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Dermatologist-Recommended Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

As a dermatologist, I often encounter patients who are concerned about sunscreens causing acne breakouts. It's a valid concern, especially for those with sensitive skin. Understanding which ingredients in chemical sunscreens might be problematic can help you make better choices.


Sunscreen Ingredients That May Aggravate Acne


While sunscreens are essential for protecting our skin from UV rays, certain ingredients in them can be less friendly to acne-prone skin:

  1. Octisalate (Octyl Salicylate): Commonly used for UVB protection, Octisalate is usually safe but may cause sensitivity or acne in some individuals.

  2. Homosalate: This UVB filter can, in rare cases, trigger skin irritation or acne.

  3. Octocrylene: Beyond being a UV filter, it stabilizes other sunscreen ingredients. However, it might irritate those with sensitive skin.

  4. Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3): Known for potential hormonal effects, Oxybenzone can exacerbate acne symptoms in sensitive skin, though it doesn't directly cause acne.

  5. Avobenzone (Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane): A popular UVA filter, it's generally safe but can lead to breakouts for some.

The Issue with Combination Sunscreens


Many sunscreens marketed as “Mineral Sunscreens” are actually combination products, blending mineral and chemical UV filters. This mix can sometimes contribute to acne issues in susceptible individuals.

Dermatologist's Recommendation for Acne-Prone Skin

Olympic Swimmer Elizabeth Beisel apply Dermasport's sunscreen before swimming.
Dermasport's water-resistant SPF 50 Facial Sunscreen

I highly recommend Dermasport’s SPF 50 Facial Sunscreen for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin. It contains 20% zinc oxide, a mineral filter, providing strong protection against UV radiation without aggravating acne. Many of my patients have reported reduced breakouts after switching to Dermasport from chemical sunscreens.


Skin sensitivity varies greatly from person to person. What works for one might not for another. If a sunscreen seems to be causing skin issues, exploring different formulations or sunscreens designed for sensitive skin is wise.


Persistent acne or adverse reactions to sunscreen warrant a consultation with a dermatologist for tailored advice.

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