From preventing skin cancer to minimizing signs of aging, sunscreen does many wonderful things for your skin—but it isn't fundamentally built for hydration. If you have dry skin, you may (understandably) worry that wearing sunscreen will leave your skin feeling even more parched, flaky, or tight.

But fear not. Innovations in sunscreen formulas mean you don't have to sacrifice skin care for ultraviolet (UV) protection. With the right sunscreen, sun care can actually support your skin goals. Here's how to find the perfect sunscreen for dry skin—one that blocks harmful UV rays and locks in moisture for a healthy, radiant complexion.

What Causes Dry Skin?

Dry skin can happen for several reasons. For some people, it's related to an underlying skin condition, such as eczema. For others, dry skin may be their baseline skin type. Your environment can also play a role. For example, dry indoor heat during the winter can cause major dryness, as can arid and cold climates. And keep in mind that skin naturally becomes drier as you age due to decreased oil (sebum) production.

No matter the cause, dry skin can be tough to deal with. It can feel tight, flaky, and itchy, and it may even accentuate fine lines and wrinkles. For many people, dry skin goes hand in hand with sensitive skin, meaning skin care products are even more likely to irritate your skin and worsen dryness.

Happy handsome African American man applying moisturizer on face, putting collagen anti age cream, sunscreen, cleansing lotion, caring for hydrating soft skin, reducing wrinkles, acne, eyebags

How to Pick a Sunscreen for Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, deciding between sunscreens can feel daunting. Start with these tips to simplify your search and help you find your ideal sunscreen match.

Focus on Mineral Blockers

Since dry skin often overlaps with sensitive skin, try a sunscreen with mineral blockers Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide. These active ingredients are less likely to irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction (called allergic contact dermatitis) than chemical blockers. Zinc Oxide also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe skin.

Go for an option like EltaMD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44. With 100 percent mineral blockers, this elegant sunscreen also delivers Hyaluronic Acid, which retains moisture and supports supple, smooth skin. As a bonus, its subtle tint also prevents the dreaded white cast associated with most mineral sunscreens, which can be especially annoying if you have darker skin.

Avoid Ingredients That Dry or Irritate Your Skin

Make sure your sunscreen is fragrance-free and noncomedogenic (won't clog pores). As a general rule of thumb, avoid ingredients that can potentially irritate or dry out your skin, like Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol.

Look for Moisture-Boosting Ingredients

Sunscreens with moisture-boosting ingredients work double duty, blocking UV rays while locking in moisture. Look for ingredients that hydrate skin and restore and support your protective skin barrier, like peptides, Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid, and ceramides.

Make Hydration a Habit

Moisturizing twice a day is an important part of an effective skin care routine, especially if you have dry skin. In addition to drawing in and retaining water, moisturizers help improve skin texture and replenish your skin barrier. Try EltaMD PM Restore Moisturizer, which contains Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, and antioxidants to repair, nurture, and oxygenate your skin each night. And remember to moisturize in the morning before applying sunscreen, too!

Reassess Your Skin's Needs

Your skin care needs can change based on your age, location, and lifestyle (not to mention seasonal skin care changes), so your products should change with them. If you notice your skin getting drier as you get older or after a big move, you may have to upgrade your perfect sunscreen and other skin care products.

Finding the Best Hydrating Sunscreen for Dry Skin

For healthy, youthful skin, daily sunscreen is a must—even if you have dry skin. Fortunately, it's possible to find a sunscreen that protects your skin from harmful UV rays and locks in moisture. It's all about curating a skin care regimen designed to reveal soft, supple skin piece by piece so you can put your best face forward.



    Maria Robinson, MD, MBA is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist with over ten years of clinical experience. Dr. Robinson has a passion for nutrition and integrative dermatology, and is the co-founder of, where people can explore holistic dermatology treatments. Through her writing, she strives to empower people with accurate health information so they can make positive decisions that lead to healthy and vibrant skin.