's shoes, Other shoes and footwear, Outdoor footwear
AccessoriesBags, Accessories and jewelry, Belts
Mom and babyBaby books and toys, Baby food and snacks, Baby supplies
Interior and furnitureBeds, Carpets and rugs and mats, Chairs
HobbiesAnimes, Arts and crafts, Board games
OutdoorCamping beds and cots, Camping stoves, Coolers
DIY and tools
Sports and fitnessAccessories, Badminton, Basketball
PetsCat supplies, Dog supplies, Fish and aquarium supplies
Books, CDs, and DVDsBooks and magazines, CDs, Linguistics, dictionaries, and phrase books
GamesConsole accessories, PC and console games
Cars and motorcyclesCar accessories, Car seats, Car supplies
GiftsChristmas-related gifts, Gifts for kids, Gifts for men
Home improvement and toolsDoor hardware and locks, Electrical, Gas stoves
Smartphones and tabletsSmartphone accessories, Smartphones, Storage
Banking and financeCredit cards, Debit cards, Services and apps
InsuranceCar insurance, Life insurance, Medical insurance
AudioEarphones, Gaming, Headphones
Smartphone applicationsBusiness apps, Dating apps, Education apps
OthersOthers, Merch, Recreation