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Eczema is common skin condition affecting more than 30 million Americans, according to the National Eczema Association. While doctors don’t know for sure what causes this itchy, annoying skin condition, most agree that it involves an inflammatory response from the body’s immune system caused by stress and other external triggers.
Because those living with eczema often deal with sensitive and sometimes sore skin, finding a sunscreen that is effective yet non-irritating can be a real challenge. And because protecting your skin from sun damage is super important, it’s worth taking the time to find a product that works for your skin.
What to Look for in a Sunscreen for Eczema
- Mineral-based UV filters When it comes to choosing a sunscreen for use with eczema, Adam Friedman, MD, dermatologist and Professor of Dermatology at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., says that those containing mineral-based UV filters such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the best choice, as they are non-irritating. “They are historically cosmetically unappealing given they are greasy and bright white, but newer formulations contain micronized (miniaturized) forms of these mineral filters that sit more evenly on the skin and do not scatter visible light as much, making them less noticeable,” says Dr. Friedman.
- Broad-spectrum protection Both UVA and UVB rays are damaging to the skin, so it’s important to look for a sunscreen that provides broad spectrum protection. And while some dermatologists suggest a small amount of sun exposure to help treat eczema symptoms, protection is still important.
- SPF level Most health care professionals advise using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. SPF is a measure of how well a sunscreen protects skin against UVB rays, which cause sunburn, damage skin, and can contribute to skin cancer.
- Alcohol-free Alcohol has a drying effect on skin, and can be particularly irritating for those with sensitive skin issues, including eczema. Steer clear of sunscreens that contain alcohol for the least-irritating experience.
- Find NEA’s Seal of Acceptance™ The National Eczema Association has a Seal of Acceptance™ program evaluates product ingredients and testing data to determine if a product is suitable for use by those living with eczema. This helps ensure products are less likely to cause a reaction in those with eczema or other sensitive skin conditions.
Here are some products to try:
Best Overall Face Lotion
CeraVe SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Lotion
Specially formulated to provide effective UV protection on sensitive facial skin, CeraVe sunscreen features a lightweight and oil-free formula that is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes. It contains three essential ceramides that help restore and maintain skin’s natural protective barrier, and dries to a clear finish.
Best Long-lasting Sunscreen
Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Sunscreen
This sunscreen boasts a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free formula that’s waterproof and sweatproof for long-lasting wear. Its oil-free, PABA-free formula won’t clog pores or cause breakouts, and it bears the NEA’s Seal of Acceptance. It dries to a non-shiny finish that makes it ideal for use alone or under makeup.
Best Spray Sunscreen
EltaMD UV Aero Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 45
This spray-on sunscreen works at any angle, and boasts a zinc-based formula that provides up to 80 minutes of water-resistant coverage. Its oil-free formula works to re-hydrate and gently nourish skin while strengthening its natural moisture barrier. Dermatologist-recommended, it goes on white, but dries clear so that you can easily see any spots you might have missed.
Best Oil-Free Sunscreen
AVEENO Natural Protection Lotion Sunscreen
Suitable for those with eczema and sensitive skin, this mineral-based lotion sunscreenbears the NEA’s Seal of Acceptance and boasts a formula with SPF 50 UVA and UVB sun protection. It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, and is fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and oil-free.
Best Sunscreen Stick
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick SPF 60
Suitable for use on even the littlest people managing eczema, this sunscreen stickprovides broad spectrum SPF 60 sun protection and is made with 100 percent naturally sourced ingredients to be gentle on the most sensitive skin.