Many of our members seek advice for managing eczema and rosacea, particularly when it comes to choosing the right sun protection products. They’ve carried out their own research and found it difficult to know what products to trust. Finding suitable sunscreens can be even more challenging for sensitive skin. With the knowledge of our aestheticians, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to provide you with valuable tips and insights on selecting SPF products if you have eczema or rosacea
Choosing the Right SPF for Eczema and Rosacea
When it comes to selecting SPF for eczema and rosacea, consider the following factors to ensure both sun protection and skin comfort:
- Ensuring Broad-Spectrum Protection: Look for sunscreens with a UVA in a circle, or those labelled "broad-spectrum" to ensure protection against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays contribute to skin ageing and can trigger inflammation, while UVB rays cause sunburn. Both cause skin damage and can worsen eczema and rosacea symptoms.
- Choosing Gentle and Fragrance-Free Formulations: Opt for sunscreens specifically formulated for reactive skin. Eczema and rosacea-prone skin can be more sensitive to fragrances and certain additives, leading to further inflammation and discomfort. Choose fragrance-free or unscented sunscreens to minimise the risk of irritation, or look for a product labelled hypoallergenic - this means it has undergone extra testing to minimise irritation potential in sensitive skin.
- Exploring Physical (Mineral) Sunscreens: Consider using physical sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients form a physical barrier on the skin's surface, reflecting and scattering UV rays away from the skin. Physical sunscreens are generally better tolerated by sensitive skin, including eczema and rosacea. However, these types of sunscreens are more likely to leave a white cast on darker skin tones. To avoid this, opt for hypoallergenic sunscreen products with synthetic/chemical filters instead.
- Opting for the Right SPF Strength: Choose a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 (ideally an SPF of 50), as recommended by Dermatologists. Higher SPF values block a higher % of UV rays, so provide increased protection, especially for individuals with skin conditions prone to sensitivity and inflammation. Remember, SPF represents the level of UVB protection and not UVA protection. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen for comprehensive coverage. Broad-spectrum will be labelled on relevant US products, but this will be signalled by the UVA in a circle for European sunscreens, or a PA+++ or above rating for those manufactured in Asia.
- Prioritising Non-Comedogenic and Lightweight Formulations: Ensure that the chosen sunscreen is non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores or worsen acne or rosacea symptoms. Lightweight formulations are preferable if you are prone to congestion, as they are less likely to feel heavy or greasy on the skin.
- Harnessing the Power of Plant-Based Soothers and Antioxidants: Look for sunscreens that contain soothing and antioxidant ingredients such as aloe vera, chamomile, or green tea extracts. Antioxidants help to protect us against free radicals, which would otherwise cause damage to the skin. Free radicals are present in the atmosphere, one of the causes for them is UV energy breaking the bond between two oxygen atoms that usually exist joined together. Each oxygen atom alone is very unstable, which is how it can end up reacting and causing damage to the skin and body. Antioxidants can ‘neutralise’ the free radical so that it is no longer unstable and reactive. Including antioxidants in your sunscreen offers extra protection to the skin.
Some great examples of plant antioxidants with soothing properties are here:
Algae: Most modern skin-care products containing algae feature a combination of nutrient-dense macro plants and microorganisms. Two popularised microalgae are spirulina, and chlorella, a green microalga that grows in freshwater. Algae help to hydrate skin, strengthen the skin barrier, and are proven to ease noticeable redness.
Aloe vera: Aloe vera has been used for millennia as a natural medicine across many regions of the world, with references as early as Cleopatra using it as part of her beauty routine. It contains around 75 active constituents, including Vitamins A, C & E to provide antioxidant protection, 8 enzymes to inhibit inflammatory processes in the body and 9 different minerals to support the body’s natural functioning. It also includes sugars to provide hydrating humectant properties, fatty acids to provide anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, and hormones to promote wound healing.
Chamomile: Chamomile contains high levels of naturally occurring compounds called terpenoids, the most famous being bisabolol. Bisabolol is known for its soothing properties, so including Chamomile extract in skincare can also provide this benefit.
Green tea: Green Tea is a natural plant extract, rich in polyphenols, also known as catechins. Green Tea is particularly high in the catechin Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it can neutralise free radicals to prevent them from causing damage to the skin. It is one of the most well-researched natural plant extracts used in skincare, with studies also showing it to have an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effect.
These ingredients can help calm inflammation and reduce redness, as well as provide antioxidant benefits, providing additional comfort and protection for eczema and rosacea-prone skin.
- Water-Resistant Formulations:
If you plan on swimming or sweating, choose a water-resistant sunscreen to maintain protection. Reapply according to the manufacturer's instructions, especially after water-related activities or excessive sweating.
Do those with eczema or rosacea need to wear more SPF?
People with eczema or rosacea need to be able to protect their skin from the sun like everybody else. In fact, rosacea and certain types of eczema can be aggravated by sun exposure (known as photo-aggravated eczema) so sun protection may be a key part of managing the skin conditions in these individuals. The unique challenge in these cases is to find a sunscreen that suits sensitive skin well, however, the amount of sunscreen that is applied and the frequency of top-ups is not different from anyone else i.e. apply sunscreen generously before going in the sun and reapply it every two hours or more frequently if sweating or engaging in water activities.
Renude Approved Sunscreens for eczema and rosacea
- Heliocare Mineral Tolerance SPF50 - This high-protection SPF50 fluid not only protects against UVA and UVB but also against infra-red and blue light, which can also cause damage to the skin (blue light is emitted from the sun, as well as in low levels from mobile phones/computer screens). The formula also includes FernBlock technology to provide antioxidant protection and intense skin repairing benefits.
- Eucerin Sensitive Mattifying Protect SPF50 - This lightweight, oil-free mattifying SPF50 fluid offers broad-spectrum daily protection to the skin. Formulated to protect against UVA, UVB rays and High Energy Visible light (which can also contribute to skin damage).
- EVY Technology - The intensely moisturising and softening formula counteracts free radicals, premature ageing and environmental stress. It protects the skin cells from damage caused by sun exposure. EVY helps the skin retain its natural moisture without clogging the pores. The allergy-tested formula is suitable for all skin types and is perfect under make-up and after shaving.
- Bioderma Cicabio SPF50 - This green-tinted nourishing sunscreen is a great option to counteract redness and soothe the skin whilst offering high broad-spectrum sun protection. It includes a blend of Centella asiatica, resveratrol and copper to reduce inflammation and provide antioxidant protection, whilst zinc acts as an antibacterial.
The Importance of Patch Testing First
Before applying any new sunscreen, perform a patch test on a small area of your skin to check for any adverse reactions. Patch testing is especially important for individuals with sensitive or reactive skin, allergies, or specific skin conditions. It helps to identify potential triggers and minimise the risk of irritation.
Here's how to patch test properly on eczema and rosacea-prone skin
- Cleanse the Area: Select a small, inconspicuous area of skin where you can easily observe and assess any potential reactions. Common patch test areas include the inner forearm, behind the ear, or the side of the neck. Cleanse the chosen area with warm water and a mild, gentle cleanser that you know your skin tolerates well. Ensure the area is dry before applying the product.
- Apply the Product: Apply a small amount of the product you want to test to the patch test area. Use a cotton swab or your clean fingertips to ensure precise application. Avoid overlapping or applying the product too close to the edges of the patch test area.
- Leave it on: Allow the product to remain on the patch test area for the recommended duration, typically 24 to 48 hours. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or consult with a dermatologist for specific guidance.
- Observe and Assess: During the patch test period, closely observe the patch test area for any signs of irritation, redness, itching, swelling, or other unusual reactions. If you experience any discomfort or adverse reactions, remove the product immediately and rinse the area with water. Sometimes, delayed reactions can occur. After the initial 24 to 48 hours, continue to monitor the patch test area for an additional 24 to 48 hours. This prolonged observation period can help detect any delayed allergic reactions or sensitivities.
If the patch test area shows no signs of irritation or adverse reactions during the testing period, it indicates that the product is likely safe for use on your skin. However, if you experience any negative reactions, such as redness, itching, burning, or swelling, it's best to avoid using the product on your entire face or body.
Selecting the right SPF for eczema and rosacea requires thoughtful consideration and attention to your skin's specific needs. Prioritise broad-spectrum protection, gentle formulations, physical sunscreens, and higher SPF values. Keep in mind the importance of non-comedogenic, lightweight, and soothing antioxidant ingredients to minimise potential irritation and maximise skin comfort.
By choosing the right SPF products and incorporating them into your daily routine, you can enjoy the outdoors while safeguarding your sensitive skin from potential flare-ups and maintaining its health and vitality.
It is always advisable to consult with a skincare professional for personalised advice based on your specific skin condition, start our skin quiz today to stay informed, stay protected, and embrace the beauty of healthy skin!