Say Hello To The 10 Safest Body Sunscreens For Sensitive Skin

By Georgia Gould & David A. Mays, PharmD, MBA
May 28, 2021

Does the skin on your body flare-up as soon as you so much as look at a bottle of sunscreen? Ours too. This is why we figured it was time to put around 1,400 sunscreens to the test, to find the very best – the BEST OF THE BEST – for those with sensitive skin. 

Nothing is as important for the health of your skin as protecting it from the sun. The sun is the number one cause of premature aging and responsible for around 80 percent of visible concerns like fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and poor texture. Not to mention the risks of sun-related skin cancers such as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma...

The problem, however, is that sunscreens can be a recipe for disaster for sensitive skin, which is a whole lot of wrong. Shouldn’t you all be able to protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation, without fear of irritation from unnecessary irritants and chemicals in sunscreen?

The SkinSAFE Shoppers’ Choice Awards takes the guesswork out of protecting sensitive skin year round. We guarantee every product awarded a Shoppers’ Choice seal of approval is 100 percent Top Allergen Free, has been evaluated against another 130+ common allergens and irritants (fragrance being the biggest offender, of course), and that these products are some of the most loved by our sensitive skin users.  Yes.  Those people who live with sensitive skin every day.

We realized there had to be a way to independently evaluate and showcase the safest products available to help you make smart, simple choices when shopping for sensitive suncare. So, we created the SkinSAFE Shoppers’ Choice Awards – the first-ever awards program specifically designed to help those of you with sensitive skin find products that are safe for them.

With May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it was an obvious decision to kick off our awards with the most important skincare product out there, sunscreen. So, for the past few months our experts have been up to their necks in SPF, evaluating around 1,400 product formulations for your face, body, and your kids. <include links to the other articles here> Just 2 percent of sunscreens reviewed were recognized as SkinSAFE Shoppers’ Choice leaders in the body category (worrying, right?), but we guarantee every one of the following ten hero products passed our rigorous allergy-testing standards with flying colors. They’ve also been highly consumer-rated and approved by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to meet the recommendations of SPF 30 or more.

So, without further hesitation and in no particular order, we bring you the ten absolute best body sunscreens for sensitive skin…

  • Type of sunscreen: Mineral
  • Also Teen and Baby SAFE, this sunscreen is formulated with 20 percent zinc oxide to physically block both UVA and UVB rays from the skin’s surface. It also contains various forms of glycerin, a highly effective humectant which pulls water into the skin’s surface to help trap moisture and counteract the drying effects of the sun. Ideal for dry or dehydrated skin types.
  • Type of sunscreen: Mineral
  • Great for extremely sun-sensitive areas like your décolletage, this zinc oxide stick is perfect for popping in your purse for on-the-go protection. It’s also sweat and water resistant making it an awesome choice for outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, paddleboard yoga, the works. Added oat kernel oil helps lock moisture into your skin to keep it soft and supple.
$14.99 from CVS Pharmacy
  • Type of sunscreen: Mineral
  • Don’t be put off by the inexpensive price of this lotion – it’s extremely effective and avoids many of the nasties we know you hate (yes, we’re talking to you fragrance, parabens and oxybenzone). Containing 25 percent fewer ingredients than regular Banana Boat formulations, it harnesses two physical UV barriers, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Proof that you don’t have to spend more to get awesome sun protection.
  • Type of sunscreen: Mineral
  • This sunscreen is so well-tolerated, it’s been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. Nice work. It’s oil-free and enhanced with skin-loving ceramides to help protect and strengthen your skin’s barrier function while simultaneously helping to reduce irritation. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide supplies the UV protection prowess, while glycerin provides your skin with that added boost of moisture.
  • Type of sunscreen: Mineral
  • Looking for a super lightweight formula that offers an awesome amount of sun protection despite its easily absorbed texture? Then this sunscreen is right up your alley. Like the majority of our hero body sunscreens (nine out of 10, in fact), it’s mineral-based and combines zinc oxide with titanium dioxide to deliver full UV protection while helping soothe irritation and inflammation at the same time. A matte finish makes it a great choice for oily skin.
  • Type of sunscreen: Mineral
  • This might work out to cost over $8 per application, but it’s a fan favorite and aced our strict testing processes, so we think it’s well worth the extra bucks. It’s easily applied and absorbs into your skin lightning-fast without leaving a white residue. This is all thanks to nano zinc oxide, a newer generation that’s made up of smaller particles than the regular stuff which makes it dry clearer. The perfect choice for darker skin tones.
  • Type of sunscreen: Mineral
  • When a sunscreen includes antioxidant properties yet is still tolerated by sensitive skin, it gets a big thumbs-up from us. And this EltaMD formula does just that. It contains pure mineral sunscreens (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, need you ask!) along with a vitamin C ester called ascorbyl palmitate. Gentler than pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid), research shows that ascorbyl palmitate helps protect your skin from sunburn and reduces the visible signs of photoaging.
  • Type of sunscreen: Mineral
  • Ideal for anyone who loves the convenience of a stick, this highly protective formulation gives you the worry-free guarantee of SPF 50… and then some. It boasts an impressive 20 percent zinc oxide which is blended with vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate), a powerful antioxidant for healing, protecting, soothing and moisturizing your skin. More good news: it’s also safe for babies and children.
  • Type of sunscreen: Combination
  • Solbar Zinc is the only one of our hero body sunscreens formulated with a combination of mineral and chemical sunscreens. It’s secret for our sensitive skin users and a hero for those looking to maintain a natural skin tone look? A careful blend of homosalate, octinoxate and micronized zinc oxide to protect your skin, along with moisturizing glycerin and skin conditioning butyl stearate to help reduce irritation and flare-ups. An awesome sunscreen that dries pretty clear and feels so light on your skin, you can use it all over.
  • Type of sunscreen: Mineral
  • Free of everything you’d expect from a SkinSAFE Shoppers’ Choice winner, this newly reformulated sunscreen relies solely on zinc oxide to keep your skin protected from the damaging rays from the sun. And rightly so. Zinc oxide has been proven to be one of the safest and most effective sunscreen ingredients out there and every single one of our hero products contains it. This formula is also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and totally non-greasy. You can’t argue with that.
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