Melasma is a hyperpigmentation skin condition characterized by the occurrence of dark spots, usually at the level of the face. This condition mostly affects women in between 25 and 45 years old, and very rarely men (less than 10% of patients diagnosed with it are men).
While this skin pigmentation is not associated with pain or other similar side-effects, melasma can have a significant impact on the life of the patient. As these pigmentation spots are rather difficult to cover with makeup, the emotional discomfort can be considerable.
Best Sunscreens for Melasma: Guide & FAQ
What are some treatment options for melasma?
Ask any dermatologist, and he will tell you that sunscreen with broad-spectrum SPF 50+ is essential to treat and also to prevent melasma. While most of us tend to choose an SPF 30 cream for everyday use during the warmer months of the year, it is just not enough if you are suffering from pigmentation spots. Nowadays, the sun protection factor goes as high as 100 and even over this level, so an SPF 30 is not really that much.
Aside from the sunscreen, the treatment for melasma can include local applications of creams, lotions or serums with ingredients with depigmentation properties such as azelaic acid, retinoids, kojic acid, vitamin C, and niacinamide. Keep in mind that the recommendation is to use at least an SPF 30 sunscreen when applying these ingredients.
Dermatologic procedures such as laser therapy and microdermabrasion can also be recommended to treat melasma. Post-procedure skin also requires sun protection. And this leads us to the next popular question:
Does sunscreen help melasma?
The suitable treatment for melasma can only be decided after a correct evaluation of its cause, and by taking into consideration the skin type and condition and other factors. Sunscreen is a must-have when it comes to patients with melasma, but also for those who want to prevent hyperpigmentation. Make sure to start using a sunscreen lotion or cream from the first signs of pigmentation to be able to get good results with the treatment.
Sunscreen helps prevent more sun damage in patients with melasma. Sunscreen is also mandatory for patients following treatments with the ingredients mentioned before (for example, retinoids) as otherwise, a hypersensitivity of the skin could occur when spending time in the sun.
Can sunscreen cause melasma?
As we have mentioned before, there are different factors that can cause melasma. Among them, we have mentioned the negative effects of the sun. This skin condition can also occur during pregnancy or treatment with birth control pills, so it can have a hormonal cause. And this is to name just a few.
Sunscreen can’t cause melasma; however, the chemical-based sunscreen can trigger allergic reactions in some patients and might not be suitable to be applied to post-procedure skin. This is the reason why mineral filters (such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) should be preferred.
Can sunscreen help hyperpigmentation?
There is no doubt about it; the liberal application of sunscreen on a daily basis (every two hours during outdoor activities) is essential to prevent hyperpigmentation. If pigmentation spots already occurred, sunscreen can still help further damage of the skin caused by sun exposure.
For patients following treatment for hyperpigmentation is essential to use sunscreen to avoid potential side effects associated with powerful active ingredients in these treatments.
What’s the best sunscreen for melasma?
Depending on your skin type, lifestyle choices, and associated underlying skin conditions, you might prefer a different type of sunscreen. For example, if you had a procedure to treat melasma, you might want to try Heliocare Ultra SPF90.
If you spend plenty of time outdoors doing activities, or at the beach and even the pool, Image Skincare Prevention+ Daily Ultimate Protection SPF 50 Moisturizer seems to be a good alternative. At the same time, if you are suffering from acne-prone skin, EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 46 is gentle and non-comedogenic.
Best Sunscreens for Melasma: Our Top 10 Picks
1. ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Zinc Oxide and 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+
- The best sunscreen with 100% mineral filters
- Contains zinc oxide
- Broad-spectrum UVA/ UVB
- Suitable for everyday use
- Lightweight emulsion
Mineral filters sunscreen can be difficult to apply due to the minerals in the formula. At the same time, they can leave behind a white cast on the skin. However, ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Zinc Oxide and 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+ is different.
First, we are talking about an emulsion, so not one of those thick, paste-like creams that we often associated with sunscreen with mineral filters. The lightweight emulsion ensures an easy application, so you don’t spend too much time with this.
The main ingredients of this emulsion are zinc oxide, DNA repairsomes, and vitamin E. The first one delivers efficient sunscreen protection. The second one is an enzyme that aims to repair sun damage at the level of the skin. And we all know that vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can contribute to keeping the skin’s barrier intact.
2. Obagi Medical Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen
- Best formula that delivers a matte finish
- Broad-spectrum UVA/ UVB
- Dermatologist tested
Spending time in the sun is great; however, proper sunscreen protection is mandatory to help you avoid skin cancer and other conditions such as melasma. Choosing the best sunscreen for melasma can be even more difficult if you have oily or acne-prone skin as you need to look for a product that can deliver efficient protection without clogging the pores.
Obagi Medical Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen can be used on a daily basis to keep your skin protected from the damaging effects of the sun, as part of your melasma treatment. The lightweight formula applies easily to the skin and provides an elegant mattifying effect.
The main ingredients in this sun shield lotion are homosalate, octisalate, and zinc oxide. The sunscreen lotion is non-comedogenic and dermatologist tested, so you don’t have to worry about it accentuating your acne or triggering allergic reactions at the level of the skin.
3. Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face Mineral Lotion SPF 50
- The best water-resistant sunscreen for melasma
- Broad-spectrum protection
- Eco-conscious formulation
- Non-greasy finish
- Mineral sunscreen (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide)
Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face Mineral Lotion SPF 50 provides gentle care for your skin while protecting it from the sun and even giving it a light tint, so you don’t look ghostly white on your days at the beach. The formula is non-chemical, and the main ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are the two mineral filters. Titanium dioxide is widely used as a white pigment and UV filter in different types of skincare products.
The powder-like matte finish is ideal even for people with normal or dry skin and perfect for those with acne-prone or oily skin. However, if you have overly dry skin, you might want to use a moisturizer before applying the sunscreen. Alternatively, you can use a mist to give your skin a boost in hydration throughout the day when wearing this sunscreen under makeup throughout the day.
4. EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Face Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
- The best-tinted sunscreen for sensitive or acne-prone skin
- Oil-free formula
- Mineral filters with zinc oxide
- Broad-spectrum SPF 46
- Can be used on skin with rosacea
This facial sunscreen is recommended by dermatologists and people who have used it alike. And for good reasons, nevertheless. EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Face Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 aims to even skin tone for a better-looking complexion even when there are underlying conditions such as melasma, rosacea, sensitive skin or acne.
The texture is silky and lightweight, making the application effortless. Antioxidant protection helps you avoid premature signs of aging. At the same time, other active ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid contribute to improving the skin condition.
5. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch
- Broad-spectrum SPF 100+
- Water-resistant formula
- Designed with Dry-Touch technology for a Non-greasy finish
- Fast absorbing
The best sunscreen for hyperpigmentation is probably Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch. Neutrogena is a drug store brand highly recommended by dermatologists from all over the world. This product is not only very affordable, but it is also designed using a special technology that doesn’t leave skin greasy.
With Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch, you benefit from superior sun protection with a clean and light application. This sunscreen is great for people with acne or blemish-prone skin, too, as it won’t clog pores. Make sure to keep it off your eyes in case you go swimming as it might sting a bit!
6. Image Skincare Prevention+ Daily Ultimate Protection SPF 50 Moisturizer
- One of the best sunscreens for melasma if you are into sports and outdoor activities
- Prevents sunburn and hydrates the skin
- Can be used as a daily moisturizer
- Non-irritating formula
- Suitable for post-procedure skin
If you are an athlete or just like to spend a lot of time outdoors in summer, you might want to give Image Skincare Prevention+ Daily Ultimate Protection SPF 50 Moisturizer a try. The non-irritating formula is gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin or post-procedure.
Formulated with 9% zinc oxide and plant-derived stem cells, this product is suitable for daily use, as your regular moisturizer. This means that it is designed to provide you with the optimal level of hydration while also protecting your skin from the damaging effects of the sun.
Apply the sunscreen in the mornings, after cleansing and toning the skin. If you don’t spend too much time in the sun, there is no need to reapply throughout the day. However, if you spend time outdoors, make sure to reapply every two hours for maximum protection.
7. Replenix UltiMATTE Perfection Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50+
- Among the best sunscreens for melasma that deliver a matte finish
- Tinted sunscreen protection
- Can even out skin tone
- Great for dark spots
- Protects from UV rays
This tinted sunscreen aims to help you reduce the signs of aging at the level of the face. It was designed for oil control, so you never have to deal with excess shine caused by the overproduction of the sebaceous glands. This makes it ideal for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
You can use Replenix UltiMATTE Perfection Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50+ every day as a part of your beauty routine. Apply it in the morning on a clean face or before sun exposure. You can wear it alone, but also under makeup.
The formula is light, and even if it is a sunscreen, it allows the skin to breathe. It is created with active ingredients like ceramides and phospholipids to ensure your skin gets enough hydration during the day.
8. All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
- One of the best sunscreens for melasma with SPF 30
- Coral reef safe
- Protects the skin when you are playing sports doing outdoors activities
- Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
- Formulated with zinc oxide
Zinc oxide, the main ingredient in this sunscreen, acts as a barrier or a shield in between the damaging UV rays and your skin. This means that no damaging chemicals penetrate your skin like it is the case with a traditional sunscreen. The mineral filters are not absorbed into the body but stay at the surface of the skin and reflect the UV rays.
The fact that it is water-resistant for up to one hour and 20 minutes gives you time to enjoy swimming or other water-based activities without fear of getting sunburns. At the same time, this is the ideal sunscreen for those who break a sweat when jogging in the hotter months of the year.
9. Heliocare Ultra SPF90
- Formulated with Fernblock
- Suitable for normal and dry skin
- Ensures high photoimmunoprotection against UV rays
- Suitable to be used on post-procedure skin
Heliocare Ultra SPF 90 is probably one of the most recommended sunscreens for patients who had a procedure such as microdermabrasion or laser hair reduction. After these types of procedures, sensitive skin can be more prone to sun damage. This is the reason why an SPF 30 might not be enough to give you the necessary protection.
With an SPF 90, Heliocare Ultra is a good option to prevent the photodamage associated with prolonged UV rays exposure. This cream can also be used to reduce the photosensitivity induced by certain types of medication and can prevent melasma. It is also a suitable option for sunscreen for those who are on retinoids treatments.
10. DRMTLGY Anti-Aging Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 46
- It is a 2-in-1 sunscreen and foundation combo
- Tinted sunscreen for all skin types
- Delivers flawless results instantly
- Minimizes the appearance of wrinkles and other skin imperfections
- Efficient protection against UV rays
If you are one of those people who want to look amazing without using a lot of makeup, this product might be just the thing for you. There are no two ways about it; it is just a 2-in-1 solution! It delivers effective sun protection while evening out the skin tone for a flawless appearance with virtually no makeup.
The skin texture and tone can improve with the regular use of this sunscreen, so even more benefits for you! You can use a moisturizer under it, but chances are this won’t be necessary. The application is smooth, and the skin absorbs it easily – a very delicate fragrance.
Excessive exposure to UVA/ UVB rays is to be avoided at all costs, especially if you are suffering from melasma. And even if spending time outdoors in summer is not your cup of tea, you should still use a sunscreen with a high SPF for those moments when you are out of the house. Now you can choose between different options with sun protection factors ranging from 30 to 100+. Depending on your skin type and preferences, you can definitely find the right sunscreen for you in these reviews!