The 8 Best SPF Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin

Moisturization and sun protection are skincare basics that shouldn’t be neglected by anyone. There’s no shortage of products on the market that combine hydration and SPF in a single-step formula, but they’re not all created equal, particularly for people with sensitive skin. To help, we’ve created a list of our favorite SPF moisturizers for sensitive skin as well as some additional information on the ingredients you may want to avoid when shopping for the right SPF moisturizer for sensitive skin.

Our Top Picks For SPF Moisturizers For Sensitive Skin Are:

  • First Aid Beauty: Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer

    First Aid Beauty is killing the skincare game this year. At a moderate price point, the Ultra Repair offers allergy-tested and gluten-free broad-spectrum protection. The product absorption rate keeps everything in place, including layered foundation. It’s one of the thickest formulas on the list, so it must be massaged into the skin thoroughly emulsify. The easy squeeze-tube bottle allows a mess-free application without exposing any product to the elements, down to the last drop. Jars tend to have more potential for mess and are less hygienic than a contained product. The coolest part? Guaranteed nut-free and vegan for those with major allergies.

  • Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 30

    Budget-friendly meets heavy hydration! The hypoallergenic formula doesn’t feel cakey, but has enough moisture to carry skin into the bitter winter months. It is non-comedogenic (it won’t clog your pores), oil-free (suitable for combination skin), and comes in an upright pump bottle. However, the SPF 30 is thicker than the sister-SPF 15 formula, which may be more suitable for oily skin. The Aveeno Ultra-Calming collection contains feverfew and oat to help soothe red and irritated skin, a true home run for dryer skin in need of some TLC.

  • Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47

    This moisturizer contains powerful nutrient-rich ingredients to moisturize and protect in a convenient pump bottle, as opposed to similar serums in a messy dropper. Antioxidants and green tea sooth by targeting inflammation of your skin cells. The chemical-free SPF formula will glide on your skin, leaving no greasy residue and quickly absorb for all-day moisture. For maximum absorption, it’s best to massage the product between fingertips before applying the face. The formula blends so well it can even be mixed into your foundation to create a moisturizing tinted sunscreen! Despite the pleasant and fresh aroma, there are no artificial fragrances. Due the packaging, it’s easy to see when you’re running low… and you won’t want to run out!

  • Olay Complete Sensitive SPF 30

    Olay slays it yet again with a zinc oxide moisturizer, leaving skin feeling refreshed and glowy. It boasts a sleek and hygienic pump bottle, and the product itself is ultra-lightweight even with added Vitamin E. The added aloe Vera makes this a go-to for after-sun exposure, soothing sun-exposed skin and leaving a flawless and healthy flow. Unlike some moisturizers, Olay Complete can be reapplied several times during prolonged sun exposure with no build-up or unhappy pores. After the product is fully absorbed, there is almost no trace of the natural fragrances from zinc oxide or the other ingredients. If you have extreme fragrance sensitives or get headaches from facial products, this is our top pick.

  • Paula’s Choice Calm SPF 30

    The creators of this formula must’ve truly understood the problems oily skin has with quality sun protection. Although this is not a heavy moisturizer, skin stays nourished and mattified. Use alone or as a smoothing base for foundation to help control shine throughout the day. Aloe and algae extract calm and assist in moisture retention for perfectly lightweight hydration. This is an amazing balance for combination skin that requires different levels of moisture in specific areas, and a must-try for oily and hormonal skin.

  • THRIVE Natural Face Moisturizer & Mineral Facial Sunscreen SPF 30

    Although not a fragrance-free formula, Thrive is subtly citrus with homerun ingredients for even the most extreme sensitivities. Unlike traditional lotion or cream moisturizers, this is thin balm that glides on and quickly absorbs. Thrive is vegan and cruelty-free with no synthetic fragrances or colors. Despite 20% zinc oxide, there is a slightly matte finish with absolutely no white cast! We recommend this one for oily/normal/combination skin due to the mattifying texture. The best part? Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!

  • Mineral Fusion Facial Moisturizer SPF 40

    Despite the term “acid”, hyaluronic acid is suitable for sensitive skin and even has calming properties sometimes used for healing. It greatly increases hydration and retention by preventing moisture evaporation, and helps plump skin (ideal for fine lines and wrinkles). Mineral Fusion comes in a convenient squeeze tube for easy travel, and a moderate price point for a cruelty-free product containing high-end ingredients. Although lightweight in texture, this formula is ideal for normal to dry skin.

  • Coola Mineral Face Matte Moisturizer SPF 30

    Oily or combination? This is a life-changing product from Coola; the “farm to face” ingredients at an affordable price point will leave your face feeling flawless and velvety. However, the blurring effect is partially from a tint that might leave a cast for deeper skin tones. The final result is soothed and mattified skin… yes, truly matte! The 1.7 oz tube makes this the perfect bring-along moisturizer for travel and no-makeup days at the beach. The ultra-sleek base it provides even works well with powder foundations for extra mattifying power throughout the day.

  • Honorable mention: Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15

    Mineral sun blocks are preferred over chemical SPFs for irritable skin, but Cetaphil makes some of the most recommended (and most affordable) products in sensitive skincare. There is a lighter SPF 15 lotion and heavier SPF 50 moisturizer depending on your skin needs, but both contain chemical based sun protection. Cetaphil is frequently recommended by dermatologists for patients with extreme budget parameters, and equally extreme sensitivities.

A Note About SPF Moisturizer Ingredients

Sun protection can come from naturally derived sources (referred to as a physical sunscreen) such as titanium oxide or zinc, while chemical sun protection ingredients often lead to irritation. The most common and controversial SPF ingredients include octinoxate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone. Although FDA legal, oxybenzone and other reef-damaging chemical sales will be banned in the state of Hawaii without prescription. These chemicals can be absorbed through the skin membrane, creating more potential for increased irritation. When using naturally derived mineral sunscreens, they may leave a “white cast” on the face, which typically fades upon full absorption.

Final Thoughts

Having sensitive skin can sometimes make shopping for skincare a nightmare. Many conditions can lead to sensitivity, making product testing a dangerous endeavor when your skin may itch, burn, flake, or even develop a rash. And unfortunately, it’s not always clear what ingredients or environmental factors can result in a flare-up. The most common triggers found in facial care items include synthetic fragrance, mineral oil, sulfates, dye, and certain chemicals. But as the beauty industry continues to grow, more companies are launching products that are gentle and have soothing properties for irritable skin types.

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