Sunscreen plays an important role in protecting your skin but for oily or acne-prone skin it can mean changes to an already sensitive skincare routine. That’s why we’re here to bust the myths on sunscreen causing acne and which SPF is best for slick skin. With a few simple steps, you can balance skin-loving sunscreen without pore buildup and acne breakouts.
Why Does My Skin Get So Oily?
Acne is completely natural and almost everyone experiences it so don’t let it get you down! Acne can develop at any age and regularly appears on the face, neck, back, shoulders and chest. It’s more common during teenage years but we can also thank lifestyle choices and hormonal changes.
Your pores connect the surface of your skin to the sebaceous gland which produces an oily substance called sebum, released continually into your hair follicles and skin. If the gland produces too much sebum, the pore can become clogged with dead skin cells, oil and bacteria. This can lead to infection and inflammation around the clogged pore which is where a pimple forms.
Does Oily Skin Need Sunscreen?
Let’s back the bus up here, no matter what your skin type is you should be wearing SPF every day! That’s right, all year round even if you only spend a few minutes outside. Don’t skip this crucial step in your skincare routine because you’re scared of a breakout, it’s about finding the right product with ingredients that suit your skin type. So, what happens to acne-prone skin if you don’t apply skin-loving SPF?
If you struggle with breakouts you’re likely to have photosensitive ingredients in your skincare routine, whether that’s retinol or BHA exfoliants. While these are helpful in managing your breakouts, they increase the sensitivity of your skin to UV light so avoiding sunscreen can actually worsen the appearance of acne, ouch!
Pigment protects the deeper layers of the skin from sun damage by producing melanin, which also makes your skin look darker or tanned. While you might think this sounds great, it also means those acne scars you’ve been trying to get rid of will only get worse. This is thanks to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne or acne scars getting darker from sun exposure!
If your skin gets burnt then symptoms can be further irritated by adding another layer of inflammation to the skin, causing uneven pigmentation and giving your skin a reddish appearance as small blood vessels stretch. Nourishing sun protection will protect your skin from exposure to free radicals while preventing dark spots, sun damage and premature signs of aging so pass us that sunscreen bottle!
Can The Sun Help Clear Acne?
Many people believe that the sun can help clear up acne as getting a tan seems to temporarily hide blemishes, we know you’ve heard the myth. Yes, any redness might seem to clear but exposure to the sun can actually make acne marks look more noticeable.
Your skin dries out thanks to UV rays so it temporarily produces less sebum as a way to compensate for the damage but inflammation still exists under the surface. The drying effect from the sun is different from the drying that you get from topical acne medications. Acne-prone skin struck by sun exposure then leads to:
- Flakey skin from sunburn which builds up more dead skin cells that clog pores.
- Unwanted skin inflammation.
- Dark spots and scarring after pimples heal.
- Sweating during sunbathing gives bacteria a place to thrive and causes more breakouts.
Does Sunscreen Cause Acne?
Sunscreen doesn’t cause acne but certain SPF products and ingredients can irritate the skin or worsen acne. We get it, who wants to put something that’s stereotypically greasy on their skin? Don’t be discouraged by low-quality, heavy sunscreens that you’ve used in the past! You simply have to look for the right formula and keep a few sunscreen application tips in mind.
All sunscreen might seem the same but make sure the SPF you’re applying is actually a face sunscreen and not a body sunscreen! When it’s hot and humid, it’s easy for oil to build up throughout the day which is why certain thick or sweat-proof sunscreens can trap the dirt, oil and sebum on the skin’s surface.
Before applying SPF, make sure your skin and hands are clean to avoid transferring bacteria to the skin’s microbiome. For a clearer and smoother complexion, esmi’s lightweight Detoxifying Exfoliating Charcoal Serum detoxifies the skin by drawing out underlying congestion and buffing away dead skin cells. Formulated with glycolic acid, it also loosens and breaks apart the bonds of skin cells to encourage softer skin. It’s important to cleanse twice at the end of the day to remove SPF and makeup, prevent acne buildup and allow the skin to breathe.
Don’t forget that acne can also be related to sensitivity to other skincare products, your diet or gut imbalances, hormones and stress. If you notice your sunscreen is causing breakouts, it’s a good idea to stop using that specific product and look for something new.
Sunscreen Ingredients That Cause Acne
Your skin absorbs chemical sunscreens as it penetrates the skin and those chemical ingredients make their way into your body. Chemical filters in sunscreens such as oxybenzone and sodium lauryl sulphates don’t necessarily cause acne but tend to be more irritating.
It’s best to check the ingredients list and avoid anything that clogs pores or triggers breakouts, like:
- Mineral oils that don’t let sweat escape through your pores which leaves sweat and dirt trapped inside.
- Alcohol which increases skin sensitivity.
- Plant oils or fatty acids like cocoa butter and coconut oil which are too rich for acne-prone skin to handle.
Avoiding these ingredients basically means you’re choosing a sunscreen that’s non-comedogenic which leads us to sunscreen ingredients that are best for oily skin.
Should You Apply Sunscreen Or Moisturiser First?
The order of your skincare routine needs to be properly considered for your favourite products to work effectively. It’s helpful to also know which ingredients require access to permeate the deeper layers of skin to help build a protective barrier on the outer layer.
When moisturiser is placed over sunscreen, it can interfere with how the sunscreen interacts with the sun so it’s best to apply it as your last step before makeup. SPF products are specifically formulated with certain protective ingredients so layering on after your moisturiser will block out any harsh rays.
Do I Need To Apply Sunscreen If I Wear Makeup?
Makeup with added sun protection should be thought of as a bonus as most makeup products don’t contain high enough levels of SPF to provide sufficient protection. Makeup comes off easily and isn’t always applied evenly, we also bet you aren’t rubbing foundation into your hairline, jawline and neck! It’s important to remember that SPF isn’t additive, meaning that if you layer SPF 25 foundation over an SPF 30 sunscreen, you won’t get SPF 55 coverage.
What Is The Best Sunscreen For Oily & Acne-Prone Skin?
Wearing sunscreen doesn’t have to be a greasy pore-blocking burden so make sun protection part of your everyday routine with Sun Skills' clean skin-loving sunscreen range that’s made right here under the Australian sun.
With clean non-greasy formulas that are free from parabens and sulphates, you can be confidently protected without worrying about chemical-induced breakouts, clogged pores or irritated skin. Your skin will thank you for preventing premature aging whether you’re layering under makeup, wearing alone for daily protection or just need to keep sensitive skin smiling.