High SPF sunscreen for acne-prone skin?
May 25, 2008 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Sunscreen SPF 30 or higher that won't make me break out?

I am exceedingly acne-prone. Everything makes me break out, including every sunscreen I've ever tried. Unfortunately, I am also prone to hyperpigmentation, so I need a high SPF sunscreen. Right now the best one I've found is Olay Complete Defense SPF 30 for sensitive skin, but I still break out from it. Clinique City Block is pretty good but makes me look too chalky, plus it doesn't seem to give total protection. Do you know of one that won't make me break out but also doesn't look too greasy or chalky?
posted by HotToddy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I think Purpose makes an SPF 30, and they generally do their best to not generate comedones. However, I don't think any recommendation you get is going to go beyond "This sunscreen doesn't make me break out"- I've definitely tried many that people said was the least acne-creating sunscreen ever for them but still made me break out. It's just the luck of the draw.

With that, I recommend Makeup Alley, where you will find reviews of most of the sunscreens on the market and can get a better idea of how many people it does and doesn't work out for.
posted by crinklebat at 12:42 PM on May 25, 2008

Lots of sympathy - I'm almost exactly this way as well. I used Aveeno's facial sunblock (spf 30) last summer and had good luck with it - a few pimples but nothing I'd call a breakout. It does feel greasy and I'm not 100% happy with it, but I thought I'd pass on the word in case you can make it work for you. Otherwise, I have the same quest, so I'll be watching this thread carefully - thanks!
posted by AthenaPolias at 12:43 PM on May 25, 2008

I also generally break out when I apply sunscreen, but I still wear it every day because melanoma runs in my family. I use a couple of different ones but something that might work for you is a titanium dioxide-based loose powder sunscreen. Peter Thomas Roth makes one that seems good . If you're a woman, you could also use on top of that a mineral makeup base that's SPF 30. There are a lot of different brands now.
posted by buka at 12:43 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

seconding crinklebat's suggestion for Makeup Alley. It's a goldmine of information.
posted by AthenaPolias at 12:44 PM on May 25, 2008

Coppertone makes an oil free non-comedogenic sunscreen that's spf 30. My wife and I both like it.
posted by furtive at 12:45 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've had good experiences with this Neutrogena brand sunscreen.
posted by phunniemee at 12:46 PM on May 25, 2008

I'm also prone to breaking out and I've used (and loved) Banana Boat 50 SPF Baby Sunblock Tear Free for a couple of years. It makes me look white, but I usually apply it with a few dots of my liquid blush, which takes care of the pasty. For me, the clear skin is more than worth it.
posted by arnicae at 12:49 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hawaiian Tropics Sheer Touch is oil free and non-greasy. I've been very happy with it.
posted by puffin at 12:57 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

My dermatologist recommended Neutrogena Healthy Defense moisturizer, available in SPF 30 and 45. The 30 seems to be pretty good, hasn't irritated my skin as much as sunscreen usually does.
posted by amtho at 1:03 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I use Sofina Perfect UV SPF50 and it's the best sunscreen ever. I find most sunscreens heavy and greasy which is the last thing my oily skin needs in the summer but this product is not like that at all. It's super-light and and I find the formulation mattifying - my skin's usually shiny by noon but I don't have that problem when I use this product.
posted by phoenixc at 1:41 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Phoenixc--I have the Sofina and agree that it's super light and mattifying, but it seems to have a lot of silicones or something in it--I just can't get it to wash off, and after a few days I start breaking out. I notice my face wash doesn't lather when trying to wash it off. If I could find the secret to getting it off every night, I think it might work. What do you wash your face with?
posted by HotToddy at 1:51 PM on May 25, 2008

I'm still looking for the perfect one, myself. It's difficult to find one that takes care of UVB and UVA, that doesn't also look like white paint and make you break out.
posted by adipocere at 1:59 PM on May 25, 2008

I'm always looking for a truly sheer, lightweight sunblock. The best thing I've found is an unusual product my mom brought back from Korea a couple months ago - it's a pressed powder sunblock, OHUI brand. I'm having trouble finding it on joseibi.com, but it's a pressed barely-shimmery spf 50 powder with a nifty self-filling sponge - perhaps there are similar products from other manufacturers. It sits on top of the skin, so it doesn't clog up pores; it's very sheer, so it's hardly noticeable; it's not a lotion or cream, so greasiness is a non-issue; and best of all, it [em]works[/em]. Just another option ~
posted by peachfuzz at 2:15 PM on May 25, 2008

I'm currently undergoing treatment for acne, and my esthetician put me on this stuff. Oil-free, yet still moisturizes, and my super-fair skin has yet to burn. I'm very happy with it.
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 2:39 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm happy with Paula's Choice Extra Care 30+ Sunscreen.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:40 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have very sensitive skin and can only use Banana Boat or Aveeno. I like the Aveeno facial one, it doesn't feel greasy.
posted by radioamy at 3:02 PM on May 25, 2008

i'm a big fan of neutrogena's ultra sheer dry touch sunscreen (it also lasts forever and isn't too shiny) and for some reason i can wear coppertone sport without breaking out. but that's all i can wear--everything else is a disaster.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:46 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

those of you who are recommending powder sunscreens - how do they hold up under hot conditions? I can't imagine it staying on through sweat, but I could be wrong...
posted by AthenaPolias at 5:19 PM on May 25, 2008

A cleansing oil is the best way to remove waterproof sunscreens like Sofina or Sheseido. You can make your own, or CVS sells one by Lumene for about $10. (Yes, oil cleansing is totally okay for oily skin.)
posted by junkbox at 5:57 PM on May 25, 2008

HotToddy, I use Philosophy's Purity Made Simple cleanser and then follow that up with this super-gentle exfoliator by Aveeno. For a time last fall, I had a problem with really bad breakouts and dry skin on top of that and it was only after trying a bunch of gentle cleansers that didn't strip my skin that I settled on this combination which has worked well for me so far.
posted by phoenixc at 6:18 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch sunblock -- for having such a heavy-duty SPF, it feels remarkably light. Plus it's noncomedogenic and gives both UVA/UVB protection.
posted by scody at 8:57 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have an SPF 35 from Vanicream that works great. My skin is very prone to breaking out from greasy creams and this stuff is great--doesn't feel greasy at all.
posted by jockc at 10:49 PM on May 25, 2008

Response by poster: jockc--Is it the Vanicream Sport sunscreen here? I was very interested in Vanicream sunscreen a few months ago but all the reviews I read at the time said it was horribly greasy. But perhaps this Sport stuff is new. The Vanicream bar soap and moisturizer have been amazing for my very sensitive skin so I would think the sunscreen would be good, too.
posted by HotToddy at 11:41 PM on May 25, 2008

Kiehl's. I swear by it; I have very sensitive skin and allergies to most commercial scents to boot, and this stuff rocks. You can usually get small samples at the Kiehl's stores if you have one in your area, to try out first.
posted by twiki at 4:36 AM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Unlike some of the other responders, I've been disappointed with Neutrogena's sunscreen-containing products. Aveeno made a sunscreen-containing facial moisterizer that I loved, but they changed it a few years back, and I don't like the new formula. I'm decently pleased with Purpose.
posted by desuetude at 11:29 AM on May 26, 2008

I recommend SolBar Gel, it's not a cream, so it definitely has a friendlier texture for those with acne prone skin. I can't say I don't break out while on it, but my break outs don't get worse, which is still appreciated.
posted by flaneuse at 5:25 PM on May 27, 2008

Shiseido has worked for me. (And in terms of sun protection - it's better than Neutrogena, IMO... I was using Neutrogena sunscreen before I switched to Shiseido; physical blockers (what Shiseido uses) are supposedly more effective and healthier for your skin than chemical blockers (what Neutrogena uses).) It's also important to use make-up remover when removing sunscreen, though... and basically double-cleanse your face.
Also, you could find out which specific ingredients your face reacts to, and avoid products with those ingredients. There are some general lists of facial-product ingredients that people with acne-prone skin should steer away from, on the net...
posted by aielen at 12:08 AM on May 28, 2008

befriend someone in the UK and beg them to send you Lancome's sun screen. The best stuff around... too bad they don't sell it in the states.
posted by hipersons at 7:16 AM on June 9, 2008

My boyfriend who is paler than pale and prone to sunscreen induced breakouts swears by the Neutrogena Cool Mist since discovering it last summer he's never burned and hasn't broken out from it at all. The only problem we ever have is running out and not being able to find it in the winter in our drugstore.
posted by Lisin at 8:03 AM on June 9, 2008

Response by poster: Circling back 6 months later to update: For months now I have been using the Sofina Perfect and removing it at night with Pond's Cold Cream. Amazingly, my skin is clearer now than it's ever been. The Sofina needs to be removed with an oil-based cleanser, and contrary to what you might expect the cold cream seems to dry my skin out rather than make it more oily. (I do wash my face after using the cold cream.) And the Sofina itself is wonderful--so light you can't feel it at all, and completely matte.
posted by HotToddy at 12:11 PM on December 5, 2008

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