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Question: How to protect sensitive skin from the sun?

Asked by Judy-J

16 answers

I have very sensitive skin and have found that even suncreams by brands I use every day (and never react to) cause a reaction - I've heard SPF filters can do this, so what's the alternative if I want to stay safe in the summer?

Classic Facials, Allergy Testing, Dermatology, Cosmetic Skin Treatments, Skincare Consultation

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Can you help out?

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Hi there,

Very interesting question actually. I have a few patients who have also complained that they experience sensitivity after using branded SPF products.

There are various things that you can try:

1. Avoid the sun completely. I know this is probably the most difficult thing to do, especially during the summer months :-)

2. Try some brands that are designed for sensitive skin or that are specifically made for babies. These usually have a lower rate of reaction.

3. If these don't help then you may need skin allergy patch testing to determine what ingredients you may be allergic to (or have the greatest reaction to).

Hope this helps,

Dr. Sid Gautam MRCGP
Clinical Lead
Dermaskin Clinics UK


Other answers (15)


Another thing to add to that is to find out what exactly your skin is sensitive TO... once you have found this you will be able to avoid the ingrediant that is causing it in the first place.


Hi Judy, I would recommend trying a good quality 'natural' sunscreen. These normaly contain minerals which are natural sun filters. Opt for one that is fragrance free as this can also cause irritation when combined with exposure to the sun. Other things to look out for are parabens, petrochemicals, Lanolin & artificial colourings. These can all add to the reaction you are experiencing. Good brands to try are Greenpeople, Weleda, Jason & Neals Yard.
Hope this helps!



The gold standard sun protection is zinc oxide. This is inert, has anti-inflammatory properties and is best for sun sensitive skin. Micronised versions are excellent as unfortunately nanonised versions are now unavailable. Try Rationale skin care products from Australia for excellent protection (Photodynamic light activated day cream SPF15). It also contains white microcrystalline light diffusing particles which help with skin luminosity.

Paul Banwell FRCS(Plast)
Consultant Plastic Surgeon & Skin Expert
Director, Skin Institute UK



Hi there!

Great question - the best sunblock I have come across for my clients who suffer from sensitivity is between natural mineral foundation which can contain up to SPF 25 and Epicuren Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 20 which is 100% natural -amazing product, it also helps if you can have a facial that delivers vitamins and minerals into the lower layers of the skin to provide protection from within!

Hope that helps - Lisa Harris

Sources: Lisa Harris - Inspiration Beauty Spa
Founder & Skin Specialist
T: 01932 841717


Probably best to avoid water resistant sun screens. They can trap perspiration on the surface of the skin because it can't evaporate, impairing the cooling action. This can lead to prickly heat. Our clients favourites are MD Formulations and Heliocare.
Permanent Beauty Reading



Use a lower factor a good quality spf 15 is best for sensitive skin, as some higher spfs are just full of different uv filters giving you more things to react to! Just use it more often. Use a specialised spf for the face.
Eat tomatoes or tomato paste even tomatoe juice as tomatoes are high in antioxidants such as lycopene which is very effective at blocking the effects of uv rays, helping prevent sunburn.
Also check the star rating on ur suncream, the number is against uvb and stars are against uva. Try to avaoid using creams that last longer than 18 months.

I hope this helps!


Hi Judy, My advice would be to try out some natural sunscreen products, there are lots on the market now that don't allow sunscreens to enter your bloodstream and filter but block harnful rays form entering the skin. Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide are ingredients to look out for .If you ever use any of these natural sunscreens and go into the water they do go white, but you know what if they do it proves they are there and working to protect your skin.
Other then that saty ou fo the sun as much as possible is the only other thing i can advise.




The problem with many SPFs is the amount of chemicals that they contain. You need to looking at one that looks as if it is relatively low level SPF, but actually is boosted with its anti-reflectant properties. For instance, Environ has a fantastic SPF which is only SPF15 (because of low chemical content). It offers broad spectrum protection against UVA AND B and because it contains titanium dioxide, it reflects the sun away from the body. For further information see http:/ Then click on Environ, Suncare and RAD SPF15.


Try a thin layer of a vitamin C serum or a thin layer of a moisturizer for sensitive skin first BEFORE applying sun protection.


Hi Judy

Its best to look for sunscreens that contain either Zinc dioxide ( can be quite a thick texture and white) or Titanium dioxide these are mineral based sunscreens which act like a crushed mirror on the skin reflecting the sun rays whereas many chemical sunscreens absorb the rays and goes back into the skin and therefore can cause a reaction for sensitive skins,
Also avoid any sunscreens with perfume or certain plant extracts as they can irritate the skin too.
Also go for a lower SPF but re apply more often as the higher the spf the more chemicals go into the products
I am a big fan of the Environ Rad its chemically spf 15 but contains other antioxidents which protects your skin further I have had many clients with fair & sensisitve skins and have gone to the hottest countries and have been completely fine and no reactions with this product & helps prevent prickly heat.
If you need more information about the products you can contact me on




I would give Jane Iredale's Powder-Me SPF a go. It's designed to soothe the skin as well as protecting it and has no chemical sunscreen ingredients which may be the cause of your irritation.

Hope this helps,
Green Space Salon


I love environ Rad. it has minimum chemicals and even though its only factor 15 it offers great protection.



Try MD Formulations total protector. It has uva and uvb filters in but its the only spf that doesn't make my little boys skin react, and I have tried a lot. Failing that some make up has spf in but I wouldn't recommend using these's if you are sunbathing as you need to re-apply creams regular for them to work and I don't think you'd get that protection from make-up.
Or try some organic suncreams that remove as many chemicals as possible to help reduce reactions.
Hope this helps.


HI Judy - Thanks for the question - even on cloudy days it is important to provide your skin with enough protection to avoid UVB and UVA rays that can cause age spots, burning and premature ageing - try our fantastic SunScript for an everyday non greasy sun protector which is suitable for use every day.



Hi Judy, first of all I like to know what type a skin care do you have , and really the suncream would not be a solution for your sensitive skin, I would advice you to use the skin care that they are for sensitive and irritancy and it has the spf protection, and then apply the suncream spf over the moisturizer . I hope this help you to sort out your problem.
emily ( Serena beauty salon)

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