How Do Skincare Ingredients Cause Sun Sensitivity

Good skincare with proper skincare routine benefits our skin to stay in good condition and look youthful. However, the ingredients from our daily skincare may cause sun sensitivity. So, what is sun sensitivity?

Types of Sun Sensitivity

There are two types of sun sensitivity.


This type of photosensitive is more common than photoallergic. It usually reacts within 24 hours after experiencing sun exposure due to activation of medication. Anyways, phototoxic reactions are only limited to skin exposed under sunlight.  


 This reaction only develops within one to three days after experiencing sun exposure or photosensitizing substances. The reaction occurs when our body’s immune system recognizes changes due to sun exposure, and leaves our skin with rashes, blisters, red bumps or oozing lesions.

Skincare Ingredients and Sun Sensitivity 

Even though skincare helps us to repair our skin, there is still a risk that skincare ingredients will cause sun sensitivity. Here’s why.


Retinol is one of the most important ingredients for anti aging products through exfoliating skin surface and ridding dead skin cells. Retinoids speed up our cell turnover and reveal newer skin, thus it is more prone to damage as it hasn’t been exposed before. Hence, if you apply retinol products at night, you must apply SPF in the morning.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) - Glycolic Acid

This ingredient was usually found in skin-brightening and anti-acne products, which AHA works as to exfoliate the skin through chemicals. Due to constant exfoliation, your skin is more likely to absorb UV radiation, and cause sunburn when exposed to UV lights for 24 hours after application.


This ingredient acts as a lightening agent for skin discoloration through disrupting excessive melanin, which leads to skin being more susceptible to UV radiation. Thus, it is recommended to apply in small doses.


Isotretinoin, formerly named as Accutane, is a powerful treatment method to treat acne. It decreases the size of sebaceous glands, thus our skin becomes more fragile thus is more sensitive to sun.

Common Skincare Ingredients to Avoid


Firstly, always avoid skincare ingredients containing parabens, which can be found in moisturizers, shampoos, or conditioners as preservatives. This is because parabens are harmful enough to increase our skin sensitivity, hormone disruption and lead to cancer.


Besides, oxybenzone is one of the most important to avoid which as well is a common ingredient in sunscreens. Unfortunately, it is the most toxic ingredient to disrupt hormones causing allergic reactions. Moreover, with only 1 drop of oxybenzone in a 6 ½ Olympic-sized pool of water is more than enough to damage coral reefs.

Padimate O

Padimate O, derivative from para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) was found out that it is poisonous in huge amounts and causes allergic dermatitis with photosensitivity issues, and it was no longer in use. However, we still have to be aware of it.

How to Reduce Sun Sensitivity

Avoid Sun Exposure

Avoid exposure to sunlight between 10am and 4pm as the rays are the strongest within the day and try to reschedule your outdoor activities. Limit your time if you can’t change and always seek for shade if possible.

Avoid Sudden Exposure

Instead of sudden sun exposure, gradually increasing spent time outdoors is much better to ensure your skin can adapt to increase sunlight gently to avoid sun allergy symptoms.

Avoid Known Triggers

Keep an eye out for substances that may trigger your skin sensitivity, such as medications. Avoid it to reduce skin sensitivity, then the likelihood of sun sensitivity can be reduced.

Apply Sunscreen

Most important, always apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and water-resistant, even staying indoors. Do apply sunscreen thoroughly and reapply every two hours, especially if you’re experiencing outdoor activities.

Protecting Skin from Sun Damage

Besides reducing sun sensitivity, you have to protect your skin from sun damage as well. Here’s some tips to protect your skin.

Daily Cleansing

We should cleanse our faces to prevent acne and aging, but also to treat sun damage. Our sun damage prevention products can only work at their best if you cleanse your face to remove impurities.

Vitamin C

One of the best ways to protect skin from sun damage would be applying products containing Vitamin C, such as moisturizer with antioxidants. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant for anti-aging. By applying products with Vitamin C regularly, it accelerates collagen and elastin and benefits our skin to stay healthy and youthful, not forgetting to reduce hyperpigmentation, which is usually caused by sun damage.


It is crucial to keep our skin hydrated after sun exposure. This is because our skin can’t repair itself effectively and generate new skin cells if it’s dehydrated. Indeed, dry skin tends to lead our skin to wrinkles or fine lines. Moreover, our skincare product will not be as effective as if our skin is not properly hydrated.

Managing Sun Sensitivity with Key Ingredients for Skincare

Paraben Free Face Serum

As mentioned before, we know that parabens are harmful enough to increase our skin sensitivity. Do you know that parabens also elevates the cellular level damage caused by UV exposure, which increases sun sensitivity. Thus, using products such as paraben free face serum soothes our sensitive skin and is able to protect our skin from free radicals to reduce aging such as wrinkles and fine lines.

Anti Aging Products with Fullerene

In order to manage sun sensitivity, it is recommended to apply anti aging products, especially with Fullerene. For your information, Fullerene is an antioxidant which helps our skin against free radicals caused by UV radiation, which is the main reason for aging and various diseases. To minimize sun sensitivity, applying anti aging products with Fullerene benefits our skin against sunlight.

Moisturizer with Antioxidants

Antioxidants benefit our skin a lot, such as reducing inflammation, DNA damage through UV radiation while improving skin hydration. It also stimulates the production of collagen and elastin as mentioned before, thus reducing pigmentation caused by sun damage. After applying paraben free face serum and anti aging products with fullerene, do apply moisturizer with antioxidants to lock our skin hydration and protect against impurities due to environmental pollution.

Make wearing sunscreen part of your routine. It's easier than you imagine to incorporate into your normal skincare routine. And if you find that the sunscreen you've been using up until now isn't working for you, try something new. Finding the right product for your skin, worries, and regimen may take a few tries. When you get your sunscreen routine down pat, you can go out into the sun without worrying about sunburn.