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Sunscreens That Won't Make You Break Out, Because That's Not Cool

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    The moment when you suddenly realize you're an adult can come amid a seemingly random activity — depositing money in your newly formed 401k, making dinner that consists of something other than almond milk and cereal, leading your first department meeting at work. For us, though, that moment came when we finally mastered the fine art of applying sunscreen.

    Finding your perfect SPF number and knowing exactly when you need to reapply, and how often, made us feel like we had become true, responsible grown-ups. Now, we can spend a weekend by the pool and not have to deal with the judgy looks of our coworkers on Monday when they catch sight of our lobster skin! But, along with that newfound diligence and lack of sunburns came something troubling — zits.

    According to dermatologist Jennifer M. Segal, MD, two things can cause sunscreen-related breakouts: occlusion of the pores by comedogenic materials, or a sensitivity reaction to chemical UV-blocking agents. Basically, the mineral sunscreens can sit on top of the skin and gunk up your pores, while the chemical ones can irritate the skin.

    Yep, hell hath no fury like acne-prone skin after a thick coating of zinc oxide. Your pores look at SPF like you might look at a big vat of Crisco: You can't seriously be considering putting that on, right? It's a cruel cosmic joke of damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Apply sunscreen and wait for the pimples to start cropping up, or ditch it and risk melanoma and wrinkles. The choice on that one is pretty clear for us — so we had resigned ourselves to a summer full of blemishes.

    Until now. Thanks to some forward-thinking developments in formulations, all of this is starting to change. "Traditionally, mineral 'blocks have been very thick, but newer micronized formulations of zinc and titanium dioxide are smooth, cosmetically elegant, and very light," says Dr. Segal. Hallelujah.

    Ahead, we've rounded up tried-and-R29-tested mineral and chemical (for those of you allergic or unable to get on the mineral-SPF train) sunscreens that we've spent the last month slathering on our faces and bodies. Not one of these caused our skin to go ballistic, so we feel confident giving them our no-pizza-face seal of approval. Click through to see which sun-protection products made the cut.

    You've never seen beauty quite like this before. Check out our Beauty Innovator Awards for the smartest, funkiest, most fresh to death products of the year.


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    Even if anti-aging products aren't normally your go-to, this fast-absorbing formula protects your skin from future damage with SPF 50+. Bonus: It's oil-free, so you won't need to amp up your acne routine.

    Lancôme Bienfait UV SPF 50+ Super Fluid Facial Sunscreen, $39, available at Sephora.

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    This lightweight spray not only contains an SPF of 50, but it also helps to control oil and shine. Since it's a mist, it's easy to reapply over makeup.

    Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50, $28, available at Sephora.

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    This spray sunscreen is biodegradable, waterproof for up to 80 minutes, and doesn't contain coral reef-destroying oxybenzone. All this, coupled with the fact that it doesn't break us out, makes it a clear winner in our book.

    Alba Botanica Very Emollient Fragrance Free Clear Spray, $8.81, available at Walmart.

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    Sure, this tinted cream won't replace your full-coverage foundation, but it will help even out your skin tone while providing sun protection.

    SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair SPF 34 Tinted, $68, available at SkinMedica.

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    This super-lightweight formula absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a white, chalky residue behind despite its 23% dose of zinc oxide — which protects from UVA and UVB rays.

    VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Indoor-Outdoor Skin Cover SPF 30, $50, available at VMV Hypoallergenics.