Here are the Reasons Why Sunscreen Causes Acne

In preparation for the arrival of summer, many of us look forward to spending more time outside. But, of course, the last thing anyone wants is to get a sunburn! 

Unfortunately, despite popular belief, the truth is that if you do not wear sunscreen, you may be putting yourself at risk for more than just sunburn. 

Several harmful chemical ingredients, including octinoxate, oxybenzone, and avobenzone, have been discovered in many popular sunscreen products in recent years. These chemicals are known to cause several negative skin conditions including acne!

Throughout this article, we will discuss whether or not sunscreen causes acne, as well as the long-term effects it can have on your complexion.

Acne and Sunscreen-Is there a Connection?

Why Does Sunscreen Cause Acne?

The leading cause of acne is the excess production of oil from a person’s sebaceous glands. This happens when a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes for short feeds off oils found in your skin and hair follicles. 

The result? An increase in oil production, which means more clogged pores and acne. The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause your sebaceous glands to produce even more oil. The rise in oil production from the UV rays causes people who use sunscreen to break out with acne. 

This happens because while you are using sunscreen on your skin, it prevents some of the bacteria-rich oils from being released onto the surface of your skin where they usually would be if you did not wear anything at all. 

So there is less for P. acnes to feed off of and thus fewer outbreaks! Does this mean that wearing sunscreen causes acne? Not at all — instead, wear sunscreen so that existing acne does not get out of control!

What is the Best Type of Sunscreen to Use if you Have Acne-Prone Skin?

The best type of sunscreen to use if you have acne-prone skin is a physical block because chemical-based ones are more likely to cause breakouts. Also, look for one that is labeled as non-comedogenic or oil-free. 

This way, it will not clog your pores and make matters worse! Moreover, make sure to apply sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days. You can also try using a moisturizer with SPF as an alternative. 

For example, Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 contains soy extract. This is beneficial for calming redness and irritation, which are two things that can contribute to acne breakouts. In addition, this moisturizer is oil-free and non-comedogenic so that it will not clog your pores.

How Do I Apply My Sunscreen Correctly?

One of the most common mistakes women make with sunscreen is applying it after putting on their makeup. To apply the sunscreen correctly, and minimize the chance of an acne breakout you need to apply it before your makeup. You should also make sure that you are using enough of it. Makeup artists recommend around two tablespoons for an average face and neck area. It is essential not to forget about all those hard-to-reach spots under your chin or behind your ears! 

Once the sunscreen has been applied, wait a few minutes for it to soak into your skin before applying any other products on top of this, such as foundation. 

If you find that the sunscreen leaves white marks across where you have put it, then try shaking up some colorless loose powder in a jar so that there are no lumps left within it which will prevent this from happening. 

Now simply pat onto the areas with white marks, and you should find that they disappear. With sunscreen applied, it is now time to apply your makeup just as you usually do without forgetting your usual base products such as foundation or concealer!

Other Ways to Protect Your Skin

There are other ways of protecting your skin from harmful UV rays and reducing acne breakouts. First, limit time in the sun when possible. Avoid being outside during peak hours between 12 p.m.-to-​3 p.m. 

If you are out walking, try wearing wide-brimmed hats to protect yourself against harsh sunlight and sunglasses that will block UVA/UVB rays that cause premature skin aging! Try also to wear long-sleeve shirts. 

Use natural oils! For people concerned about using sunscreen due to it causing acne, try incorporating more plant-based essential oils into your skincare routine. Coconut oil is an excellent option because it is also antibacterial and contains antioxidants! 

Treating Acne Caused by Sunscreen

Treating acne caused by sunscreen is difficult and requires additional acne treatments. Daily topical treatments would be the best option. For example, benzoyl peroxide is an effective topical treatment for acne, but it can cause drying and peeling. 

Additionally, benzoyl peroxide increases the skin’s sun sensitivity. For these reasons, if you are using sunscreen that causes your acne to worsen, then try switching to a moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher in place of your daily facial cleanser. 

If this does not work well enough on its own after two months of use without improvement in your condition – see a dermatologist about other options such as isotretinoin.


Sunscreen should be applied before any other product to the skin and allow time to absorb into the skin for maximum benefits. Avoid touching your face as much as possible because it can lead to breakouts from bacteria on your fingers, hands, etc. 

Eating healthy foods will also help clear skin naturally, which is another excellent tip that can provide results in no time! 

As mentioned above, sunscreen should always go on first, but some things may cause an increase in acne during the summer months, such as hot weather causing sweat and oil build-up, leading to clogged pores, which could result in an outbreak of pimples.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which SPF is Best For Your Face?

Higher SPFs, such as 50 or 60, may be necessary to prevent sunburns, but it also has the risk of causing skin irritation and acne breakouts. It is safest to use a lower SPF like 30 when wearing make-up instead. This prevents pores from clogging and will not trigger new pimple growth.

What are the Side Effects of Sunscreen?

This is a commonly asked question that you may have too. The possible side effects of sunscreen are not limited to: – acne – hormone disruption – vitamin D deficiency.

Does Sunscreen Darken Skin?

In rare cases, sunscreen may cause a temporary darkening of the skin. The change in your skin’s color is due to an increase in melanin production. Melanin is responsible for the rich brown tones of colored pigment on our skin and hair.


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Analyzed by Sam Wood

Sam has battled acne for a better part of his life. He created this website after his skin cleared up when he changed his diet and lifestyle. He built to be the ultimate guide to clear skin from within. Read more of Sam's articles.

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