Possible Side Effects of Using Sunscreen

a woman suffering from eye irritation is scratching her eyes | Possible Side Effects of Using Sunscreen

The Side Effects Of Sunscreen You Should Be Aware Of!!

Sunscreen is an important step in your daily skincare routine that no one would want to skip for anything. It is so crucial to shield your skin from sun damage. Now the question arises whether all the available sunscreens are safe to use. Many studies now reveal the possible side effects that your sunscreen has. Many sunscreens like the ones which contain sulfa medicines or tetracyclines can cause much more harm than the good one expects from them. You must test out the best sunscreen for your face to minimize the risk of dangerous side effects. Sunscreen creams are used to protect your skin against sunburn and skin cancer. 

Therefore, it is very important to read the label to know what your sunscreen contains and how these ingredients are going to affect your skin.

Side Effects of Applying too much Sunscreen

1. Allergic Reactions

There are some chemicals present in the sunscreen which can cause your skin to become swollen, red, itchy, and irritated which leads to a broad spectrum of allergic reactions with high allergic itching and severe redness. Most of the time this redness and other skin disorders are due to the presence of preservatives and certain fragrances. For example, PABA, a major constituent in many sunscreens, is the main cause of high allergic reactions. That is the reason that many products avoid this constituent in their sunscreen.

To avoid any such reaction to your skin, you need to do a small patch test that can give you an idea about the constituent reaction to your skin. Yes, you can use sunscreen that contains zinc oxide as they are very less allergic to even sensitive skin.

2. Sunscreens Can Aggravate Your Acne 

Some chemicals in the sunscreen can make your acne skin much worse. So to avoid any such acne breakout, you can have a sunscreen that is non-oily and non-comedogenic sunscreen. So the best way to avoid any side effects is to choose your sunscreen based on your skin type.  Also do not apply sunscreen that is made specifically for the body on your face as they have ingredients that will be very heavy for your face.

3. Eye Irritation

It can cause eye irritation and severe pain when sunscreen gets into your eye. This irritation can cause a burning sensation in your eye and also can add a temporary sensitivity towards light. In some cases, it is found to lead to blindness due to some harmful chemicals in your sunscreen. Also if the burning does not stop after some time on its own then you must consult a doctor for professional advice.

4. Risk Of Breast Cancer

There are also cases where it is seen that the ingredients found in sunscreen can fluctuate the estrogen level and can have an effect on breast cancer cells. So be very careful when using chemical sunscreen on children's bodies as their skin absorbs harmful chemicals.

5. Pain in hair areas of the skin

You can now find a wide range of sunscreens on the market, making it difficult to choose the one that is ideal for you. Also, the forms in which these sunscreens are available vary a lot like some found in creams, gels, lotions, ointments, sprays, and wax sticks. So you can choose any based on your skin type. For areas like the male chest or the scalp, gels are the best option to choose. As with various effects of these sunscreens like drying your skin or tightening it can cause severe pain in the hairy parts of your body.

How To Get Away With The Side Effects?

  • If your sunscreen cream causes irritation or redness then immediately wash it off thoroughly.
  • If the sunscreen causes irritation or redness, wash it off and stop using it.
  • Consult your doctor or a pharmacist before using a new sunscreen.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if you're going to be outdoors for a lengthy time.
  • If you use sunscreen in the form of a lip balm, just apply it to your lips.
  • Choose sunscreen for your children with caution.
  • For obvious reasons, infants less than six months should not be subjected to the harmful effects of sunscreen.
  • If you have oily skin, seek an oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreen.
  • Choose a sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of 15 or greater. SPF15 filters 95% of UVB rays, and although we assume that increasing the SPF doubles the protection, SPF30 only adds 2%. Increasing the SPF from 50 to 100 provides just 1% more protection.
  • The FDA discovered that any improvement in sun protection over SPF50 is insignificant, and has proposed restrictions that limit the highest claim to SPF50+. Using sunscreen with an SPF greater than SPF15 provides no extra protection and puts you at risk.
  • Organic sunscreens chemically absorb UV rays. This chemical reaction loses its efficiency with time and triggers a plethora of other undesired chemical reactions. The following sunscreen ingredients should be avoided: Avobenzone is found in Homosalate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, Padimate O, Octinoxate, and Methoxycinnamate.
  • Keep in mind that SPF only relates to UVB (burning rays) protection and not UVA (ultraviolet radiation) (ageing rays). While UVA radiation does not cause sunburn, it can cause long-term skin damage and cancer. Always apply a sunscreen labelled Broad Spectrum to offer UVA and UVB protection.

Best Way To Apply Sunscreen

  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin.
  • This must be done 30 minutes before going outside in the sun.
  • Use your sunscreen on the exposed area before you leave the comfort of your home.
  • Don't forget to apply sunscreen again after you sweat or come out after your swimming session. Wear protective clothing. 
  • Don't stop applying it at alternate hours even when you are inside your home.

Take Away

As we have discussed thoroughly in the above article, apart from sunscreen benefits there are certain side effects that it carries along with it. So the best way to deal with such an allergic reaction is to make a wise choice of selecting a chemical-free natural product. The best way to get rid of such problems is to use natural products that are chemical-free and do not harm your skin even if you have sensitive skin.  As advised in many studies people should go for buying sunscreen that has zinc oxide or titanium oxide as its ingredients. Such ingredients constitute the best sunscreen to help you with keeping the estrogenic effects and other allergic symptoms within stable limits. However, if the symptoms pertain, seek a healthcare professional for help. 

Frequently asked questions

1. Is it ok to apply sunscreen directly on the face?

Apply two ounces of sunscreen to your body and a tablespoon to your face, with an SPF of at least 25. 2. Apply sunscreen in little dots to your face rather than squeezing a big lump onto your palms and applying it that way, as you'll likely only get an SPF 10 out of your SPF 30.

2. Is SPF harmful to the skin?

There is no proof that using sunscreen is unhealthy. Although a short FDA research conducted in 2020 discovered that the body could absorb some chemicals from various sunscreens, no negative health impacts have been established.

3. Is sunscreen safe to use every day?

In general, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, particularly after swimming or perspiring. You might not need a second programme if you work inside and are seated away from the windows. But be careful how often you go outside.

What are the side effects of SPF 50?

  • Acne 
  • Redness or swelling of the skin appears early.
  • Late rash with or without weeping blisters that crust, particularly in sun-exposed regions, may spread to the skin's unexposed parts.
  • the ache in hairy places
  • The presence of pus in the hair follicles.


  1. Tracy Wong PhD, David Orton, June 2019, Sunscreen allergy and its investigation
  2. James Q. Del Rosso, DO, FAOCD, a Michael Gold, MD, PhD,b Maria José Rueda, MD,c Staci Brandt, PA-C,c and Warren J. Winkelman, MD, PhD, Jan 2015, Efficacy, Safety, and Subject Satisfaction of a Specified Skin Care Regimen to Cleanse, Medicate, Moisturize, and Protect the Skin of Patients Under Treatment for Acne Vulgaris
  3. Anastasia Kariagina,1 Elena Morozova,1 Reyhane Hoshyar,1 Mark D. Aupperlee,1 Mitchell A. Borin,1 Sandra Z. Haslam,2 and Richard C. Schwartz, Dec 2020, Benzophenone-3 promotion of mammary tumorigenesis is diet-dependent