Tips: The Best Sunscreen’s For Oily Prone Skin

Written by Cheryl Kosarek, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on April 15, 2022 No Comments

sunscreen oily skin

It’s common knowledge that sunscreen is a must for protecting your skin against early onset aging, permanent discoloration, and even skin cancer. For those with oily or acne prone skin, however, the thought of applying thick, greasy sunscreen may seem counterintuitive to your skincare goals. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid sunscreen-induced breakouts. Here’s everything you need to know about the link between sunscreen and acne.

Why Sunscreen Use Is Essential for All Skin Types

Daily use of sunscreen is essential for all skin types, even for those with oily, acne prone skin. Contrary to what you might think, the right sunscreen can even help prevent acne breakouts.

It’s a Myth that Sun Helps Dry Out Acne

Excess time in the sun dehydrates skin and damages its natural, protective barrier. When oily skin becomes dehydrated, oil production increases in an attempt to keep moisture in. Excess oil production leads to more frequent breakouts.

In addition, UV light can worsen redness and contribute to inflammation. Inflammation not only makes acne worse, but can contribute to acne scarring, which is more difficult to manage than breakouts themselves.

Sunscreen Prevents Acne Scarring & Discoloration

If you have acne, you’re already more vulnerable to scarring and skin discoloration. Exposure to the sun increases this risk. UV rays disproportionately affect scar tissue and inflamed skin, which can lead to permanent discoloration.

Sunscreen Use Can Reduce The Negative Side-Effects of Acne Medication

Increased risk of sunburn is a common side effect of many acne treatments. Medications such as retinoids or alpha and beta hydroxy acids exfoliate the outer layers of the skin which makes sunburn more likely.

Sunburn not only makes acne worse, but contributes to early signs of aging, and may even lead to skin cancer.

The benefits of sunscreen for all skin types include the following:

  • Prevents redness, sunburn and peeling
  • Slows the formation of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Avoids sun spots and other signs of photoaging
  • Protects you from skin cancer

Sun protection is a must no matter your skin type, the weather, or the time of year. But if you have oily skin, it’s important to use the right type of sunblock.

Can Sunscreen Make Ace Breakouts Worse?

Sunscreen is not the direct cause of acne, but choosing the wrong one can make acne worse. Acne occurs when pores become clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells or bacteria, which result in inflammation and infection.

Oily, chemical sunscreens can clog pores and contribute to acne formation. Extra ingredients such as fragrance can also be irritating for those with sensitive skin. There are, however, different types of sunscreens available which don’t have this same pore-clogging risk.

Which Sunscreens are Best for Acne?

The best sunscreens for acne-prone skin include non-comedogenic sunscreen formulas, as well as mineral-based sunblocks.

When selecting a sunscreen or sunblock, choose an SPF of at least 30. Broad spectrum sunscreens protect skin from both UVA and UVB rays, which is a must for coverage in all types of weather.

If you’re in the sun for extended periods of time, reapply every few hours. Also, reapply after excessive sweating or swimming.

Best Chemcial Sunscreens for Oily Skin: Sunscreens are chemical formulas that absorb UV rays before they hit your skin. Those with sensitive, oily skin should choose sunscreens labeled as non-comedogenic, oil-free, fragrance-free or non-greasy. For daily use, a combo sunscreen and moisturizer avoid the need for multiple layers of lotion. Search for the terms “lightweight”, “matte-finish” or “hydrating” if you have acne-prone skin.

Best Physical Sunscreen (Sunblock) for Oily Skin: Sunblock works differently from chemical sunscreens by creating a physical barrier that keeps UV rays out. Choose weightless, mineral-based formulas to help control excess oil production.

Our Picks for Acne-Safe Sunscreen

This clear, lightweight formula is perfect for everyday use, and includes hyaluronic acid, which helps it double as a moisturizer. Moisturizing acne-prone skin keeps oil production down.

This subtly tinted chemical-free formula gives skin an even tone, and can even replace the need for makeup. Antioxidants such as linoleic acid, quercetin and thioctic acid make the SPF more effective.

This mineral formula is a power with its own built-in brush. Dust it on anytime over make-up or on its own. Added iron oxides mean this broad-spectrum sunscreen also protects skin from blue light.

This oil-absorbing formula goes on as a lightweight mousse, but quickly dries to a powder-like finish. The slightly tinted formula evens skin tone and can help reduce the appearance of acne.

Cheryl Kosarek, MD

Cheryl Kosarek, MD is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology. Dr. Kosarek enjoys both medical and cosmetic dermatology, and treats patients of all ages. Dr. Kosarek is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, the Texas Medical Association, and the Texas Dermatological Society. Prior to joining Westlake Dermatology, she was in private solo practice for 30 years, with the majority of that experience in El Paso, Texas.

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