“SPF always makes me break out but I know I need to wear it – what do I do?”

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Chloe Burcham
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Skincare experts discuss what to do if wearing SPF leads to spots, blemishes and acne. Plus the best formulas for you. 

We all know that we should be wearing SPF every day. No matter the weather or your skin tone – SPF is essential for protecting against UV rays that can cause skin burning, ageing and sometimes lead to skin cancer. But what about if wearing sunscreen breaks you out? One of the annoying side-effects to SPF is that it can sometimes exacerbate oiliness, sensitivity and blemishes. Luckily, sun protection has come a long way in the last couple of years. From tinted SPFs to reef-friendly formulas, there are now so many clever new products on the market meaning breaking out due to SPF is officially a thing of the past. 

Below skin experts Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, chemist Gabriela Duffy Morales and founder of Skingredients Jennifer Rock explain what to look out for when buying a SPF for acne-prone skin.

What types of sunscreen should you use if you are prone to breakouts?

“If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin I always recommend non-comedogenic formulations or oil-free with a matte finish,” advises Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme. 

“Obagi, Heliocare and Eucerin all do great oil control formulas that feel incredibly light on the skin. Try using the CeraVe AM moisturiser with SPF25 or La Roche Posay Hyla B5 SPF30 which both work to look after the epidermis and hydrate the skin as well as providing SPF protection.” 

Are mineral suncream formulas better for those with acne-prone skin?

The key difference between mineral and chemical sunscreens is that mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin and block rays while chemical sunscreens filter out rays. “As mineral SPFs sit on the surface of the skin instead of absorbing in, they can be less irritating for sensitive and blemish-prone skin,” explains skincare chemist Gabriela Duffy Morales. 

“To minimise the risk of a reaction, look for formulations that are suitable for sensitive skin types,” advises dermal facialist Jennifer Rock. “You can even opt for an SPF designed for children because these formulas are less likely to contain ingredients that can irritate the skin – such as fragrance.

I also advise checking the INCI list (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient), usually found on the back of products for ingredients such as fragrance, mineral oils, parabens, or high levels of alcohol if you have any kind of sensitivity, as these ingredients have the potential to cause irritation.” 

The best SPFs for blemish-prone skin

Main image: Getty