For years it’s been a choice between makeup and sunscreen. Here’s my top 5 sunscreens that play well with makeup and oily skin.
Disclaimer: It seems all the sunscreens I like are available on Amazon. However, there are no affiliate links in this post. The links are only there for your convenience.
You know you should be wearing sunscreen daily, right?
If you don’t, you should read my post about all the reasons why you should. Seriously, if you want to prevent visible signs of aging, sunscreen should be a daily part of your skincare arsenal.
But sunscreens feel heavy and greasy on my skin and make my makeup look gross.
I understand. I’ve always had that issue, especially with my oily skin. It’s always been a choice between protecting my skin from UV damage, or relying on the sunscreen in my makeup to protect my fair skin. (Pro tip: NEVER rely only on the SPF in your makeup.)
I live in America, and, in my experience, the U.S. is way behind on the curve for sunscreen technology. Many American facial sunscreens do tend to feel heavy and greasy and gross, especially if you have oily skin.
In my years-long search for a sunscreen that plays well with oily skin and makeup, I found K- and J-beauty products on Amazon. Japan and South Korea make awesome high SPF sunscreens that feel like nothing at all on the skin. Best of all, I have found that the ones I mention in this post don’t make my skin any oilier than it normally gets. Huzzah!
If you are unfamiliar with sunscreen ratings, SPF 50+ is the highest rating a sunscreen can get in the U.S. In Asia, PA++++ is the best rating a sunscreen can get. Anything over SPF 50 doesn’t really give you any more protection. Dermatologists recommend a daily SPF of no less than 30.
My 5 Favorite Sunscreens
Before I found this, I thought Biore pretty much only made nose strips that pulled all the gunk out of your pores. I had never found a facial sunscreen I liked until I tried this one. In doing my dive into Asian skincare, I knew I needed a sunscreen. This Biore sunscreen had the highest number of stars with the most rating at the time. Many of the reviewers said it worked well with oily skin and makeup. They did not lie.
This sunscreen really is a lightweight watery gel. It has a pale golden color. It doesn’t smell like anything. Eight drops of this spread between my palms covers my face and neck. I pat it on my skin and it absorbs quickly, leaving no greasy feel. My face feels like I just put on a super light moisturizer after I apply this. I love that I can pat this very close to my eyes and not worry about this sunscreen working its way into my eyes and stinging them. I have bought this for at least 3 or 4 years now.
The only bad thing is that this sunscreen comes direct from Japan. If I notice my bottle is getting low, I know I need to order more because it will take about 3 weeks for the new bottle to arrive.
This is another watery gel type sunscreen. While it is SPF 50+, it is not rated quite as highly as the Biore sunscreen on the Asian rating scale. I tend to use this on my neck, shoulders, arms, and hands because it comes in a bigger bottle than the Biore gel.
This also feels super light, watery, and moisturizing without feeling heavy. This sunscreen has no scent, and can also be used on the face without worry of it stinging your eyes.
I bought this because I was looking for a daily sunscreen for my hands, arms, and neck that was light and didn’t have that sunscreen smell. I need to wear sunscreen most days. I’d prefer not to smell like I’m going to the beach when I’m at the office.
I love my multi-step skincare routine, but I am often running behind in the morning. If I can find one product that covers my essence, ampuole, serum, lotion, moisturizer, and sunscreen all in one, I’m trying it.
The Hada Labo UV White Gel is supposed to be just that, an all-in-one gel that cuts down on the number of skincare steps you have to do to get out the door.
This gel is not quite as light as the watery gels I’ve mentioned, but it still plays well with oily skin. It is also supposed to function as a primer for makeup. I still use a mattifying primer on top of this because of how oily I get down the center of my face.
With this gel, I do my morning cleanse, use a hydrating toner, then apply a large pea-sized amount of this. It is a product you have to rub into your skin instead of patting in. This is another sunscreen that doesn’t really smell like anything, feels pretty light, and doesn’t get into your eyes.
I tried this one because I was curious about it. Sun milk? What the heck is that?
This sunscreen definitely has that light, watery gel texture that the Biore and Nivea gels have. This one is pale milky pink. I spread about 8 drops of this between my palms and pat it on my face. It absorbs quickly and leaves a slightly powdery finish behind. Because of this, I’m not sure if it would leave a white cast on deeper skin tones or not. I’m pretty damn pale, so if it does, I just don’t notice.
The powdery finish is nice for oily skin. It’s a little extra oil absorption on your face, plus a decent SPF. The downside is that this sunscreen has a slight powdery scent. If you are sensitive to fragrances in your skincare products, this one might not be for you.
I bought this one because I needed more facial sunscreen and it was going to be two more weeks before my Biore sunscreen arrived. Shishedo is a well known Japanese skincare and makeup brand, so I figured I would try it. (At the time I bought this, it was fulfilled by Amazon on Prime.)
This sunscreen is more of a lotion than a watery gel. I have to rub this one in, not pat it in. That being said, this sunscreen still feels light on the skin, doesn’t add any shine or oil, doesn’t get into your eyes, and plays well with makeup.
It has a very slight, almost floral scent to it that fades quickly after application. Again, if you are very sensitive to fragrance in your skincare, you may want to skip this.
These all sound great! What’s the downside?
There are a few downsides to these sunscreens. The first is that not all of these are fulfilled by Amazon, so you may have to pay shipping and wait for two weeks to a month and a half for your sunscreen to arrive.
The second downside is that they only come in small sized bottles. The Shishedo is only 2.4 oz. The Biore is 3.7 oz. The Hada Labo has 5.4 oz. of product. The Nivea has the most product with 6.4 oz. (That’s the big reason I use the Nivea sunscreen on my extremities to protect from daily UV exposure.)
The third downside is the price. Some of these sunscreens are a bit pricey. They still qualify under my $20 rule, but they are a bit more expensive than most American sunscreens. However, if, like me, you’ve been trying to find a sunscreen that works with oily skin AND makeup for years, the higher price can be worth it.
The good thing about the small product sizes is that you are likely to use an entire bottle or jar over the course of the summer before the sunscreen expires. The bad thing is that if you use sunscreen daily (like I do), you will need to make sure you order more before you are completely out.
I hope you found this list of my favorite sunscreens for oily skin helpful. Remember to do your research to find the best sunscreen that will work for you.