Sunscreen is designed to protect skin, but can have the opposite effect. If you’ve ever experienced this, you’ve probably also asked yourself:

Can sunscreen cause acne?

In people with sensitive, oily, dry, or acne-prone skin, some types of sunscreen can cause acne, redness, and irritation. While some breakouts are caused by sensitivity to a certain ingredient (often times active-ingredients), others are caused by pore-clogging due to heavy or thick formulas.

That being said, picking sunscreens and lotions with oil-free formulation is regarded a best practice to avoid breakouts. If your sunscreen is breaking out your skin and you start noticing pimples building up, stop using it immediately and seek a solution to calm and sooth your aggravated complexion.

Chemical Peels

A chemical peel uses a safe acid solution applied directly to the face once every two to three weeks. The solution is left on the face for several minutes then removed, causing the skin to peel over a span of several days. This peeling signals an exfoliation process which occurs when damaged skin cells are removed and new skin is regenerated. After a chemical peel, skin texture is improved and pores are free of dirt, oils, and debris.


Microdermabrasion can be used to unclog pores and clear acne breakouts. Unlike basic anti-acne cleansers that remove dirt and oil from the skin’s surface, microdermabrasion pulls blackheads directly from your pores using a suction and abrasion technique. This superficial acne treatment can be used for skincare to treat both the face and body.

Laser Therapy

Laser treatments are designed to control acne breakouts without causing damage to the skin. This form of skin therapy works by heating blood vessels which deprives the upper layer of skin from oxygen and nutrients. This causes the top layer of skin to slough off, revealing healthy skin underneath. Laser therapy may require several visits to achieve your goal.

Cleansing Facials

A cleansing facial can do wonders on acne-prone skin. During a facial, the esthetician will perform manual extractions of pore blockages. The skin will also be cleansed, exfoliated, steamed, and moisturized to clean and hydrate it. Your esthetician may also use a magnifying glass to analyze your acne and determine the best course of action to prevent future breakouts.

Although there are always remedies, picking the right sunscreen can help you prevent sunscreen induced breakouts from ever occurring. Non-comedogenic (so it doesn’t clog pores), non-greasy, and oil free sunscreens are generally recommended by dermatologists for acne-free and moisture retaining sun protection.

Some of the best sunscreens, sunblocks, and creams that aren’t prone to cause acne breakouts contain zinc oxide, and/or titanium dioxide, and other antioxidants. This is because mineral sunscreens (unlike chemical sunscreens) do not block your pores. They can still be over a broad-spectrum spf 50 and help against sunburns for all skin types, prevent leaving a white cast, be water resistant (not always), and protect against UVA and UVB rays.

If you’re suffering from acne due to your sunscreen, don’t despair. Visit your local spa or esthetician to clear your breakout and nourish your skin.