Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen for Acne: Which is Better?

Written by: Allison Taylor

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Time to read: 8 min

Sunscreen is essential in any skincare routine. However, sunscreen becomes even more critical when you're navigating the delicate terrain of acne-prone skin.

With the sun's UV rays known to irritate acne and its high likelihood of causing hyperpigmentation and scarring, the choice seems clear – you need protection.

We're here to help you find a sunscreen that will help protect and heal your skin and won't break you out.

Understanding Acne-Prone Skin

For those struggling with acne, the quest for the right skincare products is often daunting. Acne can be aggravated by several environmental and internal factors, including hormonal fluctuations, diet, stress, and the skincare products you use.

This makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of breakouts and find the perfect solution. However, one thing is clear – the right sunscreen will only help your acne-prone skin, not worsen it.

The Impact of UV Rays

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation poses a significant threat to acne-prone skin.

It's not just about sunburn—UV exposure can lead to the development of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) in already inflamed areas, potentially prolonging the healing process of acne blemishes.

The Impact of Acne Medications and Products

Many acne medications and products, such as benzoyl peroxide and retinoids, can make your skin more sensitive to the sun's rays. This means that proper sun protection is even more crucial for those with acne-prone skin.

Moreover, some acne-fighting ingredients can be rendered ineffective by UV exposure – making sunscreen a necessary component in your skincare routine.

Why Sunscreen is a Must

Sunscreen is a non-negotiable ally in your skincare arsenal. It not only protects your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation but can also help in the management of active acne and the prevention of hyperpigmentation scars.

Mineral Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

Mineral sunscreen, often referred to as physical sunscreen, utilizes active mineral ingredients, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, to create a barrier that reflects and disperses UV light. For those with acne, the non-comedogenic properties of mineral sunscreens make it the preferred choice.

Pros

  1. Non-comedogenic: Mineral sunscreens typically contain fewer ingredients and are less likely to clog pores compared to their chemical counterparts, which can be a game-changer for acne-prone skin.

  2. Physical barrier: The formulation forms a layer on the skin, deflecting harmful UV rays, and providing immediate protection without the need to wait after application.

Cons

Despite their benefits, some physical sunscreens can leave a white cast on the skin. However, our Plumscreen™ mineral sunscreen blends seamlessly into all skin tones.

Top Pick for Acne-Prone Skin: Plumscreen ™ by Le Prunier

Our Plumscreen™ is the best-of-the-best option for those with acne-prone skin due to its meticulously selected natural, non-toxic, and organic ingredients.

Our carefully formulated mineral sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection without harsh chemicals, suitable for sensitive and blemish-prone skin types.

It's a rare mineral sunscreen that blends in seamlessly, leaving no white cast.

★★★★★

"It smells like plums and feels more like a light face oil than a sunscreen, which makes it something I actually want to use on my skin each morning."

Chemical Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, work by absorbing UV rays, converting them into a small amount of heat, then releasing them from the skin. This category includes a variety of active ingredients like avobenzone, octocrylene, and oxybenzone.

Pros

  • Lightweight: Chemical sunscreens tend to be lighter and more easily absorbed into the skin compared to mineral sunscreens.

  • No white cast: Unlike mineral sunscreen, chemical sunscreens do not leave a white cast on the skin.

Cons

  • Potential irritation: Chemical sunscreens can cause irritation or allergic reactions in those with sensitive skin. This is due to the active ingredients being absorbed into the skin, potentially causing inflammation.

  • Environmental concerns: Chemical sunscreens have been linked to coral bleaching and damage to marine life, making them a controversial choice for those concerned about their environmental impact.

  • Linked to cancer and endocrine disruption: Some studies have linked certain chemical sunscreen ingredients, such as oxybenzone, to an increased risk of cancer and disruption of hormones.[1]

Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Acne

When it comes to choosing the right sunscreen for acne-prone skin, there are a few key factors to consider:

  1. Choose non-comedogenic: Non-comedogenic means the product has been specifically formulated to not clog pores or cause acne breakouts.

  2. Check the ingredients list: Avoid chemical sunscreens with potentially irritating or harmful ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and fragrance.

  3. Opt for mineral sunscreen: Mineral sunscreens may be a better choice if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin. Look for non-nano zinc oxide - a natural mineral that offers broad-spectrum protection without causing irritation or clogging pores.

  4. Consider SPF level: While higher SPF levels offer slightly more protection from the sun's UV rays, they can also be heavier and more pore-clogging. Stick to SPFs of 30+ for the best balance of protection and skin sensitivity.

  5. Choose a full-spectrum formula: Look for sunscreens that protect from both UVA and UVB rays to ensure complete coverage.

  6. Lifestyle and activities: Consider your lifestyle and the sun exposure you regularly face. Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? Are you involved in water activities? Your daily routine can influence the type of sunscreen that best suits your needs.

Our 7x award-winning Plumscreen™ checks off all the boxes for a perfect daily sunscreen for acne-prone skin. It's:

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Hypoallergenic

  • Free of harmful chemicals, fragrances, and fillers that may encourage acne breakouts

  • Contains non-nano zinc oxide as the active ingredient

  • Offers SPF 31 broad spectrum protection

Plumscreen™ is a holy grail sunscreen for those struggling with acne. Unlike other sunscreens, it's lightweight and full of antioxidants - it feels more like a refreshing moisturizer than an ordinary thick and greasy sunscreen.

It’s a 4-in-1 formula:

  • Mineral sunscreen

  • Moisturizer

  • Makeup primer

  • Anti-aging skincare

5 years in the making, our revolutionary formula uses plums, a powerful superfood, as the main active ingredient.

This lightweight, silky sunscreen:

  • Blends seamlessly with your skin tone

  • Repairs existing sun damage and signs of aging

  • Contains Zonaria Tournefortii Extract - a hand-harvested seaweed with anti-aging benefits

★★★★★

"The it-product of sustainable beauty with a 25k person waitlist." - Forbes

Tips for Effective Sunscreen Application

Regardless of the sunscreen you use, proper application is critical. Here are some tips to ensure you're getting the most out of your sunscreen:

  • If you're unsure if your skin will react to the formula, patch test a small area first. This is especially important for those with sensitive skin.
  • Applying too little sunscreen is a common mistake. Be generous and use at least a quarter-sized amount for your face and neck.

  • To fully absorb and alter the skin, chemical sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure.

  • Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if swimming or sweating.

  • Don't forget often neglected areas like ears, behind the ears, the back of your hands, and especially the scalp (if not covered by hair).

Conclusion

If you suffer from breakouts, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is crucial for the following reasons:

  • Sun exposure can cause inflammation and worsen acne.

  • Some acne medications and products make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, making sunscreen even more important.

  • Acne scars can darken and become more prominent when exposed to UV rays.

While we recommend physical sunscreens like Plumscreen™ for acne-prone skin, it's essential to find one that works best for you and your lifestyle. Sunscreen is your best friend in preventing acne flare-ups and maintaining healthy, glowing skin.

Featured in this Article

Our Heritage

4 Generations. 3 Sisters. 1 Farm.

Welcome to Le Prunier, a skincare revolution rooted in a century-old family farming legacy. Since 1916, we've cultivated purple-red plums in Northern California, defining our heritage for four generations. In 1985, our commitment to sustainable, organic farming expanded globally with the discovery of the dried plum as the "Fruit of Life" in Western Asia. In 2014, we partnered with world-renowned labs to create our flagship product, Plum Beauty Oil, harnessing the skincare potential of our sun-drenched plums. With a 2,500-acre regenerative farm in Northern California, we practice herbicide-free cultivation and use 100% up-cycled plum kernels to eliminate waste. The Power Of Plum® is delivered through our patent-pending Plum Beauty Oil, cold-pressed on our farm. It's 6x more potent than Marula and 8x more robust than Argan oil against hydroxyl radicals.® Experience radiant, youthful skin with our fragrance-free, USDA-Certified Organic Plum Beauty Oil. Our cruelty-free, clinically-tested products redefine beauty with simplicity.

Embrace the legacy and power of plums with Le Prunier - where Tradition Meets Innovation® for timeless beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions

What sunscreen is best for acne-prone skin?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as each individual's skin is unique and may react differently to different types of sunscreen. However, mineral sunscreens are generally recommended for acne-prone skin as they are less likely to clog pores and cause breakouts. It is important to look for non-comedogenic options with broad-spectrum protection and an SPF of at least 30.

Is mineral sunscreen best for acne?

Mineral sunscreen is often recommended for acne-prone skin because they do not contain chemicals such as oxybenzone that can irritate or worsen acne. However, you need to make sure to select a non-comedogenic mineral sunscreen to avoid clogging pores and causing breakouts.

Can sunscreen cause acne?

Some ingredients in certain sunscreens can irritate the skin and worsen existing acne. This is why it is important to choose a non-comedogenic sunscreen that is suitable for your skin type.

Can I use mineral sunscreen if I have oily skin?

Yes, certain mineral sunscreens such as Plumscreen™ are often recommended for those with oily skin as they are light, non-comedogenic, and less likely to clog pores and cause breakouts.

How do I know if I'm using a chemical or physical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin, while physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and act as a barrier to reflect UV rays. Look for active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in your sunscreen to determine if it is a physical or chemical option. Chemical sunscreens contain chemicals such as avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone. Be careful as some sunscreens can contain both.

Are mineral sunscreens pore-clogging?

Mineral sunscreens labeled as non-comedogenic are unlikely to clog pores and cause breakouts. It is recommended to do a patch test on a small area of skin before applying the sunscreen on your face.

References

  1. https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/