Derm DMs: Does Sunburn Worsen Acne?
Of all skin obstacles we desperately try to avoid running into in the summertime, sunburn is at the top of our list. We know the importance of slathering ourselves in sunscreen and reapplying SPF whenever we’re out in the sun — but for those of us with oily, acne-prone skin, using greasy SPF over our pimples makes us uncomfortable, and sometimes, we burn in these areas. For the times that sunburns on your pimples happens, we spoke to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital to get the low down on what to do.
Does Sunburn Worsen Acne?
According to Dr. Zeichner, sunburn doesn’t necessarily worsen acne, but it can interfere with acne treatment. “Sunburns lead to irritation and inflammation in the skin, which can make treating acne worse,” he says. “And many acne medications are irritating to the skin themselves, so you may not be able to use them if you get sunburned.”
What to Do If You Get a Sunburn on Top of Acne
Dr. Zeichner’s number-one tip is to address your sunburn first. “Stick to gentle cleanses that will not disrupt the outer layer of the skin,” he says. “You want to make sure to moisturize the skin to enhance hydration and help calm inflammation. In the case of a bad sunburn, your acne treatment should come secondary; the most important thing to do is to help the skin heal from the burn first.
Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin
Of course, finding the right sunscreen for acne-prone skin can help you avoid a sunburn in the first place. “If you have acne, look for oil-free sunscreens that are labeled with the words, ‘non-comedogenic,’” says Dr. Zeichner. “These sunscreens have a lighter consistency that will not weigh down the skin, and the term non-comedogenic means the formula contains only ingredients that will not block your pores.” The Lancôme Bienfait UV SPF 50+ or the La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Sunscreen are two good options.