When I finally started wearing sunscreen daily in my mid-20s, I didn’t pay much attention to its removal. I just assumed my cleanser would take it all off. It did. Until I switched to mineral sunscreens (aka sunblocks).
Much heavier than chemical sunscreens, they stubbornly stick to the skin. My faithful cleanser was no match for them. Some traces of sunscreen would be left on my skin, clog my pores, and cause those odious zits! Argh!
I was so tempted to switch back to chemical sunscreen, but I didn’t. Mineral sunscreens are more effective and gentler, and I didn’t want to give them up. So, I changed the way I cleanse my skin.
Why Are Mineral Sunscreens Harder To Remove, Anyway?
Mineral-based sunscreens contain Zinc Oxide (my fave sunscreen ingredient ever) and/or Titanium Dioxide, two white minerals that create a shield on the skin. When UV rays hit it, they are reflected away from it, so no harm comes to your skin. UV rays never touch it. But to do this well, they need to adhere to it real tight!
Chemical sunscreens (those with avobenzone, octocrylene, mexoryl, and other synthetic UV filters) work differently. When UV radiation hits skin, they turn it into a less damaging form of energy (heat). But this reaction makes them lose a bit of their effectiveness overtime. The more UV rays it, the quicker they break down and stop working. That’s why you need to reapply them every couple of hours.
Of course, mineral sunscreens don’t last forever either. They too can come off during the day, especially if you sweat a lot, swim, or towel-dry. But, usually, they tend to last a bit longer than chemical sunscreen. It’s one of the many reasons why I love them so much.
What’s The Right Way To Remove Sunscreen?
Oil. Oils are really good at dissolving other oils, waxes, and all that sticky stuff that stubbornly adheres to our skin. That’s because like attracts like. So, they’re able to bind to all that gunk and carry it away.
But you don’t need to slather your cooking oil all over your face. Although, sometimes I do. In a pinch, I’ll grab some olive oil (a must in any Italian kitchen, even in London) and use it to remove both my makeup and sunscreen.
It does the job quickly, but leaves an annoying oily residue on my skin. So, then, I need to remove that too. I don’t mind double-cleansing like this once in a while, but I can’t be bothered to do it regularly.
Luckily, there is another way. Oil-based cleansers, like Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm and First Aid Beauty Milk Oil Conditioning Cleanser. They contain stuff like mineral oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and well… other oils, and are formulated to remove everything from your skin without leaving a greasy residue behind.
Cleansing oils work very well too. Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil and its dupe, Garnier Nutritioniste Clean + Nourishing Cleansing Oil, take everything off quickly and gently. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is another popular option that’s worth the splurge.
What If You Use Chemical Sunscreens?
Don’t think you don’t need to use an oil-based cleanser just because you haven’t switched to a mineral (or waterproof) sunscreen yet! Some chemical sunscreens also contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, so it’s still best to remove those with oils too.
If not, you may get away with using a water-based cleanser. I did, back when I was using chemical sunscreens, but then, I’ve always avoided the sun like the plague. Because of that, it didn’t deteriorate as quickly, and I was able to reapply them less often.
But after a long day at the beach, when you keep slathering on sunscreen every two hours (because you do that, right?)? A water-based cleanser won’t likely be enough to take off all those layers. Some sunscreen will be left on your skin, get trapped inside your pores, and cause breakouts. Make sure that doesn’t happen by taking it off the right way.
The Bottom Line
Removing your sunscreen is as important as putting it on. Do it the right way, and use an oil-based cleanser. It takes everything off quickly, keeping your skin clean and breakout-free.
How do you remove your sunscreen?