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Sunscreen and acne: can sunscreen make acne worse?

In today’s blog, we here at Face5 are diving even deeper into common myths and misconceptions surrounding sunscreen and acne as an accompaniment to one of our other summer-themed blogs, “Sunscreen 101”.

First Things First: Can Sunscreen Make Acne Worse? 

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: while protecting one’s skin from sun exposure is essential (especially if you are acne-prone), it’s equally as vital to ensure that you are selecting a sunscreen that will not aggravate you or your teen’s acne.

While we have a full list of pore-clogging ingredients to avoid, some of the most common culprits found in commercial sunscreens are:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Beeswax
  • Cocoa butter
  • Lanolin
  • Mineral oils

Even if a product is labelled as “non-comedogenic”, it is still recommended to check its ingredients against our list to ensure you are not applying a sunscreen that contains skin irritants.

Why Consistent and Daily Sunscreen Application is a Must if You Have Acne

While it is well-known and well-documented that the majority of popular acne medications increase one’s sensitivity to the sun, common topical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid also do. 

While this is particularly common in oral medications such as isotretinoin, spironolactone, and antibiotics, all of which speed up cellular turnover and, in turn, thin the outermost layer of the skin, the phototoxicity of commonly-prescribed topical medications also run the same risk of upping one’s sensitivity to the sun. Because one’s skin is more vulnerable to UV rays while on these oral or topical medications, your acne specialist will sit down with you to ensure that you know to avoid sun at its peak hours, wear protective layers, and thoroughly apply SPF daily.

Additionally, physical procedures such as chemical peels and microneedling can leave your skin barrier temporarily thinner and, in turn, more vulnerable to UVA and UVB rays.

The problem? In 2015 alone, only 34% of adults reported applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher… and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that number hasn’t risen any higher in the years since! Because a minimum of SPF 30 is recommended in order to receive suitable sun protection, this, combined with many clients selecting comedogenic products, is concerning: simply put, Americans are not receiving the sun protection from SPF that they think they are!

Acne and Sunscreen: What to Look For in a Daily SPF

Now that we have outlined why sunscreen is key to protecting acneic skin from further hyperpigmentation and how it aids in mitigating the appearance of acne scars long-term, let’s take a look at what to look for in a daily SPF.

At Face5, we insist that our clients choose sunscreens that are non-comedogenic, nutrient-rich, and of a sufficient SPF level. 

Our own line of both tinted and non-tinted science-backed sunscreens are:

  • Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide-based, which provides broad-spectrum, all-natural protection from UVB and UVA rays
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Smooth, lightweight, and matte
  • Suitable as a primer to simultaneously help to reduce the look of visible pores and fine lines

Shield Your Skin From the Sun This Summer With Non-Comedogenic, Expert-Approved Sunscreen

Have questions surrounding your current SPF of choice?

Reach out today to receive an acne expert’s opinion on which ingredients may be aggravating your acne this summer… and which of the Face5-certified sunscreens is recommended to shop instead. 

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