Everything You Need to Know About Sunscreen for Sensitive and Acne-Prone Skin

Woman with sensitive skin applying Sun & Earth natural tinted zinc sunscreen on her face


Sunscreen often gets a bad reputation, thanks to its chemicals, thickness and at times, pore-clogging abilities. And if you’re one of the millions of people who experience skin sensitivities and inflammation in the form of acne, eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, chances are your relationship with sunscreen is rocky. 

While it is definitely* not recommended to go SPF free, the struggle of finding a sunscreen that protects and work with your skin is reel and can feel disheartening. Thankfully, the rise of skin sensitivities created a desperate need for refreshed, clean SPF formulas. 

But with endless brand options and potential greenwashing, how are you supposed to find the one sunscreen for your skin? Well, in this post, we break down everything you need to know about sunscreen, acne breakouts, skin inflammation and the best formula to protect and soothe your most annoying skin problems. 

Why do sunscreen cause acne breakouts and skin inflammation?

Just like a moisturiser that creates a sealing barrier on your skin to lock the moisture in, sunscreen formulas are developed as a skin shield against the sun. 

When your skin reacts to your sunscreen, it implies that the interaction between its epidermis and the shield is unbalanced. And there are a few ways that can happen. 

A sunscreen formula rich in chemical blockers such as Paraben, Oxybenzone or Octinoxate have shown to trigger breakouts and hormone imbalance by stimulating estrogen production in the body. Those same chemicals can also increase oxidative stress and free radicals, influencing skin irritation

But sometimes, even a clean sunscreen formula can trigger acne and inflammation. Dermatologists note that sunscreen mixes with pollution and excess oil on our face when the skin isn't cleansed properly, resulting in clogged pores. 

What ingredient should you avoid/choose when your skin is sensitive?

If your skin is sensitive and often breakout, it is best to stay clear of sunscreen formula rich in chemicals. The most popular ones to avoid are Oxybenzone, Paraben, Octinoxate, Retinyl Palmitate, and Aminobenzoic Acid. 

On the other hand, formulas containing organic ingredients, natural oils, and zinc oxide can offer an effective and soothing SPF protection. Our tinted zinc cream, for example, contains beeswax, cacao butter, coconut and olive oil, along with our protective minerals. When applied topically, these ingredients have shown to inhibit free radicals, soothe skin inflammation, and boost cellular regeneration. 

Natural sunscreen - like our tinted zinc cream - are formulated with multiple ingredients in small dosage that balance each other. Aka you’re not applying a direct coating of virgin coconut oil on your face.

What are the steps to protect your skin from the sun without triggering it?

  • Cleanse your skin morning and night to properly remove excess sebum, pollution, and beauty products that may trigger irritation and breakouts.
  • Use an antioxidative serum like vitamin C to give your sensitive skin some extra love. Add a light moisturiser to lock it in if that is part of your skincare routine.
  • Apply a natural, chemical-free sunscreen daily as the final step of your skincare routine. If you want to limit the number of products you layer on your face, our tinted zinc cream acts as a nourishing moisturiser, SPF protector and lightweight bb cream. 

Protecting your face from the sun shouldn’t be harming your sensitive skin. But taking small steps away from chemicals and towards a clean, balanced skincare routine, you get the chance to soothe inflammation and keep the UVs at bay. 

And If you want to know how to create an SPF-friendly skincare routine, we wrote a whole blog about it, which you can read here.

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