How to Find a Great SPF If You Have Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

How to Find a Great SPF If You Have Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

Look, we know you already know how important it is to wear sunscreen every single day, no matter the season, so we won’t spend any time reminding you. Unless...okay, just once more, just in case.

Even on the cloudiest of days, but especially in the middle of a blazing summer day when the sun’s UV index is at its highest, it’s essential to wear sunscreen that has at least an SPF of 30 to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. This crucial layer of protection doesn’t just prevent signs of premature aging like dark spots, loss of elasticity, inflammation and wrinkles, but it also protects you from skin cancer. So, make sure to apply liberally and often.

With that being said, if you have oily, acne-prone skin, we know that finding a great sunscreen that you’ll actually apply (and re-apply!) daily can be a struggle. From thick, pore-clogging formulas that can lead to breakouts to sunscreens that slip and slide when your already oily skin starts perspiring in the sun (how’s that for a sweaty summer visual?), there are certain sunscreen mishaps you understandably want to avoid.

We asked BalmLabs’ Chief Dermatologist, Dr. Robin Schaffran, to give us the low-down on the best types of SPF for oily, acne-prone skin because—of course—foregoing sunscreen altogether is just not an option.

What Can You Skip?

Well, not sunscreen, that’s for sure! But you can certainly skip formulas that include oils in their formulations. “I recommend looking for sunscreens that are formulated [specifically] for the face and are oil-free and non-comedogenic,” says Dr. Schaffran.

Selecting a formula that’s specifically made for your face, rather than your body, can be helpful because body sunscreens tend to be a bit richer and thicker than face sunscreens, which can feel sticky and uncomfortable on your face, especially if you’re already dealing with pore-clogging excess sebum production.

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What About Textures?

Lightweight, refreshing gel formulas will be your best friend if you have oily, acne-prone skin. And if a sunscreen bottle says its formula is mattifying, all the better for keeping shine at bay. You can even throw a powder SPF in your purse to touch up parts of your face that get extra oily (like your T-zone) throughout the day while simultaneously adding more sun protection.

Do You Need to Reapply More Often if Your Skin is Oily?

It’s important to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours throughout the day and even more often if you’re sweating or in water. But generally speaking, if you’ve found a sunscreen that works for your skin type (like the matte gel formulas we mentioned above), “there is no need to reapply SPF more frequently with oily skin,” says Dr. Schaffran. “It’s just important to find the right formulation that doesn’t aggravate the oiliness.”

The Bottom Line of SPF Shopping

“There are so many good options that are suitable for oily, acne-prone skin,” says Dr. Schaffran. “It’s just about personal preference when it comes to finding a sunscreen that feels good to you in terms of consistency and smell.” Yes, it’s really that simple. If it feels good, looks good and smells good to you, then you’ll be more likely to use it daily. And the best sunscreen is just that—one that you’ll actually use.


Dermatologist Q&A: What ingredients work for stressed and adult acne-prone skin?