Does Sunscreen Clog Your Pores? Here’s What You Need to Know + How to Prevent It

It feels thicker and goopier than everything else, so it’s obviously suspect.
BY Sarah Lim
| August, 2022
sunscreen clog your pores

We all know how important sunscreen is in protecting our skin from the sun’s harsh rays and preventing premature aging. Study after study shows just how much the sun can influence skin aging, accelerating collagen breakdown and even leading to early wrinkles. Does Sunscreen Clog Your Pores?

So, we get it. But what happens when sunscreen has an adverse effect on your skin—say, clogged pores?

YOU might be surprised to find that certain types of sunscreen can clog your pores. Here’s what you need to know when wondering, “Does sunscreen clog pores?” as well as some of the best non-comedogenic sunscreen options available today.

It’s True—Water-Resistant Sunscreen Can Clog Pores

It’s True—Water-Resistant Sunscreen Can Clog Pores

Does sunscreen clog pores? The answer is yes, it can.

Water-resistant sunscreen is the most likely to clog pores, given that it uses comedogenic ingredients. Comedogenic ingredients can clog pores, but they are also great for repelling water, making these sunscreens popular for swimming or sweating while spending time outdoors.

These comedogenic ingredients include emollients such as squalene, coconut oil, ceramides, beeswax, and plant-based butters, including shea, cocoa, and mango butter. As such, water-resistant sunscreen can clog pores and lead to breakouts

If you aren’t removing sunscreen properly—especially when you’re reapplying sunscreen throughout the day, which is often the case when you’re at the beach, pool, or a barbeque spending time outside—you’re at an even higher risk of having sunscreen clog your pores.

How to Stop Sunscreen From Clogging Pores

How to Stop Sunscreen From Clogging Pores

Fortunately, you don’t have to skip your favorite sunscreen just to prevent it from clogging your pores, and you don’t necessarily have to invest in a non-comedogenic sunscreen to keep your skin healthy.

We’ve got a few tips here to prevent sunscreen from causing those annoying breakouts that can impact your confidence on a beautiful summer day.

1. Layer Water-Resistant Sunscreen With a Regular Sunscreen

Creating a barrier on the top layer of your skin can help prevent your pores from becoming clogged if you want to use a water-resistant or comedogenic sunscreen. Layer the water-resistant sunscreen with either regular sunscreen or a light moisturizer.

YOU can also blot the sunscreen with a cotton pad or tissue after applying it and then apply powdered sunscreen for extra protection.

2. Always Thoroughly Remove Your Sunscreen

Sunscreen can be tricky to fully remove, especially if you’re using one that contains cocoa, shea butter, or another emollient. However, fully removing your sunscreen is crucial in preventing it from clogging your pores.

The trick to thoroughly removing sunscreen from your face and body is to use an oil-based cleanser. You may need to double-cleanse to ensure everything is off and gently wipe your face or body afterward with a washcloth to remove any residue.

3. Keep Up With Your Skincare Routine

To help keep your pores clear, it’s essential to keep up with the rest of your skin care routine. For example, you can do an AHA/BHA mask a few times a week to help keep pores clear.

You can also add a toner to your routine to help balance your skin’s microbiome and discourage breakouts. For your daily moisturizer, go light since water-resistant sunscreens tend to be heavy.

4. Choose a Sunscreen for Your Skin Type

Your skin is unique and can react differently to different types of sunscreens. Therefore, choosing a sunscreen based on your skin type is important. Choose a non-clogging sunscreen if you have oily skin. If you need more protection, you can add a water-resistant sunscreen or a powder.

Sensitive skin types can also benefit from choosing a more natural, mineral sunscreens to reduce the chances of a skin reaction.

But Wait—Is It Really Clogging Your Pores?

But Wait—Is It Really Clogging Your Pores

Does sunscreen clog pores, or could it be something else?

Any breakouts or skin reactions may be caused by a reaction to the ingredients in your sunscreen rather than the comedogenic formula of water-resistant sunscreens. This is especially true for delicate skin and chemical sunscreens instead of mineral ones.

Sensitive skin types can react to the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens, including oxybenzone and octocrylene, which can cause contact dermatitis or a rash that looks like acne prone skin. So, your sunscreen may not actually be clogging your pores. But rather, there may be something in the formula that your specific skin type doesn’t like.

Dry skin types may also be more likely to react to chemical sunscreens, which can make adding a base layer of regular sunscreen (not water-resistant) or moisturizer important. You can also choose a mineral (also called physical) sunscreen to help prevent any potential irritation.

If you have tried different sunscreens for your skin type but still have problems with clogged pores or breakouts, follow up with your dermatologist to see what the problem could be. 

Top Picks for Safe Water-Resistant Sunscreen

Although it can be challenging to find a water-resistant non-comedogenic sunscreen, check out our top picks for safe sunscreens to protect your beautiful skin even while sweating or swimming—just remember to remove them thoroughly at the end of the day.

Consider:

Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

This water-resistant sunscreen gives you a full 80 minutes before reapplying. The non-greasy and lightweight formula provides broad-spectrum protection with mineral zinc oxide as the active ingredient. Fragrance-free for sensitive skin.

Supergoop! Play 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 50 

This lightweight mineral formula is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. It features green algae extract and tucuma butter to fight free radical damage to nourish the skin.

Badger Sport Mineral Sunscreen Cream SPF 40 

Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and reef-friendly. This broad-spectrum SPF 40 formula is made with 98% organic ingredients and clear zinc to protect skin from the sun without the white cast.

MD Solar Sciences Mineral Crème SPF 50 

Get silky, broad-spectrum protection with SPF 50 and a matte finish for a weightless feel. This oil-free, hypoallergenic formula is 100% mineral and reef-safe. Bonus—it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

What Are Your Fave Sunscreens?

Have YOU found any water-resistant sunscreens you love that don’t clog pores? Let us know in the comments below!

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