Should I use a different sunscreen on my face?

Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Does it matter what kind of sunscreen you use on your face? See more pictures of getting beautiful skin.
Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Does it matter what kind of sunscreen you use on your face? See more pictures of getting beautiful skin.
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Sometimes you just can't help getting red in the face. If you've ever been angry or embarrassed, you know that rush of blood to the head can often betray you in a moment when you'd rather hide your emotions than have them displayed in full Technicolor. Of course, there is another way to end up red in the face -- a sunburn. Luckily, that one is preventable. All you have to do is wear sunscreen. But you may have heard that the lotion you're using on your body should be reserved for just that. Does this mean you should you wear another type of sunscreen on your face?

If you're prone to break out, the ingredients in an all-over sunscreen may trigger acne [source: Baumann]. But that doesn't mean you should throw away the sunscreen altogether. Instead, look carefully at the selection of products at your local store. You're likely to find special products made just for the sensitive skin on your face. Oil-free, water-based products are less likely to affect your skin adversely than normal sunscreen. It's also not a bad idea to look for products labeled "non-comedogenic" or "non-acnegenic," as these shouldn't clog pores.


It's good to avoid any products that may contain irritants. This refers to scented, dyed and preservative-containing products, among others. The fewer the ingredients, the better.

However, be careful not to sacrifice sun protection by looking for a mild sunscreen. You should still look for a product that's broad-spectrum, meaning it's designed to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays [source: Mayo Clinic]. Waterproof products are good, too, as sun exposure is often accompanied with sweat and other forms of water contact that may wash away your protective layer.

You can also protect your face by donning a pair of sunglasses and a brimmed hat. Limit your sun exposure, and make sure you re-apply your sunscreen often. If all else fails, it's important to keep your face protected. If your only priority is sun safety, you could use any type of sunscreen on your face; don't be surprised, however, if you notice a few clogged pores or new blemishes.

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Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Sunscreen." (Aug. 19, 2009)
  • Baumann, Leslie, M.D. Personal Interview. August 20, 2009.
  • Skin Type Solutions. "The Blogs: Leslie Baumann." (Aug. 19, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Sunscreen: Answers to Your Burning Questions." March 27, 2009. (Aug. 19, 2009)
  • Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. "Noncomedogenic." (Aug. 19, 2009)