The 7 best rosacea-friendly sunscreens 🌞
For everyday, not just sunny days.
*these posts aren't sponsored or paid, but do contain affiliate links, which gives me a tiny percentage if you purchase something using the link. I also get sent samples of products to try as my job as a beauty editor.
Thankfully, we're truly past the days of thick, sticky and chalky sunscreen formulas that make us all rather soak up the sun (and its harmful rays) than apply a protective lotion. Today, formulas are elegant, lightweight and often without leaving a cast (although, we still have a way to go with the latter). Protecting our skin from UVA and UVA rays is important, and it's even more important if you have rosacea, like I do. Let's look at the best rosacea-friendly sunscreens.
Rosacea-friendly sunscreens that you can wear everyday and won't break the bank. Thank yew.
Why is sunscreen important?
Suncream, sunscreen, SPF — whatever you call it —protects us against the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays. An easy way to remember the two is:
UVA = ageing
UVB = burning
UVA has a longer wavelength, which means they can penetrate further and get to deeper layers of the skin causing DNA damage. It can reach you through clouds and windows.
UVB has a shorter wavelength but higher energy level, so damages the top layers of the skin. This is where you'll get your visible sun damage and burn from.
As we know, sun damage can lead to skin cancer. It's the number one cause of many skin concerns — like fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
Obviously, this is very topline, we could go deeper but there's plenty more info on sites like Skincancer.org.
What's the deal with rosacea and sun exposure?
Rosacea flares up thanks to various triggers, these differ person to person but, to name a few, often include things like:
Hot and cold weather (particularly fluctuations in weather)
Here's where it gets tricky though, sunscreen can also trigger a rosacea flare-up. That's because some people can be sensitive to different aspects of the formula. Often we find that those with rosacea do better with a physical sunscreen vs a chemical one. As well as one without fragrance; I'm not hugely sensitive to fragrance so you will find both formula options in my list.
Physical SPF —Physical sunscreens (sometimes called mineral) reflect the UV rays, containing ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium*. The formula sits on top of the skin and, as the name suggests, acts as a physical barrier.
Chemical SPF — Chemical sunscreen, on the other hand, contain UV filtering ingredients that soak these up. Most people find these formulas are far superior in terms of how they work underneath makeup and other skincare products. Plus, they don't leave a dreaded white cast.
Those with rosacea often find that physical sunscreens are less irritating. However, physical formulas are definitely the least elegant of the two. And despite what brands will tell you, you can't get a physical SPF that contains zero white cast.
As with all skincare, SPF is a game of trial and error. I personally don't find that chemical sunscreens are irritating for me so I a mix of the two depending on what I'm doing that day.
How much SPF do I need?
This is boring but important. It's imperative that you use enough sunscreen to get the proper protection, and the correct amount is almost certainly more than what you're currently using. For the face and neck, it's around two fingerlengths — don't be afraid to do more if you think you need it though. Don't forget the eyelids and ears!
Ahead, you'll find my favourite sunscreens (both physical and chemical) that work for my rosacea-prone skin.
Beauty Pie FeatherLight UVA/UVB SPF 50 Sunscreen
A great option if you have a Beautypie membership. It's truly featherlight as the name suggests with a fluid texture, has zero white cast and is SPF 50. It's an everyday staple for me.
2. Supergoop! Sheerscreen
One for the mineral sunscreen lovers. Perfect for its simplicity. It's lightweight and doesn't leave a greasy film on the skin. Though the name implies completely sheer, this is a little misleading because, to my knowledge, there isn't a mineral sunscreen out there that's completely sheer.
3. Altruist Face Fluid SPF 50
Atruist is hands down my favourite SPF brand due to its affordability and brand ethos. The formulas are straightforward and no frills, yet very elegant. I rate every single product of their — especially the 1 litre body bottle, which I think is perfect for family holidays — including the Face Fluid SPF 50. It's super light, fragrance-free and sits beautifully under makeup.
4. The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Dewy Sunscreen
One of the newer SPFs on the market and it definitely didn't disappoint. This pretty much does what it says on the tin. Is incredibly dewy and hydrating — that's what the polyglutamic acid is for —, perfect for under makeup and is non-irritating (though everyone is different on the latter!)
5. Shiseido Clear Suncare Stick SPF50+
This is one for the reapplications. It's important to reapply SPF throughout the day because unfortunately one morning layer just isn't enough. This clever water-resistant stick is completely sheer and doesn't disrupt makeup so can be used over makeup.
6. Hello Sunday The Everyday One Face Moisturiser Sunscreen SPF 50
If you're scarred by heavy, sticky, smelly sunscreens then you'll get on well with a lightweight moisturiser formula, like this one. The key to using an SPF moisturiser is making sure you're applying enough. Remember to use two full fingerlengths to get the SPF 50 protection.
7. Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 50
Clear sunscreens are ideal for people who don't like any residue (not even moisturiser) on their skin. Glossier's daily sunscreen truly is invisible and leaves zero white cast. It's great with or without makeup and doesn't leave a horrid greasy feeling behind.
*You may have heard about these ingredients not being "reef-safe", the evidence of this is unclear. Better to keep yourself safe from the sun first.
What is my authority?
Misinformation in the beauty industry is a big problem, so I'm glad you're a little skeptical of what I'm telling you. As a journalist, it's my job to sniff out the BS and help you make sense of a very crowded and chaotic place. I interview some of the most well-respected dermatologists, doctors, chemists, and regulators in the world everyday as part of my job. I link reputable resources and studies where necessary. I have access to most products out there so have tried just about everything and I'm not paid to talk about particular products. I'm also a massive cynic in general, so that helps.