Learning that you or someone you love has vitiligo can feel overwhelming. And it can be even more daunting trying to find the right products to protect against sun damage. We’re here to make that process easier.
If you experience vitiligo, you DON’T need to avoid the sun altogether.
Rather, you just need to ensure your skin is sufficiently protected. This means following the Skin Cancer Foundation’s guidelines to seek shade where possible; wear UV protective clothing, hats and sunglasses; and apply broad spectrum sunscreen.
At SimplySunSafe we’ve taken the time to understand what vitiligo is, how it works and what is needed to ensure vitiligo-affected skin remains protected. We’ve identified the best sunscreen for vitiligo in 2021.
After thoroughly researching the factors involved in protecting vitiligo-affected skin, SimplySunSafe recommends Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+ as the best sunscreen for vitiligo.
So don’t waste time searching for another skincare product. Let us show you the way. For more information on the top five sunscreens for vitiligo, read the buyer’s guides, comparison table and in-depth reviews below.
Best Sunscreen for Vitiligo Comparison
|Neutrogena Ultra Sheer||La Roche-Posay Anthelios||Skinceuticals UV Defense||CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50||Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen|
|Active ingredients||Oxybenzone (6%)||Homosalate (15%)||Titanium Dioxide (6%)||Zinc Oxide||Zinc Oxide (20%)|
|Water resistance||80 minutes||80 minutes||40 minutes||40 minutes||80 minutes|
|Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
With vitiligo, you want to be sure that your skin is always properly protected while exposing it to the sun. There are a few must-have features that you should always search for in your vitiligo sunscreen:
Broad spectrum protection
The most important thing for you to remember about sunscreen for any purpose, is that you want it to provide broad spectrum protection.
This means that you will receive balanced protection against both UVA and UVB rays, which is important because each type works differently.
- UVB rays damage the outer layer of your skin and cause you to tan or burn
- UVA rays penetrate the deepest layer of your skin (the dermis) and cause premature aging
Exposure to both types of rays increases your risk of skin cancer, which is why you want to be properly protected at all times.
While you will expose your skin to the sun with vitiligo, you need to make sure that you do not burn. Broad spectrum protection will help you with that.
Finding a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection will be relatively easy for you, as they are plentiful and available everywhere.
To recognize whether a sunscreen provides broad spectrum protection or not check the label and the ingredients list.
The label may have words such as ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘UVA/B’, indicating sufficient protection.
You can also take a look at the ingredients list and search for zinc oxide and/or titanium. Sunscreens with zinc oxide protect against the full range of UVA/B rays and are always excellent choices.
Best SPF for vitiligo
It is essential to know how to choose the right SPF for vitiligo.
The SPF rating signifies the fraction of the sun’s rays that will reach your skin with proper use.
For instance, using an SPF of 50 will allow only 1/50th of sun rays to reach your skin.
Check out this table below to get a clearer idea of the protection you receive with different SPF ratings:
|SPF Rating||UVB Protection|
Contrary to popular belief, it does not specify the number of minutes you can spend in the sun.
Those who have vitiligo need to be careful as the sun’s rays can burn their skin.
Besides, the time spent in the sun, time of the day, and the application technique also determines the effectiveness of the sunscreen.
You may be thinking about how to choose the right SPF for protecting your skin.
As per the experts, SimplySunSafe suggests using sunscreen with an SPF rating of 50 or more that can block both UVA and UVB light.
SPF 50 blocks 98% UVB light when applied correctly.
You may need to reapply it every twenty minutes if you are swimming or sweating.
Besides, look for a sunscreen that has a gel formula as some creams may clog the skin.
Choose a tinted sunscreen if you have the skin of color as darker skin tones may appear ashy or grey with standard sunscreen.
Physical is better than chemical
When searching for a vitiligo sunscreen, it is helpful to know that sunscreens can be divided into two main categories – chemical and physical.
The differences between these categories lie in the active ingredients and in the way they work to protect your skin.
- Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays as they reach your skin
- Physical sunscreens reflect UV rays before they reach your skin
There are many reasons to choose physical sunscreens over chemical ones for all sun protection purposes. They work immediately upon application, last longer, are less likely to cause irritation, and have a longer shelf life.
On top of this physical sunscreens stop more light (and UV radiation) across a broader spectrum. What does that mean? They’re better sunscreens!
If you’re still on the fence, listen to this:
Chemical sunscreens often contain ingredients that mess with your hormones!
The worst of these is called oxybenzone and is still legal despite concerns expressed by the FDA.
SimplySunSafe advises you to avoid sunscreens that have this ingredient. The safest vitiligo sun protection will always be a physical sunscreen!
Sun therapy for vitiligo
Does sun exposure make vitiligo worse?
The answer is not as simple as you might guess!
If you’re not careful in the sun with vitiligo, you will burn quite easily, worsening your condition.
However, there are special treatments used for vitiligo using prescription light sources that mimic sunlight.
According to Vitiligo Support International, doctors may suggest that patients use real sun exposure if prescription light sources are not available to them.
The prescription light sources are safer than exposure to sunlight because they do not expose vitiligo to the same risk of burning and skin cancer as the sun’s UV rays do.
That is why if you are planning to expose your skin to the sun as therapy for vitiligo, it is absolutely vital that you are sufficiently protected with a broad spectrum sunscreen.
You must be cautious and expose your skin to the sun in moderation because burning your skin can worsen vitiligo. It is advised that you start slowly and build your exposure time gradually.
You are looking to create a pink color on your skin, not red, like a burn!
Make sure that you are wearing an effective broad spectrum sunscreen at all times if you choose to use sun therapy for vitiligo!
Suitable for daily use
Now that you know that sun therapy is a viable option in helping you manage your vitiligo, you want to search for a sunscreen that will be suitable and reliable for daily use.
What is appropriate for daily use on your skin is unique to you! So there are a few questions to ask yourself as you being your search:
- Do you want a sunscreen that can be worn on your face and body daily?
- Will you wear makeup on top of your sunscreen?
- What other skin sensitivities do you need to accommodate?
Knowing these details will help to streamline your search for a sunscreen for vitiligo.
Any sunscreen that you plan to use daily will need to be effective, but also gentle enough not to cause your skin any irritation.
SimplySunSafe has provided you with 5 suitable options for daily use in this guide!
You may be thinking that water resistance isn’t necessary unless you’re going swimming, but take a moment to reconsider.
If you plan to expose your skin to the sun for gradually increasing amounts of time as a part of your sun therapy for vitiligo, then you will sweat.
That is why you may want to consider choosing a water resistant sunscreen to use on your skin with vitiligo. Sunscreens are available with water resistance for 40 or 80 minutes.
The preference is yours, however, it may be wiser to choose a sunscreen with 80 minutes of water resistance to protect you sufficiently during your sun therapy.
Water resistant sunscreens provide another dimension of protection against the sun for vitiligo!
5 Best Sunscreens for Vitiligo
After extensive research into how to protect skin with vitiligo against the sun which included discussing issues with customers, reviewing customer feedback, examining manufacturer specifications, and participating in skincare forums, SimplySunSafe has compiled a list of the 5 best sunscreens for vitiligo.
Each sunscreen provides physical, broad spectrum protection with an SPF rating of 30 or greater. They are all water resistant and suitable for daily use!
1. Neutrogena Ultrasheer Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum
- 3-fluid ounce bottle of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Non-Greasy Sunscreen with SPF 100 that helps defend against the signs of sun and decrease the risk of skin cancer caused by the sun when used as directed
- This lightweight & sheer sunscreen is fast-absorbing with Dry-Touch technology for a non-greasy, matte finish and is formulated with Helioplex for superior sun protection for your skin
- Packaging and formulation may vary. This sunscreen lotion helps prevent sunburn and when used as directed, may help decrease the risk of skin cancer caused by the sun
- Both PABA-free and non-comedogenic, this lightweight sunscreen provides powerful face and body sun protection without the heavy finish, making it great to use for daily sun protection.
- TSA-compliant travel size non-greasy sunscreen from the #1 dermatologist-recommended suncare brand. This sunscreen is also available in both spray and stick form and can be used at the pool or in the ocean for up to 80 minutes of water-resistance
Last update on 2021-10-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This lightweight sheer sunscreen is fast-absorbing, non-greasy, with a dry matte finish. Moreover, this sunscreen is the perfect summertime companion. It absorbs quickly and has a nongreasy matte finish while also protecting your skin with its SPF of 100+.
It has Helioplex for superior sun protection while being easy to apply and lasts longer on the skin. The sunscreen is fast drying on the skin that will leave you with a clean feeling throughout the day.
This sunscreen is a great choice for people who want the benefits of sun protection without any heavy finish. It’s PABA-free and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores or cause breakouts. This is perfect for someone looking to avoid heavy finishes that are suffocating for the pores.
This lightweight product provides powerful face protection without feeling greasy or too matte in the heat!
Besides, this is a TSA-compliant, nongreasy travel-size sunscreen from Neutrogena. It is also available in both spray and stick form, so you can use it at the pool or ocean for up to 80 minutes of water resistance!
- Dry-Touch Water Resistant
- Not sensitive skin-friendly
2. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Activewear Sunscreen Lotion
Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
As a sunscreen lotion, La Roche Posay’s Anthelios Activewear SPF 60 is perfect for people with oily and sensitive skin alike.
The formulation has Natural Perlite that absorbs sweat and prevents you from looking greasy all day.
Moreover, it has Cell-OX Shield that provides broad-spectrum protection and antioxidants to keep your skin healthy.
It’s light enough to wear under makeup without feeling heavy or oily and blends perfectly with other products.
This will keep your face safe from the harmful effects of UV rays all day long without causing any irritation.
The cream is suitable for people with sensitive skin prone to allergies and redness. It is also free from paraben and fragrances that are responsible for most skin reactions.
This sunscreen is water-resistant for up to eighty minutes, making it ideal for beach, swimming, and water sports.
- Antioxidant properties
- For sensitive skin
- Less blendable
3. Skinceuticals UV Defense Broad Spectrum SPF50 Sunscreen
- Sheer, filmless tint adaptable to all skin tones
- Boosts radiance for a more even, luminous complexion
- Contains transparent zinc oxide, the only UV filter spanning the full UVA/uvb spectrum
Last update on 2021-10-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The sheer, filmless tint sunscreen is perfect for all skin tones and also works for sensitive skin types.
It gives a luminous complexion that is free from chemical filters. The sunscreen has a physical fusion defense formulation and is free from harmful ingredients such as parabens and fillers.
The transparent zinc oxide offers UVA/UVB protection, offering broad-spectrum protection.
This sunscreen does not leave any oiliness or white residue on the skin and blends in smoothly.
This sunscreen is water-resistant for up to forty minutes; therefore, it works from water sports and swimming.
This sunscreen may provide a sheer foundation coverage for the skin that adapts to your skin tone. This natural tinted coverage is enough for a minimal look.
- Shear formula
- Works for all skin tones
- Transparent zinc
- Less moisturizing
4. CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
- [ BROAD SPECTRUM UV PROTECTION ] 100% Mineral-based sunscreen, also known as a physical sunscreen, reflects UVA/UVB rays to protect the skin.
- [ 3 ESSENTIAL CERAMIDES TO LOCK IN MOISTURE ] Formulated with three essential ceramides (1, 3, 6-II) that help restore the skin’s natural barrier and lock in moisture long after.
- [ HAWAII COMPLIANT SUNSCREEN ] Sunscreen filters titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are compliant for use in Hawaii* *Hawaii prohibits the sale, offer of sale, and distribution of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone
- [ FREE OF ] Oxybenzone free, oil free, paraben free, fragrance free, chemical-filter free.
- [ GENTLE ON SKIN ] Allergy-tested noncomedogenic sunscreen for low risk of skin irritation, suitable for sensitive skin and kids.
Last update on 2021-10-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
A wide spectrum of protection is a must when it comes to your skin. This sunscreen offers broad coverage, and 100% mineral-based sunscreens can protect you from UVA/UVB rays that are harmful, especially for those with sensitive skin or who have had an adverse reaction in the past.
The CeraVe mineral sunscreen is nongreasy; hence, suitable for combination and oily skin.
Besides, it has National Eczema Association approval.
It contains three essential ceramides that have a restoring effect on the skin barrier and keeps it moisturized.
Besides, this sunscreen does not contain filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; therefore, it is compliant for use in Hawaii.
The gentle formulation is also free from Oxybenzone, fragrance, chemical filter, oil and is non-comedogenic.
- Moisture lock feature
- Environmentally safe
- Ideal for sensitive skin
- Oxybenzone free
- Not transfer-proof
5. thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+
- SAFE, NATURAL PROTECTION: Thinksport Kids sunscreen provides effective SPF 50+ sun protection for children. The broad spectrum UVA & UVB children’s sunblock is suitable for daily use on kids’ sensitive skin, offering gentle defense against the sun’s rays.
- EASY APPLICATION: Kids hate standing still, so this hydrating sun cream is quick and easy to apply, and protection begins instantly. The fast absorbing children’s sun lotion won’t leave skin feeling oily or sticky, and has no unpleasant chemical scent.
- CLEAN MINERAL FORMULA: The first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements, Thinksport vegan, Leaping Bunny certified sun creams contain no PABA, parabens, phthalates, BPA, oxybenzone, avobenzone, petroleum, gluten, dairy, or toxic chemicals.
- WATER RESISTANT: Your child can swim, dive and play in the water safely. Our children’s sun cream provides the highest water resistance per the FDA, offering kids continuous protection for up to 80 minutes in the pool or sea before the sunscreen should be re-applied.
- REEF FRIENDLY: Safe for children, and safe for the earth. Produced in the USA, our sunscreen’s active ingredient is non-nano Zinc Oxide, and the formula is highly biodegradable, non toxic and does not contain any known chemicals harmful to coral reefs.
Last update on 2021-10-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Thinksport Sunscreen is SimplySunSafe’s choice for best sunscreen for vitiligo patients. One of the safest sunscreens on the market, thinksport was the first to pass the Whole Foods premium care requirements.
This product provides you with broad spectrum protection through its active ingredient zinc oxide (20%).
Thinksport’s formula is very gentle and will not cause irritation to your skin, even with daily use on your face and body.
The formula is thick, requiring a good rub in, and leaving a slight white cast on your skin. This can be covered up with makeup if you find it unsightly.
Thinksport provides 80 minutes of durable water resistance, which is excellent during the warmer months, or if you choose to try sun therapy for your vitiligo. Sweating and water activity won’t negatively affect your sun protection with thinksport.
The formula’s high SPF rating will also be helpful for your more photosensitive skin.
This means you have options for any member of the family with vitiligo!
- Suitable for daily use
- High SPF
- 80-minute water resistance
- Available for kids and babies
- Thick formula
This guide was written for people seeking the best sunscreen for vitiligo. I hope that by reading this guide, you gained knowledge about what is necessary for proper sun protection with vitiligo, and found a product that fits your unique needs!
SimplySunSafe recommends Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+ but all 5 of the products listed are safe and effective for use with vitiligo!
Now that you have learned more about what you’re searching for, it is a good time to test out different sunscreens. By doing trial runs, you will be able to better understand how your skin reacts to varying formulas. After running your tests, you will be able to make the most informed decision about which sunscreen to use with your vitiligo!
I love learning new things and hearing about new products from others! So if you use or know of another sunscreen for vitiligo, please share it with me in the comments. I will check it out and maybe even add it to the list!
If you’d like sunscreen recommendations for other skin conditions, SimplySunSafe has a range of guides including dark spot sunscreen and physical sunscreen for melasma. Just go to the top of this page and search for a condition to find the recommendations you’re looking for.
Q: Does sunscreen help vitiligo?
A: If you have vitiligo, then there is little melanin in your skin. That means it’s vulnerable to sunburn and long-term damage! There is evidence that sunscreen use, in some cases, may help to prevent vitiligo progression. The UV radiation from sunlight activates cells that lead to pigment production and may suppress the immune system’s abnormal reaction.
Just be sure to look for products that offer broad-spectrum protection. This means they protect against UVA rays as well as those with shorter wavelengths called UVB rays.
Q: Does sun exposure make vitiligo worse?
A: Sun exposure, in general, is not a great idea for someone with vitiligo. Perseverant sun exposure to the skin can lead to chronic pigment cells loss due to repeated UV-induced inflammation and photoaging. Chronic pigment cells loss is associated with hyperpigmentation in people with or without vitiligo.
For someone who already sports patches of hypopigmented skin from vitiligo, one patch might be fine to expose more often than another area that is not as white. So, be careful of the sun because it can make your white patches extra sensitive. As time goes on, other parts of your body might become more sensitive to it too.
Q: How can you prevent vitiligo from the sun?
A: Exposure to sunlight does not trigger vitiligo, but it usually worsens the condition because a person may get sunburns more easily. These sunburns are more likely to cause white patches in dark skin. Vitiligo cannot be cured, but there are treatments that can help with some symptoms until it disappears on its own.
Some lesions and dark patches usually occur when vitiligo develops on areas of your body, like the face. These areas see frequent sun exposure. Avoid UV light as much as possible; sunscreen might protect only one-half of your body exposed at any given time.
Q: Is it possible that sunscreen containing phenol can cause vitiligo in an ex-patient?
A: Phenol is present in detergents, dyes, and skincare products. There are a number of commercial products reported to induce vitiligo, and most of them contain phenols. It’s not easy to avoid all the suspicious products that cause vitiligo, but there are some you can try. Avoid using sunscreen containing Phenol that may trigger vitiligo again.
It’s been reported that phenols are effective at killing the immune cells responsible for vitiligo due to their low molecular weight. So there is theoretical support for a potential effect in humans.