7 Best Physical Sunscreens For Acne Prone Skin

Choosing the right sunscreen requires a lot of trial-and-error.

And, when you add acne into the mix, things can get even more complicated.

But, just look on the bright side:

One of the active ingredients in physical sunscreens is zinc oxide. When applied topically to skin, research has shown that it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Which can ultimately help treat mild acne.

Here’s a list of some top performers.

1. Avène Mineral Ultra Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

avene mineral ultra light sunscreen

Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide 6%, Titanium Dioxide 4%.

Ah, Avene, the creme de la creme of French pharmacy brands. This is one of those products that seems to fly off the shelves—or, more likely, sells-out on Amazon/Dermstore, especially during the summertime. The formula is super lightweight (and runny), non-greasy, and disappears into your skin. Okay, it might leave a shadow of a white tint if you apply a heavy coat. But, still. That’s pretty darn good for a physical sunblock.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free!
  • Gentle enough for sensitive skin
  • Non-greasy formula

Cons

  • Packaging isn’t that great
  • Takes time to absorb

Check it out here on Amazon.

2. EltaMD UV Physical Tinted Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 41

eltamd uv physical

Active ingredient:  Zinc Oxide 9%, Titanium Dioxide 7%.

EltaMD specializes in sunscreen—it’s their thing. Not to mention, they have some of the best sunscreens on the market. This one is no different. While it might be a little thicker than most other formulas, it’s still oil-free and non-comedogenic. Plus, it’s tinted, so you don’t have to worry about looking like a ghost.

Pros

  • You get a lot of bang for your buck (the product lasts forever)
  • Not greasy
  • White-cast-free
  • Water-resistant up to 40 minutes

Cons

  • Contains Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate (a common allergen)

Check it out here on Amazon.

3. EltaMD UV Pure Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 47

elta md uv pure

Active ingredient:  Zinc Oxide 10%, Titanium Dioxide 5.5%.

Maybe you want to buy into the EltaMD craze, but you’re not into tinted formulas. Well, the good news is that EltaMD has got you covered. The bad new is that this sunscreen will most likely leave you with a white cast. Nevertheless, it’s a good product that offers excellent sun protection, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors.

Pros

  • Great for sensitive skin
  • Looks good under makeup
  • Water resistant up to 40 minutes

Cons

  • You have to rub it in (a lot) in order to tame the white cast

Check it out here on Amazon

4. CoTZ Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40

cotz sunscreen

Active ingredient:  Zinc Oxide 3.8%, Titanium Dioxide 8%.

This was my go-to sunscreen a few summers ago…until my mom stole it from me. I have to say, the formula is amazing! It’s oil-free, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic. But, that’s not even the best part. Unlike other physical sunscreens, this one glides on your skin like a dream–no excessive rubbing required. Another thing. Since this sunscreen contains dimethicones, it can double as a primer.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Slightly mattifying
  • Doubles as a primer
  • Water resistant up to 80 minutes

Cons

  • If you’re sensitive to silicones, stay away from this product!

Check it out here on Amazon.

5. Australian Gold Botanical Tinted SPF 50

australian gold botanical

Active ingredient:  Zinc Oxide 4%, Titanium Dioxide 4%.

Australian Gold is a new fan favorite among oily/combo skin types. Unlike a lot of other sunscreens, it’s not greasy or shiny. Instead, it leaves you with a matte finish. It does have a slight tint. But, as long as you blend, it’ll sheer-out on your skin. Similar to the CoTZ sunscreen, this one can also double as a primer.

Pros

  • It’s relatively cheap (yay!)
  • Matte finish
  • Great under makeup
  • Water resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Great for sensitive skin

Cons

  • Contains eucalyptus (rosacea sufferers, beware)
  • Not the best option for dry skin

Check it out here on Amazon.

Side note: I’ve purchased this sunscreen 3 times in the past year (and I love it!). Read my review here.

6. Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50

skinceuticals physical fusion

Active ingredient:  Zinc Oxide 5%, Titanium Dioxide 6%.

Behold, Skinceuticals! This is a pretty high-end brand that has a whole slew of solid products to choose from. This sunscreen, in particular, is just one of their fan-favorites. It has a lightweight (and watery) formula that glides on skin seamlessly. Even though it’s lightly tinted, it disappears on application (maybe it’s because they use “translucent color spheres”). Pro-tip: shake the bottle before every use.

Pros

  • Water resistant up to 40 minutes
  • No white cast
  • Great under makeup
  • Dries fairly quickly

Cons

  • Expensive as heck (and comes in a tiny bottle)
  • Some people don’t like the smell

Check it out here on Amazon.

7. Paula’s Choice Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30paula's choice sunscreen

Active ingredient:  Zinc Oxide 13%.

This is the perfect sunscreen for oily skin! That’s right. It’ll leave you with a super (duper) matte finish. Apart from that, it has a sheer tint that blends out to nothing. So, again, you won’t look like a ghost while wearing this stuff. You can either wear it alone or wear it as a primer under makeup. Because it has a matte finish, makeup will stay in place—no sliding around for this sunscreen.

Pros

  • Wonderful for oily/combo skin types
  • Shine-free
  • Great under makeup
  • Fragrance free
  • Great for sensitive skin

Cons

  • Not water-resistant
  • Might make fair skin look orange
  • Makes dry skin look scaly

Check it out here on Amazon.

Watch Out!

Sometimes labels can be deceiving.

If you’re looking for a physical sunscreen, I recommend that you disregard the front label and look to the ingredients list—there’s usually a section called “active ingredients”—to determine if your actually getting physical protection.

Some companies create hybrid sunscreens (both physical and chemical).

There’s nothing wrong with hybrid products—if that’s what you’re into.

But, if you’re gung-ho about physical protection, you need to be careful.

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