The 11 Best Sunscreens for Oily Skin 2018

Updated 4 years ago

A healthy tan is beautiful, but sunburn is painful. Contrary to what some believe, you can bronze your skin without burning it. The solution is sunscreen. Even if you have oily skin, it’s not hard to find a sunscreen that will protect you without causing acne.

If you shield yourself from UV radiation, you’ll keep your skin healthier and younger-looking for longer. And if you have oily skin, look for a lightweight, broad-spectrum formula that doesn't contain oils. We’ve reviewed the best sunscreens for oily skin below.

The top sunscreens for faces with oily skin

We’ll begin our review with the best sunscreens for faces. Many of these are sheer enough to wear underneath makeup while others are for outdoor activities like swimming.

Dermalogica Oil-Free Matte SPF 30

Dermalogica’s sheer oil-free sunscreen is a popular choice for customers who struggle with oily skin on their faces. It dries to a matte finish then it absorbs oil after you apply it to your skin. You can even mix it with your foundation. Those facts make it ideal for use with makeup.

The formula is free of parabens, dyes, and artificial fragrances. And it relies on chemical sun blockers like Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, and Oxybenzone. Although the sunscreen has overwhelmingly positive reviews, if you have sensitive skin, you might prefer the formula that uses physical sunblock ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Avène Mineral Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 50 Plus Face Lotion

Avène formulated a version of their Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen with physical sunblocking ingredients. It contains 6% zinc oxide and 4% titanium dioxide instead of components like Avobenzone. If you’re leery of chemical sunscreens, try this one instead. It offers excellent broad-spectrum protection.

You may be wondering why a review of sunscreens for oily skin would include those with moisturizing formulas. If you’re curious, skip down to the bottom of the article, and you’ll find out why hydrating oily skin is actually a good idea.

Eau Thermale Avène Ultra-Light SPF 50 Plus Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion

Avène’s Ultra-Light sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB radiation. The non-greasy formula is based on thermal spring water, not oils, moisturize your skin.

Like most sunscreens, you’ll need to apply this one at least 15 minutes before you go out into the sun. Then, if you plan to spend time in the water, you’ll need to reapply it after eighty minutes of swimming or two hours of sunbathing. And the formula does not contain parabens, artificial fragrances, or oils.

Clinique Super City Block Ultra Protection SPF 40

Clinique recommends their Super City Block sunscreen for both men and women. It has protection against UVA and UVB rays, and that’s important to avoid sunburn, hyperpigmentation, and skin cancer. Plus, it reduces redness to even out skin tone.

Fans of Clinique’s other skin care products know that this company takes the time to test for potential allergic reactions to their formulas. Perhaps you even had a dermatologist recommend this sunscreen to you. It’s oil-free, and it absorbs quickly. The only downside is that it may look chalky if you apply it to dry skin.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Face Sunscreen for Oily Skin SPF 60

Walk into any pharmacy in Europe, and you’re bound to run into La Roche-Posay products. Their Anthelios sunscreen is especially popular. It uses their proprietary Cell-Ox Shield technology to block harmful radiation from the sun and protect against signs of aging.

This version for oily skin absorbs oil that can clog pores. The combination of silica and perlite even works when it’s hot and humid outside. Just remember to reapply it after 80 minutes in the water.

A little research reveals that Anthelios has won a number of awards from magazines including Glamour, O The Oprah Magazine, and Family Circle. The beauty experts love it because it’s free from parabens and artificial fragrances and tested to be safe for sensitive skin.

EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen

EltaMD’s daily facial sunscreen has hyaluronic acid to hydrate your face to keep it feeling soft and looking radiant. It’s surprisingly important to moisturize your skin when you’re struggling with excess oil.

The formula uses a combination of zinc oxide and Octinoxate for full-spectrum protection against UV rays. While this isn’t an ideal sunscreen for water activities or active sports, it’s plenty for moderate sun exposure outdoors.

Body sunscreens for oily skin

Try one of these sunscreens for oily skin the next time you’re at the pool or on the beach. It’s important to protect the rest of your body, too.

Paula's Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50

When you read the ingredients list on a Paula’s Choice product, you’ll get a full explanation of what each component does. For example, the label on her Extra Care Sunscreen explains that it contains silica and Bentonite which absorb, Vitamin C as an antioxidant, and aloe for hydration and for soothing the skin.

One of the reasons why customers with oily skin appreciate the sunscreen is that it dries to a matte finish that lasts for hours. You can wear it on your body or your face. And it goes well underneath makeup.

Vichy Idéal Capital Soleil SPF 45 Dry-Finish Body and Face Sunscreen

The big selling point of Vichy’s Capital Soleil is that it dries to a silky finish. You’ll hardly know that you’ve applied sunscreen. And it’s safe for both your body and your face. Just remember to reapply it every 40 minutes if you’ve been perspiring or swimming.

The lightweight formula feels cool on your skin, and it absorbs quickly. It contains white grape extract and vitamin E to battle free radicals that cause signs of aging. And there are no parabens, either.

CeraVe Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 with Zinc Oxide, Hyaluronic Acid, and Ceramides

If you hate dealing with messy liquid sunscreens, try CeraVe’s Stick with SPF 50. Roll it on, rub it in, and remember to reapply if you go swimming. It’s only water-resistant for 40 minutes.

The sunscreen stick won’t clog your pores, and it’s safe for sensitive skin. First, it contains zinc oxide, one of the best ingredients for full-spectrum protection against UV radiation. Second, it has hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin. And third, the inclusion of three essential ceramides protects your skin against the elements while locking in moisture.

Blue Lizard Sensitive Sunscreen

It’s safe to say that Australians are ahead of the curve in certain areas. For one, they worry about how sunscreen products affect coral reefs. And two, they’re quite sensible about protecting their skin from UV radiation. The result of this combined wisdom is the Blue Lizard Sensitive Sunscreen. It’s safe to wear every day of the week.

Even its bottle is smart because it turns blue when it’s out in the sun term mind you that it’s time to cover up. And the sunscreen itself is a chemical-free formula that doesn’t rely on parabens, either. It uses 10% zinc oxide to block the sun’s rays. If you wear it in the ocean, you can relax knowing that you’re not harming the environment because it’s reef-safe.

Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50

Vanicream’s sunscreen uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block harmful rays. It does not contain chemical sun blockers. It also doesn’t have parabens, lanolin, formaldehyde, oils, gluten, artificial dyes or fragrances, or even a masking fragrance. Fans of the formula like it because it’s creamy, but it absorbs quickly.

How much SPF is enough?

To find out how much sunscreen is enough protection, let’s check with the professionals. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF30 for everyday activities. But if you’re outside for sports or fun, apply SPF50.

What do these numbers even mean? For example, SPF30 translates to thirty times the protection you’d have if you wore no sunscreen at all. If you would normally burn after twenty minutes in the sun, then SPF30 will protect you for 600 minutes, or ten hours. As you can see, SPF30 is plenty if you apply it in the morning, then go about an average day.

Also, remember to reapply your sunscreen if you’re in the water or sweating. And don’t be afraid to use enough lotion for adequate coverage.

Worthwhile reasons to wear sunscreen

We all know someone who scoffs at sunscreen and never seems to suffer the consequences. But there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll have the same luck no matter how dark your skin is. Consider these valid reasons why you need to apply sunscreen:

  • Sunscreen protects you from brown spots and skin discoloration
  • It also prevents blotchy skin, red veins, and wrinkles
  • Proper use of sunscreen is scientifically proven to prevent skin cancer
  • Skin cancer kills
  • Some medications will make you more likely to burn, so you need to wear sunscreen
  • Tinted sunscreens make it possible to take a day off from wearing makeup

It’s truly worth it to wear sunscreen. You’ll see what we mean when you stick with it, then meet one of your peers ten years from now who rejected it. Chances are you’ll look a lot younger than they will.

Tips to care for oily skin

Here are a few tips on caring for oily skin. Let’s see if we can help you feel more comfortable with it. First, it’s important to protect your skin from becoming overly dry. And yes, that means wearing sunscreen and moisturizing, too.

Why would you want to hydrate your skin if it’s already oily? It’s because extra oil can be a reaction to dryness and other irritations. And lots of things can irritate your skin.

For example, as tempting as it is to dry up the excess oil with alcohol, it can cause the opposite reaction. If you like to use toner, try either witch hazel or micellar water. Then apply a primer underneath your makeup, and it will help control shine all day long.

Next, even though products with menthol and eucalyptus tingle and feel soothing on your skin, avoid them. Oddly enough, that tingling sensation can be a warning that your skin is irritated. And those ingredients can dry it too much.

It’s obvious that products with mineral oil can clog pores and make oiliness worse. But even bar soaps and thick creams can cause problems. Stick to gels, water-based moisturizers, and serums instead.

Finally, try exfoliating at least once a week. Don’t scrub with harsh products. Use an exfoliator with salicylic acid, also known as beta hydroxy acid. It’s very good at unclogging pores and removing dead skin.


It’s essential to wear sunscreen and protect yourself against signs of aging and skin cancer. There are many effective sunscreens for oily skin. Try one of our top picks and enjoy your summer!