When you travel, you tend to spend much more time outside in the sun than you would at home. These are our recommendations for best sunscreen for melasma and hyperpigmentation to stop your skin freaking out from all the extra sunlight.
If you’re like me and have bad patches of facial hyperpigmentation from daily medication, or you have melasma, you know that exposure to the sun makes things exponentially worse – especially on your face. The more you’re exposed to the sun, the higher your risk of increased pigmentation and melasma patches.
That’s why finding the best sunscreen for melasma is essential. Best of all, sunscreen will help keep your skin young and fresh and help protect you from cancer.
As Jennifer Garner famously quoted “Nothing looks better in your 50s than sunscreen in your 20s!”.
What Is Melasma and Hyperpigmentation?
If you suspect you have melasma and hyperpigmentation, let’s break down those conditions, so you are best informed.
Hyperpigmentation is any number of conditions in which patches of skin become darker than the surrounding area. The term “hyperpigmentation” covers many skin conditions, including liver spots, melasma, and perhaps most surprisingly, freckles.
Because it covers many different conditions, hyperpigmentation also has a variety of causes. Common causes of hyperpigmentation include acne scarring or medication. However, the leading cause of hyperpigmentation is exposure to the sun.
Leaving skin unprotected could cause hyperpigmentation to worsen and even develop into skin cancer.
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation. Brown or blue-gray patches characterize the skin condition. Because it often develops during pregnancy, it’s commonly referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.”
Pregnancy is not the only cause of melasma. Melasma has two leading causes: radiation and hormones.
In terms of radiation, anything from ultraviolet, visible light, or infrared light causes it. That means the light emitted from your smartphone or television has the potential to cause melasma.
As for hormones, certain medications like anti-seizure medications, birth control, and estrogen (Diethylstilbestrol) also cause this skin condition to occur.
This condition occurs due to the overproduction of cells that make up your melanin. It is harmless, and there are treatments available. However, melasma can fade on its own after a few months.
Exposure to the sun can make melasma more prominent due to ultraviolet rays and radiation.
What Should I Look For in a Sunscreen?
When it comes to the best sunscreen for melasma, there are numerous things to consider.
You’ll want a physical sunscreen over a chemical one. Physical sunscreens are often called “mineral sunscreens” and create a barrier on your skin to protect it from the sun. The barrier scatters sun rays before they penetrate your skin.
Chemical sunscreens are more common, so you’ll need to double-check the label to ensure you’re getting the right type. A quick peek at the active ingredients will help you determine whether it’s physical or not.
Physical sunscreens often have a high level of zinc oxide, which helps protect you from the sun. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide, another ingredient found in physical sunscreens, are both approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA found both ingredients to be safe and effective.
Zinc and Titanium Oxide
As discussed earlier, both zinc and titanium oxide are approved by the FDA for use in sunscreen. They are excellent for protecting skin against UV rays.
As an added bonus, these minerals are also “reef safe.” That means if you use sunscreen with these particular ingredients, the reef and marine life that live in it won’t be harmed.
You’ll want to find a sunscreen that has more than 5%. Sunscreens with these minerals as active ingredients aren’t water-resistant, so you’ll need to apply them often. Additionally, the minerals can cause a white cast, so you may want to opt for a tinted sunscreen.
Avoid Chemical Ingredients
Chemical sunscreens are more common than physical ones. If you’re shopping for sunblock at a big box store, you’re likely to find popular brand name sunscreens that have ingredients like oxybenzone. Not only is oxybenzone terrible for the environment, but it’s a hormone disruptor that can lead to melasma.
Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that absorb UV rays before your skin does instead of reflecting them away. In addition, more than half the active ingredients in chemical sunscreen get absorbed into your bloodstream and can be detected for up to three weeks.
If it’s not good for your skin, it’s certainly not good for your insides.
What Is the Best Sunscreen for Melasma?
Now that you know what to look for and avoid when shopping, let’s look at the best sunscreens for melasma and hyperpigmentation.
La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Melt-in Milk Sunscreen works on the body and face. It’s a broad spectrum SPF 60 UVA/UVB and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
Anthelios is recommended by over 90,000 dermatologists worldwide. It’s lightweight and absorbs quickly. They use spring thermal water in their product rich in selenium and a natural antioxidant. The formula is velvety and leaves your skin hydrated and smooth.
It is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. The manufacturer recommends reapplying the sunscreen every two hours.
Dermatologists test La Roche-Posay products to ensure the user’s safety. They are oil-free and non-comedogenic, and allergy-tested.
This tinted sunscreen offers a broad spectrum of SPF 50. The active ingredient is titanium oxide, and the tint prevents a white cast from appearing after it’s applied. The titanium oxide in this sunscreen is 11%—perfect for protecting your skin from the sun’s harsh rays.
La Roche-Posay’s tinted Anthelios mineral sunscreen is safe for sensitive skin. It absorbs fast and is not greasy. However, because it’s tinted, you’ll want to shake it before use.
As with other sunscreens made by this brand, dermatologist’s tested it for safety. This particular sunscreen won the 2021 International Dermatologist Barometer Survey.
EltaMD’s UV Daily Sunscreen offers SPF 40. Its active ingredient is zinc oxide. As a bonus, it also contains hyaluronic acid, which is used for wound healing and to ward off aging skin. Hyaluronic acid is excellent at retaining water and helps keep things hydrated, so it is typically used in moisturizers.
This broad-spectrum hydrating sunscreen is sheer and lightweight. Because it’s tinted and prevents white cast, you can choose to wear it with or without makeup. The tint also works across diverse skin tones.
Dermatologist offices often sell EltaMD, and estheticians and doctors highly recommend it. This sunscreen works well on many skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin.
Colorescience’s Sunforgettable Mineral SPF 30 sunscreen is a neat little brush-on sunblock. It contains both titanium oxide (21%) and zinc oxide (11.4%.) People with sensitive or acne-prone skin can confidently use this mineral sunblock.
As a side note, this sunscreen uses MSG, derived from the amino acid glutamate. Typically used in foods, MSG is also in beauty products like shampoos and conditioners. MSG acts as an emollient, helping to soften or smooth the skin. But if you’re super reactive to MSG, check with your doctor to see if you can use this one before buying.
It is perfect for use on your face, arms, legs, or anywhere that needs UV protection. This award-winning sunscreen brush is ideal for use alone or with makeup. The tint comes in two shades: deep or tan.
Invisible’s Zinc Tinted Daywear sunscreen has 18% zinc oxide in it. The sunscreen is mineral-based and offers SPF 30 protection. It features a matte finish, and you don’t need to be heavy-handed when using it—a little bit goes a long way!
Easy to apply, this natural-looking sunscreen protects you against windburn and sunburn. In addition, the coverage is enough that you don’t need to worry about wearing makeup with it.
The caveat to this sunscreen is that it isn’t a good match for those with oily skin.
CeraVe is a well-known brand loved among people with sensitive or acne-prone skin. The same applies to their sunscreen. CeraVe’s mineral sunscreen offers SPF 50 and contains zinc and titanium oxide.
It’s safe for sensitive skin and contains hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides. All of these ingredients have excellent anti-aging benefits for your skin.
This particular sunscreen is oil-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and best of all, it is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation and the National Eczema Association. As for 2021, CeraVe was the number one dermatologist-recommended skincare brand.
Suntegrity’s popular 5-in-1 mineral sunscreen is also a BB cream and moisturizer. Its main ingredient is zinc oxide. However, it also contains numerous ingredients that are good for your skin, including aloe vera leaf juice and organic cucumber fruit extract.
It is unscented and offers SPF 30 protection. There are four shades to choose from. However, because the tint is made using minerals rather than dyes, specific shades will vary from batch to batch.
BB creams, also known as blemish or beauty balms, were initially developed to help blur imperfections. This cream, meant for use instead of heavy foundations, would offer coverage while not irritating your skin.
Summary – Best Sunscreen For Melasma & Hyperpigmentation
If you have melasma or hyperpigmentation, you’ll want to use a reliable sunscreen that will protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. Exposing your skin to UVA and UVB, along with other kinds of light, can aggravate and worsen your skin condition.
When shopping for the best sunscreen for melasma, you want to opt for a mineral sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens are sometimes called physical sunblocks. They use minerals that reflect light away from your skin. Many mineral sunscreens also feature ingredients that have anti-aging properties and help keep your skin moisturized.
Regardless of which brand you buy, the important thing is to make sure your sunscreen is mineral-based and contains more than 5% of the active ingredient.