If You Have Sensitive Skin, These 19 Sunscreens Are the Very Best

Hot weather has finally reached the UK, and while we're keen to solidify our summer wardrobe essentials and stockpile ice lollies for the freezer, we're also turning to SPF as the temperatures rise. While we need to wear SPF year-round to protect our skin from ageing (yes, really—UV rays account for around 80-90% of skin ageing), it's particularly important to protect your skin in the summer months.

However, finding a great face SPF can be tricky, and not all SPFs are created equal. In fact, there are two kinds of sunscreen that you need to know about: mineral sunscreens and chemical sunscreens.

Best mineral sunscreens: @emmahoareau

Photo:

@emmahoareau

What is the difference between mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun's UV rays and converting the light to heat, which then dissipates from the skin. This chemical reaction is what gives chemical sunscreens their name. However, they can be problematic for sensitive skin, causing stinging or watery eyes upon application. Additionally, for those who have melasma (a skin condition that results in stubborn skin pigmentation, which is often exacerbated by the sun and heat), chemical sunscreens can sometimes make this worse, as the conversion of the light into heat can trigger pigmentation.

On the other hand, mineral sunscreens physically block UV rays from the skin. They're sometimes referred to as physical sunscreens for this reason. Not only are mineral sunscreens typically better for sensitive or acne-prone skin, but the ingredients tend to be kinder to the environment, too. (You'll often see many mineral SPFs labelled "reef-safe" for this reason.)

Typically, mineral-based SPFs tend to have ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. However, these ingredients tend to give sunscreen a white cast, which is the main con of mineral SPFs, and particularly so for darker skin tones. Therefore, it's a good idea to try mineral sunscreens before you buy them if you can. Thankfully, formulations have come a long way, and there are now more sophisticated mineral sunscreen formulas that are sheerer and work with all skin tones. Ahead, we've rounded up some of the best mineral sunscreens across budgets.

The 19 Best Mineral Sunscreens

This mineral sunscreen has SPF 35 and a creamy yet oil-free consistency that melts into the skin. It also has pollution guard to defend skin against environmental damage—a must if you live in a city.

Beauty editors swear by Kate Somerville's skincare line, and this SPF both protects and nourishes skin. This silky formula glides onto the skin and wears well underneath makeup. What's more, this formula is fragrance-free, which is ideal if you find that most SPFs sting your skin or make your eyes water. 

It's more expensive than high-street SPFs, but if you want to invest, then I would highly recommend this formulation. Ultra Violette is highly regarded amongst beauty insiders for its easy-to-wear SPF formulations. This one has a sheer formula that works well on all skin tones. It sits well underneath makeup, and the magnifying formula is ideal if you tend to be on the oiler side. It's also oil-free, gentle on sensitive skin types, and has a moisturising formula to leave skin comfortable in the sun.

If I had to choose my favourite affordable mineral sunscreen, it would be this one. Not only do La Roche-Posay's formulas work on all skin tones and types, but this texture is unrivalled. It's a watery lotion that sinks well into the skin and won't disturb your makeup. I wear this year-round, but I particularly like the lightweight texture for the warmer months.

Supergoop! makes some of my favourite SPFs. However, most are chemical-based. This mineral-based SPF has been designed with a sheer texture that is almost undetectable on the skin. It works great alone or worn as a primer underneath makeup.

If you want an affordable SPF with a lightweight texture, then give Hawaiian Tropic a go. It has a moisturising, milky texture, which is well suited if you have dry skin.

If you're skin is particularly sensitive in the sun, then I'd recommend Avènes formulas. Not only is Avène one of Hailey Bieber's favourite skincare brands, but it suits pretty much every skin type. This formula is tinted, so it's ideal if you're looking for a little more coverage without the heaviness of foundation. 

We all know we're meant to reapply SPF throughout the day, but if you're wearing makeup, it can be tricky. This translucent powder has an SPF 30 protection and is great for topping up your SPF throughout the day while addressing shine. 

This one is definitely on the spenny side, but you also get 100ml of product (most SPFs tend to be 50 or 30ml). This formula is hydrating and contains silica spheres, which help to diffuse the look of lines and wrinkles.

The Inkey List is a beauty insider's go-to for affordable yet effective skincare, and this SPF comes with glowing reviews. This formula absorbs quickly and has been designed to keep pores clear, too.

SkinCeutical's SPFs are top-tier, and this one has a subtly tinted formula that helps to even out the skin. Many reviewers mention that this one can leave a white cast on darker skin tones, however, so it's best to try a sample before purchasing.

This come in at an eye-watering £60, but I can honestly say it's one of the best mineral sunscreens that I've tried. It has a lotion-like texture that melts into the skin. It comes out very slightly peachy but totally disappears into the skin when applied.

Ultrasun is a trusted brand for sun-care products, and its mineral SPF offering has great reviews. It's oil-free, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic (so it won't contribute to breakouts). 

A spray SPF is another great way to top-up your SPF throughout the day or to reapply over makeup. Chantecaille's lightweight mist feels nourishing on the skin and has a reef-safe formula, too.

This non-sticky formulation is jam-packed with antioxidants, so you can expect your skin to glow with time as you wear it.

If you're looking for something very lightweight, then Kiehl's formula is great. 

Summer Fridays's formula will leave your skin seriously glowing. This lotion consistency melts into the skin and is ideal if you have dry or dehydrated skin.

Developed by skin expert Dr. Sam Bunting, this sunscreen boasts SPF 50 protection and has a very nourishing formula, making it great for mature skin types.

If you have particularly sensitive skin, then mineral formulas tend to be gentler. This one has SPF 50 protection and antioxidants to help shield skin against environmental damage, too. According to reviews, this formula is most suited to fair skin, so it's worth testing it out first to see how it works for you.

Related Stories