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12 best sunscreens for sensitive skin to protect you from the rays

Look to these soothing SPF formulas that’ll keep skin happy all year round

<p>Every elixir on our list offers broad spectrum sun protection against UVA and UVB rays </p>

Every elixir on our list offers broad spectrum sun protection against UVA and UVB rays

Whatever the weather, sunscreen is an essential part of a daily skincare routine. Experts advise this should be your final step before adding make-up, and should be generously re-applied every two hours.

For full sun care all year-round, broad spectrum products shield skin from both UVA and UVB rays. That covers the ageing effects of sun exposure and potentially dangerous sun burn caused by both types of ray respectively.

Just like any other buy, the type of SPF you choose depends on your skin type. Those with sensitive skin can suffer with redness or irritation from certain ingredients and fragrances in SPF formulas.

But if you’re avoiding wearing a daily SPF for fear of it making your skin react or break out, we’re here to help. Whether you’re seeking a moisturising SPF or lightweight layer, we’ve got all face and body bases covered.

Read on for our top pick of the best SPFs for sensitive skin, across all price points.

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How we tested

Our tester has sensitive skin, and the included SPFs are a list of favourites we’ve been using for years, as well as newer finds sampled over several weeks. We looked at texture, absorption rate and the skin finish they created. To make our list, all products had to offer broad spectrum sun protection too.

The best sunscreens for sensitive skin of 2022 are:

  • Best sunscreen for sensitive skin overall – Murad city skin age defence broad spectrum sensitive skin SPF50: £62, Murad.co.uk
  • Best sunscreen for the face and body – Paula’s Choice extra care non-greasy sunscreen broad spectrum sensitive skin SPF5: £19.55, Paulaschoice.co.uk
  • Best for water resistant sun protection – Bondi Sands sunscreen lotion SPF50+ for sensitive skin: £6.99, Boots.com
  • Best budget sunscreen for sensitive skin – Soltan sensitive skin lotion SPF3: £6.50, Boots.com
  • Best lightweight sunscreen for sensitive skin – The Body Shop skin defence multi protection light essence SPF50: £22, Thebodyshop.com
  • Best fragrance-free SPF – Ultrasun face sensitive skin SPF30: £22, Ultrasun.co.uk
  • Best luxury sunscreen for sensitive skin – Eve Lom daily protection SPF50: £75, Evelom.co.uk
  • Best for buildable coverage – Institut Esthederm adaptasun sensitive body lotion high sun protection: £48, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best vegan-friendly SPF – Wild Science Lab root + fruit bright start SPF3 for sensitive skin : £39, Wildsciencelab.com
  • Best sunscreen for dry skin – Green People scent free facial sun cream SPF30 for sensitive skin: £21, Hollandandbarrett.com
  • Best sunscreen for acne-prone skin – ZitSticka megashade SPF50 serum for sensitive skin: £35, Beautybay.com
  • Best sunscreen under make-up – Katherine Daniels daily DNA defence SPF30 for sensitive skin: £55, Katherinedanielscosmetics.com

Murad city skin age defence broad spectrum SPF50

Best: Sunscreen for sensitive skin overall

Rating: 10/10

Our tester has used this fragrance-free mineral SPF for several years, and it remains a daily staple. The slimline 50ml bottle is an ideal handbag size, and when squeezing the cream out, there’s never a gloopy mess.

What we love most about the midweight, pale orange sunscreen is how much it balances out an uneven skin tone. The instantly smoothing product absorbs into skin leaving gorgeous luminosity while protecting against UVA, UVB and blue light damage. We’d describe the effect as bringing just enough glow without a hint of greasiness or irritation. Whether wearing make-up or leaving our face bare, this high protection SPF50 buy preps our face like a superior primer. It’s undoubtedly a splurge, but we can’t fault the incredible finish.

Paula’s Choice extra care non-greasy sunscreen broad spectrum SPF50

Best: Sunscreen for the face and body

Rating:  9/10

Because this sunscreen suits both the face and body, we appreciated reaching for one dual-purpose product. Initially appearing as a midweight white lotion, the softening formula quickly absorbs and creates an invisible matte finish. The factor 50 sun cream is so weightless on bare skin we hardly noticed it was there. Plus, the inclusion of soothing ingredients like aloe vera juice added a calming feel on our tester’s skin.

The water-resistant SPF offers protection while swimming or during sports, and its sizeable 148ml bottle provides enough product for plenty of top-ups too.

Bondi Sands sunscreen lotion SPF50+ for face

Best: For water-resistant sun protection

Rating: 9/10

This fragrance-free SPF50 sun lotion is a thick white formula that spreads easily over skin before settling as a subtle, smoothing veil. A generous amount of sunscreen comes out of the tube at once, meaning we could quickly slather on sufficient SPF. Our tester’s skin felt gently softened with wear, and comforting ingredients include vitamin E and aloe vera.

The 75ml non-comedogenic formula shouldn’t block your pores either. It’s also reassuringly water-resistant, for sun protection while sweating as well as swimming. We’d recommend reapplying the affordable SPF more frequently if skin does get wet, to be on the safe side.

Soltan sensitive lotion SPF30

Best: Budget sunscreen for sensitive skin

Rating: 9/10

A sensitive version of the classic Soltan SPF, this hypoallergenic fragrance-free sunscreen is for skin prone to irritation. The glossy white lotion glides on, and spread easily over our tester’s entire body. We noted the water-resistant formula is lightweight, while still providing plenty of product coverage. Because of this, we could slather plenty on, without it being a messy process. After absorption, we saw a subtle sheen which gave our limbs a silky finish. The bottle is slimline with a cap that clicks securely in place, so we could easily take this 200ml bottle out for the day in our bag too.

The Body Shop skin defence multi protection light essence SPF50

Best: Lightweight sunscreen for sensitive skin

Rating: 9/10

The 60ml tube has a twist-off cap, and our tester found just a gentle squeeze released generous amounts of the white lotion. As it is quite runny, we had to be careful not to waste any. The cruelty-free, vegan-friendly SPF sank in rapidly and left a subtle sheen, creating a healthy-looking finish on our face. We could see an overall long-lasting glow from this lightweight SPF50, and there was no product pilling when adding make-up on top either.

While the 60ml bottle is currently out of stock, you can sign up to be notified when it’s back or plump for the 40ml bottle in the mean time.

Ultrasun face SPF30

Best: Fragrance-free SPF

Rating: 9/10

Although there are others without scent in our list, this is the most fragrance-free option of all those that we tested. There was no whiff of anything as we slathered the SPF on, which is ideal if you like a completely scentless formula. We found the lightweight lotion absorbed into skin rapidly, so the initial white layer did totally disappear.

Our tester also rated the 50ml bottle’s push-down pump nozzle for ease, because it’s impossible to create mess during application. The water-resistant broad spectrum SPF is non-comedogenic and offers particularly high UV protection against blue light damage too.

Eve Lom daily protection SPF50

Best: Luxury sunscreen for sensitive skin

Rating: 9/10

This 50ml tube has a pump applicator which is ideal for releasing the white SPF50 formula which is non-comedogenic and free of synthetic fragrance and colourants that may irritate sensitive skin. The consistency is much like a rich moisturiser, and we could see a brightening radiance, thanks to ingredients niacinamide and vitamin C.

Our tester has returned to this product again and again because of its intensely soothing and smoothing texture. The lavishly thick formula manages to be suitably plumping, without feeling cloying. After application, our tester’s skin feels comforted, as well as covered with high-protection SPF.

Institut Esthederm adaptasun sensitive body lotion high sun protection

Best: For buildable coverage

Rating: 8/10

Unusually, this sun-tan lotion comes without an SPF number, and instead is billed as being for sensitive skin in “strong sun”. While that definition feels quite broad, we can attest that this is a brand worth knowing. Though at first, we felt a slight stickiness from the off-white lotion, that soon disappeared. The crem rubbed in easily and there was also an instant creamy scent that lingered on the skin after application – something which we felt added a bit of extra SPF luxury.

The 200ml bottle also has a push-down nozzle and separate cap, so we found application a cleaner process, without any messy excess. We think the premium price tag is reflected in the chic-looking bottle too. This one has currently sold out but tore stock is expected soon.

Wild Science Lab root + fruit bright start SPF30

Best: Vegan-friendly SPF

Rating: 8/10

This vegan-friendly sunscreen is packaged in a vibrant pink 50ml recyclable glass bottle with a pump-release nozzle. We found the creamy yellow formula takes a bit of rubbing in, but once absorbed it leaves a sheer smoothing effect which felt soothing on our skin. The texture is much like a thick moisturiser, and our tester noticed calming hydration with use, alongside a brightened complexion. That’s unsurprising when you learn that ingredients include aloe vera and vitamin C, as well as citrus essential oils which added a crisp uplifting scent we could smell for hours.

Green People scent free facial sun cream SPF30

Best: Sunscreen for dry skin

Rating: 8/10

This vegan-friendly SPF is scent-free and contains ingredients including green tea, rosemary and aloe vera. The light-yellow product felt instantly comforting on our face, but it did take a bit of rubbing in to start with. Once absorbed, our tester’s skin was noticeably softened with a matte finish.

The 50ml cylindrical bottle is recyclable and has a push-down nozzle which releases product without much effort, and its lid clicks securely in place too. Because the cream is quite thick, we found slathering it on to be intensely smoothing over any stubbornly dry patches of skin.

ZitSticka megashade SPF50 serum

Best: Sunscreen for acne-prone skin

Rating: 8/10

What’s different about this 50ml SPF is the pipette applicator and serum-style consistency. Although our tester couldn’t get loads out at once, we liked being able to add droplets onto our skin before spreading across the face. The runny liquid is very buildable too, making additional top-ups throughout the day a mess-free process.

The SPF50 is specifically for acne-prone skin, because of its lightweight, non-comedogenic formula. It also contains skincare ingredient hyaluronic acid, and we could see a dewiness too. Our tester noticed a moisturising effect, and we’d say make-up looks more glowing with this SPF serum underneath.

Katherine Daniels daily DNA defence SPF30

Best: Sunscreen under make-up

Rating: 8.5/10

This little 50ml bottle stashes away neatly in the smallest make-up bags. A good thing too as we found that foundation and tinted moisturisers smooth onto skin, and stay put, when wearing this mineral SPF so it’s now an essential in our getting ready routine.

A fragrance-free option, it is lightweight on skin, while adding a moisturising base layer. It spreads easily over skin and absorbs quickly, so our tester can add the optimum SPF amount with minimal rubbing in. And to be honest, we also wear this SPF30 under make-up to protect our skin indoors as it shields against blue light damage from screens, as well as while out in the sun.

The verdict: Sunscreen for sensitive skin

Our best buy goes to Murad’s city skin age defence broad spectrum SPF50, for adding skin-balancing luminosity and fragrance-free high factor sun protection. Meanwhile, Paula’s Choice’s extra care non-greasy sunscreen broad spectrum SPF50 caters for both the body and face and includes soothing ingredients. Finally, for a lightweight, rapidly absorbing formula, we liked Ultrasun’s face SPF30.

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Sun protection is non-negotiable – these are the best SPFs for your face

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