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Sunscreen and Acne: 6 Tips to Protect Your Skin

Updated: May 12, 2022

Picture this: it’s a beautiful day outside, hot, sunny, the birds are chirping and there’s a recliner by the pool with your name on it. You lather up with your favourite sunscreen (because who has time for a sunburn?!) and spend the day drinking fruity drinks and soaking up the sunshine. You go to bed feeling warm and content. And then in the morning you wake up with a lovely tan… and a HUGE BREAKOUT! Once again, greasy sunscreen (that you diligently reapplied throughout the day, because you’re sun-safe) has clogged your pores and left you with pimples and blackheads.

It seems unfair that in exchange for meticulous sun-safety, you get zits. It even discourages people from using sunscreen on their faces, for fear that the greasy, heavy creams leave behind broken-out skin. This is of course, incredibly dangerous. The most common areas that skin cancers occur are the nose, cheeks and forehead – areas regularly exposed to the sun. Skin cancer isn’t the only thing sunscreen fights, though. It also reduces hyper-pigmentation and prevents the formation of fine lines and wrinkles brought on by UVA (the non-burning) rays. So you NEED to wear sunscreen on those hazy days by the pool. But you also need to do something about sunscreen-induced acne.

Dermatologist Michelle Green, who specilaises in acne says “certain sunscreens contain chemicals that can irritate your skin, making it more susceptible to acne breakouts.” Such active ingredients tend to be comedogenic (aka pore-clogging), which Dr. Green says may lead to the development of comedones or pustular acne.

The best thing we can do for our skin is find a natural sunscreen that works for our skin. Chemicals and oils irritate skin and clog pores, so here’s a checklist you can follow when looking for the perfect, anti-acne sunscreen.

1. Avoid chemical sunscreens Chemical sunscreens, such as those with active ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone and octinoxate are full of harsh irritants that soak into your skin. These irritating and potentially unsafe chemicals are the last thing your skin needs. Irritation leads to inflammation

2. Choose NaturalLook for organic, mineral sunscreens. Zinc Oxide is the most powerful sun-blocking ingredient on the market. Zinc oxide sunscreens are free of those irritating chemicals, and instead reflect the sun’s rays by sitting on your skin and acting as a barrier. There are plenty of zinc sunscreens on the market, look for a high percentage of zinc oxide and a high SPF. Additionally, zinc oxide itself doesn’t just block the sun, it also soothes and heals skin! Zinc oxide helps regenerate skin cells, fight signs of aging and heal wounds.

3. Avoid heavy oils When looking for your sunscreen, try not to use products with a base of heavy oils like coconut or avocado oil, as these rest on your skin and clog pores. Look for lighter oils such as sunflower and jojoba oils, which are hydrating and moisturising.

4. Choose added ingredients wisely Sunscreens with lots of additional oils? Nope. Look for anti-acne ingredients, like pimple-fighting hyaluronic acid, mattifying oat kernel flour and astringent witch hazel. These added ingredients in sunscreens will help your skin fight off breakouts whilst fighting the sun.

5. Find what works for your skinTrial and error! Try a few different zinc sunscreens and see what works for you

6. Finish your skincare!One of the biggest mistakes we make is not washing off our faces before bedtime. Instead of leaving the oils and dirt collected during the day on your skin, cleanse and moisturise your face before hitting the hay. This is a great way to prevent breakouts.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you’re both protected from the sun, and protected from those dreaded breakouts. So take care, and stay sun-safe!

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