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Sunscreens for acne prone skin

Newer sunscreen (active) ingredients have been developed that not only provide a better, longer lasting broader spectrum of protection against the harmful effects of ultraviolet light, they are also safer and have passed a very high level of safety testing.

These also allow for the formulation of creams that are lighter and nicer to the feel than products using older technologies.

Sunscreen gels, liquids and sprays are best suited for oily acne prone skin. Look for ones containing ingredients known to provide excellent low irritant, photo-stable (filters should not break down in the sun) and safe UVA protection. Benefits of latest sunscreens include:

  • Won't clog pores (non-comedogenic)
  • Unlikely to cause skin allergy (hypo-allergenic)
  • Non-irritating
  • Provide longer lasting protection
  • Provide very good UVA and UVB protection

Providing very good UVA and UVB protection is especially important for people using benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin, adapalene, isotretinoin or doxycyline for their acne as these all increase sensitivity of the skin to the harmful effects of UVA which include sunburn, wrinkles, blotchy pigmentation, skin growths, broken capillaries and thinner more fragile skin.

Physical blockers (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which give the sunscreens containing them a white opaque look) also provide good UVA protection. Many ‘oil free’ SPF30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen products containing physical blockers are relatively heavy creams and may worsen acne. Only those labelled as non-comedogenic and suitable for acne prone skin have been formally tested in acne prone individuals and found suitable.

Creams formulations are improving, however new sunscreen actives have made it much easier to formulate better products. In sunscreens, look for those that have Mexoryl SX and XL, bisoctrizole and/or bemotrizinol in the list of active ingredients and/or those that utilise ‘Helioplex’ technology.



Last updated March 2016

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