What Are The Best Sunscreens For Oily Skin?

best sunscreen for oily skin

Sunscreen is the most important skincare product you can use on your skin every day. It protects skin from the harmful sun rays, helping to prevent skin cancer, fine lines and wrinkles and those unattractive sun spots. As a result, skin ages more slowly and gracefully. However, if you have oily skin, trying to find a good sunscreen often feels like a mission impossible!

Most sunscreens on the market are too thick and emollient for oily skin, leaving an uncomfortable greasy residue behind. And lightweight sunscreens very often contain alcohol which is irritating and drying. Argh! What’s an oily-skinned gal to do? Many prefer to skip the sunscreen, but that’s never a good idea. Instead, why not try one of these options, which are all suitable for oily skin (and listed in no particular order)?

neutrogena ultimate sport lotion sunscreen broad spectrum spf 30

1. Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 30

Although I prefer physical sunscreens, this chemical sunscreen offers solid protection from both UVA and UVB rays. It contains Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (8%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (4%) and Oxybenzone (5%), all sunscreen agents that work by transforming UV light into a non-harmful form of energy, such as heat. Homosalate, which belongs to the salicylate family, is one of the ingredients used by the FDA in its standard sunscreen to test the SPF of other sunscreens. Avobenzone is a common ingredient in sunscreens because it protects well from UVA rays, but it is highly unstable (ie it breaks down and produces free radicals) when exposed to light. To prevent this from happening, here Avobenzone is stabilized with both Octocrylene and Oxybenzone.

Helioplex, the technology used by Neutrogena, is simply a stabilized and patented combination of Avobenzone and Oxybenzone. According to the company, it provides longer lasting UVA protection than that given by most sunscreens. These two ingredients shouldn’t, however, be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and by babies because they can be absorbed by the body (and are then secreted in the urine). Despite this, they have been found to be non-toxic and safe for adults. The sunscreen has a lightweight, non-greasy consistency that’s suitable for oily skin but, despite its waterproof claims, reapplication every few hours is still necessary. It is available on Amazon at $6.90.

paulas choice extra care non greasy sunscreen spf 50

2. Paula’s Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50 For Normal To Oily/Combination Skin

This sunscreen has a slightly thicker texture compared to the others in this list, so those with very oily skin may not be able to tolerate it. If you can though, this is a great option. To start with, it offers excellent broad spectrum protection thanks to the mix of Homosalate (10%), Oxybenzone (6%), Octisalate (5%), Avobenzone (3%) and Octocrylene (2%). In addition, it is loaded with antioxidants, which help prevent the premature signs of aging.

It contains Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a stable form of Vitamin C that can boost collagen production and fight free radicals, and two forms of Vitamin E (Tocopherol and Tocopheryl Acetate) that inhibit collagen breakdown. Vitamins C and E work better when used together because they help stabilize each other and boost both their antioxidant properties and UV protection. The sunscreen also contains Retinyl Palmitate, a gentler form of Vitamin A that has powerful antioxidant properties and can boost the production of both collagen and elastin. You can buy it at paulaschoice.com for $14.95.


3. EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47

If you prefer an all physical sunscreen, EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 is one of the best on the market for those with oily skin. It contains Zinc Oxide (10%) and Titanium Dioxide (5.5%), two white minerals that can give a white cast to the skin. These two ingredients create a shield on the skin that simply reflects light away from it. They just never allow the sun rays to hit the skin. They also offer excellent protection.

Titanium Dioxide protects from all UVB, and some UVA rays, while Zinc Oxide can, on its own, protect against the entire UV spectrum. In addition, physical blockers are also gentler, and less likely to cause irritations, than chemical sunscreen agents. This sunscreen has a lightweight silky texture that applies easily, and is quite water resistant (although you will still have to reapply it every now and then), but it can leave a slight white cast on the skin. You can buy it for $22.50 on Dermstore.com.


4. Sunumbra Sunkids SPF 40

For those looking for a physical sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white cast behind, there’s Sunumbra Sunkids SPF 40. This tinted sunscreen contains only Zinc Oxide, and a bunch of natural extracts – such as Broccoli Sprout Extract, Black Tea Extract and Astaxanthin – with antioxidant properties that prevent premature aging and boost UV protection. Its texture is very lightweight and absorbs really quickly, without leaving a greasy residue behind. You can check out my full review here. The sunscreen is available at sunumbra.com and retails at $33.70.

What’s your favourite sunscreen for oily skin?

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  1. Beate says

    Great post. Unfortunatly none of those are in my shops. Here are two brands for oily skin from apothecaries from Germany:
    Eucerin Sun Fluid matt SPF 30 and 50, leaves no whiteness on the skin
    Vichy Capital Soleil Dry Touch SPF 30 and 50, really mattifiying for me and leaves a hint of whiteness on the face
    both for about 16€ for 30ml

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Beate, what a shame! Can’t you get them online? In any case, I’m glad you’ve found some sunscreens that work well you, and that aren’t too expensive. Thank you for sharing them.

      • Beate says

        Oh, I made a mistake! 😀 They are both 50 ml. And as others have mentioned below, I use them only in the face.
        I have found a really good working dead cheap hight street shop product for 3-4€ from the drugstore Müller. Lavozon SPF 30, no perfume, no greasiness on skin. I use it not for sunbathing (which I don’t do), but for normal day life, on exposed skin.

  2. Stephanie says

    Oily skin is usually only a problem on the face. So I’d say my favorite sunscreen for oily skin is mineral makeup with titanium dioxide and zinc. On the rest of my body, it doesn’t matter what I wear.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Stephanie, I agree. The rest of the body is rarely as oily as the face and so it’s much easier to find a sunscreen that works for it.

  3. says

    I LOVE Elta MD’s UV Clear Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF46–it doesn’t leave my super oily skin greasy or oily, doesn’t break me out, has a decent level of SPF and the texture is *gorgeous*. I think it probably has the best texture/consistency of any sunscreen I’ve tried–it’s just so light and silky without feeling slippery and silicone-y. I’ve also had really good luck with Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunblock. I like the watery, fluid consistency and it keeps my skin pretty matte. Same with Shiseido’s Urban Environment sunblock, though it’s pricier and does sting my eyes just a tiny bit if I apply it to close to the eye area.
    Becca @ The Beauty Sample´s last blog post ..The Beauty Picks: Sheer Lip Color EditionMy Profile

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Becca, thank you for sharing your recommendations. I was very tempted to add the Elta MD’s UV Clear Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF46 to the list too, but from the reviews I’ve read (I haven’t tried this one yet), it leaves an obvious white cast on the skin. Everything else about it sounds amazing though, and it’s definitely a great option for people with oily skin.

  4. says

    None of these are available in my area. We have Neutrogena but I haven’t seen this one. It seems my skin has turned on me and it’s back to being oily. Could be a Summer thing only, we’ll see. The ones I’ll be looking at are from Shiseido which are apparently light & mattifying. I was doing ok with Ombrelle Special Face SPF45 and LRP SPF 60 but this week it was a disaster. *fingers crossed* :)
    Icaria´s last blog post ..Oh My! Clarins Is Doing It Again…My Profile

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Icaria, what a shame! All Neutrogena sunscreens are good in terms of UV protection, but I chose this one because it is one of the few which doesn’t contain the harsh preservative Methylisothiazolinone. But if you don’t react badly to it, you can give them a go. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Sunscreen SPF 45 is another one that doesn’t contain that preservative, and should be a good option for oily skin as well.

      I also wanted to include Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55, but I’ve found out that it was recently reformulated and it now contains a huge amount of alcohol, which is bad for skin, and the texture isn’t easy to work with either.

      I’m sorry those sunscreens aren’t working for you anymore. I hope you’ll soon find one that does. :)

  5. Janessa says

    I recommend Shiseido’s sunscreens in their cream or lotion (the lotion a bit more) because it keeps the skin matte and feel lighter than other sunscreens I’ve tried with the same SPF. I love BurntOut for the body and I have only tried their Kids and regular one. I’m interested in how the Ocean Tested one differs.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Janessa, thank you for your recommendations. I’ve never tried Shiseido sunscreens, but I’ve heard some great things about them. I’m glad they work well for you too.

      • Janessa says

        Would you like to try them? :) I received something super special today!! It has cool stamps on it. Lots, in fact. It’s made my day!!

        • beautifulwithbrains says

          Yes, but I need to finish the few bottles of sunscreen I already have in my cupboard first, before they expire. I would hate for them to go bad. :) And yay! That’s wonderful! :)

  6. Melissa says

    I’m surprised you don’t screen out those with oxybenzone, which is hazardous according to the Environmental Working Group.

    • Gio says

      Mel, that’s a great sunscreen for oily skin. I’m sure you’ll like it. Let me know how it goes if you try it.

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