The best SPF for acne prone skin

Anna Hunter 21 July 2021
Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

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The best SPF for acne-prone skin

Finding SPF for acne-prone skin can be a nightmare. Sunscreen has long been blamed for triggering breakouts, but wearing it is non-negotiable (especially if you're taking roaccutane for your acne) , not only to protect your skin from sun damage, but also to prevent or reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Thankfully SPF formulations have improved since the thick, irritating sunblock of old; the modern crop of SPFs can ward off sun damage while also absorbing excess oil, calming inflammation and knocking back redness. Here’s your ultimate spot-limiting sunscreen line-up

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Zitsticka Megashade Sunscreen Serum SPF 50, £35

Zitsticka is best known for its pimple patches, but this year the brand moved into the SPF game with this serum that makes skin look dewy as well as protecting from rays and fighting acne. It has both mineral and chemical sunscreen in the formula and protects from UVA and UVB rays. It's non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, plus contains niacinamide to boost your skin barrier and colloidal oatmeal to soothe inflammation from breakouts. Antioxidants ferulic acid and vitamin E are in there too, along with vitamin C rich Kakadu plum and antibacterial tea tree to ward off blemishes.

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Heliocare 360 Gel Oil Free SPF 50, £25

Loved by aesthetician Dr Sophie Shotter, this protects against UVA, UVB and HEV damage. It's suitable for oily and problematic skin and helps to calm oil production if that's the cause of your blemishes. It included vitamin E and ferulic acid too, to deliver antioxidant protection against DNA damage, to keep skin looking youthful.

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Skinceuticals Oil Shield UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50, £39.99

While sunlight temporarily reduces inflammation, the epidermis thickens post-sun exposure which can mean that future breakouts are more likely. This new offering from Skinceuticals was created for oily and blemish-prone skin. The lightweight formula protects with mineral and chemical filters while silica absorbs excess oil and blurs pores and imperfections. Skin is mattified, yet never flat, and protected throughout the day.

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PCA Skin Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45, £40.

This is a quick-absorbing, broad-spectrum sunscreen that is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation for daily use. It’s formulated without oxybenzone and octinoxate, making it compliant with reef safety laws. It provides UVA/UVB protection with ultra-sheer zinc oxide and antioxidants milk thistle and caffeine and it's suitable for breakout-prone skin. It's integrative skin and hormone doctor Dr Terry Loong's SPF of choice for acne-prone, menopausal skin .

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Avene Very High Protection Cleanance SPF50+ Sun Cream for Blemish-prone Skin, £13.12

High SPFs needn’t mean pore-clogging coverage any longer and this mattifying lotion is a case in point. Formulated with just four chemical filters, notably without the often irritating octocrylene, Cleanance Solaire protects skin as well as mopping up oil thanks to added monolaurin, a molecule that targets sebum-producing cells and helps to prevent the spread of acne-causing bacteria. Zinc and silica zap shine, and it slips under foundation nicely without feeling heavy.

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Clinique City Block Sheer SPF 25, £20

Part makeup primer, part veil-like physical sunscreen , this lightly tinted base combines UVA and UVB broad spectrum protection with a soothing blend of antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients. Oil-free and sweat-resistant, it’ll become a firm friend from early morning commute and beyond, and the fact that it flatters skin and evens out skintone on application makes it a welcome change from the whiteout/ grease party so often associated with sunscreens. Whether you live in the city or not, it’s the perfect option for a day in the office or throughout the winter months- for hotter climes, holidays and afternoons in the park, you’ll likely need a higher SPF, which brings us to…

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Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Ageing Moisturiser SPF 50, £34

Fusing free-radical fighting antioxidants with a high level of SPF, if both ageing and adult acne are your primary (and often seemingly opposing) skin dilemmas, this smooth, velvety moisturiser will support you on both fronts. Oil-free, fragrance-free and alcohol-free, it’s non-irritating, with vitamin E and green tea extract to add to the calming arsenal. It’s not overly mattifying, but it will quell the sheen slightly if you’re prone to oiliness.

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Neostrata Sheer Physical Protection SPF 50, £29.99

On the subject of antioxidants, this water-like mineral-based SPF has them built in by way of vitamin E and green tea extract (a winning anti-inflammatory combination). Sheer and mattifying, although not to Instagram filter levels, it’s another lightly tinted option, but the added lactobionic acid gives it the edge in terms of increasing collagen synthesis and helping to combat the effects of free-radicals over time- it’s a good defence against future fine lines. One word of warning- give it a vigorous shake before application, otherwise you’ll end up with an oily dribble (it’s far from slick once on your face).

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La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Face Mist SPF 50, £10.50

It’s recommended that we reapply our sunscreen at least every four hours, but if you wear makeup, you’ll know the struggle of smearing cream over your perfectly set concealer . A spray-on option such as this saves the day, providing a refreshing, protective surface layer without the added tackiness or makeup disruption. It is a chemical sunscreen, so be mindful if your skin doesn’t fare well with chemical filters. It’s best to start off with a conventional sunscreen, using this nifty spritz for top-ups. Otherwise, for speed, convenience and makeup maintenance, it’s genius, plus the mist absorbs three times its weight in oil, preventing t-zone oil overload.

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MORE GLOSS: How to reapply SPF on top of your makeup

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Vichy Capital Soleil UV-Age SPF 50, £15.75

This ultra-light, breathable formula not only targets the signs of ageing, it also has two per cent niacinamide in the mix to boost your skin barrier, along with peptides and ten per cent volcanic water for hydration. It's silicone-free too and non-comodogenic.

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