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best sunscreen for acne-prone skin

Sunscreen protects you from sun damage and applying daily with one that is broad-spectrum is recommended by skin care experts, even if you have acne-prone skin. The good news is that buying the correct formulation allows you to reap more benefits than ever before, while still avoiding all those pesky breakouts. However, there is such a large assortment of sun protection products available that you may be tempted to select the first one you come across. Even worse, you may decide to go without it altogether. 

Fortunately, you don't need to resort to all that, and the following guide will help you choose that elusive unicorn of a sunscreen that alleviates all your skin concerns.


Make Sure it’s Acne

“Some people call it ‘delicate’ skin; Others may call it ‘problem’ skin.  “Whatever you call it, sensitive skin can mean different things to different people,” says Ashley Magovern, MD, Board-Certified Dermatologist and Co-Founder, Project Sunscreen. “It can mean anything from skin that gets red, bumpy, itchy, and rashes easily, or it can be skin that is prone to flare ups, like pimples.” 

“No matter how it manifests itself, people with delicate skin are more sensitive to UV light and rays, and it is even more important that they wear sunscreen."

Don’t let your Fear of pimples get in the way of wearing sun protection, though, says Dr. Magovern, “in fact, wearing sunscreen daily can actually help prevent breakouts and keep your skin clear.” If you have bumps and blemishes, it’s always a good idea to have them looked at by a dermatologist, especially if the flare-ups happen often. Rosacea, allergic reactions and other skin conditions can mimic pimples, and they each can have different treatment requirements. Also, picking the correct sunscreen will go miles toward shielding your skin from the sun without worsening breakouts or causing flare ups, especially if you are using an acne medication that makes your skin sensitive like Retinol. 

What is a Good Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin?

Mineral sunscreens, also known as natural sunscreens, are better suited for acne-prone skin than chemical sunscreens are. Mineral sunscreens are typically formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and people who have this skin type tolerate them better. Choose a sunscreen with a thinner lotion that rubs in clear or matte or has a gel-like consistency for the best results.

What Ingredients Make It Better for Acne?

To avoid acne flare-ups, choose sun care products are non-comedogenic, meaning they are specifically designed not to clog your pores. Two popular non-comedogenic ingredients that are face-friendly include the previously mentioned zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. 

Can sunscreen cause acne?

Traditionally, some sunscreen formulations have been 'heavy' and 'thick' which can cause a breakout however with improvements to formulations, mineral sunscreens are much lighter, smoother, and elegant. Don't forget to wash your face at the end of the day to remove all sunscreen residue.

Ingredients to Avoid

Avoid getting sun care products that contain heavy-duty creams and oils, including coconut oil.  It’s also a good idea to stay away from fragrances, silicones and sodium lauryl sulfates. Check the inactive ingredients on the label, too, since some that wreak havoc on your complexion might be listed there.

Mineral Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

If you have acne breakouts, we suggest that you start with Project Sunscreen Roll-On Mineral Sunscreen. Our roll-on has a no muss and no fuss applicator, and it contains a broad-spectrum sunscreen with 100% mineral active ingredients. Its naturally derived zinc oxide ingredients form a protective barrier on your skin that scatters and deflects harmful UVA/UVB rays. The roll-on is additionally packed with wholesome ingredients to protect, hydrate and soothe the skin of all ages, tones and types. 

How to Prep Your Skin

Before applying sunscreen, you must clean your face with a high-quality acne face wash. Choose face washes containing salicylic or glycolic acid since they gently exfoliate dead skin cells and remove the debris that causes whiteheads and blackheads. If you are using a medication that is making your skin super dry and sensitive, then use a facial cleanser that has soothing and hydrating properties for the best results. 

Next, apply an acne-friendly moisturizer to keep pimple-causing bacteria out of your pores. Lastly, apply sunscreen with freshly washed hands before putting on your makeup. Project Sunscreen is the best sunscreen for acne prone skin under makeup since it rolls on as a light cream but rubs in with a clear, matte finish, helping you avoid that dreaded midday shine. 

Can I Wear Sunscreen if I Have Acne?

If you just have unbroken acne on your skin, it is recommended that you wear a broad-spectrum, non-comedogenic sunscreen with SPF 50 for maximum protection. If you have damaged or broken skin, you should not apply any type of sunscreen or cosmetics to those areas. 

Author: Ashley Magovern, MD, Board-Certified Dermatologist. Co-Founder, Project Sunscreen; Owner, Manhattan Dermatology, Manhattan Beach, CA.

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