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Can skin lotions interfere with sunscreen?

Phil asks…Does using facial oils, from certain brands or in general, under a sunscreen affect how good it works? My skin loves certain oils and in spring/summer I use them during the day underneath my sunscreen. I was wondering if it affected the spf, how good it protects, does the oil dissolve some of the protection of it’s a chemical one?

The Beauty Brains respond:Use_Sunscreen_Spray?_Avoid_Open_Flame_(9196637400)

There is cause for concern because it is well documented that certain ingredients can interact with sunscreens. Sometimes this interaction is good, sometimes it’s not so good. For example, a chemical known as Mexoryl SX can improve SPF by reducing the photo degradation of certain UV absorbers like Parsol 1789. Iron chelators like vitamin C and E can also slow the breakdown of sunscreens. On the other hand, care must be taken when mixing sunscreens with insect repellants because of interaction with DEET (the stuff that repels the bugs) because skin penetration is increased.

So, it’s best not to mix sunscreens and other products. As SkinDoc pointed out in our earlier post on the right way to apply sunscreen, the best thing approach is to wait 10 or 15 minutes between application of prodcuts. If you apply an oil to the skin at the same time as the sunscreen you are essentially diluting the sunscreen and it won’t be as effective. Of course no matter what technique you use, the key message here is to wear sunscreen!

Image credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Eileen March 29, 2015, 7:55 pm

    What order? is a frequent question when people are juggling various products. It seems to me that using a chemical sunscreen which penetrates versus a physical sunscreen which sits on the surface would make a difference. I can’t speak to the chemical ones, but the physical ones are supposed to be the last thing applied because they create a final physical barrier. Perhaps you Brains could give us a bit more insight.

    For anyone who loves oils but is also looking for a good sunscreen, Josie Maran makes a physical (transparent) sunscreen that is rich in Argan oil. It’s pricey, but it’s like getting two products in one.

    • Randy Schueller March 30, 2015, 7:28 am

      I’ve never seen a definitive study on this but a case could be made for always applying sunscreen first (regardless of whether it’s chemical or physical) so it “soaks into” the skin better. If you apply a skin lotion first and then the physical sunscreen (because it creates a “final” barrier as Eileen suggests) what happens if the skin lotion prevents the sunscreen from sticking to the skin as well?

      Again, not really sure if it makes a difference.

  • Kelly Everson May 30, 2015, 6:42 am

    Well, people do apply sunscreen first, then any other thing to go with it. Dermaxsol is yet another sunscreen, which gives best results. It doesn’t matter, you stay out from how many hours, Dermaxsol will avoid tan and other sun damage. It uses Solvaderm clinical, integrative approach to skincare.