Why Sunscreens Can Irritate Dry Skin
Updated: Jan 24
Just because Summer is officially over, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the holidays! Many of us will be looking to exchange the colder weather for warmth and clear blue skies during Autumn and Winter.
If you suffer with dry and/or sensitive skin, you may have at some point experienced the holiday skin itch and wondered if it was the prickly heat, a mosquito, something you ate or sun burn.
While any of the above could contribute to a flare up, it might be worth grabbing your bottle of sunscreen and having a quick look at the ingredients. Does it contain Denat Alcohol or Ethanol/Ethyl alcohol? Denat Aclohol is frequently used in skincare products because it gives them a quick-drying finish, immediately degreases skin and feels weightless on the skin. The problem is that as the alcohol evaporates the skin loses some of its moisture, causing it to become dry and itchy.
The other concern is that denatured alcohol can also cause erosion of the skin’s surface layer, leading to a weakened skin barrier with long term effects. This makes it difficult for the skin to replenish and renew itself (ethanol acts similarly in that it dries the skin).
There are other cosmetic ingredients that end with the word ‘alcohol’ which are perfectly safe, naturally derived and gentle, like emulsifiers, emollients and preservatives. These are not to be confused with the alcohols discussed here. The alcohols you want to avoid are ethanol and denatured alcohols.
A typical INCI list will include the word Denat alcohol or Ethyl alcohol, the higher up the list the higher the percentage is used in the formulation.
Top Tips for Nourished Skin
Switch to an alcohol-free sunscreen
Limit direct suntan exposure to 20 minutes and keep skin covered up.
Exfoliate face and body to remove grime, dirt, oil and sweat before applying a moisturiser as this will help it absorb. Include an oil based body butter and facial oil/serum to reduce water loss from skin.
Choose beta carotene rich products such as my Saffron Glow Facial Oil Serum and Kokom Body Boost Butter to help repair and recover skin from sun exposure.