Raise your hand if finding the perfect clean face sunscreen for sensitive skin ranks right up there with shopping for jeans, bathing suits and sunglasses (ok that last one might just be me…)? If I put all of the face SPFs that I’ve tried next to the hair products I’ve tried (you curly girls know what I’m talking about), it would be a tight race.
Chances are you arrived here already knowing the importance of using sunscreen, so I won’t get on my sunscreen soapbox for too long. We’ve long been told how important a daily SPF is in our skincare routine: most importantly it helps to prevent skin cancer, but it also slows the signs of aging, including hyperpigmentation, lines and wrinkles. But here’s something not everyone is aware of:
Sunscreen use not only prevents but REVERSES signs of aging.
Yes, I said reverse. When I really committed to using a daily sunscreen 10 years ago, and without changing anything else about my routine, I noticed a difference in the texture of my skin, lightening of areas of hyperpigmentation, and an improvement in my fine lines. I would’ve thought that it was just my eyes getting older and just not seeing those lines as well #midlifeproblems, but between comments from others and comparing pics of myself, there truly was a difference.
In fact, a study was done a few years ago investigating the reversal of photodamage on subjects over a 52 week period using a daily SPF 30, and the findings showed significant improvement. It was so good to know I wasn’t imagining things!
But it’s not the SPF itself that’s working the actual magic…it’s our skin. Think of it like this: when you wear a bandaid on an owie, it’s not the bandaid that’s doing the healing, right? The bandage is simply protecting the area while the skin (with maybe some help from an antibiotic ointment) heals and repairs itself. Sunscreen is the bandaid, and if you’re protecting your skin with it DAILY, it gives your skin the optimum chance to repair and rejuvenate itself. Throw in a vitamin C serum to help with hyperpigmentation (the Neosporin in this analogy), and you’re making some serious anti-aging progress.
Needless to say, finding a clean sunscreen for my face when I was switching to clean beauty was one of my top priorities.
Sunscreen and Sensitive Skin
For those of us that have sensitive skin that’s easily product-reactive, it can be a real pain in the arse to find a moisturizer with SPF that doesn’t break us out, cause a rash, redness or some form of dermatitis. The good news about clean sunscreens is that most are mineral-based, using either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (or both), and zinc oxide in particular is great for healing and calming skin. But they can also be heavy, have a whitecast, contain essential oils or other ingredients that set us sensitives off, or else not play nicely with other products or makeup.
When looking for the perfect clean face moisturizer with SPF, I need it to:
- Be clean, with the SPF being mineral-based and reef-friendly.
- Be gentle.
- Be moisturizing, but not shiny…I prefer a satin finish (though if you like some glow, I’ve got options for you too!).
- Be protective, with a minimum SPF of 30.
- Play nicely with my other products, and for my daily sunscreen it needs to be cosmetically elegant and work under makeup.
I’ve tried so many clean facial sunscreens. And sadly many that are touted as being sensitive-skin friendly have caused my skin trouble. Below you’ll find my top picks for best clean face sunscreen for the most sensitive of sensitive skin, including a fantastic option for outdoor exercising and/or beach and pool level sunscreen AND a tinted moisturizer with SPF! And you can rest assured that if I can use it, it’s pretty damn gentle.