Best Sunscreens for Rosacea

(Last Updated On: November 6, 2019)

Vanicream Sunscreen Sport

Your skin does an amazing job. It forms a protective barrier between you and the outside world, and it continually renews itself throughout your life. However, occasionally, things go wrong. Here are some of the most common skin problems that can affect you at any time in your life:


Eczema is a form of dermatitis, that can leave your skin dry, cracked, itchy, and red. It tends to start in childhood, then improves with age. It can affect any part of the body, but it most commonly affects the backs of the knees, inside of the elbows, and the hands, cheeks, or scalp. Treatments include emollients and topical steroids, and they are aimed at relieving the symptoms.

Cold sores

Cold sores are blisters that appear on the lips or around the mouth, and they are caused by the herpes simplex virus. The sore often starts with a tingling or itching sensation around your mouth, then the sores appear. They usually clear up on their own within 7-10 days, but over the counter, topical treatments are available to treat the symptoms and speed up healing.

Hives (urticaria)

Urticaria is a raised and itchy rash. It can appear on one part of the body, or it can cover large areas. The rash might get better on its own, or if not, you can use antihistamines to reduce itching and relieve other symptoms.  


Psoriasis causes patches of the skin to become flaky. The condition usually affects the skin on the elbows, knees, and lower back. The condition can be mild, or it can have a significant impact on daily life if it is severe. There is no cure for the condition, but treatments such as creams, light therapy, and medication can relieve the symptoms.


This is a contagious fungal infection that can appear anywhere on the body, though it is most prevalent on the arms and legs. It causes a red or silvery rash which is shaped in the form of a ring. The condition is more common in children, but anyone can get it. It can be treated with antifungal creams or tablets which are available in pharmacies.



This is a common condition that mostly affects the face. The disease usually begins as facial flushing, which then leads to permanent redness and a feeling that the skin is burning or tingling. The condition affects 1 in 10 people.

What Causes Rosacea?

The cause is not known, though experts have some theories. Some researchers think that it is a disorder of the blood vessels, some say that it’s a psychological condition or a problem with the skin’s connective tissues.

Who Is More Likely to Get Rosacea?

People who have fair skin are more at risk of getting the condition, and women who are going through the menopause can suffer from it too.

Is There a Cure?

The condition can’t be cured; however, medication and other treatments are available to control the symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Rosacea?

There are some common symptoms of the condition, but every sufferer does not get them all.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Flushing
  • Many people who have the condition experience frequent facial flushing and this is the most common symptom.
  • Facial redness
  • Redness that resembles blushing or sunburn develops and then persists.
  • Bumps and pimples
  • Bumps or pimples filled with pus can develop, which resemble acne. They can be quite painful.
  • Visible blood vessels
  • Small blood vessels near the surface of the skin become apparent in many people who have rosacea.
  • Burning or stinging sensations, or a feeling of skin tightness on the face can develop
  • The facial skin can appear rough and dry
  • The skin can thicken, which occurs on the nose, making it look slightly bulbous
  • Facial swelling can occur

Diagnosing Rosacea


Your doctor will examine you and ask questions about your medical history. Tell your doctor specifically about any redness, bumps, pimples, itching, or burning you have experienced, as this is likely to make it easier for them to diagnose rosacea.

Treatment for Rosacea

The treatment that your doctor recommends will depend on the symptoms you have, and how severe the condition is.

Topical and oral medication can be prescribed to treat redness and pimples. It can control the condition and make the symptoms disappear, to an extent.

Surgical procedures on the facial blood vessels can be carried out to reduce redness of the facial skin, which can be very distressing for sufferers.

Preventing Flare-Ups

Sufferers can control the condition to an extent by identifying and avoiding triggers. Known triggers include:

  • Sun exposure, and exposure to the wind
  • Being under stress
  • Extremes of hot or cold weather
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Taking hot baths
  • Drinking hot drinks

The Importance of Sunscreen

We all know the importance of protecting our skin against the sun in the summer, and we slather on sunscreen religiously; but did you know that the sun’s UV rays can be just as intense at other times in the year, and even when it’s cloudy?

Sunscreen can protect your skin from aging, and it reduces your risk of skin cancer. Even if you are indoors for much of the day, you should apply sunscreen in the morning, as UV rays can penetrate windows, and if you are outdoors for much of the day, apply sunscreen every 2 hours.

As the ozone layer thins, UV rays can penetrate the atmosphere more efficiently and can become even more harmful. We do need a limited amount of sun exposure each day so our bodies can produce the amount of vitamin D we need, but it needs to be kept in moderation, as every episode of sunburn we experience increases the risk of skin cancer.

The Risks of Sun Exposure

The Risks of Sun Exposure

Many studies have shown that prolonged sun exposure can lead to premature aging of the skin. If you want to prevent early aging of your skin, you should include sunscreen as part of your skincare routine.

The sun is also one of the leading causes of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer. This type of cancer is seen most frequently in younger people, who tend to expose themselves to the sun more.

What Should You Look for in a Sunscreen?

A good sunscreen should be moisturizing, and it should have a broad-spectrum protection of at least SPF 15. Broad spectrum means that it protects against UVA and UVB rays. You should also try to choose a sunscreen that is appropriate for your skin type, so if you have dry skin, opt for a moisturizing formula, and if you have oily skin, opt for an oil-free sunscreen that won’t clog your pores.

Sunscreen and Rosacea

Sunscreen and Rosacea

The sun’s rays can be damaging for any skin type, but they can be especially bad for those with conditions like rosacea. Exposure to UV light causes skin inflammation, which makes you more susceptible to flushing.

The sunscreens that are usually recommended for people with the condition are effective yet soothing remedies which nourish and cool the skin.

Tips for Choosing Sunscreens If You Have Rosacea

  • Choose a mineral formula
  • If you have rosacea, rather than choosing a chemical sunscreen, opt for sunblock in a mineral formula. The particles in a mineral sunscreen are larger, and they lie on top of the skin, rather than absorbing and causing inflammation. Choose a formula with ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and an SPF factor of 30 to 50. Reapply it every hour to ensure your skin is protected.
  • Look for natural ingredients
  • Avoid any formula with salicylic acid which can irritate rosacea. Look for botanical extracts that can help to minimize redness and calm the skin, such as chamomile, aloe, and cucumber.
  • Avoid sport sunscreen sprays
  • Many contain alcohol, which can aggravate the skin. A better option is a waxy sports stick, applied on the cheek area which won’t cause stinging, but will stay on when you sweat.
  • Keep cool
  • To minimize redness and flushing, stay in the shade when you can, and suck on ice cubes to cool you down and reduce inflammation in the body. Store your sunscreen in the fridge for an extra cooling touch when you apply it.
  • Try a healing face mask
  • After a day in the sun, skin needs to be nourished and calmed, so use a refreshing mask to soothe inflamed skin. Choose one with antioxidants and natural skin soothers like aloe vera.
  • In severe cases, a light treatment can help

If you have severe rosacea, try a Broadband Light treatment a few weeks before sun exposure or a holiday. The treatment is similar to pulsed light, and it helps to reduce the size of blood vessels and the flushing associated with rosacea. Just one session targeted at the cheeks or the nose can make a difference.

The Best Sunscreens For Rosacea

Soothe Sunburned Skin

Vanicream Sunscreen Sport

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This sunscreen is excellent for people who suffer from rosacea because it is very gentle and does not contain any skin irritants. It does not contain dyes, fragrances, parabens, or chemicals that could cause irritation or a skin flare up.

It has an SPF of 35, and it protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays, which is so essential for anyone who has rosacea. This sunscreen is particularly useful for sporty people who have rosacea because it is not greasy, feels very light on the skin, and won’t trap sweat in the pores. It is also water resistant for up to 80 minutes, so it stays in place nicely throughout the day.

The product has a thick consistency, but it absorbs well into the skin because it is not greasy or oily. It feels soft on the skin, so it’s great even for delicate skin.

It does not have any smell at all. Just like any sunscreen, you do need to reapply it regularly to make sure you are adequately protected, and because of the thicker texture, you may run out of this sunscreen quite quickly if you are using it regularly.

You may notice that the product makes the skin appear white when you first apply it because it’s a sunblock, but this fades after a little while.


  • Feels gentle and soft on the skin
  • Does not run, stays in place when you sweat or when you are in the water
  • Provides effective protection for long periods of time
  • No unpleasant smell or irritating ingredients


  • Needs to be used in large quantities
  • Takes time to dry on the skin due to the thicker texture

Blue Lizard Sensitive Sunscreen

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This sunscreen is designed primarily for sensitive skin, so it’s also perfect for people with rosacea. It has an SPF of 30 and protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

It contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are both very effective chemical sunscreens. It does not contain chemicals, parabens, or fragrances that are irritating to sensitive skins.

The coolest thing about this sunscreen is that if there are UVA rays in the environment, the bottle turns blue. It is a great feature and a smart way of reminding you to apply the product. The sunscreen stays on well, as it is waterproof, so you can rely on it, even when you are sweating or swimming. If you have rosacea, you should still always apply sunscreen every few hours, just to be sure that your skin is protected. Sunblock can sometimes feel drying on the skin, but this product is very moisturizing.

It is easy to apply and absorbs well into the skin. Because it is very hydrating, it can feel a little greasy if you apply too much. The same goes for getting it in your hair. It is excellent for sensitive skin because it does not clog pores.


  • Very effective, does not need to be applied too often
  • Turns blue in the presence of damaging rays to remind you to put on sunscreen
  • Feels very moisturizing, spreads very quickly on the skin and absorbs well
  • Highly waterproof, so withstands swimming and sweating


  • Can feel greasy if too much product is applied
  • May leave a white tinge on the skin

Cotz Sensitive

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This sunscreen provides excellent protection for those with sensitive skin that is prone to sunburn. It has a broad-spectrum SPF of 40, and it does not contain fragrances, chemicals, or preservatives that can be very irritating to people with rosacea or otherwise sensitive skin.

It feels smooth and soft on the skin, but the consistency isn’t runny or greasy. It is water resistant for up to 40 minutes, and it does give the skin a white tinge when you first apply it, but this disappears soon after you rub it in.

Many people like using it on their face because it works well under makeup.

Some people find this sunscreen tricky to apply because it has a very thick consistency. It may take some time to absorb into the skin thoroughly, so it’s not one to use if you just want to get dressed and go.

It makes the skin look a little shiny, and its concentrated formula lasts for a long time, so it’s good value for money.


  • High SPF that doesn’t slide off the skin
  • Works well under makeup
  • Has a nice consistency that feels soft on the skin
  • Lasts for a long time
  • Not irritating to the skin for people with rosacea


  • Very difficult to rub in
  • Takes a while to absorb
  • Makes the skin appear slightly shiny

EltaMD Broad Spectrum

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This sunscreen is designed specifically for people with sensitive skin.

It comes with a convenient pump spray that makes it very easy to apply. It has a high SPF of 46 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

The formula contains hyaluronic acid, which is a favorite skincare ingredient that helps to improve skin tone and texture.

This product does not contain any oil, so it does not feel greasy when you apply it. It feels light on the skin and can be worn under makeup without fear of it clogging pores or sliding off.

It is available in tinted and non-tinted formulas for daily wear. Both products do leave a slight white tinge on the skin, but this will disappear as you rub the product in. Rosacea sufferers find that this product is beneficial for clearing up redness and acne.


  • High SPF
  • Contains ingredients that keep the skin feeling and looking healthy
  • Comes in both tinted and non-tinted formulas


  • Leaves a white tinge on the face
  • Not ideal for use on the body

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Final thoughts

Rosacea can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing condition, so the last thing you need is products that irritate the skin. Sunscreen is an essential part of any skincare routine, but it’s especially crucial for rosacea. Follow our guide to the best sunscreens for rosacea to keep your skin feeling calm and protected.


Updated: September 05, 2018 by Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D. All medical facts and points stated on this page are correct as of this date. Please be aware that new content and additional references were added in this last update. All the content and media has been uploaded by Lily Greene our webmaster, who is also in charge of page design. 

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.