How to Choose a Sunscreen That Won't Sting Your Face

Girl (7-9) having sun cream applied to nose
It is possible to find sting-free sunscreen formulas. (Image: Marc Debnam/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

That stinging feeling on your cheeks and around your eyes can make the thought of wearing sunscreen on your face unappealing. Fortunately, the science of sunscreen has advanced, developing formulas that are much gentler on your face. There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens stop UV rays from being absorbed, while chemical formulas destroy already absorbed rays. Avobenzone, a component of chemical sunscreens, is known to cause stinging. By choosing a gentle, physical sunscreen, you can greatly reduce the chances of a sunscreen stinging your face.

Step 1

Buy a sunscreen that is formulated especially for the face. These sunscreens are designed not to sting your skin. You also can use your regular facial moisturizer in place of sunscreen on your face, as long as the moisturizer contains sunscreen.

Step 2

Look for organic, all-natural and/or sensitive-skin sunscreen formulas. These contain fewer harsh chemicals, which might be the cause of the stinging.

Step 3

Stay away from your eyes when applying sunscreen. If you use a sunscreen spray on your body, consider a lotion formula for the face for more precise application. Lotions also might be less irritating than gels, according to research by Texas A&M University.

Step 4

Look at your sunscreen's ingredients. You might be allergic or sensitive to a component of your sunscreen. See your doctor for an allergy test or other medical evaluation if you're still experiencing irritation and stinging.


Don't give up and go without: Protecting your skin, especially the delicate facial skin, against the harmful effects of UV rays is very important.

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