Why does sunscreen react to skin?

We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen to shield our skin from the damaging effects of the sun's rays. However, have you ever wondered why some people experience reactions when they apply sunscreen and others don't?

In this blog post, we'll dive into the fascinating world of sunscreen reactions and shed light on why they occur. So, let's explore the science behind these interactions and learn how to navigate the sunscreen aisle with confidence!


Harsh Chemical Ingredients

To understand sunscreen reactions, it's essential to distinguish between chemical and physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that absorb UV rays and convert them into heat energy. Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, work by reflecting and scattering UV rays away from the skin. The type of sunscreen you use can influence the likelihood of a reaction occurring.

Often it is found that chemical ingredients are the main culprits that can cause serious skin irritations, allergies and react to sensitive skin. If you're looking for a better alternative, check out mineral based options using zinc oxide as the primary active ingredient.


Sensitivity and Allergies

Sunscreen reactions can occur due to individual sensitivities or allergies to certain ingredients. Chemical sunscreens often contain components like avobenzone, oxybenzone, or octinoxate, which can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. Physical sunscreens typically use minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are less likely to cause sensitivities or allergies.



In rare cases, a condition called photodermatitis may occur, causing an adverse reaction when the skin is exposed to sunlight after applying certain substances, including sunscreen. This reaction can result in redness, itching, or even a rash. Photodermatitis is typically triggered by specific ingredients or chemicals found in sunscreen formulations.


pH Levels and Skin Barrier

The pH level of your skin and the integrity of its protective barrier can influence how it interacts with sunscreen. Skin with a compromised barrier or a higher pH level may be more prone to reactions when exposed to certain sunscreen ingredients. Maintaining a healthy skin barrier through proper hydration and gentle skincare can help minimize these reactions.


Application Techniques

How you apply sunscreen can also play a role in reactions. Insufficient blending or uneven application can create a concentration of sunscreen in specific areas, leading to potential reactions. It's crucial to apply sunscreen evenly and generously, paying attention to commonly missed areas like the ears, neck, and backs of hands.


Sunscreen Combos

Mixing different skincare products or using sunscreen alongside certain ingredients can sometimes cause unexpected reactions. Some chemical interactions between sunscreen and other substances, such as specific makeup or skincare products, may lead to skin irritation. It's essential to read product labels and be mindful of potential ingredient interactions.


Try A Patch Test!

To determine if you're sensitive or allergic to a particular sunscreen, consider conducting a patch test. Apply a small amount of sunscreen to a discreet area of your skin, such as the inside of your forearm, and observe for any adverse reactions over 24 to 48 hours. This can help identify potential triggers and guide your sunscreen selection.


Sunscreen reactions can occur due to individual sensitivities, allergies, or chemical interactions. Understanding the science behind these reactions can help you make informed choices when selecting and applying sunscreen. Consider opting for physical sunscreens with gentle mineral-based ingredients if you have sensitive skin or a history of reactions.

Additionally, patch testing and proper application techniques are valuable tools in ensuring a positive sunscreen experience. Remember, finding the right sunscreen for your skin is key to enjoying sun-soaked adventures while keeping your skin happy and protected!

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