Sunburn is kind of the worst. Which is why you always remember to wear sunscreen. But if despite the SPF you still end up with red and sensitive skin after spending time outside, it may be due to your skin care routine. Because, unfortunately, there are some skin care ingredients that can increase your risk of sunburn.
To find out a little more about what some of these ingredients are, and why they have an effect on photosensitivity, I corresponded via email with New York City dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, MD. As it turns out, if you particularly enjoy exfoliators or are in the process of treating acne or aging, you may have a product in your skincare regimen that affects your sensitivity to the sun. And especially if you find that you burn more easily now than you used to, it's probably time to examine the ingredients in some of your most-used products.
But what exactly is it about these products that causes them to increase your risk of sunburn? According to Dr. King, select ingredients can actually temporarily thin the skin, making your skin more sensitive to UV exposure. So if you enjoy spending time outside but want to limit your skin's sensitivity to the sun, here are a few of the most common OTC beauty product ingredients that Dr. King warns could increase your risk of sunburn.
1. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
If you prefer chemical exfoliators and are targeting acne or fine lines, you may have a product or two with AHAs in your skin care lineup. Some versions of AHAs that you may find in your products are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid, with glycolic acid being the most common.
2. Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
One of the most common BHAs is salicylic acid, which is found in many acne treatments. Compared to AHAs, BHAs are generally less irritating, but you should still take precaution during sun exposure.
Retinol is a type of vitamin A derivative that helps with cell turnover to treat signs of aging and acne. On an ingredients label, you may see it listed as "retinol," "retinoid," or "retinoic acid." But whatever the name, it's best to avoid this ingredient immediately before and during sun exposure.
4. Benzoyl Peroxide
Another popular acne treatment, benzoyl peroxide works as an antibacterial agent. You may see it in concentrations of anywhere from 2.5 to 10 percent in washes and creams. But regardless of the strength, be sure to wear proper sun protection when venturing outdoors if you use this treatment on a regular basis.
It's important to keep in mind that your skin's sensitivity to the sun could be affected by how much of these ingredients you use and when you use them. If you're concerned about optimizing your skincare routine and the time you spend in the sun, talk to your doctor or dermatologist about the best products and skincare regimen for you.