Your guide to sunscreen/SPF for sensitive skin

Your guide to sunscreen/SPF for sensitive skin
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One of the most simple and effective methods of sun protection is sunscreen. Through the power of SPF, sunscreen absorbs or reflects ultraviolet (UV) radiation to prevent it from harming the skin. 

But here's the thing: if you have sensitive skin, some sunscreens can just end up causing irritation. This may look like redness, dryness, peeling, or little bumps. Sometimes, you might even feel stinging, itching, or burning when using certain products. 

If this sounds familiar, it could help to be a little more selective when choosing your SPF. 

Cancer Council sunscreens are made for everyone; we have SPF formulas for every skin type. This includes plenty of products safe for sensitive skin, delivering gentle yet effective sun protection with some extra TLC. 

To help you find the best SPF formula for your face and body, we’ve put together a guide on the Cancer Council day-wear products that are suitable for sensitive skin.

If you’re looking for: an all-purpose everyday face and body sunscreen 

Sensitive SPF50+

While all of the sunscreens on this list are safe for sensitive skin, this is Cancer Council’s dedicated Sensitive formula. If you experience eczema or more severe skin reactions, this is an ideal choice. It’s formulated using fewer ingredients, with the only active ingredient being 5% zinc oxide. Aloe vera and vitamin E work to soothe, nourish, and hydrate. It’s also free from fragrance and parabens to further minimise the risk of irritation. 

If you’re looking for: a daily face moisturiser 

Moisturiser SPF50+

Cancer Council’s daily moisturiser is made for those who want their suncare and skincare rolled into one. A hydrating formula, it delivers SPF protection while giving the skin a moisture boost. You can choose between sheer or tinted variants, in case you also want to add lightweight coverage and fresh-faced makeup to the mix. This paraben-free and fragrance-free formula is also infused with aloe vera and vitamin E.

Moisturiser SPF50+ Water Resistant

Our daily moisturiser (see above) also comes in a water-resistant variation, recommended for anyone who regularly participates in water-based activities. However, you should still reapply SPF immediately after swimming, sweating, or towel drying to ensure effective protection. 

If you’re looking for: a tinted beauty balm with high SPF protection for your face

BB Cream SPF50+ 

Your skincare and makeup should always include suncare. This SPF-infused BB Cream delivers natural coverage for minimal makeup days, providing broad-spectrum UV protection at the same time. It also gives your skin a thirst-quenching boost of hydration. The ingredients list is free from parabens, and enriched with natural oils and conditioning extracts including argan, chamomile, jojoba, kakadu plum, acai and green tea.

If you’re looking for: a fluid face sunscreen

Fluid SPF50+:

For those who prefer the feel and texture of a fluid sunscreen, this is the perfect formula. It’s fragrance-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic, which means it contains ingredients that won't clog your pores. This makes it a great option for those who experience acne or regular irritation. Invisible and lightweight, this sunscreen leaves the skin feeling supple and smooth thanks to jojoba oil and vitamin E.

If you’re looking for: an SPF face serum to wear under makeup

Hydrating Serum SPF50+:

This is an ultra-lightweight, fragrance-free SPF serum delivering all the nourishing, hydrating goodness of vitamin E, aloe vera, and hyaluronic acid. It’s designed to be worn under makeup, creating a perfect base for temperamental skin.

If you’re looking for: a face sunscreen for men

Hydrating Sunscreen For Men SPF50+:

Specifically targeting men’s skin concerns, this multi-tasking facial sunscreen offers very high UV protection and hydration. With a non-greasy dry-touch texture, it’s designed for the face, neck, and scalp. This lightly fragranced, paraben-free formula is enriched with green tea extract, aloe vera, and vitamin E to soothe, nourish, and hydrate.


At the end of the day, sensitive skin shouldn’t hold you back from using sunscreen. There are a number of Cancer Council products formulated with a high SPF factor and low risk of irritation.

Remember, sunscreen is only one component of sun protection. Make sure you always use the other four methods of sun safety as well: slip on protective clothing, slap on a hat, seek shade, and slide on some sunglasses.

If you’re one of the few Australians (less than 1%) who experience sunscreen sensitivities or reactions, you should always do a patch test before trying new formulas. When using sunscreen for the first time, test a small application on the inside of your arm. If there’s an instant reaction, stop using it immediately and consult your dermatologist for advice.

Cancer Council recommends performing a usage test before applying any sunscreen, where a small amount of the product is applied on the inside of the forearm for a few days to check if the skin reacts, prior to applying it to the rest of the body.