Instantaneous response to — why does sunscreen hurt my face?

Sunscreen can hurt your face due to a sensitive skin reaction or irritation from the ingredients in the sunscreen.

A more thorough response to your request

Sunscreen is an essential part of skincare routine as it shields the skin from harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer, premature aging, and sun damage. However, for some people, sunscreen can cause discomfort and irritation, particularly on their face. The reasons for this may vary from an allergic reaction to sensitivity to some of the ingredients in the sunscreen.

According to dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Kazin, sunscreen ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate can cause stinging, burning, and redness on the skin, especially on the face. Kazin suggested that people with sensitive skin look for mineral-based sunscreen products that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are less likely to cause irritation.

Another cause of sunscreen irritation can be overuse or improper application of the product, such as applying too much, not waiting long enough after application, or using expired sunscreen. It is also important to note that sunscreen is not a one-size-fits-all product, and finding the right one for your skin type is essential.

Here are some interesting facts about sunscreen:

  • The first sunscreen was invented in 1938 by Austrian chemist Franz Greiter.

  • There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreen protects the skin by reflecting the sun’s rays, while chemical sunscreen absorbs the sun’s rays.

  • The sun protection factor (SPF) in sunscreen refers to the level of protection the product provides against UVB rays, which cause sunburn. It does not measure protection against UVA rays, which are also harmful to the skin.

  • Sunscreen can lose its effectiveness if not applied correctly or reapplied frequently.

  • Sunscreen should be applied at least 15-30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every two hours or after swimming/sweating.

  • The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

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As the famous quote from dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad goes, “You don’t have to sacrifice fun for sun safety,” and with the right sunscreen, you can enjoy the outdoors without the discomfort of irritation on your face.


Type of sunscreen Pros Cons
Physical sunscreen Gentle on the skin Can leave a white cast
Safe for sensitive May need to be reapplied
skin frequently
Chemical sunscreen Wears well on the Can cause skin irritation
skin May not be safe for all
Offers broad-spectrum skin types

Video answer to your question

In her video, “SUNSCREEN allergic reactions and rashes| Dr Dray,” Dr. Dray explains the potential allergens and irritants in sunscreens and their effects on the skin. While active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide found in mineral sunscreens rarely cause allergies as they stay on the surface of the skin, oxybenzone and avobenzone, common ingredients in chemical sunscreens, can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Dr. Dray recommends mineral sunscreens as an alternative and discusses how some ingredients like fragrance, essential oils, and propylene glycol can cause non-allergic irritations. She also advises getting patch tested by a board-certified dermatologist, utilizing sun protective clothing, and monitoring medications that increase sensitivity to the sun.

See more possible solutions

In some people, there is an interaction between a sunscreen ingredient and UV light which leads to a skin reaction. This is usually a result of an allergy to the active ingredients, but it can also be due to a reaction to the fragrances or preservatives in the product.

You knew that, Of the chemicals in the sunscreens tested for, oxybenzone was found to be absorbed within 30 minutes and reached the highest levels in blood. Oxybenzone, also listed as benzophenone-3 on labels, is a chemical that absorbs light and protects the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation.
You knew that, The American Academy of Dermatology found that just over 40 percent of Americans tend to only reapply sunscreen when they get wet, if at all. "Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or immediately after heavy sweating or swimming," Zeichner said.

Also people ask

Also to know is, Why do my eyes burn when I put sunscreen on my face? Answer will be: The preservatives or chemical ingredients in sunscreen cause an intense stinging sensation. Avobenzone is one chemical that irritates when it comes in contact with your eyes. Although it won’t lead to permanent damage, you may experience a chemical burn on the surface of your eye that can be painful for a few days.

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What ingredient in sunscreen causes prickly heat? You might try to avoid any sunscreen that contains an ingredient called " Oxybenzone" , which is widely reported as being an irritant for some peoples’ skin, even those who don’t normally have reactions to external application products.

Beside this, How do you calm down a sunscreen reaction?
The reply will be: If you develop a sunscreen allergy, immediately clean your skin, says Zeichner. If necessary, you can use over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone to calm the inflammation (in less severe cases, you can just leave it alone or apply a bland moisturizer, he adds).

Herein, What should I use instead of sunscreen? Answer: 7 Alternatives to Sunscreen

  • Coconut Oil. Vitamin E in coconut helps give your skin a certain suppleness and maintains its overall health.
  • Shea Butter. Shea butter does offer some protection against UV rays with an SPF of 3 to 4.
  • Aloe Vera.
  • Avocado.
  • Plant Oils.
  • UPF Sun Hats.
  • UPF Rash Guard.
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