You can usually categorize your skin a few ways: sensitive skin, oily skin, dry, normal or a combination.
If you have sensitive or oily skin, it can be hard to find a great sunscreen that won't make you breakout. We asked Dr. Goldstein what guidance she would provide men with sensitive skin when looking for sunscreen and skincare products.
How do I know if my skin is sensitive?
Sensitive skin is defined as skin that is irritated easily. For instance if you put a cream on your face and it burns, tingles unpleasantly or stings, you might have sensitive skin.
The environment or underlying skin conditions can also make your skin sensitive. Strong wind, dry weather and of course, sunburn can cause changes in your skin that make it more susceptible to irritation to creams that would otherwise be tolerated. Your skin may be made sensitive with a really close shave which in some cases can remove part of the top layers of your skin. If you have rosacea or eczema, the condition itself can make you also have sensitive skin. Your skin's barrier is altered and the robustness of protection is decreased with these diagnoses.
What products should I use or avoid if I have sensitive skin?
Men with sensitive skin should avoid harsh cleansers and alcohol based products. Sources of harsh products to be avoided by people with sensitive skin include witch hazel, strong aftershaves and exfoliators like glycolic acid. Mild cleansers such as Dove for sensitive skin, Cerave, Cetaphil, Aveeno, etc. are excellent examples of cleansers that can help protect and repair some of the challenges in an altered skin barrier. If you are using a retinoid (i.e. Retin A, tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene) for acne and you have sensitive skin, you can sometimes decrease the frequency of use of the medications and/or combine them with a moisturizer listed above. You can discuss these options with your dermatology provider.
What is the best sunscreen option for men with sensitive skin?
The best sunscreens for sensitive skin are those that are mineral vs chemical based sunscreens. The mineral based sunscreens reflect and absorb the sun’s damaging rays rather than being activated by a chemical reaction that can cause potential irritation. It is also important to pay attention to the vehicle - meaning what the sunscreen is mixed with in order to make it 'smooth'. Sometimes the vehicle itself can be irritating. While mineral sunscreens are far less likely to cause problems, it is important to look at the labels to avoid products that include much fragrance. The best sunscreen for men in general is the one you will use, but if you have sensitive skin, your safest option to avoid irritation is go with a safe, all mineral based sunblock with broad spectrum coverage of at least SPF 30.
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