Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Sritama Dutta (Medical Science) on 02nd Feb 2021

Minimalist's Guide to the Best Sunscreen for Dry Skin!

the Best Sunscreen for Dry Skin

Sunlight is of utmost importance for all living beings. It is the source of Vitamin D for our body. However, exposure to sun rays for a long time can damage our skin. It can cause premature aging, give rise to sunspots, and even trigger skin cancer. And if you have dry or sensitive skin, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays becomes more crucial. Thus, layering your skin with a good quality broad-spectrum sunscreen is indispensable.

But choosing the ideal sunscreen for dry skin can be difficult and confusing. It requires a bit of diligence to find the ideal sunscreen that will best suit your dry skin. Keep reading to find out what makes a sunscreen suitable for dry skin and what you should look for in sunscreen while buying one for yourself.   

What is Sunscreen? 

Sunscreen, also referred to as sunblock, is a product that helps to protect the skin from the harmful effects of sun rays. It is usually of two types, classified according to its ingredients and mode of action: the Physical sunscreens and the Chemical sunscreens.

Physical sunscreens are made of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They are also known as mineral sunscreens. Such sunscreens form a protective film on the skin's surface and block the UV rays from affecting the skin.

Chemical sunscreens are composed of active organic compounds such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. These sunscreens can penetrate the dermal layers and get absorbed. They do not build any physical barrier over the skin. They absorb the sun rays that fall on the skin and convert them into heat via a chemical reaction, which prevents the UV rays from harming the skin.

All sunscreens are marked with a specific SPF number.  

How Does a Sunscreen Work On Your Skin? 

As said earlier, sunscreen is usually of two types: Mineral sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. Though both these kinds protect our skin from the harmful sun rays, they have different action mechanisms.

The mineral sunscreen protects the skin by creating a film over the superficial layer of skin, reflecting the sunlight, thus not harming the skin. Simultaneously, the chemical sunscreen absorbs the harmful sun rays, converts them into heat by a chemical reaction, and prevents the UV rays from seeping into the skin.  

Why is sunscreen so important for your skin? 

Wearing sunscreen has multiple benefits for your skin. Thus, as dermatologists say, you should never forget to apply sunscreen.

Let's see what sunscreen can do for your skin:

  • A broad-spectrum sunscreen can protect your skin from the harmful UV-A and UV-B rays. 
  • It prevents the risk of sun-induced premature aging.  
  • It reduces the risk of sunburn and tanning.  
  • Exposure to sun rays can cause skin cancer. Applying sunscreen can decrease the risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Sunscreen can also prevent your skin from drying up due to exposure to the sun. It helps in retaining the moisture in the dermal layers.

Choosing The Best Sunscreen For Dry Skin: What Should You Consider? 

1. The Type of the Sunscreen 

Chemical sunscreens, which get absorbed in the skin, are more likely to irritate your dry skin. Thus, a physical sunscreen or sunblock is a better choice for dry skin.  

2. Why is Choosing a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Necessary? 

A broad-spectrum sunscreen can block UV-A and UV-B rays and protect the skin from all impending sun-induced damage such as premature aging and sunburn. It can also reduce the risk of skin cancer. 

3. What SPF Should You Use? 

For the best protection of your skin, SPF is one of the most important factors to be considered. It has been found that SPF 30 can prevent 97% of UV rays from reaching your skin. If you go a little higher on the SPF gradient, the SPF 50 sunscreen can block almost 98% UV rays. For dry skin, any sunscreen with SPF 30 will be good.

4. What Ingredients/components Should You Avoid In your Sunscreen?

Sunscreen often contains harmful ingredients that can be toxic to the skin and also to the environment. Ingredients such as Avobenzone can penetrate the skin layer and induce free radicals in the skin. This increases the risk of skin cancer and can also cause sun-induced allergies. Homosalate, another ingredient in chemical sunscreens, can accumulate in the skin and cause hormone disruption.

Octinoxate is another UV filter used in sunscreens that can get absorbed in our skin and cause endocrine disruption. Thus, while buying sunscreen, look for chemicals classified as GRASE or "Generally Recognised as Safe and Effective." They are safe to use on the skin and do not cause any adverse reactions. For instance, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  

5. Gels, Creams, or Spray: Which is Better? 

Different skin types require different types of sunscreen. Skin experts suggest that cream-based sunscreens are good for dry skin. Pick one with humectants as an ingredient in it. This will help your skin draw in moisture from the surroundings while also protecting yourself from sun rays.

However, if your skin is sensitive and acne-prone, an oil-based or cream-based sunscreen can aggravate breakouts in the skin. A water-based or gel-based sunscreen with lower viscosity would be better for such skin type.  

When Should You Wear Sunscreen? 

EVERY DAY! There should be no reason to skip sunscreen any day. Now, for the sunscreen to show its full effect, you need to apply it at least 30 minutes before stepping out in the sun. It will take some time for the sunscreen ingredients to get absorbed in the skin and show their action.

How Often Should You Apply Sunscreen?

If you sweat a lot, the sunscreen might wash off within a few hours. Also, exposure to sun rays for a long duration can break down the protective film formed by the sunscreen on the skin and leave it vulnerable to sun damage. Thus, it is advised to reapply the sunscreen every two hours.  

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How Many Sunscreens Should You Wear? 

When it comes to sunscreen, you must never compromise on the amount you need to apply. For an adult, the required amount of sunscreen that must be applied to cover your skin is about an ounce. Skin experts recommend a thickness of about 2 mg/cm2 that must be applied on the skin. 

Should You Apply Sunscreen While Staying Indoors? 

You cannot prevent sun rays from reaching you, even when you have planned to stay indoors.

Sun rays can get inside through the windows. Thus, it is recommended to apply sunscreen daily, even if you are not going out.

About 80% of UV rays seep through the atmosphere on cloudy days too. Hence, you should never skip the application of sunscreen. It reduces the risk of skin cancer and premature aging and protects the skin from other sun-induced damage.  

Is There any Potential Risk of Using Sunscreen? 

Though wearing sunscreen is mostly beneficial for your skin, there are some side effects that we cannot simply choose to ignore: 

  • If you have dry skin, you would probably want a moisturizer-based sunscreen that can hydrate your skin. However, most cream-based sunscreens have high amounts of occlusives instead of humectants and emollients that leave a thick, greasy residue on the skin. This does nothing to hydrate the skin but rather blocks the surrounding moisture to reach the skin.  
  • Chemical sunscreens that get absorbed in the skin can clog pores. If you have dry and sensitive skin, clogging of the pores can aggravate acne formation.  
  • Some cases have also suggested that sunscreen can dry and tighten the skin, which is not desirable to individuals with dry skin.
  • Sunscreen can also cause hypersensitive reactions in certain individuals, although it is quite rare. Symptoms include redness, swelling, acne, rashes, acne, itching, stinging, and clogged hair follicles.  
  • Some also believe that wearing sunscreen can interfere with the synthesis of Vitamin D in our body, resulting in severe deficiency. So, if you stay out in the sun a lot, it is advised to take vitamin D supplements.

Final Note:  

Layering your skin with a good quality sunscreen is of paramount importance. But choosing an ideal sunscreen for dry skin can be a daunting task. Thus, our attempt is to help you understand what factors need to be considered while buying a sunscreen that best suits you.