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The 4 Ingredients To Avoid in a Sunscreen if You Have Sensitive Skin

Jun 10, 2022

“Wear your sunscreen!”  We hear it all of the time. In fact, wearing sunscreen can reduce your risk of certain types of skin cancer by up to 50%, which are really good odds! The truth is, wearing your sunscreen is not just for being at the beach or even poolside.  Sunscreen’s protection needs to be a part of your everyday skin care regiment.  Damaging effects can occur on overcast days, in the shade and possibly even from the blue light from screens.   Avoiding fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and especially skin cancer are all important health goals.

So, what about those who suffer from itchy rashes, dried out skin, irritations, or even break outs caused by using sunscreen?  Is there a solution for these people?  Actually, yes!  Sunscreens can be split into two main groups: Chemical sunscreen (using chemicals to absorb UV rays) and Physical sunscreen (using minerals to block UV rays).

Chemicals that tend to cause breakouts and that should be avoided are:

  • oxybenzone
  • octinoxate
  • para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  • added fragrances

The list can go on, but these four ingredients are known to instigate allergic reactions and can also be hormone disruptors that cause either overproduction or underproduction hormone, such as an over or underactive thyroid. These chemicals are also connected to environmental issues, such as the destruction of coral reefs.

Every skin type has the right to be protected safely and comfortably.  If you or someone you know suffers from sensitive, reactive skin or even someone who is prone to acne, key sunscreen ingredients should be minerals that include:

  • zinc-oxide
  • titanium oxide

The reason that these minerals are effective yet sensitive is because they work to reflect the light rather than being absorbed into the skin to create a barrier. suggests this checklist as a helpful tool in choosing sunscreen that best suits your needs:

Broad spectrum: Protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

SPF 15: Ideal for every day, occasional exposure, like walking your dog, or driving to work. Look for our Daily Use Seal of Recommendation:

SPF 30 or higher: Necessary for extended outdoor activities, including distance running, hiking, swimming and outdoor sports. SPF 30 is a must if you work outdoors. Look for our Active Seal of Recommendation

Water resistant and very water resistant: For swimming or intense exercise. No sunscreen is waterproof; they all eventually wash off. Sunscreens labeled water resistant are tested to be effective for up to 40 minutes of swimming, while very water resistant sunscreens stay effective for up to 80 minutes in the water.

Now that you know what to look for, here is a list of recommended sunscreens for sensitive skin:

Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 ($14)

  • zinc-oxide
  • chemical free
  • water resistant

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive, SPF 30+ ($18)

  • water-resistant
  • zinc-oxide
  • chemical, paraben and fragrance free
  • cool factor- bottle changes to blue when in the sun as a reminder to put it on

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Sunscreen, SPF 60 ($20)

  • tinted or non-tinted options
  • contains iron-oxides
  • oil-free
  • won’t clog pores or cause breakouts

Kinship Self Reflective Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen Zinc Oxide, SPF 32 ($26)

  • smooth enough to act as a primer under makeup
  • contains zinc oxide
  • contains antioxidant turmeric
  • contains brand’s signature plant-based probiotic for added protection
  • light vanilla scent

Remember, always, that your friends at Arlington Dermatology are here to assist you with your skincare needs!  Visit our website at or give our staff a call at 847-725-0825.