Does sunscreen actually trigger pimples? A dermatologist units the report straight. Plus: tips on how to discover the very best sunscreen for acne-prone pores and skin.

In the great world of skincare, there’s one truth you’ll come upon time and time once more. According to magnificence editors, estheticians, dermatologists, and scientific research alike, sunscreen is the gold commonplace for pores and skin well being and safety.

However, is sunscreen unhealthy for pimples?

For a definitive reply, we consulted board-certified beauty dermatologist Michele Green, MD, who focuses on pimples remedies at her NYC observe.

Does sunscreen trigger pimples?

Dr. Green confirms that sure—some sunscreens can, in truth, trigger pimples by clogging your pores.

But why and the way does this occur?

“Certain sunscreens contain chemicals that can irritate your skin, making it more susceptible to acne breakouts,” she begins. Such energetic substances are typically comedogenic (aka pore-clogging), which Dr. Green says could result in the event of comedones or pustular pimples.

Further, she says that the mechanisms of sure sorts of sunscreens may also contribute to breakouts.

For occasion, chemical sunscreen (versus bodily/mineral sunscreen) works by absorbing UV gentle and changing it to warmth, which the physique then releases. “Combined with certain chemicals in sunblock, the heat can act as an occlusion to your skin and make you sweat more,” Dr. Green explains.

While occlusive substances are nice at retaining moisture, they will additionally exacerbate pimples. By making a protecting seal of types, occlusions can find yourself “trapping this sweat and increased sebum in your skin, [which then] clogs your pores and causes an increased amount of acne,” she continues.

Woman looking at her breakout caused by acne in the mirror

Is my sunscreen breaking me out?

At this level, you’re most likely questioning if your personal sunscreen is behind your breakouts.

To discover out, you may first take a look at the kind of sunscreen you’re utilizing and its energetic substances. Other tip-offs are if the formulation:

  • contains oil
  • isn’t explicitly labeled as non-comedogenic sunscreen

However, you may also take a extra observational strategy. If you discover you’ve got extra comedones or pustules once you apply your go-to (or new) SPF, Dr. Green says that your sunscreen is probably going contributing to your pimples.

Simultaneously, it’s necessary to rule out different root causes of pimples and flare-ups, together with however not restricted to:

  • sensitivity to a different skincare product
  • your weight loss plan
  • hormones
  • stress
  • intestine imbalances
  • pores and skin purging

Woman on beach applying mineral SPF to her nose

Conversely, doesn’t carrying sunscreen make pimples worse?

And right here, my pals, is the place we run right into a catch-22.

It seems that ditching sunscreen fully—which we by no means, ever advise—not solely contributes to long-term pores and skin injury, however may also make your pimples’s lifecycle worse.

“For example, if you have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne or acne scars, these marks will get much worse and darker from sun exposure,” Dr. Green warns. She additionally says the identical goes for purple marks that outcome from pimples, as “the sun will increase the reddish appearance of these breakouts and make them more difficult to remove and treat.”

Dr. Green then reinforces the truth that extra solar publicity with out sufficient UV safety can worsen different pores and skin considerations. This contains manifestations of hyperpigmentation and untimely getting older, resembling:

  • melasma
  • photoaging
  • wrinkles

On prime of that, many individuals—particularly those that wrestle with breakouts—incorporate photosensitive substances into their skincare routines, which embody:

  • retinol/retinoids
  • AHA + BHA exfoliants
  • lightening brokers for darkish spots

Such substances and merchandise are useful to handle breakouts and assist a contemporary complexion. However, they improve your pores and skin’s sensitivity to UV gentle and thus make SPF much more necessary to use.

“By continuing to use these ingredients for your acne and not using sun protection, your skin is more susceptible to hyperpigmentation, making both your dark marks and acne scars worse,” Dr. Green explains.

Man applying mineral sunscreen to his oily, acne-prone skin

What kind of sunscreen is finest for acne-prone pores and skin?

As we are able to see, whereas sunscreen may cause pimples, it’s nonetheless important to use it. For that motive, you merely have to hunt out the very best sunscreen for acne-prone pores and skin.

To allow you to do exactly that, Dr. Green shares the next suggestions.

  • Opt for non-comedogenic sunscreen. First, to lower the probability of clogging your pores, search for an oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreen. Dr. Green says that such a system will reduce the probabilities of creating breakouts (and thus hyperpigmentation and scarring, as properly). Additionally, a 2013 overview within the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology champions spray and gel-based sunscreens for pimples and oily pores and skin.
  • Choose a system with niacinamide. Dr. Green calls out niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory properties for its means to assist management breakouts. Better but, a 2008 examine demonstrates this ingredient’s specific efficacy in lowering comedones and pustules, which we discovered are the 2 sorts of pimples brought on by sunscreen.
  • Try out mineral sunscreen. Since chemical sunscreens could make you sweat extra (by trapping warmth) and clog your pores, it’s possible you’ll be higher off choosing a mineral-based sunscreen. In specific, Dr. Green prizes light-weight formulation with anti-inflammatory zinc oxide as the very best sunscreens for acne-prone pores and skin.

Final Thoughts

All issues thought-about, whereas sunscreen can trigger pimples, it doesn’t must—so long as you select the proper.

It’s additionally price noting that whereas the ideas above function an important information, you don’t essentially must test off each field. For occasion, some chemical sunscreens are oil-free and gel-based, thus making them extra appropriate for acne-prone pores and skin.

This level results in my remaining sendoff: recommending Elta MD’s UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46. The oil-free system pairs mineral zinc oxide with chemical octinoxate, in addition to niacinamide. (Better but, it doesn’t go away a white forged, which makes it particularly enticing to individuals with darker pores and skin tones.) All in all, this mineral/chemical hybrid will get my vote as the very best sunscreen for greasy, acne-prone pores and skin.