One of the biggest misconceptions about sun and skin health is that sunscreen causes acne. If you have oily skin, it's normal to want to stay away from heavy products that will clog pores and lead to more breakouts—and that's why some avoid using sunscreen.

But the reality is quite different. Sunscreen has more benefits than just protecting the skin from cancer; it can actually do wonders for those who tend to break out often.

How Sunscreen Can Help Improve Acne

Contrary to popular belief, sunscreen can benefit those who have oily skin and are acne-prone. Dermatologist Marisa Garshick, M.D., says that ultraviolet (UV) rays damage the skin's natural barrier and cause the skin to dry and overcompensate with excess oil production. It's this extra oiliness that will eventually result in breakouts.

Dr. Garshick also says that those UV rays can trigger breakouts in those with skin conditions, like rosacea. So, if you're trying to get rid of acne from sunscreen, you might be doing yourself a disservice, given that using sunscreen regularly can actually combat and even prevent breakouts from both acne and rosacea after sun exposure.

Sunscreen can also help improve acne in other ways, including preventing and protecting already existing acne and dark spots. To accomplish this, you need to find the right sunscreen for your skin type.

Find the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin Type

As with anything in skin care, it's all about finding the right product for your skin type. The type of sunscreen that will suit those who tend to break out has specific characteristics. First, you'll want something lightweight and non-greasy. That means you'll want to look for sunscreens that are oil-free and noncomedogenic (which means they won't clog pores) such as EltaMD UV Clear.

Other key ingredients to look out for include zinc oxide and niacinamide. Studies have shown that zinc oxide has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to treat redness and acne. Niacinamide is also a superhero ingredient that comes with loads of skin benefits, one of which is its anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce acne's redness.

Everyone's skin is different. When it comes to acne, it's important to ask your Dermatologist what you can do to treat your specific needs. You'll want to ask them what skin type you have, so you know what ingredients are best for your skin—and which ones to avoid.

A Dermatologist is also the best person to help you come up with a customized skin regimen, especially if you deal with more severe cases, like cystic acne, which may require a cortisone shot to treat. In short, always consult with a professional for any skin questions.

Sunscreen Has Other Major Skin Benefits

While sunscreen can help you prevent outbreaks, you shouldn't just be wearing it to help with acne. The number one reason to continue using sunscreen daily is to protect your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, regular sunscreen use can reduce the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent and lower the risk of melanoma by about 50 percent.

All you have to do is find the right formula for your skin type, use an SPF of at least 30, and follow the best sunscreen application practices. Then, you'll be good to go!

The next time you fret about sunscreen causing acne on your face or body, have no fear. You can use sunscreen knowing that it will not only help prevent breakouts but also help with other skin concerns, as well.


  • 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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