Can SPF Clog Pores?

Certain sunscreens can irritate your skin and clog pores.

Photo: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Sunscreen…your dermatologist gets mad if you leave home without it. But how can you be expected to wear sunscreen on your face every day when you notice a lot more pimples each time you put it on? While you need a lotion with a sun protection factor to keep you from wrinkles and sunspots before your time, look for a sunscreen that contains ingredients that won’t clog your pores and cause breakouts.

Physical Versus Chemical

Not all sunscreens are created equal. There are physical and chemical sunscreens. If you want to think of them another way, separate them into "won’t cause breakouts" and "can cause breakouts," respectively. This is because physical sunscreens don’t soak into your skin. Instead, they physically block the sun’s rays (think of them as your own personal bodyguards). Since they don’t soak in, they can’t clog your pores. However, chemical sunscreens do penetrate the skin. This is why chemical sunscreens can clog pores in some, but not all, people.

Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens are non-comedogenic, meaning they shouldn’t clog your pores. Examples of physical sunblock ingredients include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These reflect the sun’s rays, saving your precious skin from clogged pores and future wrinkles.

Chemical Sunscreens

A variety of chemical sunscreen ingredients exist, including benzones, aminobenzoic acid, avobenzone and cinnamates. These chemicals break down the bad stuff in the sun’s rays to protect your skin. Whether or not these products will clog pores often depends upon your individual skincare qualities. Some of them may never cause a problem for you, while others may irritate your skin and cause redness and/or breakouts.


While physical sunscreens may seem instantly like the way to go, there may be something to consider: physical sunscreens tend to not blend in as well as their chemical counterparts. When you’re wearing them on your face, this can be a problem because some physical sunscreens have a tendency to look a little chalky when you apply them. Your best bet may be to find a product that has physical sunscreen mixed in with a foundation or pressed powder -- these can blend a little better than physical sunscreen on its own. You also want to look for an oil-free sunscreen product, which means manufacturers haven’t added other extras besides protective sunscreen products that could clog pores.

Related Videos


Add to this Article



Just for you

What type are you?

Choose your Eye Shape
or Register
Beauty School iPad App


How would you like to register?

Register with Facebook
  • It's fast, easy and hassle-free
  • One-click log-in and commenting
Register with
  • Use your email to create your account