Most sunscreen is greasy, how do you choose a sunscreen that isn't? Here we break down everything you need to know about non-greasy sunscreen, what it's good for, how to find it, and our favourites.
Why is non-greasy sunscreen better?
For anyone using sunscreen under makeup and for cosmetic reasons, non-greasy sunscreen is highly appealing.
It offers a comfortable and lightweight feel on the skin, allowing for seamless integration into their makeup routine. With a more matte finish, non-greasy sunscreen also provides a shine-free canvas for applying foundation, BB cream, and other cosmetics. Plus it doesn't show up shiny in photos!
It ensures that the skin stays hydrated and protected from the sun's harmful rays without compromising the desired aesthetic, and it doesn't stick to the bottom of accessories like your watch or jewellery.
Additionally, non-greasy sunscreen helps prevent clogged pores, reducing the likelihood of breakouts and promoting healthier-looking skin.
For the Outdoors
When it comes to sporting activities, non-greasy sunscreen is the preferred choice for hot outdoor activities.
It offers a better grip for your hands on whatever you need to hold, and it ensures that the skin remains comfortable and breathable.
Furthermore, non-greasy sunscreen isn't sticky, so it doesn't attract sand and dust.
It also means that when you head home, you won't be leaving greasy smears on your car, or sunglasses and phone for that matter.
However, often non-greasy sunscreen is usually not water resistant. So if you are going to be swimming or getting sweaty playing sport, make sure your sunscreen is marked water-resistant.
Why is normal sunscreen greasy?
Sunscreen often has a greasy texture due to things like a higher concentration of oil-based ingredients to make them water resistant, or the use of emollients or occlusive agents, and the presence of thickening agents or waxes.
Insufficient formulation optimization, the inclusion of synthetic or heavy chemical filters, and inadequate absorption or dispersion of active ingredients can also contribute to greasiness.
Additionally, individual factors like skin type can influence the perception of greasiness. For example, if you have an oily skin type, ingredients that don't help regulate the sebum, can end up making it feel greasy, even if it isn't. It's just causing your skin to create more oil.
To address these concerns, manufacturers are striving to create non-greasy sunscreens that offer a more pleasant experience for users.
How is non-greasy sunscreen made?
This can be approached differently depending on the formulation type. The two formulation kinds are chemical (synthetically based) sunscreen, and natural (mineral and plant-based) sunscreen.
These are treated differently because the ingredients have different traits, however some sunscreens do use a mix of both.
When it comes to creating non-greasy sunscreen formulations, manufacturers employ various strategies using chemical ingredients. They carefully select light, fast-absorbing oils or emollients, incorporate silicone derivatives, and utilize special emulsification techniques.
A Special Caution
Be careful if you have sensitive skin, however, as silicone derivatives, and some of the synthetic oils used to achieve this can cause skin reactions in sensitive skin.
You may also want to check the ingredients for certain types of alcohol.
Some non-greasy sunscreen uses alcohol, which can dry out the skin. Note that it’s just 'alcohol' you should watch for. Not be confused with certain natural ingredients that have 'alcohol' in the name like 'cetearyl alcohol', or 'stearyl alcohol'. which can actually support the skin. See Cetearyl Alcohol on the EWG.
For Natural Sunscreens
Natural ingredients offer a different approach to achieving non-greasy sunscreens and usually with a host of benefits.
Many plant oils have a whole host of benefits due to their natural properties.
For example, safflower oil has a similar chemical makeup to the skin's naturally produced oil (sebum). Its high levels of linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid commonly known as omega-6) mimic the skin's sebum and help regulate sebum production. Combine this with its emollient and moisturising properties, and you have a lightweight, non-greasy oil that’s hypoallergenic and supports all skin types!
By selecting plant-based oils and emollients that provide moisturization without greasiness, and utilizing natural lightweight film-forming agents, manufacturers create non-greasy sunscreen formulations that are comfortable on the skin.
The use of these natural approaches ensures that non-greasy sunscreens provide effective sun protection while offering a lightweight, comfortable, and natural alternative for those seeking a more organic and skin-friendly sunscreen option.
The only downside to this approach is that the ingredients are generally much more expensive, resulting in creams that can cost more than their synthetic counterparts.
We've included our recommendations below, for non-greasy sunscreen that offers a very low chance of any negative skin reaction, supports your skin using high quality natural extracts and offers you a high level of protection.
Soléo Organics Face Moisturising Formula
This non-greasy face sunscreen boasts ingredients like rosehip oil, argan oil and safflower oil, all of which have anti-aging properties and very high levels of anti-oxidants to soothe your skin. It has a high SPF of 30+ (why not SPF 50?), it contains no synthetic ingredients at all, and is highly non-comedogenic.
Soléo Organics Everyday Extra Lite
This is the more budget-friendly option of the sunscreen above. It's a great option for an everyday non-greasy sunscreen with most of the same benefits. But its ingredients don't have the same anti-aging properties, even if they do have many of the same sebum-regulating ones. There is a coconut fragranced version too, which some reviewers seem to prefer.