Most people can agree that wearing sunscreen every day is a must to stay protected from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. But understanding how to remove sunscreen from your skin is the other side of the coin, and it rarely gets talked about.

Once you're done having fun in the sun, it's important to wash off your sunscreen. To learn more about best practices for how to remove sunscreen from your face and why it's important to do so, read on.

Why You Should Remove Sunscreen from Your Skin

Removing sunscreen is just as essential as removing makeup, dirt, and debris at the end of the day. Like everyday impurities and oils, sunscreen can build up and clog pores over time, leading to breakouts and other skin concerns.

Washing the sunscreen off your face before bed also ensures you're starting with a clean, smooth foundation for your skin care routine. Many key product ingredients need to be able to penetrate the surface of the skin to work their magic, so it's best to start fresh.

Keep in mind that UV rays can penetrate windows. Even if you've come in out of the sun for the day, waiting until after dark to remove your sunscreen will keep you protected while you lounge in those lovely sunny spots in your home.

How to Remove Sunscreen from Your Face

Effectively removing sunscreen from your face starts with the right cleanser and cleansing method. If you wear makeup and sunscreen or if your sunscreen is water-resistant, double cleansing is a great way to ensure you get all the product off your skin. Follow these steps for a fresh face:

Step 1: Choose an oil cleanser to attract and bind the oils in your sunscreen and makeup and effectively clear pores.

Step 2: Massage the cleanser into your skin using circular motions to loosen and lift product from your face. Rinse with lukewarm water.

Step 3: Follow up with a water-based cleanser like EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser to remove all traces of residue lifted in step 2.

Step 4: Gently pat your skin dry and proceed with your skin care routine as usual.

You can simplify this process even further by choosing a formula that combines these cleansing methods into one. For example, the EltaMD Oil-in-Gel Cleanser acts as both a traditional and oil cleanser to effortlessly melt away water-resistant sunscreen and long-wear makeup in one fell swoop.

Consider Your Sunscreen

The type of sunscreen you use is key to determining how you should remove it. For example, mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide, which can take some extra effort to rinse away. Water-resistant formulas tend to be more stubborn as well (as they should be!). For these types of sunscreens, double cleansing or using a two-in-one formula is your best bet.

For chemical sunscreens, you may be able to get away with using your regular cleanser. No matter what you do, remember to apply sunscreen every morning and remove it every night by washing your face. These two simple steps will help keep your complexion clear, smooth, and glowing from the inside out.


  • Audrey Noble

    Audrey Noble is a New York City-based reporter specializing in features, celebrity profiles, and beauty topics. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, Allure, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, and more. She is a University of Southern California alumna with bachelor's degrees in print journalism and creative writing.

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