Suncream That Won’t Make You Break Out

Finding the perfect SPF number and knowing exactly when you need to reapply, and how often, has made us feel like we've become true, responsible grown-ups. Now, with lockdown eased, we can spend a weekend in the park with our friends and not have to deal with the embarrassment of sunburnt skin. But along with that newfound diligence and lack of sunburn often comes something irritating — spots.

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, some mineral sunscreens can sit on top of the skin and gunk up your pores, while the chemical ones can often 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 lard: 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 spots 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 micronised formulations of zinc and titanium dioxide are smooth, cosmetically elegant, and very light," says Dr Segal. Hallelujah.

Ahead, we've rounded up tried-and-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 seal of approval. Click through to see which sun-protection products made the cut.

The Avène Cleanance range helps to actively fight acne, making this SPF 30 lotion perfect for those who get angry skin come warmer weather.
Avene UK Avene Cleanance SPF 50+, $16.50 Buy
A safe bet for all skin types. Ultrasun's super sensitive formula is specifically created for very sensitive skin. The airless pump dispenser ensures that bacteria stays out of your precious cream.
Ultrasun Super Sensitive High SPF30 Family Formula, $46.00 Buy
Recommended by consultant dermatologist at Skin 55, Dr Anjali Mahto, this lightweight SPF gel has a dry touch and is non-comedogenic, so it's much less likely to block your pores and cause acne eruptions. It smells great and absorbs in seconds. Stockpile it.
Heliocare Heliocare 360º Fluid Cream SPF 50+, $31.00 $24.80 Buy
On the hunt for a new day cream? You can't go wrong with this formula. Developed by some of the best dermatologists in the business, it's lightweight and non-comedogenic, packed full of skin-repairing ceramides and plays well under makeup.
CeraVe CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF25, $13.00 Buy
Beloved by dermatologists all over the globe, this broad spectrum SPF (which means it shields against both UVA and UVB rays) is packed with tinted particles that adapt to your skin tone plus an army of antioxidants to keep things like pollution and other environmental aggressors at bay.
Jan Marini Jan Marini Antioxidant Physical Protectant, $53.00 Buy
Grease-prone girls, take note: This little beauty not only packs a protection punch of SPF 50, it also mattifies oily skin and leaves your complexion looking powdery perfect. It has a light tint and goes on a bit like a makeup primer. We used it for both our regular daytime protection and sitting poolside, and our skin stayed oil-free, zit-free and, most importantly, burn-free in both scenarios.
SkinCeuticals SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial UV Defense SPF 50, $37.00 Buy
Protecting against both UVA and UVB, this mattifies oily skin without leaving behind a heavy, chalky finish. It's non-comedogenic (so won't block pores) and photostable, which means it won't break down when the first UV rays hit your skin.
Bioderma Bioderma Photoderm AKN Mat SPF30, $14.20 Buy
You don't often see a proper sunscreen that can also replace two other integral steps in your skincare routine. But improbably, this SPF from rockstar derm Dr Dennis Gross — a true guru of all things acne — does just that.

We can personally attest to the magic of the Dark Spot Sun Defence cream. As evident in its name, it prevents dark spots by intercepting the sun's rays before they can cause the overproduction of melanin that produces them in the first place. Which, to be fair, is what any sunscreen does.

But what makes this cream special is that it also functions as a repairing treatment in addition to a preventative. Melatonin, vitamin E and three forms of vitamin C help reduce existing pigmentation issues, as well as fine lines and uneven skin texture.

And if that weren't enough, it's also a pretty boss moisturiser. Smooth some on post-cleansing and toning, and it's all you need on your skin for the day — really.
Dr Dennis Gross Skincare Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum, $33.33 Buy
Leave it to a laser clinic to come up with one of the most effective, skin-friendly SPFs we've ever tried. Skin Laundry's SPF 35 moisturiser has been in heavy rotation in our routine ever since we first got it smoothed on our faces after trying SL's laser facial.

The rich cream gives sensitised skin the perfect hit of soothing, non-greasy hydration, plus that much-needed SPF. It pulls off the tricky task of calming, moisturising and protecting without making your pores feel claustrophobic. A must-try for anyone with sensitive or dry skin — hell, a must-try for everyone.
Skin Laundry Advanced Protection Daily Moisturiser 50ml, $24.00 Buy
This pricey pick is worth its weight in gold — if dropping extra dough for a high-performance hybrid SPF is a priority for you. Functioning as a sunscreen, makeup primer and pore-tightener in one, it's skin protection on steroids.

The primer benefit is a standout — the problem with most sunscreens is that while they shield from the sun, they pill under makeup or cause blending issues. Not so here — everything from the lightest tinted moisturiser to the heaviest full-coverage foundation blends in seamlessly.

One word of caution: It does feel sticky upon first application, but give it some time to absorb and you'll be rewarded with a powdery-soft finish.
Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35, $74.95 Buy
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