When you're looking for the perfect sunscreen, it's common to have concerns about your specific skin type and complexion. Maybe you have sensitive skin or tend to break out, or maybe the sunscreens you've tried in the past have left behind an unsightly white cast. So, what sunscreen should you use?

One thing's for sure: sunscreen is nonnegotiable. The good news is there's definitely a sunscreen for everyone—you just have to find yours. Here's how to navigate sunscreen for different skin types and find your perfect match.

Sunscreen for Different Skin Types

If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, you may be especially cautious about what goes on your skin—even sunscreen. While this is understandable, it's important not to skip this part of your daily routine.

Sensitive Skin

The best sunscreens for sensitive skin are those that only contain the mineral blockers Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (mineral sunscreens). These ingredients are less likely to agitate your skin because they sit on top of the skin rather than absorb into it, like with chemical blockers. Just be sure to read the sunscreen label since many formulas use both types of blockers. A good option to try is EltaMD UV Active Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+, which contains 100 percent mineral blockers.

Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

If your skin is oily or if you tend to break out, use oil-free and noncomedogenic (meaning they won't clog pores) sunscreen formulas. It's also a good idea to avoid sunscreens that have alcohol in them. In addition to irritating the skin, alcohol may increase oil production, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.

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Sunscreen for Your Complexion

You may already know that sunscreen is a must for all complexions, but choosing the right one can look different for different skin tones.

Fairer skin is more likely to burn—and has a higher risk of skin cancer—than more melanated skin. This is because melanin-rich skin has more natural protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays. But darker skin is still at risk of skin cancer and other sun-related damage, like melasma and hyperpigmentation. So, no matter what your complexion, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Sunscreens have come a long way. There's no reason to settle for the chalky residue that mineral sunscreen ingredients like Zinc Oxide can leave behind, particularly on darker skin tones. If you have Black or brown skin, look for sheer sunscreens or tinted formulas that blend in better with your complexion, like EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40.

Sunscreen for Skin Conditions

Pimples, dark spots, and other skin concerns are a reality for many people. So, what sunscreen should you use if you're dealing with any of these issues? Here's how to find a sunscreen that will protect your skin without causing your skin woe to get worse.

Acne and Rosacea

Ingredients like Niacinamide and Vitamin C can help with inflammation and redness, so they can be great additions to your daily sunscreen if you have acne or rosacea.

For acne, a sunscreen like EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is a great choice. It's oil-free, noncomedogenic, lightweight, and silky smooth. It also contains Niacinamide to help combat breakouts and any dark spots pimples leave behind.

People with rosacea often have sensitive skin, so you may need to stick with mineral blockers. The tinted EltaMD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 is a good choice since it's 100 percent mineral. Plus, it contains Hyaluronic Acid, which retains moisture, soothes skin, and protects the skin barrier.

Melasma and Hyperpigmentation

If you have melanin-rich skin, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be a challenge. Unprotected sun exposure makes both of these conditions worse, so using a daily sunscreen with at least SPF 30 is a must. It also helps to look for specific ingredients that can minimize dark spots and even out skin tone at the same time.

If you're dealing with unwanted dark patches, EltaMD UV Restore Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 can work well. In addition to blocking harmful UV rays, it also contains Ginger Root Extract to help fade dark spots and antioxidants Vitamin C and Vitamin E to fight skin-aging free radicals. As an added bonus, the Iron Oxides in this formula help block the blue light from your computer and smartphone, which can contribute to hyperpigmentation.

Finding the Formula That Works for You

When it comes to your skin, remember this mantra: the best sunscreen for you is the one you'll use every day. No matter your skin type or concern, you can find the perfect sunscreen to fit your needs. With patience and a bit of trial and error, you'll find your perfect match so you can support a lifetime of healthy, radiant skin.



    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 www.integrativederm.org, 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.

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