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Will waterproof sunscreen give you acne?

Tree asks…The sales assistant in a makeup store told me I shouldn’t be using waterproof sunscreen because it’s too heavy for me. The sunscreen contains zinc oxide. She recommended me another one that doesn’t contain parabens and is also lighter. I don’t care about parabens but is waterproof sunscreen something I should stay away from?

The Beauty Brains respond:

I see the logic behind this: if something is waterproof it must be so oily and heavy that it HAS to clog your pores, right? Not necessarily.

Whether or not a sunscreen will cause acne depends on the comedogenicity of the ingredients in the formula. Some ingredients are more likely to form comedones (the “plugs” that contribute to acne.) If the product contains these ingredients it may cause you to break out.

Unfortunately, even though you can look up comedogencity of some ingredients, it’s not an exact science and you can’t predict what a blend of ingredients will do. Your best bet (even though it still doesn’t guarantee anything) is to look for a sunscreen that has been tested and labeled as “non-comedogenic.”

The risk of a little acne is worth getting good protection from skin cancer!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kevin July 3, 2014, 11:30 am

    I find waterproof sunscreens are much harder to remove. They require a second cleansing or an oil based cleanser to get it all off.

  • Kiera July 3, 2014, 5:10 pm

    I’ve found that anything with silicones, if worn daily, WILL break me out. It is REALLY hard to find sunscreen or makeup without silicones.

    By the way I would love to see an article on removing silicones. I’ve heard the only way to really remove them is to cleanse with oil. Which might explain my breakouts, I typically use a sulfate-based cleanser (CeraVe or Cetaphil)

  • Eileen July 4, 2014, 12:24 pm

    Hi Keira,

    I’ve used cleansing oil to remove facial products and makeup for over 55 years. I’m not talking about olive oil and the like. I find those oils to be heavy, difficult to remove, and esthetically unappealing. I’m talking about oils designed specifically to remove makeup and cleanse the skin. A good one will be odorless or have a subtle scent, it will feel light in texture and glide effortlessly over the skin, it will emulsify and rinse off easily with water, and–and here is the big ta-da!–it will remove all makeup (including waterproof) and sunscreen.

    I use TIZO2 sunscreen every single day whether I’m going out or staying in. It is heavy on the dimethicone and contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the sunscreens. My preferred cleansing oil (Tatcha) removes everything easily and completely. I lightly massage the oil over my face, neck, and upper chest; give it a few moments to “do its thing”, and then I rinse it off with warm water. I like to go over my skin gently with a washcloth afterwards to remove any residue. My skin is left smooth, soft, and clean–no clogged pores, no breakouts. By the way, some people think you have to double cleanse when you use oil. That depends on the type of oil you use. If you use a good cleansing oil designed for that purpose and wipe your face with a washcloth as a finishing touch, a second cleansing isn’t necessary.

    As much as I like the dermatologists’ darling, Cetaphil, it was not formulated to deal with today’s long-wear or waterproof cosmetics and sunscreens; nor was CeraVe. They’re wonderful for sensitive or post procedure skin or as a gentle morning cleanser (which is when I use Cetaphil) but they just can’t handle today’s “bullet proof” products. So, you’re right–not completely removing the day’s accumulation of dirt, makeup, and sunscreen is probably contributing to your breakouts.

  • Kevin July 4, 2014, 12:54 pm

    Your posts are always excellent 🙂

    • admin July 4, 2014, 7:51 pm

      Agree with Kevin!!