If acne is your skin issue, summer is your season of stress. A day in the sun means the prospect of coating your face in a gunky layer of greasy, pore-clogging SPF lotion. Maybe you’re even tempted to go without rather than risk a breakout. Spoiler alert, that doesn’t end well. The boiled prawn look is not attractive on anyone. And do we even need to mention wrinkles, age spots, and worse, skin cancer? No sunscreen? Not an option.
The good news is it is possible to protect your skin from sun damage without clogging pores and provoking a nasty response. Here are a few things you need to know.
What is non-comedogenic?
A non-comedogenic ingredient is one that won’t clog pores and produce or aggravate acne. It can be a tricky term however, as there is no FDA approved test for what is or isn’t comedogenic. In the 1970s Dr. Fulton pioneered testing for comedogenicity and established a 0-5 scale (0 being the lowest and 5 the highest). That scale remains the standard today. Formulation also has a lot to do with whether a product can be termed non-comedogenic. When checking ingredient lists, keep in mind that the higher the item appears on the list, the more of it the formula contains.
Oil-Free Often Isn’t
Many products claiming to be oil-free have simply exchanged natural oils for synthetic oils. This gives them the legal freedom to use the term oil-free. The synthetic oils can often be more aggravating to acne than natural oils. In fact, some natural oils like apricot kernel oil, sunflower oil and mineral oil will not clog pores and can be beneficial to skin. Better to concentrate on looking for non-comedogenic rather than oil-free.
Physical Beats Chemical
Chemical sunscreens, as you might imagine, contain chemicals that are absorbed into the skin where they work to neutralize the sun’s rays. They offer good protection against UVB rays, but are not as effective against UVA, the ones responsible for aging. And the chemicals can be irritating to skin and potentially harmful long term. Some people like chemical sunscreens because they can be lighter in feel. If you choose a chemical sunscreen look for one with octyl salicylate, which scores a zero on the comedogenic scale.
Physical sunscreens rely on titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, both non-comedogenic minerals, that sit on top of the skin to reflect UVA and UVB rays. Because these are not absorbed into the skin, they don’t cause irritation. In fact, zinc oxide is used in diaper rash ointment because it is the complete opposite of irritating and has anti-microbial properties. Zinc oxide is excellent at repelling both UVA and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide scores slightly lower on the UVA front. For this reason, titanium dioxide, you have been chopped. The winner of the physical battle and the sunscreen champ is zinc oxide.
Vitamin A & Salicylic Can Make Skin More Sun Sensitive
If you’re using a retinoid (vitamin A) or salicylic acid to treat your acne, your skin will likely be more sensitive to UV exposure. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little sun. It just means you should be mindful. Don’t get too much exposure, wear your sunscreen religiously and wear hat. Wide-brimmed preferred.
Support Your Sunscreen With Good Skin Care
No matter how non-comedogenic your sunscreen, it still has the potential to aggravate skin. It’s an added layer of sticky lotion that can trap oil and sweat, so you want to be sure to be keeping up a consistent and targeted skin care regimen morning and night.
Vivant’s BP 3% Exfoliating Cleanser flushes out impurities, refines pores and accelerates cell renewal for smoother, clearer, healthier skin. To keep is summer simple, follow with Daily Repair Pads with 1% Mandelic Acid. They’re alcohol-free and formulated with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial ingredients to refine and revive. For an added retexturizing boost, Derm-A-Gel® Daily Vitamin A serum targets blemishes, sloughs off dead skin cells and encourages new collagen production. For more resistant acne or to spot treat, try BP 10% Gel Medication. And for daily moisturizing with sun protection, Day Treatment Lotion SPF 15 with zinc peptides and aloe vera is perfect for acne prone skin.
To review: Physical sunscreen with zinc oxide. Check. Healthy skin care routine day and night. Check. Wide brimmed hat. Check. Umbrella drink. Check. Enjoy your summer.