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  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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Face sunscreen for oily skin

The best sunscreens for oily skin.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 8 min read
The best face sunscreen for oily skin
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 8 min read
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

This may not be news to you, but applying sunscreen is the single most important skin-care tip that helps protect against hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Many people with oily skin still skip what they know is a crucial step due to the drawbacks certain SPF formulas have on their skin type. We're here to tell you that the best sunscreens for oily skin include ingredients that make your skin feel ready to face the day.

With oily skin, finding a face sunscreen that doesn’t look/feel greasy can be an ongoing challenge, right? Challenge accepted. Since we've established that SPF is the most important skincare step of the day, we’ve made sure to find face sunscreen products for every skin type, so nobody will have an excuse not to protect their skin. But, before we begin, here’s a quick crash-course in the need-to-know sun protection basics.


The importance of wearing sunscreen year-round

It may feel like a drag to slow down to apply (or reapply) sunscreen when you’re ready and raring to go, but think of it this way: future you will be so thankful that you did! Just think of all the potential benefits of sunscreen:  

  • It can help to protect you from skin cancer

  • It can slow down signs of aging

  • It can reduce chances of hyperpigmentation from developing

  • It can help prevent dreaded sunburns (which, yes, can still happen on a cloudy day)

Sun damage is still a risk even while wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen is only one part of UV protection—cute sun hats, shades, and limiting sun exposure are also recommended.

How to choose the right sunscreen for your skin type

Physical sunscreen is often the best bet for oily, acne-prone and/or sensitive skin. Certain physical sunscreen ingredients such as zinc oxide may even help soothe irritation! Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, may irritate sensitive skin (and irritation can lead to breakouts). As always, look for products labeled “non-comedogenic” (translation: won’t clog pores). We’ll delve deeper into which ingredients to avoid a little later on in this guide—but, as a rule of thumb, avoid alcohol in skincare products (alcohol denat., aka denatured alcohol—other versions, such as coconut alcohol and cetearyl alcohol, are actually fine to use). And be on the lookout for pore-clogging ingredients such as coconut oil, octyl stearate, and isopropyl palmitate.

Curology Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 No White Cast

Some of the best face sunscreen for oily skin

There are plenty of options to choose from that work great on oily skin, and we’ve rounded them up right here to make it easy to find your new go-to. Most of us with oily skin are well acquainted with clogged pores. To avoid pore-clogging, take a closer look at the ingredients in any product you use on your skin. We know it’s a lot to remember what all those hard-to-pronounce ingredients really are, though, so here are some products whose ingredients we’ve reviewed to make sure they’re non-comedogenic.

We’ve also reviewed each product in this guide to make sure we stand behind for other reasons, so we’ve eschewed any product whose ingredients may be irritating to sensitive skin. We hope this helps you find your new favorite face sunscreen!

The sunscreen by Curology with SPF 30

  • A mineral sunscreen with 9.4% zinc oxide

  • Silky texture and no white cast 

  • Contains hydrating ingredients like squalane and glycerin

  • Formulated specifically for acne-prone skin by Curology’s team of experts

If you’re a current Curology member, you’ll be happy to know that our team of dermatologists designed the sunscreen to work with your Curology routine in support of your skin goals—so you never have to choose between sun protection and clear skin... ever again. If you're new to Curology, you can try the sunscreen when you sign up for a free trial* (more on this later).

Supergoop! Smooth and Poreless 100% Mineral Matte Screen SPF 40

  • 100% mineral sunscreen

  • Two-in-one product, also works as a primer

  • Translucent tinted formula gives skin a smooth, matte finish

  • Universal tint shade blends in to virtually any skin tone

  • Wear underneath makeup for more coverage, or on its own

FIRST AID BEAUTY 5 in 1 Face Cream SPF 30

  • Both physical and chemical sun protection

  • Formulated to help with fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and dry skin

  • Five active ingredients work together to promote a healthy-looking complexion

CoTZ Flawless Complexion SPF 50 - Tinted

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 mineral sunscreens deflect UV rays and prevent premature skin aging

  • Environmentally conscious formula

  • Non-greasy, non-oily texture

Paula’s Choice PC4MEN Daytime Protect

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen with a barely-there feel and shine-free finish

  • Weightless formula isn’t sticky on skin

  • Guys: use as the last step in your AM skincare routine

Paula’s Choice Smoothing Primer Serum SPF 30

  • Multi-tasking primer that softens and smooths skin with a formula that features antioxidants and broad-spectrum SPF 30 for a makeup-ready base

  • Preps skin for a seamless makeup application

  • Lightweight, silky texture

Neutrogena Men Triple Protect Face Lotion SPF 20

  • Soothes razor irritation

  • Hydrates dry skin

  • Lightweight formula

  • SPF 20 isn’t enough protection on its own—layer with another sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher

Olay Regenerist Regenerating Face Lotion with SPF 50

  • Temporarily reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

  • Lightweight formula firms skin while hydrating

Olay Total Effects Face Moisturizer SPF 30

  • Lightweight hydrating formula

  • Helps replenish the skin’s moisture barrier

  • Formulated with anti-aging skincare ingredients

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Ultra-sheer Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30

  • Lightweight daytime moisturizer with SPF 30

  • Helps reduce the appearance of shine from excess oiliness

  • Fluid formula leaves a soft matte finish

Proactiv Daily Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30

  • Lightweight moisturizer absorbs quickly and provides a long-lasting, matte finish while providing broad-spectrum sun protection

  • Oleosome technology™ uses a lower concentration of sunscreen filters for minimal irritation and rich hydration

Some of the best tinted sunscreen for oily skin

Care for a side of coverage with your sun protection? A tinted sunscreen or tinted moisturizer with SPF is a great two-in-one product: it does double-duty as a lightweight foundation. All you need for an effortless daytime look (complete with sun protection) is a tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher— and yes, there are plenty out there that work with oily skin. The tint evens out the appearance of your skin tone, and makes things like redness, acne, and pores a little less visible (just add some well-placed concealer, if needed). For more coverage, you can layer foundation makeup on top of tinted sunscreen, then follow it up with concealer on any spots you’d like to hide.

IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream Oil-Free Matte with SPF 40

  • CC cream with a matte finish

  • Infused with charcoal, colloidal clay, and tea tree extract to help reduce the appearance of oiliness

  • Clinically tested to reduce shine and control oil for up to 12 hours

  • Free of parabens and phthalates

MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield Liquid SPF 50

  • Sheer tinted, weightless liquid formula blends easily

  • 100% mineral sunscreen

  • Mattefies skin with bentonite to absorb excess oil from pores

  • Works like a primer under foundation to create a smooth, matte finish

  • Oil-free and recommended for all skin types

Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30

  • Lightly tinted mineral-based formula

  • Contains antioxidants

  • Silky texture leaves a soft matte finish

Revision Skincare Intellishade® Original SPF 45

  • Moisturizes and blends easily for a natural finish

  • Sheer coverage

SkinCeuticals Physical Eye Uv Defense SPF 50

  • 100% mineral base, broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection

  • “Non-migrating formula” to prevent eye irritation

  • Sheer, universal tint suitable for all skin types

  • Use from the brow bone to the cheekbone, even on the eyelid

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen

  • Similar to It Cosmetics’ formula, but slightly less expensive

  • Non-comedogenic formula with some added natural fragrance

  • Contains retinyl palmitate and sodium hyaluronate to help revive dull skin

  • Light coverage in 4 shades, ranging from Light-Medium to Medium-Tan

  • With SPF 20, it’s better than nothing, but we still think you should aim for at least SPF 30!

Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

  • A five-in-one longwear, vegan primer that can be used under (or instead of) foundation

  • Hydrates skin and helps visibly smoothes fine lines, blurs pores, and give skin a brightened appearance

  • Lightweight, sheer coverage

  • “Triple-B complex” to help brighten, smooth, and soften skin

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+

  • Color-correcting formula visibly evens skin tone

  • SPF 50+ physical sunscreen

  • Anti-aging benefits with peptides, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and vitamins

  • Diffuses the look of wrinkles and helps minimize the appearance of pores

How to layer sunscreen under makeup

Ever try to layer makeup on top of sunscreen, only to have it pill or flake off in annoying little white bits? Ugh! Try applying moisturizer before your sunscreen, then give it a few minutes to dry before putting on your makeup. This should give it enough grip so it won’t flake on you!

How to reapply sunscreen over makeup

Powder sunscreens like ILIA Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20 are a great, easy way to re-up your sun protection throughout the day without messing up your makeup. Bonus: a little powder will also get rid of any oiliness that’s accumulated on your skin, making your makeup look refreshed while you’re at it.

Looking for some of the best foundations with sunscreen for oily skin? Check out our makeup guides and our no-breakout makeup series on the blog for our list of products we’ve reviewed to make sure they don’t contain pore-clogging ingredients.

Sunscreen for sports, swimming, and sweating

Not-so-fun fact: there’s no such thing as waterproof sunscreen! In 2011, the FDA released a new set of rules regulating sunscreen in the United States which did away with “waterproof” and “sweatproof” labels on sunscreens because such claims are impossible. (Thank you, FDA, for getting real about beauty claims!) Instead, sunscreens can be labeled “water resistant” for either 40 minutes or 80 minutes, depending on test results.

That means you swimmers, surfers, athletes and boogie-boarders need to choose your sunscreen wisely, and remember to reapply. Use a water-resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating, and reapply according to the label instructions, either after 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, immediately after towel drying, and every 2 hours at a minimum.

Solbar Zinc SPF 38 has an oil-free base that lasts for up to 80 minutes in the water, is more rub resistant than most, and is gentle on the eyes.

What is SPF?

You know those numbers on bottles of sunscreen? If you’ve ever wondered what that’s all about, you’re not alone—and the SPF number you use really does matter. The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number of any sunscreen is based on how quickly redness forms on sunscreen-protected skin compared to unprotected skin. Basically, it’s a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent the sun’s UVB rays from damaging the skin. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is the minimum recommended by Curology’s dermatology providers, and it’s super important to reapply at least every 2 hours.

What’s the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen?

Sunscreens can be classified as mineral (aka physical), chemical, or both, depending on their ingredients. TIP: No matter what sunscreen you’re using, remember to apply about 15-20 minutes before going outside.

Mineral sunscreen (aka physical sunscreen)

  • Contains titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, which can help soothe irritation

  • Physically reflects or “bounces” sunlight away from the skin

  • Certain kinds of physical sunscreen may leave a white cast on the skin (unless rubbed in well, micronized, or tinted)

Chemical sunscreen

  • Contains ingredients such as avobenzone and oxybenzone

  • Absorbs UV light so that it can’t penetrate the skin

  • May irritate or cause an allergic reaction in certain people’s skin

Curology Products

When in doubt, custom skincare is what it’s about

If you’ve read this far, then kudos to you for doing your sun protection homework! You know that everyone’s skin is different, so it can take some educated guessing to figure out what works for you. If you’d like to take the guesswork out of skincare, then Curology’s got your back. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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At Curology, we believe that everyone’s skin is unique and that skincare should be accessible for all. That’s why all of our prescription treatments are customized to meet your skin’s needs and sent straight to your door. After taking a consultation, if Curology is right for you, we’ll send you a 30-day supply of our recommended products (like our brand-new sunscreen) for just $4.95 to cover the cost of shipping and handling. Sign up for your free trial today!*

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
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