If you still hold on to the belief that sunscreen is only necessary for beach days, I'm sorry but you're doing it wrong. Sunscreen is without a doubt one of the most important steps in your skin care routine. The sun plays a large role in many of the changes that take place in our skin. Everything from aging to dark spots to acne, yes acne, can be blamed on that flaming ball of light we just love to soak up. And while the sun is an important source of much needed vitamin D, too much of a good thing can often be bad (it should be important to note that only 15 minutes in the sun daily is necessary to get enough vitamin D).
This is where sunscreen comes in! The problem is, well, sunscreen use for those with oily/acne prone skin can be tricky. Sunscreen is often made with a ton of fillers, and comedogenic oils that can clog your pores and cause breakouts. No one want to fight early signs of aging, acne, and dark spots only to end up with more acne. I'm sorry but we're not interested in that side effect.
What Role Does The Sun Play in Your Acne?
There does exist a myth stating that sun exposure is beneficial to acne prone skin, but while this may seem true on the surface, long term this is not the case. Prolonged sun exposure actually causes the skin to be drier since it slows the production of sebum which results in less sebum. Sounds good right? Not so fast! The less sebum your skin produces, the drier it becomes, and the drier it becomes the more sebum your skin produces. I know, even I got confused. As it turns out your skin needs to maintain a moisture balance, and when it senses that the balance has been messed with it overcompensates by producing more sebum. More sebum then leads to, you guessed it, more acne!
Unfortunately increased breakouts aren't the only effect of prolonged sun exposure. It turns out that even acne scars are affected. Prolonged sun exposure darkens skin. That's how getting a tan works. However, for those with acne prone skin, the sun darkens those red pimples, and turns them brown leading to hard to remove acne scars. So as you can see, sunscreen is a necessary step for those who suffer from acne.
Chemical VS Physical Sunscreen
There are two types of sunscreen, chemical and physical. They both achieve the same results which is to limit sun damage, but they achieve those results in very different ways.
Chemical sunscreens refer to UV blockers that work by penetrating the skin, and absorbing UV rays which it then removes from the body. Examples of active ingredients often found in chemical sunscreens include:
Controversy Surrounding Chemical Sunscreens
While effective there have been some amount of controversy in recent years surrounding chemical sunscreens. Studies have shown that active ingredients from chemical sunscreens often end up in the bloodstream where it may build up over time. While the effects of this are still unclear, I'd personally rather not have chemicals in my bloodstream. Just saying. Also the Environmental Working Group in it's Top Sun Safety Tips article states that, oxybenzone, a very popular ingredient, mimics the effects of estrogen in the body.
There are also concerns regarding the environment, particularly ocean reefs. Oxybenzone is harmful to ocean life including coral reefs, algae, and fish. Some cities such as Key West have gone as far as to ban these chemicals fearing the long term effects on marine life.
Also referred to as mineral sunscreens, physical sunscreens block UV rays by sitting on top of the skin, and blocking UV rays from reaching the skin's surface. Active ingredients in physical sunscreens include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They are generally considered a safer alternative to chemical sunscreens, though there are concerns surrounding the forms it takes. For example cream forms are usually considered safer than sprays which cause ingredients to become airborne, and possibly get into the lungs. All in all they are a good alternative to chemical sunscreens.
Best Sunscreens For Oily/ Acne Prone Skin
So as I stated above, physical sunscreens are a safer alternative, and we like that so here are our favorite physical sunscreens for acne prone skin:
Avène Mineral Ultra Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50-$28
One of the most common complaints with mineral sunscreens are about the white cast it often leaves on face. Avene's Mineral Ultra Light Hydrating Sunscreen has heard your complaints, and created a sunscreen that provides a matte finish without the ghost face look. The cream to powder formula makes for a non-greasy finish, while antioxidants fight oxidative stress.
EltaMD UV Physical Tinted Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 - $31
Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation and dermatologists, EltaMD UV Physical Tinted Facial Sunscreen is beloved by users who praise its smooth consistency, and non greasy finish. Highly rated, this sunscreen also works great under makeup, and since it's tinted it can be used alone for a nice sheer finish.
Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50-$42
This one kicks it up a notch, adding a bit of sheer coverage that is adaptable to all skin tones. It's sun protection powers are also enhanced by artemia salina, an extract from plankton, which Skinceuticals states makes skin more resistant to sun damage.
Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Lotion-$8.59
A sunscreen that not only blocks the sun but also has beneficial skincare ingredients, sign me up! The Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Lotion is oil free, and provides a matte finish which means it never looks greasy. Shea Butter moisturizes without clogging pores, and Kakadu Plum and Red Algae infuse the skin with free radical fighting antioxidants.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50-$33.50
Winner of more than 60 beauty awards, yes 60, the La Roche-Posay Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen contains Cell-Ox Shield Technology which blocks not only UVA and UVB rays but also free radicals which cause oxidative stress. Light and non greasy, users can't help but gush about it's radiant finish.
Neutrogena Face Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin SPF 50
An affordable and widely available option, this sunscreen boasts 100% naturally sourced ingredients perfect for the quality conscious. Sweat and water resistant, the Neutrogena Face Sunscreen was made with sensitive skin in mind which means no harsh reactions from this one. One user rated it as a great alternative to the more pricey La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Mineral Sunscreen.
Have any other suggestions for sunscreens for acne prone skin? Our readers would love to hear it! Feel free to comment below.