How can I protect sensitive skin from the sun?

Posted by tracy tse on

Summer is here, and while the sunny days invite us to enjoy the outdoors, they also pose a challenge for those with sensitive skin. As your friendly dermatologist, I'm here to help you navigate sun protection with care and confidence.

Understanding Sunscreen: Chemical vs. Physical

Chemical Sunscreens:

  • How They Work: These sunscreens absorb UV radiation, converting it into heat which is then released from the skin.
  • Ingredients to Look For: Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene.
  • Pros: Lightweight and often invisible on the skin.
  • Cons: May cause irritation or allergic reactions in sensitive skin.

Physical (Mineral) Sunscreens:

  • How They Work: These contain minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that sit on the skin's surface and reflect UV rays.
  • Ingredients to Look For: Zinc oxide, Titanium dioxide.
  • Pros: Less likely to irritate sensitive skin; effective immediately upon application.
  • Cons: Can sometimes leave a white residue on the skin.

Sunscreen Tips for Sensitive Skin

  1. Choose Fragrance-Free: Fragrances can often cause irritation, especially in sensitive skin. Opt for sunscreens labeled "fragrance-free."

  2. Test Before Full Use: Try a patch test by applying a small amount of sunscreen on your forearm or behind your ear. Check for any reaction before using it on your face and body.

  3. Go for Broad-Spectrum Protection: Ensure your sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and has an SPF of 30 or higher.

  4. Apply Even on Cloudy Days: Up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate clouds, so don’t skip your sunscreen even if the sun isn’t shining brightly.

  5. Look for Added Hydration: If you have dry, sensitive skin, seek out sunscreens with hydrating ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid to keep your skin moisturized.

  6. Non-Comedogenic for Acne-Prone Skin: If you’re prone to breakouts, choose a non-comedogenic formula that won’t clog your pores.

Sunscreen Recommendations for Sensitive Skin

  1. For Dry, Sensitive Skin:

  2. For Acne-Prone, Sensitive Skin:

Life After Proper Sun Protection

By incorporating the right sunscreen into your daily routine, you can expect:

  • Reduced Sensitivity and Irritation: Using an irritant-free formula will minimize the risk of adverse reactions.
  • Improved Skin Texture: Hydrating sunscreens can help maintain moisture levels, leading to a smoother complexion.
  • Fewer Breakouts: Non-comedogenic sunscreens won’t clog pores, reducing the likelihood of acne flare-ups.
  • Enhanced Confidence: Knowing your skin is protected can give you peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your summer to the fullest.

Remember, the key to healthy, happy skin lies in consistent care. Protecting your sensitive skin from the sun not only prevents immediate discomfort but also safeguards your skin's long-term health.

P.S. Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating!

Sensitive skin is our business: Anti inflammatory, soothes and repair. 


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