Topical Rosacea Treatments
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What is the best sunscreen for rosacea?
What is the best sunscreen for rosacea? I have been newly diagnosed and have been told how important it is to protect my skin from daylight on a daily basis and want to make sure I don't fumble on this. There are just too many sunscreens available on the market, and most I have tried irritate my skin or make my complexion white and pasty. Susan L., Ohio. USA.
Thank you for contacting us with your question, it's great to hear from someone who is concerned about what is meant by optimal sunscreen use.
For rosacea patients to benefit fully from sunscreen use, they must apply their sunscreen 365 days a year, irrespective of season or cloud coverage.
This is because the most detrimental of the sun's rays are "ultraviolet," meaning beyond violet, the last colour in the rainbow of visible light.
Ultraviolet light cannot be seen or felt as warmth.
For all intensive purposes, in the medium to long term, ultraviolet light is as much a risk factor for worsening rosacea symptoms in the bright of summer as the relative dark of winter. Remember that ultraviolet penetrates glass.
If you don't wear sunscreen year-long, those seemingly brief episodes of exposure sitting by windows, traveling in a car and running daily errands actually add up to several sunburns each year.
Although the damage is incremental and not accompanied by visible burning or tanning, your skin registers (and doesn't forget or substantially repair) the damage.
An added benefit of year-long sunscreen use is that it is one of the very few proven (and relatively inexpensive) means by which to protect against visible signs of aging, also known as sun damage, or in dermatological parlance, as photoaging.
Unfortunately, paraben preservatives, found in the majority of sunscreens, have been shown to heighten the photodamage which helps cause and exacerbate rosacea and premature signs of aging. Therefore if possible, avoid parabens in your sunscreen (and skin care). If you can't, the benefits of sunscreen use still outweigh the side effects.
The Clinic's two sunscreens, Rosacea Oil-Free Antioxidant Daily Wear Sunscreen SPF 50 and Rosacea Hypoallergenic Daily Wear Sunscreen SPF 20 (discontinued) are unique insofar as they contain no preservatives (hermetic packaging removes the need for preservatives and other problematic chemicals common to sunscreens). The two sunscreens were made available to the general public and internationally in late 2010.
There are a lot of sunscreens available on the market and everyone has different preferences.
As a general rule, sunscreens available in drug stores, chemists and supermarkets (if not 100% zinc or titanium dioxide) tend to irritate the skin of rosacea patients sooner or later. If purchasing sunscreen from these outlets, I recommend paediatric sunscreens.
When shopping on the mass market (through chemists/drug stores, general stores and beauty therapists/day spas), aim for sunscreens containing zinc oxide as the only sunscreening agent, or at most zinc plus one chemical block, or if you prefer a non-whitening sunscreen, sunscreens without zinc containing 4-5 chemical blocks (anything less and the sunscreen is most likely not going to provide extended protection against UVA, the most aging and deleterious form of ultraviolet light for rosacea patients).
I would generally avoid sunscreens which contain more than approximately 15% zinc because they tend to be very difficult to remove, with the zinc usually suspended in beeswax or mineral oil.
When sunscreen is difficult to remove, you're likely to do some damage to your skin's barrier and provoke redness and irritation, or alternatively, you won't get the sunscreen off completely at the end of the day, hampering the absorption, and efficacy, of any topical rosacea medications or skin care you apply.
The clinic has developed three sunscreens to meet the specific needs of rosacea patients, all of which are non-whitening, unlike zinc and titanium:
Because no one sunscreen is absolutely perfect, some patients apply both in more moderate quantities.
When the Oil-Free Antioxidant Sunscreen is applied underneath another sunscreen, it works to help capture any ultraviolet which may escape the former as the day wears on, leaving you with unsurpassed protection.
These sunscreens do not contain the parabens which increase photodamage and provoke rosacea symptoms.
For a guide to selection derived from clinical experience, see Protect: Rosacea Sunscreens.
Author: Peter Wilson.
Reviewed: Tuesday, 9 August 2016.
Further Information: De-Sensitizing Barrier Fluid SPF 50 : Sheer Matte Tinted Daily Face Protectant SPF 50 : Oil-Free Antioxidant Daily Wear Sunscreen SPF 50 : Rosacea Complete Sunscreen Set : Video: Types of Daylight (Visible, Invisible) : Sunscreens and Coneflower (Echinacea) : Video: Concerning Ultraviolet Light : Sunscreen Use Protects Rosacea Patient Autonomy : General Recommendations for Sun Protection in Rosacea Patients : Invisible Daylight Exposure Produces Dry Skin in Rosacea : Flawed Sunscreen Use and Lost "Anti-Aging" Effects : Rosacea Sunscreen SPF Updated (April 2008) : Paraben Preservatives and Sun Damage : SPF 20 Rosacea Sunscreen Inquiry : What is the best sunscreen for rosacea? : UVA (Ultraviolet A) : SPF (Sun Protection Factor) for Rosacea : Antioxidant Sunscreens :