Skipping SPF is NOT an option if you have acne.
When you think of sunscreen, your mind probably jumps to the greasy, pore-clogging, strongly-scented lotion from your childhood days at the pool. The benefit: You protect your skin from premature wrinkles and serious health issues like skin cancer. The downside? That sticky, goopy mess may leave you with another annoying skin issue: acne.
It’s true that sunscreen can cause you to breakout—but it’s important that you don’t skip it, even if you have acne-prone skin. In fact, since acne-prone skin is so sensitive, it’s even more important to protect it from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
“Using acne medication like retinol can make the skin sensitive to sun,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon in New York City. “People with acne have potential to develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Sun exposure can make this worse and increase the potential of having the pigment last much longer than it would otherwise.” Hello, acne scars.
That’s why fear of new pimples shouldn’t get in the way of all the benefits of sunscreen. Plus, many sunscreens are now specifically designed with acne-prone skin in mind.
When in doubt, choose mineral: Your skin absorbs chemical sunscreens, which can potentially causing allergic reactions and irritation in the process. Mineral sunscreens work differently because they “sit on the top of the skin and deflect or scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin,” says Dr. Engelman. These sunscreens are typically formulated with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and better tolerated by people with sensitive skin. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
Read the label: It’s important to choose a sunscreen that is noncomedogenic, meaning it’s specifically designed to not clog your pores. Ingredients to avoid? Heavy oils (including coconut oil) and fragrance if you can, says Dr. Engelman. Go for sunscreens with a thinner, gel-like or liquid consistency, rather than heavy-duty creams. Products with a matte finish will also help you avoid midday shine.
Prep your skin: Before you apply your SPF, make sure your skin is clean. Dr. Engelman recommends using a product that contains salicylic acid to clear out your pores and gently exfoliate dead skin cells. From there, make sure to apply an acne-friendly moisturizer, which will help keep bacteria (a major cause of acne) out of your pores. Always apply sunscreen with freshly-washed hands as your last step before makeup.
Not sure which sunscreen to buy? These formulas for acne-prone skin will ensure your complexion stays clear and breakout-free.
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