Tretinoin, a derivative of vitamin A, is a popular ingredient in skincare routines due to its ability to reduce fine lines, acne, and hyperpigmentation. However, it also makes the skin more sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays, which can cause sunburn and skin damage. That’s why it’s essential to find the best sunscreen to use with tretinoin.

In this article, we will explore the best sunscreens to use with tretinoin, as well as other helpful advice to keep your skin safe and healthy. From moisturizing sunscreens to sensitive skin-friendly formulas, we’ve got you covered. So, whether you’re new to tretinoin or a long-time user, keep reading to find the perfect sunscreen to keep your skin protected and glowing.

Why is sunscreen important when using tretinoin?

Experts recommend using a sunscreen every day when using tretinoin to protect your skin from harmful UV rays that can cause damage and irritation. Sunscreen is important when using tretinoin because tretinoin makes your skin more sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Tretinoin increases cell turnover, which can lead to thinner and more vulnerable skin. Exposure to UV rays can cause damage to the skin, including premature aging, sunburn, and an increased risk of skin cancer.

By using sunscreen regularly in your tretinoin skincare routine, you can protect your skin from these harmful effects and maintain the benefits of using tretinoin. Sunscreen also helps to reduce the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a common side effect of tretinoin use, by protecting the skin from further damage.

What kind of sunscreen should I use with tretinoin?

When using tretinoin, it’s important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

It’s also recommended to use a physical sunscreen, which contains active mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, rather than a chemical sunscreen. This is because chemical sunscreens may irritate the skin when used with tretinoin. Additionally, look for a sunscreen that is labeled as “non-comedogenic” to avoid clogging pores and causing breakouts.

The best sunscreen to use with tretinoin

When it comes to choosing a sunscreen to use with tretinoin, there are several factors to consider, including moisturization, broad-spectrum protection, and sensitivity to skin-friendly formulas. Here are 7 of the best sunscreens for retinol and tretinoin users:

1. The Best Sunscreen with Niacinamide

Some of the best sunscreens to use with tretinoin contain niacinamide, which can help soothe and strengthen the skin. The EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen and Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Restoring Moisturizer SPF 50 are two great options that contain this ingredient.

2. Best Drugstore Sunscreen with Niacinamide

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, the CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM SPF 30 is a great choice. It contains niacinamide and ceramides to help moisturize and protect the skin.

3. Best Gel Sunscreen

For those with oily or acne-prone skin, a gel sunscreen can be a good option. The La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Face Sunscreen SPF 60 is a lightweight gel formula that won’t clog pores or feel greasy on the skin.

4. Best Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, you may want to look for a sunscreen that is free of fragrances and other potential irritants. The Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50 is a mineral-based option that is gentle and non-irritating.

5. Best Sunscreen Stick

Sunscreen sticks can be a convenient option for on-the-go touch-ups throughout the day. The Supergoop! Glow Stick SPF 50 is a moisturizing option that adds a subtle glow to the skin, while the Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Stick SPF 50 is a great choice for those with sensitive skin.

6. Best Sunscreen Setting Powder

If you prefer a more lightweight option, a sunscreen setting powder can be a great choice. The Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50 is a mineral-based powder that can be applied over makeup or on its own for easy touch-ups throughout the day.

7. Best Tinted Sunscreen

For those who want a little bit of coverage along with sun protection, a tinted sunscreen can be a great option. The Australian Gold Botanical Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 50 and the Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 both offer broad-spectrum protection and a natural-looking tint.

FAQs about Sunscreen and Tretinoin

Can I use tretinoin and sunscreen together?

Yes, it’s essential to use tretinoin and sunscreen together. Tretinoin increases skin sensitivity to the sun, making it more susceptible to damage from UV rays. Therefore, it’s crucial to protect your skin by applying sunscreen daily, especially when you’re outdoors for an extended period.

What SPF should I use when using retinol?

Dermatologists generally recommend using sunscreen with at least SPF 30 when using tretinoin or other retinoids. An SPF 30 sunscreen provides adequate protection against UVB rays, which cause sunburns. However, it’s important to note that SPF doesn’t indicate the level of protection against UVA rays, so it’s crucial to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

What happens if you don’t wear sunscreen with tretinoin?

If you don’t wear sunscreen with tretinoin, your skin may become more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays, leading to sunburn, premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Tretinoin can cause skin irritation, dryness, and peeling, and exposure to the sun can exacerbate these side effects.

Is there anything you shouldn’t use with tretinoin?

When using tretinoin, it’s important to avoid products that can further irritate or dry out the skin. This includes other exfoliating agents such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid, as well as abrasive scrubs or harsh cleansers. Additionally, avoid using products that contain alcohol or fragrance as they can be drying and irritating to the skin.

How much sunscreen should I apply?

To get the full benefits of sunscreen, it’s recommended to apply at least one ounce (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to cover your entire body. For your face, use about a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen. If you’re using a spray sunscreen, make sure to apply enough to see a visible sheen on the skin, and rub it in to ensure even coverage.

When to apply sunscreen?

It’s recommended to apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outdoors to allow time for it to absorb into the skin fully. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating. If you’re using water-resistant sunscreen, you’ll still need to reapply every 80 minutes, even if you’re not sweating or swimming.

Must I reapply sunscreen?

Yes, it’s crucial to reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially when outdoors. This is because sunscreen can wear off or be wiped away by clothing or towels, leaving your skin unprotected. Additionally, sweating and swimming can also reduce the effectiveness of sunscreen, so be sure to reapply after these activities.

Should I stop using tretinoin during the summer months?

No, you do not need to stop using tretinoin during the summer months. However, it is important to be extra diligent about using sunscreen and protecting your skin from the sun, as tretinoin can increase skin sensitivity to UV rays. Consider wearing a hat or staying in the shade during peak sun hours to further protect your skin.


Using tretinoin with sunscreen is crucial for maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin. It is essential to choose a moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and a formula that is sensitive and skin-friendly. Always remember to apply sunscreen generously and frequently throughout the day, especially when exposed to direct sunlight.

By following these expert tips and using the recommended sunscreens, you can ensure that you are getting the maximum benefits from tretinoin while protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. So, go ahead and enjoy the benefits of tretinoin, but make sure to also protect your skin with one of the best sunscreen to use with tretinoin.

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