5 Best UK Sunscreens For Sensitive Faces And Eyes


Applying sunscreen is such an important step to protect your skin from dangerous UV exposure that can lead to skin cancer and premature ageing.

I’m both a redhead AND I have sensitive skin, so I choose my sun protection carefully.

Having sensitive skin is frustrating and more so when the very product that’s supposed to protect and improve your skin is actually making it irritating, and giving you sore eyes.

Thankfully there are plenty of sunscreens on the market that have been formulated with sensitive faces in mind.

In this article, I’ve suggested the best options for your skin type and answered some important questions about the best sunscreens for the UK – yes, despite our weather, you DO need it, even if you’re not jetting off to sunnier places!

Best Sunscreens For Sensitive Eyes in the UK

La Roche-Posay SPF 50+
(Check Amazon’s Price)

This sunscreen by La Roche-Posay is a rare find as it’s specially formulated for those with dry, sensitive skin and eyes.

I use it because I was sick of my eyes stinging in hot weather when the sunscreen ran into my eyes with sweat (lovely, I know).

Fragrances are one of the most irritating ingredients for sensitive skin, but this sunscreen has no perfumes or fragrances.

It has a very high, broad spectrum of UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of 50+ and also protects against certain infrared rays and atmospheric pollutants. You may not need an SPF this high, but I’d still recommend it.

The cream itself is waterproof which means that you can be out in the sun, sweating and it won’t transfer into your eyes and cause irritation.

It also acts as a moisturiser for very dry skin too, so you don’t have to double up on products and risk breaking out, it also doesn’t leave a white sheen like a lot of high protection sunscreens so you can wear it underneath makeup too!

Pros:

  • Formulated for both sensitive skin and eyes
  • SPF 50+
  • Protection against UVA and UVB rays, as well as some infrared and atmospheric pollutants
  • Waterproof
  • Doubles up as a moisturiser
  • No white cast left over face
  • Non-comedogenic

Cons:

  • Pump can be stiff
  • Only 50ml, although some reviewers have said that this has lasted them a year!

The Best UK Sunscreen that Doesn’t Sting Eyes

Toddle Sun And Wind Balm
(Check Amazon’s Price)

If you have kids and want a non-stinging sunscreen for both your eyes AND one that’s good enough to use on children, then this Sun and Wind Balm by Toddle is a good family choice.

It has an SPF of 50+ and offers protection from UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the ones responsible for sunburn, whilst UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause damage that way, so it’s important to be protected from both.

There’s no artificial perfumes or fragrances, instead, there is added lemon and geranium oil that provides a pleasant scent but won’t irritate the skin with chemical fragrances.

It’s water-resistant too so it’s perfect for kids who love to run in and out of the water and splash around as you don’t have to chase them around for a top-up – this will stay put.

It also means that there’s no risk of eye irritation if they rub their eyes with wet hands!

One of my favourite things about this sunscreen is it’s packed full of natural ingredients, such as Vitamin E which works well as a moisturiser for any skin type – so it won’t dry out even the most sensitive of skin and cause irritation.

If you have sensitive skin, you should avoid chemical sunscreens and opt for more natural protection like this sunscreen.

The Ingredients found in chemical sunscreens are known to cause reactions and worsen already painful skin problems and this is one of the products that avoids this issue.

This is also vegan and comes in biodegradable packaging too so it’s good for the environment too.

I ought to reiterate, it’s not just for kids, adults with sensitive eyes and skin have tried this sunscreen and loved it too, judging by the reviews.

One reviewer who has albinism said that despite them having extremely sensitive skin and burning practically all year round, this product stopped them burning and didn’t irritate their skin either!

Pros:

  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Biodegradable packaging
  • All natural ingredients
  • SPF 50+ as well as UVA and UVB protection
  • No artificial scents
  • Great for children (or adults) with eczema
  • Can use all over the body

Cons:

  • Can leave a white residue on the skin
  • Some people can find the lemon scent overpowering, but most have said that they get used to it

The Best Sunscreen For Sensitive Faces in the UK

Neutrogena Face Sunscreen
(Check Amazon’s Price)

If you want more of an all-round sunscreen for your face, rather than just your eyes, then I’d consider this sunscreen. Neutrogena are well known for their skincare products and this sunscreen for the face is dermatologically recommended.

It is zinc oxide based, which is great as zinc oxide is known for its antibacterial properties that will help heal burns and acne, and its ability to keep moisture locked in the skin, so there’s a lower risk of your skin becoming dried out and irritated.

It has SPF 50+ and broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB and has a formula that is specially made for sensitive skin.

It’s hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, PABA free, free from irritating ingredients, and also oil-free, so it could work well for oily skin – although if you’re looking for a specific product for oily skin then I recommend one of those later in this article.

It absorbs well into the skin, instead of sitting on top and feeling like you’re wearing a mask!

This sunscreen for the face is also waterproof for up to 80 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about it rubbing off and irritating your skin if there’s a sudden burst of rain or anything like that!

One woman who suffers from rosacea said in the reviews that this is the only sunscreen that doesn’t further irritate her skin and cause a flare-up, so it’s suitable for those with skin conditions too.

Pros:

  • Dermatologically recommended
  • 100% naturally sourced ingredients
  • Contains Zinc Oxide
  • Broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays
  • Hypoallergenic and fragrance, oil and PABA free
  • Can be worn alone or under makeup
  • Suitable for those with skin conditions, although always consult a GP or dermatologist first!

Cons:

  • Small bottle – only 40ml
  • Can leave a white residue, possibly not suitable for those with darker skin under makeup!

The Best Mineral-Based Sunscreen for the Face in the UK

Heliocare Mineral Tolerance Fluid Sunscreen
(Check Amazon’s Price)

This mineral sunscreen by Heliocare has an SPF of 50+ and PA++++ so you know you’re protected against all kinds of sun rays.

It also offers protection from visible light and infrared-A rays, as well as free radicals and DNA damage.

Heliocare has a unique ingredient of antioxidant Fernblock FC to protect your skin from within by repairing enzymes to protect your skin cell DNA.

One of my favourite things about this sunscreen is, unlike other high protection sunscreens – this one doesn’t leave a white film on your face.

It absorbs into your skin quickly and dries clear, so it’s great if you have a darker skin tone as it can be worn alone or under makeup without altering the appearance of your skin colour.

This sunscreen also has a matte finish, rather than leaving a sheen so it’s great for men with sensitive skin who don’t want to look too ‘glowy’!

Finally, this Heliocare sunscreen is dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, water-resistant, and alcohol and oil-free so it won’t irritate sensitive skin, with one sensitive skinned reviewer saying that she wouldn’t be without this product!

Pros:

  • Lightweight and absorbs quickly
  • Doesn’t leave a white residue
  • Protects the skin’s surface and protects from within due to the Fernblock FC
  • SPF 50+ and PA++++ rated
  • Dermatologically tested
  • Non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic
  • Water resistant
  • Alcohol and oil free

Cons:

  • Have to shake the product well before every use, otherwise it separates and is oily
  • Some people have said that this product has a strange smell

Best Face Sunscreen For Oily Skin in the UK

Heliocare Oil Free Gel Sunscreen
(Check Amazon’s Price)

Finding a sunscreen that suits oily skin is no easy task as slathering a thick layer of sunscreen that’s full of oil on to your face sounds like a nightmare when you already suffer from an overproduction of oil.

Luckily, there are sunscreens that have been formulated with oily skin in mind – such as this one, also by Heliocare.

It has all the same benefits as the one listed previously but is made specifically for oily skin rather than just sensitive skin.

Opting for a gel formula rather than a cream means that the product will absorb better into the skin and not leave a heavy film that feels like it’s suffocating your skin.

This is lightweight and oil-free sunscreen that dries matte and actually reduces the appearance of shine and leaves skin dry to the touch – you could even use it as a mattifying primer underneath makeup!

If you have combination skin that’s both dry and oily, then you may want to moisturise prior to using this sunscreen as it can leave skin feeling tight due to the mattifying effect.

Pros:

  • Perfect for oily/acne prone skin as it mattifies the skin as well as providing sun protection
  • Lightweight and absorbs quickly
  • Doesn’t leave a white residue
  • Protects the skin’s surface and protects from within due to the Fernblock FC
  • SPF 50+ and PA++++ rated
  • Dermatologically tested
  • Non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic
  • Water resistant
  • Alcohol and oil free

Cons:

  • Sticky when first applied
  • Only 50ml – although this means it can be taken as hand luggage!

Should You Wear Sunscreen Every Day In The UK?

We all know that the UK’s climate isn’t exactly tropical, and it’s very rare that we have consistent sunny days throughout the summer, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t wear sunscreen if it’s not sunny outdoors.

Although we don’t have a high risk of burning from the sun all year round, the sun still emits UV rays that can be damaging to your skin and cause premature ageing and skin cancer later in life no matter the weather!

UV rays can penetrate through the clouds, so even if it’s cloudy outside you should be wearing sunscreen – especially if you’re pale like me and/or have a lot of moles or freckles.

If you use direct acids or retinoids in your skincare routine, you should be extra careful with your sun protection as these products can cause extra sensitivity to the sun and increase your risk of burning or damage to your skin.

Consider a higher rated SPF and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face completely in the Summer.

A lot of makeup products and moisturisers now have SPF built in, but incorporating an extra sunscreen into your daily routine is definitely a good idea, no matter the weather outside.

a little girl applying sunscreen to her mother's face on a beach

Is SPF 15 Strong Enough Sunscreen In The UK?

It can be difficult to know what factor of sunscreen to use here in the UK.

NICE (the National Institution For Health And Clinical Excellence) recommends that factor 15 is enough in the UK as long as you are applying it sufficiently.

Sunscreen should be applied thickly, and if you are worried that you aren’t applying it thickly enough then you should opt for a higher SPF rating.

If you’re at a higher risk of burning or are applying sunscreen to a child, then you should use an SPF of at least 30, but many doctors recommend 50+ just to be on the safe side.

One of my friends, who is black and of Caribbean descent, still uses 30+ SPF to protect her skin. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t burn, you can still do invisible damage.

Babies under the age of 6 months should not be using sunscreen and instead should be kept in the shade at all times and dressed in protective clothing.

Although factor 15 is sufficient, you should always bear in mind personal circumstances and consider your outdoor activities before choosing an SPF – there’s no harm in going a little higher to be on the safe side.

Remember, when it comes to sun protection it’s always better to be on the safe side and you should avoid direct, intense sun exposure wherever possible – especially when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, even in the UK!

Gina

I'm an ex-BBC food co-ord and committed cuisine nerd. My specialties are travel (I've been to over 50 countries), food, drink, the outdoors, and any geeky tech!

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