We all know how important it is to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every single day, but whatâ€™s less often spoken about is sunscreen formulas for those with rosacea. Rosacea is a common condition where the skin flushes more easily, resulting in redness, sensitivity, and uneven texture.
Once triggers are identified, it can be managed pretty well, but sunscreen presents a tricky topic because they often contain sensitizing ingredients (such as fragrance and chemical filters). But as facialist and aesthetician Melanie Grant explains, those with rosacea are also highly susceptible to sun damage and UV radiation which will break down collagen and elastin, plus contribute to inflammation, so itâ€™s extremely important to find an SPF formula that protects without irritating.
And luckily, there are some effective, skin-soothing products on the marketâ€”you just have to know where to look.
- Our Picks
- Final Verdict
- What to Look For
- Why Trust ishonest?
Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen For Face SPF 50
Leave it to the French to create a gentle, milky, high-protection sunscreen that doesnâ€™t aggravate the skin or cause flare-ups. Fragrance and paraben-free, itâ€™s a great choice for all complexions given its natural finish and lightweight texture (which isnâ€™t easy for a 50+ zinc-based product).
Best Drugstore: CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 Face Lotion
Made using both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, this simple facial sunscreen is bolstered with niacinamide and ceramides in the formula that can help to firm up the skin barrier and prevent irritation. Itâ€™s quite thick but does sink in, leaving the skin soft and velvety once absorbed.
Best Moisturizer: InstaNatural Vitamin C Moisturizer
According to Brand Development Director and Lead Esthetician at InstaNatural Heather Wilson, this moisturizer actually boasts a sun protection factor of 30, plus botanical extracts that will help nourish and care for the skin. Itâ€™s also rich in antioxidants.
Best for Acne: Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Derms and celebs alike are big fans of this SPF from Ulta MD, probably because itâ€™s designed specifically for pigmented, oily and acne-prone skin types. It's formulated with zinc oxide and octinoxate, plus niacinamide, lactic acid, and hyaluronic acid meant to help refine the skin and prevent congestion.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
This blend, rich in zinc oxide, antioxidants, and oils, promises to protect and nourish fragile skin. Light and creamy, it absorbs well and is free from potential ingredient triggers like fragrance, essential oils, and oxybenzone.
Best for Combination Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
This new launch from Dr. Dennis Gross is made using a clear form of zinc oxide, so it blends well with zero white cast. Itâ€™s also rich in nourishing sea buckthorn, so youâ€™ll feel hydrated and soft while you're wearing it.
Best for Fair to Medium Skin Tones: Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF30
This stuff is magic when it comes to neutralizing the redness associated with rosacea. The secret lies in the green-ish undertone and the inclusion of soothing Centella in the formulaâ€“both of which are meant to reduce redness and even out tone. Itâ€™s quite rich, so it works great on drier complexions.
Best for Dry Skin: Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen
Parched skin types will relish in this creamy SPF offering from Biossance. Rich in the brandâ€™s signature squalane, this formula promises to help calm and moisturize stressed-out skin while protecting it from UV rays.
Best for Normal Skin: Skinceuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30
Weâ€™ve never met a Skinceuticals product we didnâ€™t like! The Physical UV Defense is a great all-rounder, thanks to the fact it has a natural-feeling finish. Itâ€™s completely physical and specifically formulated for sensitive, post-procedure skin, making it suitable for those with rosacea.
Best for a Dewy Finish: Dermalogica Super Sensitive Shield SPF 30
If you donâ€™t want to irritate the skin but still want a dewy finish, this Dermalogica pick is top-notch. Formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the fragrance-free cream applies beautifully, leaving the skin soft, hydrated, and most importantly, protected.
Sunscreen is a personal skincare choice and really comes down to your complexion goals and desired finish. But with that being said, there are three standouts in the above list that weâ€™ve crowned team ishonest favorites. First of all, thereâ€™s La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Sunscreen For Face SPF 50 (view at Ulta) for its light, hydrating, skin-soothing formula that just so happens to be appropriately priced. Then thereâ€™s Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46â€”the best SPF for troublesome, sensitive skin. And finally, Skinceuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30 because itâ€™s a great all-rounder that sinks in fast, feels good, and wonâ€™t trigger redness.
What to Look for in a Sunscreen for Rosacea-Prone Skin
Chemical vs. Physical Filters
While there are always exceptions to the rule, Grant suggests that those who have rosacea opt for physical or inorganic sunscreens as they are typically less irritating: â€œItâ€™s important to avoid ingredients that will cause further irritation to the skin, including fragrance, drying alcohols, oxybenzone, and avobenzone. Reach for a mineral-based formula with calming, restorative zinc oxide or titanium dioxide,â€ Grant explains. â€œFor those of us with sensitive skin or rosacea, always test a new product behind your ear or on the side of your neck before slathering it all over your face.â€
On the flip side, calming ingredients are great to look out for when buying sunscreen. Grant suggests reaching for a formula that contains niacinamide, peptides, panthenol, ceramides, and fatty acids to help boost barrier function and soothe the complexion.
Why Trust ishonest?
Levin J, Momin SB. How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients?. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(2): 22-41.