A Guide To SPF For Sensitive Skin

A Guide To SPF For Sensitive Skin

While most of us much long for the summer months to warm up after the cold chills of our long British winter, for some, the sun can be a nightmare, especially for those who have sensitive skin. Choosing the right sunscreen can be a trying minefield, often with itchy, painful or embarrassing results. Here is a great guide we found online to understanding SPF for sensitive skin.


As a general rule, most sunscreens are made of potentially irritating chemicals. Every bottle will list the ingredients and say whether each ingredient is  non-chemical or a mineral formula. However, as we know, labeling is never that straightforward in sensitive skin land and so it helps to know your ingredients. According to the Get the gloss blog, the ingredients to look out for are:

  • PABA( para-aminobenzoic acid), which is a para-aminobenzoate, a UVB protector. They will be listed as one of the following:
  • Amino benzoic acid, glyceryl amino benzoate, Ethyl-4-bis amino benzoate, Amyl dimethyl PABA, Glceryl PABA, Ethyl dihydroxypropyl PABA and Octyl dimethyl PABA (2-ethylhexyl dimethyl PABA).
  • Avoid salicylates, they are similar to aspirin; look out for Octyl salicylate (2-ethylhexyl salicylate), Homosalate (HMS or homomenthyl salicylate, and Triethanolamine salicylate.
  • Avoid cinnamates (anything ending in cinnamate).
  • Avoid Benzophenones, Avobenzone (Butyl methoxyl-dibenzoylmethane) or anything ending with benzophenone.

Remember that fragrance can also be an irritant and sometimes sunscreens are full of them. Check for the words, ‘fragrance’, ‘parfum’ and preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone (MI) which are also said to have skin-damaging effects.


Well-known sunscreen filters most commonly used  are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

People with sensitive skins should use zinc oxide which reflects both UVA and UVB rays, but as it is not water resistant it is recommended they mix it with shea butter, which is a natural sunscreen and contains skin-healing vitamins A and E, and essential fatty acids for that waterproof layer on the skin.

Also try moringa oil which has around 46 antioxidants which protect, feed and re-build sensitive skin and it also works as a natural sunscreen too. According to Get the Gloss, Moringa oil contains over 72% of oleic acid which penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin, offering nutrients and moisture.

“Other natural sunscreens are:

  • Retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A; besides its anti-ageing properties it also has a natural SPF of 20 and prevents sunburn.
  • Mulberry leaf extract
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta carotene is packed with anti-oxidants and natural photoprotective properties which protect the skin from sunburn, irritation, and ageing.”
story source: Get The Gloss
photo credit: Nova magazine
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