Finding a sunscreen for oily skin can be tough, but it’s also extremely important. SPF is a non-negotiable part of any skincare routine! Not only does it keep the skin from burning, but also it’s critical for preventing skin cancer, not to mention that it’s the most effective anti-aging product you could be using.
Sadly, when you have oily skin, sunscreen can feel a little gross. So many sunscreens for the face have a thick texture. Once they mix with the oils your skin produces, you just feel like a ball of grease.
Well, don’t worry! We’ve come to your rescue with a collection of the best sunscreens for oily skin. We’ve selected a blend of light and mattifying formulas that keep oils in check. We even have fragrance-free and mineral options for those of you with sensitive oily skin, as well as a few tinted options when you need a hint of coverage.
We added some tips to make the sunscreen selection process easier for you! We cover all the ingredients and features you’ll want to look out for and also give you some important application tips.
SPF for Oily Skin: Contents
- 23 Best Face Sunscreens for Oily Skin
- What to Look for in a Sunscreen for Oily Skin?
- Sunscreen Application Tips for Oily Skin
23 Best Face Sunscreens for Oily Skin
We’ve only selected the best sunscreens for oily skin! They’re light and airy yet totally protective to keep you comfortable and safe.
1. Best Overall: Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen SPF 42
This light sunscreen leaves the skin feeling velvety, and it even helps to control oils throughout the day. It contains a lot of silicones, which make it very similar to a primer, so it blurs the look of pores and helps makeup stay in place throughout the day. It’s also a great fit for more active days because it’s also water-resistant. It’s made with a combination of mineral and chemical sunscreens, so it does leave a very mild white cast that takes a few minutes to disappear. Buy it from Nordstrom!
2. Best Gel Formula: Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
If creams squick you out, this is the best sunscreen for oily skin in the gel formula! With a name like Unseen, you can expect it not only to be invisible, but also un-feelable and un-smellable. It’s also silicone-based, so it’s fantastic under makeup, and since it’s all-chemical it has absolutely no white cast, so it’s suitable for all skin tones. It contains red algae extract, which gives an awesome antioxidant boost but can cause breakouts for some. You can get it on Dermstore.
3. Best TLC: Dermalogica Oil Free Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 30
This matte sunscreen is formulated like skincare, with a ton of ingredients that are phenomenal for oily skin. It’s low on silicones, so it feels a little more like a light, non-greasy lotion. These include oil-regulating niacinamide, firming caffeine, and all kinds of soothing plant extracts. At 30 SPF, it’s great as a day-to-day sunscreen, although you’ll want something stronger for long hours in the sun. Pick it up from Ulta!
4. Best Two-in-One: Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face BB Cream SPF 50
We love a two-in-one product, which is exactly what this face sunscreen for oily skin happens to be. It’s a tinted sunscreen that gives really high sun protection while evening out the skin tone with sheer coverage. This tinted sunscreen also stands out for coming in a wider range of shades, so almost anyone could find a decent fit. It’s all mineral and fragrance-free, so it’s awesome for sensitive skin, and it has a long-lasting mattifying effect. Order it from Amazon!
5. Best Sheer, Liquid Formula: Algenist Sublime Defense Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid SPF 50
If even gels are too much, you might prefer this super-thin liquid sunscreen. It’s sheer and light with a blend of chemical and mineral SPF ingredients that give very comprehensive protection. It hydrates with glycerin and soothes with green tea and licorice extracts. It doesn’t behave quite as well under makeup as more silicone-heavy formulas, but if you’re not a makeup wearer, we think you’ll love it. It’s available at Sephora.
6. Best Water-Resistant: EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47
You can never go wrong with an EltaMD sunscreen, but for oily skin, we love this one in particular. It has a silky, mattifying texture that’s really nice under makeup, and absolutely zero unnecessary ingredients. It’s suitable for both the face and body, and it has a gentle, fragrance-free mineral formula that’s awesome for sensitive skin. Unfortunately, this does mean that it can leave a white cast that takes a long while to fade. Grab it from Dermstore!
7. Best for Sensitive Skin: SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50
This is the best sunscreen for oily skin that was developed with extreme sensitivity in mind, so it’s even appropriate after an intense facial treatment or peel. It’s made with mineral sunscreens, but expert formulation ensures that even with the high SPF, they still don’t leave a white cast. It’s light and mattifying with a thin texture, and includes a touch of artemisia extract, which gives an antioxidant touch. Purchase it from Dermstore!
8. Best Anti-Aging: Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++
This is a lovely, anti-aging SPF for daily use. It’s a chemical sunscreen, so it’s extremely elegant and light with a humectant-rich formula that’s very hydrating to the skin. If you’re oily but still experience dehydration, it’s a fantastic choice that can double as your morning moisturizer. It also includes two types of gentle vitamin C to protect your collagen from degradation. Shop for it at Sephora!
9. Best Moisturizing: Cetaphil PRO Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30
This moisturizer for oily skin doubles as a face sunscreen. SPF 30 is more than enough for a typical workday, and as a bonus, it also offers exceptional oil control thanks to the sebum-absorbing addition of silica. It’s lightly hydrating, but on its own, we don’t think it’s enough for intense dehydration. It’s sold online via Amazon.
10. Best Waterproof: Paula’s Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50
We’re always happy to include Paula’s Choice because we know the products will be gentle, effective, and absolutely loaded with antioxidants. That’s definitely true for this waterproof sunscreen for oily skin, which offers high protection, light moisturization, and antioxidants and skin-soothers galore, including vitamin C and A. It’s also good value for money since one tube holds 5 oz. Find it on Dermstore!
11. Best Zinc Formula: First Aid Beauty Weightless Liquid Mineral SPF 30
First Aid Beauty’s new SPF addition is a lovely, skin-soothing sunscreen made with a lot of gentle plant extracts. The formula has a very slight tint to ensure that it won’t leave any white cast, despite the high amount of zinc oxide. It controls oils as well as a very mattifying foundation, but the coverage is light to suit a wider range of skin tones. You can buy it from Sephora.
12. Best Lightweight: Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+/PA++++
This Japanese sunscreen has a cult-following on the Internet because of two reasons: the first is that it’s incredibly light and non-greasy, and the second is that it offers extremely high protection against skin-aging UVA rays. If you’ve hated most sunscreens you’ve ever tried, it’s totally worth trying this unique formula since it includes active sun-blocking ingredients that are rarely used in Western sunscreens. Get it online from Amazon!
13. Best Spray: Coola Suncare Sport Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 30
When you’re in a rush or out and about, a spray sunscreen will be a lot more convenient. You can apply it to your entire body in minutes, and rubbing it in is quick and easy since the texture is so fluid. This formulation relies on chemical sunscreen ingredients in a liquid that includes alcohol, which is mitigated by a lot of hydrating plant extracts as well as glycerin.
We wouldn’t recommend it for your first application of face sunscreen, but it can be great for a re-application. Just don’t spray it directly on the face! Spray it in the palm of your hand and then rub it in. Pick it up from Nordstrom!
14. Best Chemical-Mineral Hybrid: Clinique Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector Broad Spectrum 40 SPF
Clinique made this sunscreen for city dwellers. It’s a very gentle chemical-mineral SPF hybrid that offers comprehensive protection from both the sun’s rays and other pollutants. It’s rich in antioxidant extracts and also contains some wonderful skin-soothers. The texture is light, and the formula is lightly tinted so it can even replace your foundation on natural makeup days. It’s available at Sephora.
15. Best Mineral Formula: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
This is another gorgeous all-mineral sunscreen for oily skin from the French brand La Roche-Posay. It’s made with a subtle tint, as well, just to counter the white cast though not to provide coverage. This sunscreen has a demi-matte finish, so if you’re oily but not in need of having your skin mattified, it’s a lovely choice. It’s gentle and fragrance-free, so it’s awesome for sensitive skin. Order it from Dermstore!
16. Best Stick: Sol De Janeiro My Sol Stick SPF 50
This sunscreen stick is a bit of an outlier on our list since it contains oils and is not particularly mattifying. We’d recommend it specifically for areas of your face (and body) that won’t benefit from the more drying sunscreens on this list, like your lips or around the eyes. It’s a little like a lip balm with coconut oil and açaí oil, so it’s more nourishing for the parts of the face that don’t have many oil glands. Grab it at Sephora!
17. Best K-Beauty: Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ / PA+++
This is a mineral sunscreen with Korean elegance. It’s made with nano minerals, which protect very well but don’t leave too much of a white cast, and it has a milky texture that glides over the skin in seconds. It contains silicones, which give it a primer-like matte finish and a pore-blurring effect. You can purchase it at Amazon.
18. Best Color Correcting: Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30
Many of those with oily skin also suffer from redness, either due to acne or sensitivity. This unique treatment helps to camouflage the redness with a neutralizing green tint that blends into the skin easily. It has a 30 SPF that comes from mineral ingredients, so it’s extremely gentle. It also includes both niacinamide and centella asiatica to soothe the skin and minimize pores. Shop for it at Sephora!
19. Best for Acne-Prone Skin: MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme SPF 30 Broad Spectrum UVA-UVB Sunscreen
With a name like that, you know that this brand understands sunscreens. It’s a simple mineral sunscreen for oily skin with a velvet finish – exactly what those with acne-prone or sensitive oily skin should look for! It has a universal tint to prevent a white cast. The formula is boosted by antioxidants from green tea extract, vitamin C, and coenzyme CoQ10. It’s sold on Dermstore.
20. Best Tinted Compact: Avène High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50
This cream compact holds a two-in-one foundation and high-SPF sunscreen. It goes on the skin creamy, but it sets down to having a matte finish. The coverage level is quite high, especially if you use enough of it to get the full force of the SPF. You can also just use it for touch-ups throughout the day over a different mineral sunscreen as a base. Find it through Dermstore in Beige or Honey!
21. Best Budget: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturizing Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30
If you’ve tried Neutrogen’s Hydro Boost gel and liked it, we think you’ll love this sunscreen version of it! It has a 30 SPF, which is perfect for day-to-day, and since it’s a gel-cream, it feels lovely on the skin. It contains a lot of hydrating glycerin, so while it’s not greasy, it’s also not overly matte. It’s nice on both the face and body, and it’s very affordable. Buy it from Amazon!
22. Best under Makeup: Clinique Pep-Start Daily UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 50
This is another lovely SPF for oily skin from Clinique. This one boasts a 50 SPF from all mineral ingredients. It’s lightly tinted, though it doesn’t offer much cover. Despite the all-mineral formula, it still works well even on darker skin tones and doesn’t leave a cast. It helps control oil throughout the day, but it’s not overly mattifying. Get it from Sephora!
23. Best Tinted for All Skin Tones: Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50 Sunscreen
This niacinamide-boosted sunscreen is a favorite for sensitive and oily skin. It also contains soothing allantoin, which is fantastic for redness. The formula is mineral-based and offers both sun and pollution protection, not to mention a slight tint. Find it at Nordstrom!
What to Look for in a Sunscreen for Oily Skin?
The most important thing about sunscreen for oily skin is that it doesn’t leave you feeling oily, greasy, or weighed-down. Here we have a few tips that’ll help you find exactly such a sunscreen!
Silicones have gotten a bad reputation for no good reason. Some sources say they cause acne or clog pores, which is generally not true at all. It’s our mission to rehabilitate their reputation, especially amongst the oily-skinned crowd.
Silicones are fantastic in sunscreens for oily skin because they make them feel velvety rather than greasy, and they also help to control oils throughout the day.
As a bonus, they also have a skin-smoothing and pore-blurring effect. They give the sunscreen a primer-like consistency, which ensures that it’ll look beautiful under makeup. Our favorite mattifying silicones are dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane.
It’s pretty unusual for us to recommend products with alcohol, but we make an exception when it comes to SPF for oily skin. While alcohol can be dehydrating to the skin (although not as dehydrating as we used to think), it’s not that bad in small amounts, especially in formulas that are not primarily intended to moisturize.
We wouldn’t recommend a sunscreen with alcohol to someone struggling with both oiliness and dehydration. However, if you’re not dehydrated, a moisturizer with alcohol isn’t going to cause dehydration.
So why do we actually recommend it? The main reason is that it’s the best way to make a heavy formula much lighter, which is important when your skin is oily. Anything too heavy will look greasy, and it won’t feel very nice.
It also evaporates very quickly, which helps the sunscreen settle down quickly. All in all, it’s a fine ingredient to have in sunscreen for oily skin, especially if you don’t like the texture of most cream or lotion formulas.
SPF tells you how well a sunscreen can protect you from UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburn and skin cancer. However, we’re just as interested to know how a sunscreen will hold up against UVA rays, which cause hyperpigmentation, premature aging, and also pose some cancer risk.
In North America and Europe, sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB will have the term “broad-spectrum” printed on them, which is a sign that they offer adequate protection. Sunscreens from Korea and Japan, however, take it a step further, with a PA rating. The more plus symbols next to the PA rating, the higher the protection against UVA that sunscreen offers.
Niacinamide is a fantastic ingredient for all skin types since it combats water loss, brightens, and gives antioxidant protection. However, for oily skin, it’s been shown to help reduce oil production in the long term. If your skin is oily, and niacinamide is not part of your skincare routine already, consider finding a sunscreen that includes it!
Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreens
The distinction between mineral and chemical sunscreens is a complex one, since they’re not as different as a lot of sources like to claim, and there is a lot of variety within the category of “chemical sunscreens.”
There are still some easy and important distinctions one can make between all-chemical and all-mineral sunscreen formulas, and you’ll want to consider them when choosing the type that’ll be best for you.
For example, if you have sensitive oily skin, you want to be careful when choosing a chemical sunscreen. Some of the most common non-mineral sunscreen ingredients used in North America (especially avobenzone) can be irritating to the skin. You might want to avoid chemical sunscreens altogether and stick to mineral ones.
However, mineral sunscreens also have a big drawback, so if your skin fares well with chemical ones, you might not want to put yourself through the effort. The issue with mineral sunscreens is that they can leave a persistent white cast over the skin, which is especially problematic for people with darker skin.
They also often have a heavier texture, so they can appear greasy or mix strangely with the oils your skin produces. There are exceptions, of course, like the SkinCeuticals sunscreen, which manages to avoid the white cast and heaviness through very careful formulation.
Many mineral sunscreens are given a tint, which is another way of preventing a white cast. In some cases, a stronger tint can make the sunscreen double as a light foundation to even out the skin tone.
Sunscreen Application Tips for Oily Skin
There is a lot of misinformation out there about how sunscreen should be applied. We want to make sure that you use enough SPF to get full protection but also don’t waste product unnecessarily, so we’ve included some important tips.
• The amount of sunscreen recommended for full coverage is 2 mg per square cm of skin, which amounts to about ¼ teaspoon of sunscreen for a larger face.
• Using less sunscreen than recommended can have serious repercussions since the reduction in SPF protection would be exponential. This means that if you use half the recommended amount of a 50 SPF sunscreen, the protection will go down to less than 10 SPF!
• To ensure you use enough sunscreen but that it all sinks in, we recommend splitting it into two applications of half the amount necessary. Apply one layer, let it sink in, and then apply the second one!
• Make sure to wait 15-30 minutes before going outside (or before putting on makeup) because your sunscreen needs time to settle down into your skin and create an even protective layer.
• Reapply your sunscreen after 2 hours of sun exposure.
• If you only spent 30 minutes in the sun and then went inside, you don’t necessarily need to reapply again, although, keep in mind that some of your sunscreen may have rubbed off after a few hours.
• Even waterproof sunscreen will probably rub off a bit after you’ve gone in the water, or at least after you’ve dried yourself off with a towel! That’s why you should always reapply after swimming.
Photos via Instagram