Sun protection for oily, acne-prone skin

Sunscreen for oily and blemish-prone skin Why does it need special sun protection?

Though the benefits of sun protection are clear - to prevent photoageing and decrease your chances of skin cancer - there are some downsides. For those with oily skin, using greasy and heavy sun creams can trigger blemishes. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't use sunscreen.

All skin needs sun protection, but this article explains why oily and acne-prone skin needs special sun care. It looks at how the sun affects acne-prone skin and recommends how to give skin the sun protection and care it needs.

Best sunscreen for oily skin

Many standard sun creams are suitable for normal to dry skin skin types. However, if you have oily skin, you’ll want a sunscreen that is absorbed quickly. We recommend that you use sun protection products that have been specially formulated for oily and acne-prone skin, such as lotions, fluids or gels.

Choose products:

  • with a lighter texture (this doesn’t mean you need to compromise on high protection)
  • labelled ‘non-comedogenic’ (a non-comedogenic sunscreen doesn’t contain ingredients that might block pores and trigger blemishes)
  • that actively help to address your skin concerns as well as to offer sun protection
  • that have been specially formulated for blemish-prone skin and that are clinically and dermatologically proven to be suitable for your skin type.

The Eucerin Sun range includes several sun protection products for oily and blemish-prone skin. These non-comedogenic sunscreens also offer sebum-regulating Oil Control Technology with L-Carnitine too.

Applying a thick coat of SPF to your face can trigger blemishes, but not using any sun cream is dangerous. Thankfully, there are sunscreens for acne-prone skin that won't leave your skin feeling shiny.

Face sun cream for oily skin
Eucerin Oil Control Sun Gel-Cream Dry Touch SPF 50+ provides very high or high UVA/UVB protection and HEVIS light defense1 for blemish-prone skin. The ultra-light and non-comedogenic formula has a dry matt finish that gives skin a long-lasting (up to 8h) anti-shine effect.

For oily/blemish-prone skin on your body
Use Eucerin Sensitive Protect Sun Spray Transparent SPF 50, which also features our Advanced Spectral Technology. The dry touch formula supports skin’s own DNA repair mechanism. Both products absorb quickly and are non-greasy.

Ensure you apply enough spray to protect your skin, as a light misting won’t do it. Spray enough so your skin is glistening. Learn more in How much sunscreen to use.

Woman using sunscreen for acne prone skin
Non-comedogenic sunscreens are recommended for blemish-prone skin
Eucerin Oil Control Sun Gel-Cream Dry Touch SPF50+
The Eucerin sun protection range includes products specially formulated for blemish-prone skin

How to protect oily skin from the sun

The best way to protect skin is to limit the time spent in the sun, avoid it during its most intense hours, wear protective clothing and apply a superior sun protection product that offers the level of protection that your skin needs. You can read more about how to minimise the risks of exposure, how to choose the right sun protection products for your skin and how best to apply them in Why do I need daily sun protection for my face? and How should I protect my body from the sun?.

If you use an acid-based skin peel or resurfacing treatment, such as Eucerin’s highly effective DermoPurifyer Skin Renewal Treatment, it’s important to remember your skin will be even more sensitive to the sun. We recommend you use the product in the evening and ensure you apply a high or very high protection factor the following morning.

If you are undergoing medical treatment be sure to practice ‘safe sun’. Limit the time spent outdoors, avoid the sun during its most intense hours, wear protective clothing and wear a very high protection sun factor even on cloudy days.

  1. Meeting the highest standards for UVA and UVB protection as defined by Cosmetics Europe.  The levels of UVA protection are higher than the EU requirement. 

What is oily and acne-prone skin?

The word ‘oily’ is used to describe a skin type with heightened sebum production. Sebum is produced in skin’s sebaceous glands and is transported to the skin’s surface where it contributes to skin protection. Oily skin is characterised by a glossy shine and enlarged and visible pores. You can find out more about oily skin in skin types and conditions.

Oily skin is prone to comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) and these can lead to acne. Acne is a non-contagious skin condition where pimples appear on the face and frequently on the neck, shoulders, back and chest too. You can find out more here.

Oily skin needs appropriate sun protection
Oily skin has a glossy shine and visible pores

Why is acne-prone skin particularly susceptible to sun damage?

Sun, in moderation is good for us but overexposure to the sun’s rays can cause both short and long-term damage to all skin types including oily skin. You can read more about the positive and negative effects of the sun on skin in How do UVA, UVB and HEVIS light rays affect skin?.

Excessive and/or unprotected exposure to the sun’s rays can exacerbate the causes and triggers of acne making matters worse rather than better:

  • The sun causes skin to dry out and even oily skin needs moisture. When skin dries out the sebaceous glands go into overdrive and this excessive sebum production is one of the key stages in the formation of blemishes.
  • When skin dries out its surface hardens. This interferes with the natural process whereby dead skin cells are shed and so pores block and blemishes develop.
  • The sun also leads to increased sweat production and speeds up the rate at which sweat degrades on skin’s surface. This creates the perfect environment for the bacteria associated with acne to spread.

Sunlight can also trigger a particular type of acne known as Acne Aestivalis (more commonly known as Mallorca Acne). Acne Aestivalis occurs when UVA rays combine with the chemicals in certain skincare and sun protection products and trigger an allergic reaction. It typically affects women between 25 and 40 who experienced acne during puberty and you can read more about it here.

People with acne marks (pigmentation issues caused by Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation or PIH) are particularly prone to further issues of hyperpigmentation. Excessive sun exposure and/or inappropriate sun protection can exacerbate acne-related hyperpigmentation.

Certain acne treatments and medications − e.g. Benzoyl Peroxide, Tretinoin, Adapalene and Azelaic Acid − also make skin more susceptible to sun damage and increase the need for appropriate sun protection. You can find out more in Acne and medication and Sun protection for oily skin.

Acne and sun exposure
Sunlight can exacerbate acne
Acne scars and sun damage: hyperpigmentation
Acne can cause hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Acne medication and sun exposure
Acne medication can make skin more sensitive to the sun

  1. Meeting the highest standards for UVA and UVB protection as defined by Cosmetics Europe.  The levels of UVA protection are higher than the EU requirement.

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