Sunscreens that leave a greasy or shiny finish really suck!
They leave your skin feel heavy, oily and just look bad. But that’s not a good enough reason not to use sunscreen everyday like you’re supposed to.
To help you prevent skin cancer and premature aging while still looking your best, I’ve compiled a list of 5 amazing non-greasy sunscreens.
These products will seamlessly join your daily routines and work flawlessly with your other cosmetic products. On top of this, your skin will get the protection it needs with the matte finish you’ve always wanted from a sunscreen.
So without further ado…
After through research into requirements for non-greasy sunscreen to be effective, SimplySunSafe recommends derma e Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 as the best non-greasy sunscreen. Read on for a detailed buyer’s guide, comparison table, and in-depth reviews of the top 5 non-greasy sunscreens.
To make sure that your sunscreen is non-greasy, effective, and safe to use, check for the following must-have features:
Broad spectrum protection
When shopping for sunscreen, it is crucial to find one that offers broad spectrum protection.
Broad spectrum protection, sometimes also printed on the label as ‘UVA/UVB Protection’ simply means that the sunscreen is aimed at protecting you from not just one, but two of the most dangerous types of solar radiation.
You see, while we only perceive the light coming from the sun and only feel the heat it gives off, the part that actually does damage to our skin is invisible radiation. There are two types of radiation we need to worry about: UVA and UVB radiation.
- UVB radiation is responsible for our sunburns, tans, and blisters – the sun damage we can see.
- UVA radiation is the more sinister kind, causing invisible damage to our DNA that can accelerate signs of aging such as wrinkles or sagging skin, and can eventually lead to skin cancer.
Any sunscreen that is not broad spectrum will only protect you from UVB rays; you won’t get burned but you are still at risk for skin cancer.
So, make sure the label has a logo stating ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘UVA/UVB protection’ or, check the ingredients list for physical sunscreen ingredients that can do it all (more on this in a minute).
Best non-greasy sunscreen SPF
SPF is a big part of the labels on many sunscreen packages, and one that many consumers are familiar with.
Or, at least, they think they are.
The trouble is that the little number on the package can be so misleading, and the manufacturers of many SPF products exploit that by slapping it front and center on their products without explaining the significance of the rating to you at all.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. A useful way to think of how this number works is that it represents what portion of solar radiation the sunscreen protects you from.
Let’s take a look at the chart below to get a clearer picture of the significance of those SPF ratings.
|SPF Rating||UVB Protection|
As you can see, more is better, but not by as much as you’d think. SPF 30 is stronger than SPF 15, but not double the protection.
This is actually why the FDA changed around some regulations a few years back so that the highest SPF rating allowed on sunscreen products is now 50+. This new labelling limit stops high SPF claims from lulling consumers into a false sense of security regarding sun safety.
Making sure you buy at least SPF 30 is a great rule of thumb, as most people really don’t need much more protection than that.
If you are exceptionally photosensitive though (as are those with fair skin or certain medical conditions), choosing to go with SPF 50 for that extra bit of protection shouldn’t cost you a ton of extra cash.
Physical is better than chemical
Though every sunscreen has the same goal, the active ingredients used in a sunscreen can vary. Based on the mechanism they utilize to give you the protection you need, they can be broadly classified into two types: physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens.
- Physical sunscreens work almost like putting on a suit of armor. The ingredients sit just on the surface of your skin, and as the sun’s rays beat down on you, they end up bouncing off of the sunscreen and so never even reach your skin.
- Chemical sunscreens soak down into your skin, and are designed to absorbed the radiation from the light before it can damage your cells.
Some physical sunscreens may seem unpleasantly thick or ‘pasty’ to those who are used to only chemical sunscreens, but it’s for good reason! Physical sunscreens are more effective than their chemical counterparts, stopping more radiation across a broader spectrum.
Physical sunscreens are also effective immediately after application so there’s no 30-minute wait time like with chemical options. Though some physical sunscreens can separate in the bottle and require mixing before use, the actual shelf of the active ingredients outlives chemical products.
The most common physical ingredient, zinc oxide, even has a calming effect on most skin types which helps your complexion.
Many people find that their skin reacts badly to chemical sunscreens as certain active ingredients such as oxybenzone are known to cause health issues if used repeatedly. The EWG have warned against its use.
I agree wholeheartedly with their warning, and so SimplySunSafe never recommends a product containing oxybenzone.
You should be concerned with the inactive ingredients in your sunscreen as well. So it’s imperative to get a formula that is suitable for daily use and won’t cause irritation.
If you don’t use your sunscreen consistently, you’re at a greater risk for skin damage, so it’s important to make sunscreen application part of your daily routine. This means that you pay attention to the characteristics of the sunscreen such as its overall texture, smell, etc.
You definitely don’t want to buy a huge amount of a sunscreen to use every day, only to realize in just a few days that you hate it!
Some inactive sunscreen ingredients cause skin irritation with prolonged use.
Typically, these ingredients are the harder-to-pronounce members of the ingredients list, so choosing a sunscreen with recognizable ingredients is a good start.
Know your ingredients though. Beeswax is often listed as cera alba – so some things that may seem foreign are just hiding behind a nickname. Retinyl Palmitate is an ingredient to avoid, but nourishing ingredients like aloe, green tea, and tea tree oil are usually a plus.
Choose lotions or sticks over sprays
When choosing a sunscreen, it’s a good idea to prioritize lotions over sticks, and sticks over sprays. The FDA has been looking into spray sunscreen since 2011 regarding claims that they pose a greater health risk due to increased inhalation.
When inhaled, possibly toxic ingredients are more directly exposed to the body than when applied to skin, and can cause damage to the lungs.
Sticks can be a good option, depending on their intended use. Their portability and mess-free application often make for a very convenient sunscreen option. This is especially true for activities like hiking or skiing, where you’ll be reapplying often but won’t exactly be able to wash your hands.
However, they are probably not a great choice when you are looking for a non-greasy feel on the skin. This is because sticks typically contain a high concentration of beeswax to give them a firmer texture, along with other waxes and heavier oils that can feel greasy after application.
What it comes down to is this: sprays simply don’t give adequate coverage and may pose a health concern. Sticks are fairly convenient but are heavier formulas and can be tacky or oil on the skin.
If you want a good sunscreen that doesn’t feel greasy for hours after you rub it in, then lotions are definitely the way to go.
Best Non-Greasy Sunscreen Comparison
|derma e Antioxidant Sunscreen||Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer||Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer||Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral||Baby Bum Premium Natural|
|Active ingredients||Zinc Oxide (16%)||Zinc Oxide (20%)||Zinc Oxide (3.35%) & Titanium Dioxide (5.5%)||Zinc Oxide (14.5%) & Titanium Dioxide (2.0%)||Zinc Oxide (22%)|
|Suitable for daily use||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Water resistant||No||No||No||80 minutes||80 minutes|
5 Best Non-Greasy Sunscreens
After thorough research that combined discussing issues with customers, reviewing customer feedback, examining manufacturer specification, and participating in skincare forums, SimplySunSafe has chosen the 5 best non-greasy sunscreens. All of the sunscreens provide broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 30 or greater, do not contain oxybenzone, and have skin-friendly formulas that are suitable for daily use.
derma e’s Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen is SimplySunSafe’s number one pick, and one of the best non-greasy sunscreens for oily skin.
It delivers broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 30 with just one active ingredient: zinc oxide (16%).
derma e Antioxidant Natural finds itself at the top of this list for a few reasons, it:
- has a high concentration of its active ingredient
- is labelled by the manufacturer as an oil-free formula
- is reasonably priced considering its high quality
Like all physical sunscreens with a high mineral concentration it can be a little bit thick in texture when first rubbing it in, and it can leave a white cast on the skin of some users.
It’s not so opaque as to be unfit for facial use, but may not be a good choice to be worn underneath makeup.
- High concentration of active ingredients
- Great value
- Moderate white cast
While there are a few facial moisturizers on this list, including SimplySunSafe’s top pick, Juice Beauty’s Oil-Free facial moisturizer is arguably the best non-greasy sunscreen for the face.
However, with that fabulous formula comes a matching price tag: this sunscreen is the most expensive sunscreen on the list. This high price was a deciding factor in awarding this product the 2nd slot in our list.
While it would be cost-prohibitive to use this on your whole body, it could be a great choice for anyone with dry skin who also wants a non-greasy sunscreen.
You’ll love this product for its ability to provide noticeable moisture to the skin without the use of oils or heavy/greasy ingredients.
This moisturizer doesn’t leave a very noticeable white cast, making it a great choice for those with darker skin or for wear underneath makeup.
- Minimal white cast
- Good for makeup
- Good for darker skin tones
This facial sunscreen from Babo Botanicals provides broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 40 via a combination of titanium dioxide (5.5%) and zinc oxide (3.35%).
While moderately priced for a facial sunscreen, it does have a fairly low concentration of active ingredients which kept it out of the top two. The low concentration of active ingredients also means it has a nearly unnoticeable white cast, perfect for application under makeup.
The slightly higher SPF may be beneficial to those with extra photosensitivity.
It works well for everyday use on all skin types, as it is specially formulated to ease sensitive skin.
It contains nourishing ingredients that are still light and gentle, which give you a formula that luxuriously moisturizes while providing heavy duty protection.
- Moderately priced
- Sheer finish
- Low concentration of active ingredients
Alba Botanica’s Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen offers fantastic value, which makes it a strong contender as the best non-greasy sunscreen for the body.
The formula is just the teeeeensiest bit heavier than the top three options, which may makes it a poor choice to use on the skin of the face where we are more sensitive to that feeling of ‘greasiness’.
It provides broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 30 with a combination of active ingredients. The formula using primarily zinc oxide (14.5%) but also contains some titanium dioxide (2%).
This high concentration of zinc oxide does mean that it can leave a white cast after being rubbed into the skin. This may make it a pain to use on the whole body if you have a darker skin tone and don’t want to ‘look’ like you have sunscreen, though.
The small tube is super portable and the lotion spreads easily, making it a breeze to reapply as needed.
- Great value
- Easily spread
- White cast
Baby Bum is Sun Bum’s baby sunscreen formula. It provides broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 30 with only one active ingredient: zinc oxide (22%).
Surprisingly, this is one of the least expensive sunscreens on our list and yet features the highest concentration of active ingredients.
It has a lovely, naturally fruity scent – a nice change from the faux-coconut odor of many sunscreens.
The reason it finds itself, then, as the fifth recommendation on our list is the texture and finish of the sunscreen. While it is still a great option, you may feel like it is a little bit heavy, and most wouldn’t want to use this on the face or for casual use as it does leave a pronounced white cast.
This is a good choice for lazy days at the beach, but maybe not a company picnic.
- Noticeable white cast
When writing these guides, I spend a lot of time poring over products trying to find the best recommendations for you and to give you all the best information that I can. I hope that I’ve succeeded, and that you finish this article feeling more informed and empowered to find a sunscreen that is just perfect for you.
While SimplySunSafe does recommend derma e Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 as the best non-greasy sunscreen, all 5 of these products will give you high quality non-greasy protection. That being said, everyone is different, and reacts differently to new products so you may have to try a few different options before finding one that works for you.
Do you have a favorite product that you think should totally be listed here, but isn’t? Drop me a line and let me know! I absolutely love learning about new products in order to give you the best recommendation I can, so I’d be more than happy to hear about your favorite sunscreens.