Best Sunscreen for Any Skin Type (According to Fitzpatrick Scale)

Read this and you'll be your skin's best superhero.
BY Sarah Lim
| May, 2021
sunscreen for skin type

Choosing the best sunscreen for skin types can be frustrating. Even if you know your regular skin type and your Fitzpatrick skin type, how can you make the best choice for sun protection?

We’ve all been there—standing at the store in front of a massive wall of sunscreens, wondering which one will fit all your criteria. It’s gotta smell good, feel good, work well under makeup, not leave that chalky, greyish-white cast and be effective.  

If you’re a person like the rest of us, you’ve spent way too much time searching for sunscreen. Obviously, thanks to a billion-dollar industry that doesn’t always have your skin type in mind. Then, YOU go with the most expensive option because you think it has to be the best! 

Here, we detail some of the best chemical and mineral sunscreens based on both your Fitzpatrick skin type and your regular skin type. Eventually, those will help you to keep your skin protected against sun damage (you’re welcome!).

Which Is The Best Sunscreen For Skin Type Based On Your Fitzpatrick Scale?

Which Is The Best Sunscreen For Skin Type Based On Your Fitzpatrick Scale

Choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen is your best bet for all skin types. Because it protects your skin against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. While UVB rays are most responsible for burning the skin, UVA is more accountable for premature aging

Sport sunscreens—generally water-resistant ones—are better if you’re planning on going swimming or exercising in warmer weather.

All skin types should ideally avoid sunburn and tanning beds, both of which have been linked to a higher risk of skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen every day is essential for all Fitzpatrick skin types to prevent sun damage!

So what’s your best sunscreen for skin type based on the Fitzpatrick scale?

Type 1

Type 1 Fitzpatrick Skin

Type 1s have very pale skin, lighter hair & eyes, and are the most likely to burn when getting sun exposure. Look for SPF 30 or higher, and if YOU choose mineral sunscreen, make sure to apply liberally and cover all exposed areas. If this isn’t feasible, consider keeping your skin covered or using sun-protective clothing.

Consider: EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47

This sunscreen from EltaMD doesn’t just use a mineral formula to prevent sun damage but also contains vitamin C to help protect against skin aging. Be sure to apply for 15 minutes before going outside. And, apply after every 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, or every two hours.

Type 2

Type 2 Fitzpatrick Skin

With fair and pale skin, Type 2s need almost as much protection from the sun as Type 1s. Type 2s are also at an increased risk for sun damage, including skin aging, skin cancer, and sunburn. Using sunblock that contains a minimum SPF of 30 daily and reapplying diligently when out in the sun for longer than two hours can help protect your skin if YOU’RE a Type 2!

Consider: Colorescience Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Sport Stick

Zinc oxide makes this mineral sunscreen ideal for more sensitive skin types. And. with an SPF of 50 and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, you can enjoy the sun knowing you’re covered. This sunscreen comes in a convenient stick that’s easy to use when you’re in a hurry or when you need to take sunscreen with you on the go!

Type 3

Type 3 Fitzpatrick Skin

Type 3s also need a minimum SPF of 30 and have a higher risk of sun damage. Although their skin isn’t quite as pale or fair as the previous two types. This type may have more beige or golden skin that tans better than Types 1 and 2 but still needs protection from the sun.

Consider: Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 30

This natural mineral sunscreen is non-whitening and unscented to accommodate sensitive skin types. Designed for both face and body, the formula is lightweight and moisturizing, and water-resistant for up to 40 minutes.

Type 4

Type 4 Fitzpatrick Skin

If you’re a Type 4 on the Fitzpatrick scale—meaning you have skin that tends to tan often—don’t take this as a pass to avoid face sunscreen. YOU should still wear a daily sunscreen with SPF 15. And, if you have more of a brown or olive skin tone, you’ll likely want a sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white residue.

Consider: Drunk Elephant UmbraSheer™ Physical Daily Defense

With an SPF of 30 and only using zinc oxide to protect your skin, Drunk Elephant’s sunscreen comes in both a traditional and tinted version for extra glow. Non-greasy, fragrance-free and oil-free, this sunscreen can work well for oily skin types as well as sensitive skin types.

Type 5

Type 5 Fitzpatrick Skin

Type 5s on the Fitzpatrick scale have darker brown skin and skin tans typically rather than burns. However, they still need a minimum SPF of 15 for sun protection. Remember, even if you don’t burn, you still need sunscreen to protect your skin against photoaging.

Consider: Farmacy Green Defense Broad-Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen

This sunscreen is non-greasy, invisible, and contains antioxidants to help protect against sun damage. No white cast! You can apply this sunscreen over a moisturizer and underneath your makeup. Apply at least 15 minutes before you go to sun exposure and reapply every two hours for best results.

Type 6

Type 6 Fitzpatrick Skin

With darker skin, Type 6s aren’t at high risk for skin cancer or sun damage. But they still need sun protection. People with darker skin ideally want a sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white cast, making chemical sunscreen options a better choice or clear mineral options a consideration. Type 6s still need an SPF of at least 15!

Consider Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Invisible, lightweight, and unscented, this sunscreen is oil-free, making it ideal for combination, oily, and even sensitive skin types. Apply on its own or use under makeup to ensure you’ll be protected as you go about your day!

What Sunscreen Is Best For Your Regular Skin Type?

Since the Fitzpatrick scale has its limitations, it’s essential to take your normal skin type into account still when choosing the best sunscreen!

Normal Skin

Sunscreen for Normal Skin

People who have normal skin—not too dry or oily and not reactive or sensitive—can use almost any sunscreen. It depends on what’s YOUR personal preference and what works best for you, whether you want a tinted sunscreen, a clear chemical sunscreen, or a waterproof mineral sunscreen. Based on your Fitzpatrick skin type, choose a minimum SPF of 15 or 30 when shopping for sun protection skincare.

Consider: Juice Beauty SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Moisturizer

This organic mineral sunscreen from Juice Beauty has an SPF of 30. And it comes in six different shades, acting as a BB cream with zinc, antioxidants, and aloe that helps prevent signs of aging from sun exposure. It also acts as a moisturizer to hydrate skin with hyaluronic acid to give you a fresh glow!

Oily Skin

Sunscreen for Oily Skin

If YOUR skin is of oily type, you know what a challenge it is to keep your skin as dry and smooth as possible throughout the day. Choosing an oil-free or non-comedogenic—meaning it won’t clog pores—sunscreen is essential to supporting your skin while still protecting it from sun damage. Only because you have oily skin doesn’t mean you should skip sunscreen!

Consider: COOLA Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion

With an SPF of 30, no white cast, and formulated with antioxidants, this chemical sunscreen is lightweight, non-comedogenic, vegan, and water-resistant for up to 40 minutes. Apply 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply every two hours for full protection.

Dry Skin

Sunscreen for Dry Skin

People with dry skin need a more moisturizing sunscreen but may want to steer clear of chemical sunscreens, as they can be harsh on dry skin. Looking for a sunscreen with hyaluronic acid can help nourish dry skin and support a more youthful appearance.

Consider: Suntegrity Impeccable Skin 

Broad-spectrum with an SPF of 30, Suntegrity’s Impeccable Skin is a moisturizing lotion with mineral matte tinted coverage. This sunscreen is made with hyaluronic acid and aloe to soothe and nourish dry skin. It’s vegan, oil-free, fragrance-free, and contains antioxidants and peptides to fight aging.

Combination Skin

Sunscreen for Combination Skin

Combination skin types need a sunscreen that won’t be too drying but are not overly moisturizing either. For combination skin types that tend to have more oily skin in the summer, choosing an oil-free sunscreen can be helpful. Don’t skip sunscreen even if you’re worried about your skin looking greasy!

Consider: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

This sunscreen from Lar Roche-Posay is SPF 50 and is designed to dry matte and is lightweight, and absorbs quickly. It’s oil-free, non-greasy, and non-comedogenic with no white cast. This sunscreen uses mineral formulas to protect your skin rather than chemicals, keeping you protected against both UVA and UVB rays for complete protection.

Sensitive Skin

Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

People with sensitive skin should ideally stick with mineral sunscreen, as their skin can react to the chemicals used in a chemical sunscreen. Look for fragrance-free products, and if you have sensitive skin and are prone to breakouts, you can choose an oil-free product to help prevent your skin from accumulating too much oil!

Consider: Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen

No sunscreen chemicals here! Having a broad-spectrum SPF of around 30, this sunscreen is fragrance-free and made with soothing aloe, calendula, and chamomile to soothe sensitive skin. This sunscreen also acts as a moisturizer and is lightweight to support a healthy-looking, glowing complexion throughout the day.

Don’t Know Your Skin Type Yet? Find Right Away With This Quick and Easy Quiz!

So what’s YOUR best sunscreen for skin type? The factor is based on your regular skin type and your Fitzpatrick skin type to make the best choice. Don’t know what’s your skin type yet? Find out with this quick and easy quiz!

Whatever sunscreen you use, just be sure you use it daily to protect your skin against burns and aging. And remember to wear sunscreen year-round, not just when it’s time to hit the beach!

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