If you have oily skin, you might be tempted to skip sunscreen. And, look, we get it: Any extra product—and especially one that has a reputation for being thick and greasy—can make you worry that you’ll break out. Still, wearing it daily, even for brief periods of sun exposure, is essential in preventing sunburns and skin cancer. Thankfully, SPF has come a long way since the one-size-fits-all, thick creams of the past. We spoke with dermatologists to learn more about what to look for in sunscreen for oily skin, so you can stay protected.
What to look for when shopping for sunscreen for oily skin
First, choose an SPF labeled “noncomedogenic,” which means it’s less likely to clog your pores—a common concern for folks with oily skin, Lela Lankerani, DO, a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, tells SELF. She specifically recommends avoiding sunscreens that have occlusive ingredients, like mineral oil, coconut oil, and petrolatum, which create a physical barrier to stop water loss and maintain hydration. While these can work well for people with dry skin, occlusives can trap oil, bacteria, and dirt, leading to clogged pores. Protecting your skin while also allowing it to breathe is key, which is why Dr. Lankerani recommends sunscreens with oil-free and lightweight formulations, like gels, thinner lotions, or liquids.
Lastly, mineral sunscreens—made with zinc oxide or titanium oxide—can be a better choice for oily skin because they tend to be slightly more drying than chemical sunscreens. You should also “look for ingredients like silica that absorb oil, especially in facial sunscreens,” Elaine F. Kung, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Future Bright Dermatology in NYC, tells SELF.
The best sunscreens for oily skin
Below you’ll find some expert-approved picks, as well as some of the best, tried-and-true sunscreens I’ve come across during my 15 years of working as a makeup artist.