As essential as sunscreen is, if you have oily skin, it can be hard to find a formula that doesn't add to the mid-day grease. But sun protection has come a long way, and finding the best face sunscreens for oily skin is as simple as knowing what to look for. "People with an oily skin type should avoid SPF with added oil and a glowy formula," dermatologist Dr. Michael Jacobs tells Bustle. In addition to looking for an oil-free formula, if you're acne-prone, you'll also want something that’s noncomedogenic, which means it won't clog your pores. "Looking for products that have keywords like 'mattifying,' 'lightweight,' 'no-shine,' and 'blurring' can also be beneficial," Dr. Jacobs advises, adding that mineral sun blockers (aka zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) can also be helpful for oily skin types that are acne-prone.
Dr. Michael Jacobs is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. He is the medical technology director at Cortina and serves as clinical associate professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
What To Look For In A Sunscreen For Oily Skin
All skin types, oily included, should look for a sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum sun protection, which means it helps prevent damage from both UVA and UVB rays. You’ll also want to choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and it should be water resistant, too. "Regardless of if you have oily or dry skin, you should reapply SPF every two hours when you are in direct sunlight," Dr. Jacobs advises.
Dr. Jacobs adds that, "If you have oily skin, using water-based products can be helpful. Water-based products are easier for the skin to absorb, lightweight, tend to not leave a greasy finish, and are [hydrating]." There are lots of sunscreens out there that are water-based, including most oil-free sunscreens — and if you’re interesting in cutting oil out of the rest of your routine, be sure to check out these water-based cleansers, moisturizers, primers, and foundations (though keep in mind that you don’t have to avoid oil if you have oily skin).
Shop The Best Face Sunscreens For Oily Skin
In a hurry? Here are the best face sunscreens for oily skin:
1. Best Drugstore Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin: Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Face Serum SPF 60+
2. Best Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin That's Acne Prone: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
3. Best Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin That's Sensitive: SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen
4. Best Invisible Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin: Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
5. Best Tinted Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin: MD Solar Sciences Mineral Tinted Crème SPF 30
1. Derm's Pick: Best Drugstore Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin
For anyone who hates the thicker consistency of a sunscreen lotion or sun block, this sunscreen serum from Neutrogena will be a game changer. The brand’s Invisible Daily Defense Serum also gets Dr. Jacobs' pick because it protects against UVA and UVB rays, as well as environmental pollutants. "It is lightweight and formulated to be water-resistant," he says of the oil-free and noncomedogenic formula's benefits for oily skin types.
Sunscreen Type: Chemical Key Ingredients: Glycerin, Ginger Root Extract, Vitamin E Size: 1.7 oz. Water-Resistant: Yes
2. Derm's Pick: Best Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin That's Acne Prone
For those with acne-prone skin, anti-inflammatory and gentle exfoliating ingredients can be a great addition to calm existing breakouts and help prevent new ones from forming. EltaMD’s UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, which is another pick from Dr. Jacobs, combines the mineral sun blocker zinc oxide with the chemical sunscreen ingredient octinoxate to offer broad-spectrum protection from the sun. "It is formulated to reduce shine and contains lactic acid, which works to clear pores," he says. Like all of the sunscreens on this list, this, too, is oil-free and noncomedogenic.
Sunscreen Type: Mineral And Chemical Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E, Lactic Acid Size: 1.7 oz. Water-Resistant: No
3. Writer's Pick: Best Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin That's Sensitive
I've written about SkinMedica’s Essential Defense sunscreen before, but that's because it really is the best face sunscreen I've ever tried. My skin is both oily and sensitive, and the combination of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in a formula that's hypoallergenic and fragrance-free doesn't irritate my skin. It's also oil-free and noncomedogenic, so it doesn't leave my already oily skin looking and feeling greasy, and it doesn't cause breakouts either (another lovely skin quality I'm prone to). Despite using only mineral sun blockers to shield skin from UVA and UVB rays, the face sunscreen quickly blends right in without a trace of a chalky, white cast.
Sunscreen Type: Mineral Key Ingredients: Caffeine, Green Tea Leaf Extract Size: 1.85 oz. Water-Resistant: No
4. Editor's Pick: Best Invisible Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin
"This SPF lives up to its name: It goes on totally clear and is the most imperceptible face sunscreen I've ever tried," Bustle's senior beauty editor, Rachel Lapidos, says of Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen. "The formula is an oil-free gel that is slightly mattifying, making it perfect for skin that's on the oily side."
Sunscreen Type: Chemical Key Ingredients: Meadowfoam Seed, Shea Butter, Jojoba Esters, Vitamin E Size: 1.7 oz. Water-Resistant: Yes
5. Editor's Pick: Best Tinted Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin
"I have supremely oily skin, so I opt for mineral SPF formulas on my face," says Bustle's executive beauty director, Faith Xue. "This tinted formula from MD Solar Sciences feels like a treat to use. It's a bit thicker, like a primer, and leaves a filtered finish behind. Plus, the zinc oxide is great for breakouts.”
Sunscreen Type: Mineral Key Ingredients: Green Tea Leaf Extract, Pomegranate Extract, Cranberry Fruit Extract, Vitamin E, Vitamin C Size: 1.7 oz. Water-Resistant: No
Dr. Michael Jacobs, board-certified dermatologist, medical technology director at Cortina and clinical associate professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College.