How to choose the best sunscreen for combination skin

Everything you need to know about sunscreen

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Some of the best face sunscreens for combination skin

There are plenty of options to choose from that work great on combination skin, and we’ve rounded them up right here to make it easy to find your new go-to. Most of us with combination skin are well acquainted with clogged pores. To help 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! Once you’ve found ~*the one*~ don’t forget to wear it and—important!—reapply it. That means every. single. day.

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 into 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 helps 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

  • Helps soothe 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 hydrates the skin

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

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Best tinted sunscreen for combination 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 combination skin. The tint helps even 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 Anti-Aging Armour Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50+

  • Formulated with hydrating and anti-aging ingredients including peptides, niacinamide, hydrolyzed collagen, and hyaluronic acid

  • Ideal for every skin type with “universal color-correcting pigments”

  • Protects skin from the sun’s harmful rays with broad-spectrum SPF 50+

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 help reduce shine and control oil for up to 12 hours

MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield Liquid SPF 50

  • Sheer tinted, weightless liquid formula blends easily

  • 100% mineral sunscreen

  • Helps mattify skin with bentonite to absorb excess oil from pores

  • Works as a primer under foundation to help 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 help prevent eye irritation

  • Sheer, universal tint suitable for all skin types

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

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 visibly smoothes fine lines, blurs pores, and gives 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 collagen, peptides, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and vitamins

  • Diffuses the look of wrinkles and minimizes the appearance of pores

CoTZ Flawless Complexion SPF 50 - Tinted

  • Broad-spectrum SPF 50 mineral sunscreen deflects UV rays and helps prevent premature skin aging

  • Environmentally conscious formula

  • Non-greasy, non-oily texture

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 into virtually any skin tone

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

Looking for the best foundations with sunscreen for combination 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.

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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.

sunscreen10

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.

Skincare pro tip: reapply your sunscreen religiously

You and your skin deserve better than to be stingy with the sunscreen, so slather it on liberally and when in doubt, apply more! Most of us don’t use enough sunscreen—the sun’s rays don’t really get boundaries, so make sure any skin in the sun’s line of proverbial fire is fully covered. We know we sound like a broken record by now, but seriously, re-applying throughout the day is essential! Sunscreens need to be reapplied at least every two hours, especially if you’re swimming or sweating.

Use up to a half teaspoon for the face and neck, especially if you use your whole hands to rub in the sunscreen. Use 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons for the body. During a long day at the beach, one person should use around 1/4 to 1/2 of an 8 oz bottle.

No sunscreen, regardless of strength, stays effective longer than two hours. That being said, how often you reapply sunscreen depends on your activities. If you’re inside working all day, no need to reapply. If you’re in and out, reapply at least once midday. If you’re out for extended periods during the day, then reapply every 2 hours or so, especially if you’re entering water, sweating, or wiping your face.

Image of woman sun tanning on beach

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.

Ingredients to avoid in cosmetic products

Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry in the US is a “buyer beware” situation—there’s no real regulation of ingredients or claims like “non-comedogenic,” so many products on the market contain ingredients that could do your skin more harm than good. We’ve rounded up 30 skincare and makeup ingredients not to put on your face—these may clog your pores, irritate sensitive skin, or both. Do not want!

  1. isopropyl myristate

  2. laureth-4

  3. sodium lauryl sulfate

  4. xylene

  5. sodium laureth sulfate

  6. cetyl acetate

  7. acetylated lanolin alcohol

  8. coconut oil

  9. cocos nucifera

  10. coconut butter

  11. cocoa butter

  12. potassium chloride

  13. oleyl alcohol

  14. myristyl myristate

  15. ethylhexyl palmitate

  16. D&C red no. 27

  17. coal tar

  18. PEG 16 lanolin (solulan 16)

  19. polyglyceryl-3 diisostearate

  20. oleth-3

  21. isopropyl linolate

  22. oleic acid

  23. isopropyl palmitate

  24. lauric acid

  25. myristic acid

  26. myristyl lactate

  27. isopropyl isostearate

  28. glyceryl-3-diisostearate

  29. cetearyl alcohol + ceteareth 20

  30. propylene glycol monostearate

Avoid alcohol, but just the “denatured” kind

If you’ve got sensitive skin or dry skin, take care to avoid ingredients that can dry it out even more! Alcohol is unfortunately used in a lot of skincare products, even though it dries out the skin and can damage its protective barrier. Watch out for “denatured alcohol” or “alcohol denat.” on the ingredients list of your skincare or makeup. Not all alcohol-related ingredients are created equal, though: cetearyl alcohol and coconut alcohol, for two common examples, are totally fine to use.

How to check any product for pore-clogging ingredients

Some common ingredients in cosmetics and skincare products can clog pores or irritate sensitive skin (yes, even if the label says a product is “non-comedogenic” or “gentle”). You can check the acne-causing potential of the products you use by making sure it doesn’t contain the potentially pore-clogging ingredients mentioned here.

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

If you’re struggling with combination, oily and/or acne-prone skin, we’re here to help—treating acne is kind of our thing. Sign up for a free trial of Curology to get your very own custom acne-fighting cream (subject to medical consultation), plus our must-have moisturizer and gentle cleanser when you sign up for the full set (you just pay $4.95 for shipping and handling, FYI). Check out our other Guides to learn more simple skincare tips, and always remember: we’ve got your back.

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