SkinSAFE, CVS Name Top 25 2021 Sunscreen Award Winners for Sensitive Skin

June 7, 2021
SkinSAFE CVS Name Top 25 2021 Sunscreen Award Winners for Sensitive Skin image

Developed in collaboration with Mayo Clinic, SkinSAFE helps people with sensitive skin find products that meet their sensitive skin needs, and to avoid products that may contain potential irritants.   

SkinSAFE partnered with CVS Pharmacy, through the retailer's "Sensitive-Friendly" program, for the first-ever awards that recognize popular products that are safe for sensitive skin types.

The experts at SkinSAFE assessed more than 1,400 facial, body, and kids/baby sunscreens to help make it easy to find sunscreens compatible with sensitive skin needs.  The 25 winners can be found here.

“Dermatologists know how important it is for consumers who have skin sensitivities to get the guidance they need to choose the safest options for sun protection. The options are overwhelming," says Aki Hashmi, CEO SkinSAFE, in a news release. "SkinSAFE is working with experts, including dermatologist James A. Yiannias, MD of Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ, to take the guesswork out of the process of identifying products that are effective yet gentle enough to apply to sensitive skin."

Some other highlights include:

More options are needed for sensitive skin of color
More than 90 percent of the safest sunscreen award winners are formulated with mineral filters that may not be aesthetically pleasing for skin types 4, 5 and 6. This highlights the need for new filters that blend better yet are still good for sensitive skin.

Mineral sunscreens dominate face and body 
Fully 76 percent of the SkinSAFE Shoppers' Choice body sunscreens contain zinc oxide, either alone or in combination with chemical sun filters. More than 70 percent of SkinSAFE Shoppers' Choice Facial Sunscreen winners were found to contain only mineral-based sun filters and more than 84 percent contain zinc oxide. 

More expensive sunscreens aren’t necessarily safer
More than half of the top sunscreens can be found at your local drugstore. CVS Health AM Moisturizing Facial Lotion for Normal to Dry Skin SPF30 was one of the winners, highlighting that value brands can also be safe for sensitive skin users. 

Sunscreens for babies/kids are not necessarily safer than adult options

Only 5 sunscreens labeled for babies and kids made the list. SkinSAFE experts found that some sunscreen not labeled for baby and kids were actually perfectly safe for the whole family. Knowing how critical sun protection is early on in life, the SkinSAFE team concluded that either more options are needed for babies and kids, or labeling should be inclusive of the modern family.  

More body sunscreens that are safe for sensitive skin are needed
Only 4.5 percent of brands reviewed make body sunscreens which meet SkinSAFE Shoppers' Choice strict criteria. This indicates a unique opportunity for existing brands and new brands to develop products that not only appeal but are safe for the sensitive skin consumer.

The awards highlight the best-in-class products available for sensitive skin through a comprehensive multi-step process: 

  • Winners must have achieved some of the highest safety and sensitive skin user ratings on
  • Products must meet the SkinSAFE 100% rating, a proprietary tool to assess ingredient formulations compared to real-world dermatology and allergy test results and must be formulated to exclude 100% of the topmost considered skin allergens based on 20 years of clinical data. 
  • Products must have an American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommended SPF equal to 30+.  
  • Top scoring products were chosen and assessed based on consumer engagement and popularity on  
  • All products were independently rated and assessed by SkinSAFE.

"We are delighted to partner with the SkinSAFE team on the inaugural Shopper's Choice Awards. Our SkinSAFE partnership further advances CVS Pharmacy's efforts to provide ingredient transparency on products that support each customer's health journey," says Andrea Harrison, Vice President of Merchandising, Beauty & Personal Care at CVS Health. "The 25 products that received this coveted seal present safe options that our customers with sensitive skin can use with confidence."

"Our assessment helped identify top sunscreens for consumers with skin sensitivities to consider, and uncovered insights that present opportunities for sunscreen brands to better meet the needs of sensitive skin consumers," adds David A. Mays, PharmD, MBA, Chief Scientific Advisor, SkinSAFE. 

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