Conservative estimates place the number of Americans currently suffering from rosacea at around 16 million. In addition to being uncomfortable, sometimes with lots of red bumps to really make the day interesting, rosacea can make some feel self conscious about their flushed appearance.
To make matters worse, skin affected by rosacea has the potential to be far more sensitive than healthy skin which can cause patients to avoid important steps like taking the time to put on sunscreen before going outside. It’s not that you don’t understand the importance of sunscreen, but the stuff just makes you break out or flare up even worse than before!
But don’t give up on sunscreen, folks! Not only is it vital to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays, but the National Rosacea Society says that about 81% of rosacea sufferers experience flare ups when they expose the affected skin to sunlight without protection.
So by skipping this step, you’re taking in UVA and UVB radiation in potentially dangerous amounts and just begging your rosacea to give you all it’s got. Have no fear, though: SimplySunSafe has scoured the many sunscreen options to find the best sunscreen for rosacea sufferers.
Depending on the type of rosacea you have, you may want to stay away from oils in your sunscreen, or seek out a moisturizing option. Because already-sensitive facial skin can be made even more tender by rosacea, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to any potential allergens in the sunscreen formula that may affect your skin and try to be extra gentle during application so that the rubbing doesn’t increase redness. Other precautions like wearing a hat and avoiding the brightest part of the day (10am-2pm) can help to protect your skin.
After thorough research into requirements for sunscreen to be effective for rosacea, SimplySunSafe recommends Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer SPF 30 as the best sunscreen for rosacea. Read on for a detailed buyer’s guide, comparison table, and in-depth reviews of the top 5 sunscreens for rosacea.
When choosing a sunscreen that will protect and nourish your skin without making your rosacea even worse, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
Broad spectrum protection
When talking about sunscreen, it’s important to understand that there are actually two types of radiation from the sun’s rays that can harm us. These are referred to as UVA rays and UVB rays.
UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburns, leaving their red blistery mark right where you can see it.
UVA rays, on the other hand, are sneaky. These rays don’t cause immediately visible damage to the skin. They affect your skin on a cellular level, causing damage and mutations to your DNA that can lead to accelerated signs of aging (think of the ‘leathery’ look of veteran tanners) and may ultimately lead to cancer.
It’s easy to remember which is which if you just remember the last letter: A is for aging and B is for burning.
Whether or not a given sunscreen protects you from both types of radiation depends on the active ingredients. When choosing a sunscreen you’ll want to check the packaging for specific mention of ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘UVA/UVB’ protection. If you don’t see this, then the product most likely only protects from the less dangerous UVB rays and still leaves you at risk.
Best SPF for Rosacea
Just about everyone who uses sunscreen understands that the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating of the product you’re buying is important.
The thing is, do you know what exactly that number printed so boldly on the packaging really means in terms of the actual amount of protection you’re getting?
Some consumers simply adopt the rule of thumb that more is better, and shell out more money than they really need to for optimal protection.
SPF is, essentially, a measure for what fraction of the sun a given sunscreen can filter out for you. For example, SPF 15 means that only 1/15th of the sun’s radiation will actually reach your skin. However, that doesn’t mean that you can stay outside for 15 times longer with one application, or that SPF 30 is twice and helpful as SPF 15.
Have a look at the table below to get an idea of what sort of protection each SPF rating really offers.
|SPF Rating||UVB Protection|
As you can see, after you get to SPF 30, there really isn’t a whole lot of difference in terms of the amount of protection.
I agree with the FDA’s recommendation that SPF 30 is sufficient for most people. You’ll only want to go higher if you’re very fair or photosensitive and even then the bump in SPF rating shouldn’t be costing you a whole lot.
Physical is better than chemical
Just as there are different types of radiation from the sun’s rays that pose a risk to our health, there are different formulations and active ingredients use by sunscreen manufacturers to combat them. These are generally classified into physical sunscreens or chemical sunscreens.
- Chemical sunscreens make use of – you guessed it – chemicals to protect your skin. These chemicals actually soak into your skin and absorb the light before it can hit your skin cells.
- Physical sunscreens, sometimes called mineral sunscreens, work more like a mirror. They are natural materials like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that sit on top of your skin like reflective armor. This causes the sunlight to bounce off of the minerals coating your skin without harming you.
Physical sunscreens are the best way to go for many people, and the preferred option at SimplySunSafe. This is because the chemicals used in chemical sunscreens can actually affect your body similarly to a hormone and cause all sorts of nasty side effects.
In particular, the FDA recommends users to stay away from using anything containing oxybenzone. Don’t worry, SimplySunSafe will never recommend a sunscreen to you that contains this ingredient.
Zinc oxide over titanium dioxide
We’ve all seen Baywatch, and we all vowed to never become that iconic beachgoer with a nose covered in such a thick layer of white goop that it could’ve been used as a signalling beacon. Well, truth be told, the minerals used in physical sunscreens are responsible for that white cast – but the TV portrayal is a bit on the dramatic side and totally avoidable.
If you look at the active ingredients in a sunscreen, anything containing titanium dioxide or very high concentrations of zinc oxide (say, 20% or more) are likely to leave a white cast.
Titanium dioxide has a stronger whitening effect in sunscreen formulas than zinc oxide and is also less effective at blocking UVA rays. For this reason, zinc oxide will generally offer more complete protection than titanium dioxide.
Titanium dioxide is still a beneficial active ingredient, just one that you’ll want coupled with zinc – and maybe one you won’t want to use on your face.
Suitable for daily use
Your face has some of the most sensitive skin on your body. This is why many people invest in special facial moisturizers and creams – to get the benefits they needs without irritating their skin or clogging their pores.
The sun- and chemical-sensitive effects of rosacea may mean that it’s a good idea to look for a moisturizer with sunscreen for your rosacea. This will mean you’ll be choosing something gentle that won’t clog your pores means you can use it every day without worrying about a skin reaction.
At the very least, you’ll want to pay attention to what (if any) possible allergens you react to, and avoid formulas containing those ingredients. To this end I’ve included the number of ingredients flagged as allergens by the EWG in SimplySunSafe’s recommendations for rosacea sufferers as a part of the included comparison table.
Not everyone will react to them, and all products are still highly rated by the EWG. However, due to the special relationship between rosacea and skin sensitivity, all ingredients flagged as possible allergens will be listed in the product reviews at the next section of this guide.
Best Sunscreen for Rosacea Comparison
|Block Island Natural Moisturizer||Beauty by Earth Facial||derma e Antioxidant Sunscreen||Suntegrity 5-in-1||EltaMD UV Physical|
|Active ingredients||Zinc Oxide (22%)||Zinc Oxide (11%)||Zinc Oxide (16%)||Zinc Oxide (20%)||Zinc Oxide (9%) & Titanium Dioxide (7%)|
5 Best Sunscreens for Rosacea
After thorough research that combined discussing issues with customers, reviewing customer feedback, examining manufacturer specifications, and participating in skincare forums, SimplySunSafe has chosen the 5 best sunscreens for rosacea. All of these sunscreens provide broad spectrum physical protection, do not contain oxybenzone, are suitable for daily use, and use zinc oxide as the primary active ingredient.
Block Island Organics has produced a fantastic Natural Face Moisturizer that provides broad spectrum protection and an SPF of 30 with 22.0% zinc oxide – the highest active ingredient concentration on this list.
It does contain two inactive ingredients that have been noted by the EWG as possible irritants to some users with sensitive skin. These are: glyceryl isostearate, and phenoxyethanol. However, most users will experience no ill effects from these ingredients.
Buying this sunscreen is a purchase you can feel good about, too! The company makes this sunscreen in the USA, using responsible practices, vegan formulas, and is 100% cruelty-free.
While this sunscreen is great for daily use and doesn’t leave a white cast, a little goes a long way! Apply a small amount to start, or the zinc-rich formula may leave your skin feeling ‘heavy’.
All of these amazing features have combined to make this Natural Face Moisturizer offered by Block Island Organics SimplySunSafe’s top pick.
- High concentration of active ingredient
- Hydrating ingredients
- Contains two potential irritants
This lovely option from Beauty by Earth seems like it was designed specifically as a moisturizer with sunscreen for rosacea sufferers.
It is important to note that this product only has an SPF of 20 provided by zinc oxide (11%), which is lower than what SimplySunSafe normally recommends. However, in this case it may be worth the lower SPF for the other benefits it offers.
This formula is an incredibly smooth cream; this reduces the amount of rubbing (another known rosacea irritant) required to nearly none, giving you nourishing broad spectrum protection without an ultra heavy formula.
The list of inactive ingredients sounds more like a trip to the farmer’s market than a sunscreen formula: aloe, coconut oil, rosemary, sunflower oil, jojoba oil, cucumber, and even argan oil.
With such a natural ingredients list, the Beauty by Earth facial sunscreen is a gentle option sure to protect your skin without feeling harsh. This makeup-friendly formula has a transparent finish and ZERO allergens per the EWG.
The only reason it didn’t win the gold medal in this list is because of its low SPF rating.
- Gentle spray application
- Smooth texture (easy to apply)
- Natural ingredients
- Low SPF
Derma e’s Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen delivers broad spectrum protection with a whopping 16% zinc oxide and SPF 30. This is also the most budget-friendly option on the list.
While the manufacturer claims to use a non-nano form of clear zinc that leaves a transparent finish, I would warn that this sunscreen can leave a white cast, especially if you’re not too keen to thoroughly rub it in. As such, this option may not be suited for use under makeup.
It contains two ingredients listed as possible allergens by EWG: phenoxyethanol and glycerol stearate.
If you don’t react to these ingredients and don’t need you daily sunscreen to have a transparent finish, this sunscreen offers great protection at a great price.
- High concentration of active ingredient
- Nourishing ingredients
- Likely white cast
If you wear makeup, as someone with rosacea you may have trouble finding formulas that work well with your sensitive skin. Suntegrity 5-in-1 skips that step for you, combining a daily wear sunscreen, moisturizer, and just enough tint to work as a foundation of sorts.
It contains absolutely NO ingredients flagged as concerning by EWG, and the manufacturer specifically mentions that some of the inactive ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties that may work well for rosacea patients.
Suntegrity 5-in-1 provides broad spectrum protection using zinc oxide (20%) as its only active ingredient, with an SPF rating of 30. For those who like to combat their facial redness with cosmetics, this may just be the best over the counter sunscreen for rosacea.
Suntegrity 5-in-1 comes in 4 tints to help match your natural skin tone (fair, light, golden light, and medium). These tints help this sunscreen to blend with other cosmetics so it can seamlessly enter into your daily beauty routine. Check out the 4 tints below along with a celebrity-based guide so you get the right tint for your skin:
The only downside is that this miracle-worker is far and away the most expensive option on our list, making it an unreasonable option for cost-conscious consumers.
- 4 tint options
- High concentration of active ingredient
- Perfect for use with cosmetics
EltaMD’s UV Physical formula provides SPF 41, broad spectrum protection using a combination of zinc oxide (9%) and titanium dioxide (7%).
This option is lightly tinted – the idea being just enough tint to counteract the otherwise white cast without making it look like you’re ‘wearing makeup’.
The formula is fragrance free and rated by the manufacturer as safe for sensitive skin. Despite this claim, the EWG has concerns about 3 of the ingredients as allergens: phenoxyethanol, sodium hydroxide, and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate. Additionally, titanium dioxide can irritate some sensitive skin types.
The relatively low concentration of active ingredient, in combination with the possible allergens and price point of this product are what causes it to sit in last place even though it does offer the highest SPF rating of all five products.
- Designed for sensitive skin
- Lightly tinted
- Lower levels of active ingredients
I hope this article has helped you find the perfect sunscreen for you. At the very least, you’ll be able to make a more informed purchase as a knowledgeable consumer who understands a bit more about the products you’re buying.
SimplySunSafe’s pick for the best sunscreen for rosacea is Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer SPF 30. Keep in mind though, that all five options reviewed here are great choices that provide quality protection.
If you try one and it just doesn’t suit you, I would encourage you to come back to this guide and choose another one to try. After all, if you start with the top 5, you’re bound to find your perfect fit!
I you have rosacea and already use a great sunscreen that you’ve very happy with let me know in the comments. I love hearing about sun safe products that work and if it’s good enough I might even add it to this guide.
If you’d like sunscreen recommendations for other skin conditions, SimplySunSafe has a range of guides including sunscreen for eczema and sunscreen for lupus. Just go to the top of this page and search for a condition to find the recommendations you’re looking for.