Till I was diagnosed with PCOS and treated accordingly, I suffered terrible cystic acne well into my 20s. Though I'm now mostly clear-faced, I still have sensitive, acne-prone skin that's likely to break out if anything even remotely irritates it.
One of the biggest culprits of irritation to my skin is comedogenic, pore-clogging moisturizers. Years ago, I began swapping all my moisturizers for oils as a more reliable and natural way of sealing my serums into my skin. However, SPF is where my skin gets into trouble. I know as much as anyone the importance of putting an SPF on our skin when we go outside, but most products on the market are oily and pore-clogging — not to mention the white cast they leave on my medium-toned skin.
Over the past several years, however, I've cultivated a list of faithful SPF products I rely on for my sensitive, acne-prone skin — most of which are even hot-Indian-summer-approved. More recently, I spoke with Amarte Skin Care President Dr. Craig Kraffert, a dermatologist, who validated some of my favorite picks and added some more to my list of favorites.
According to Dr. Kraffert, sun is actually good for acne. "Sun tanning improves acne for most people, in my opinion." On the contrary, it's actually sweating that causes worsening of acne. These, below, are the tried and true SPF products I count on for daily wear, validated even further my Dr. Kraffert's expert advice.
Dr. Kraffert recommends lightweight SPF products. This spray puts out such a fine mist, you barely feel it on your face. It also has the added positive effect of blurring pores for a flawless finish sans makeup.
This luxurious, nourishing face cream that is extra soothing when my skin is red or feeling sensitive.
This renewal cream doesn't have any makeup in it, but it actually makes my skin glow in a way that looks like I do have some on — a dream when my skin is feeling extra sensitive or looking red. Dropping the money for a luxury price tag might sound daunting, but Dr. Kraffert warns against less expensive, drugstore brands for your SPF of choice.
"Many less expensive and mass-market sunscreens use homosalate," he said. "This ingredient is often used in large percentages and — aside from having a discernable, lingering odor — can contribute to a heavy and greasy product feel."
Dr. Kraffert emphasizes that when shopping for an SPF, there should be no visual residue — something I'd never actually heard but that makes complete sense. As a medium-skin-toned woman, SPFs I had tried and not ended up liking often sat on top of my skin with a white cast. I thought it was just a coincidence that those same products would cause acne.
One of the key points Dr. Kraffert reiterates is the importance of using an SPF that is non-greasy. This one is free of mineral oil, which is one of the most popular fillers in poor-quality skincare — a great fit for anyone with sensitive skin.
This SPF treats dark spots I have from ghosts of acne past — and prevents existing ones from getting worse.
One of my favorite things about this SPF in particular is that it isn't sticky or greasy like some products catered towards oily/acne-prone skin can be. "There should be no stickiness, greasiness, or shininess," Dr. Kraffert emphasized.
Yes, those of us who are acne-prone usually have oilier skin. But, as I mentioned before, I put oil on my face for its more nourishing, natural feel — and this one fits the bill for doing the same on the body. The nourishing coconut oil in it is antibacterial and antifungal, too.
Dr. Kraffert emphasizes the importance of finding a sunscreen that doesn't have any synthetic fragrance or has very little at all. This one is perfect if you don't like fragrance at all.
Sometimes when I'm out in the sun — for example, if I know my selfie-loving friend will be with me — I want just the tiniest bit of coverage. Lots of BB creams and tinted moisturizers do have SPF in them, but they tend to clog my pores, making my skin even oilier and causing breakouts later.
This one, however, mattifies my skin with just the smallest hint of coverage to blur our dark spots.
Juice Beauty has long been a go-to of mine for natural yet effective ingredients in skincare. I wear it alone to calm my skin even when I'm not planning on being out in the sun. It even works under makeup, which further validates Dr. Kraffert's stance that a good sunscreen should feel good, no matter what skincare you're pairing it with or if you're just wearing it alone.
The Ordinary is well-known for its scientific formulas made for skincare addicts and junkies. As a loyal follower, this SPF has nearly everything you look for in a moisturizer and goes above and beyond in how it serves as a sunscreen. The bio-active antioxidant network in the lightweight protection serves as a protection from all free radicals.
So, if you live in a highly polluted area like I do, this is a must-have.
Sometimes, the texture of a product can be pure marketing or the result of chemicals built to give a product an aesthetic feel. This moisturizer, on the other hand, feels extremely comfortable and silky on the skin, which Dr. Kraffert emphasizes is extremely important to find in a moisturizer. "Sunscreen should feel so good that it becomes part of a pleasurable daily ritual."
For those long days spent at the beach or poolside, I love keeping this in my bag. It's way easier (and less messy) than a lotion, and it feels super refreshing on a hot summer's day.
OK, so this isn't an anti-acne product. But, it's important to note the importance of having an SPF on the lips to prevent burning/chapped lips, especially if you're prone to dryness.
"Amarte's Ultra Veil goes on like silk and absorbs quickly leaving a moist, touchable, and aesthetically improved skin appearance. Its sheerness can be enjoyed on all skin tones without being tarnished by a grayish-white reflection," says Dr. Kraffert. "Amarte has perfected processing methods for the titanium and zinc raw ingredients, improving their optical and reflective properties."
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