Do you feel like sunscreen is clogging your pores? Well, it just might be. For many people, regularly wearing waterproof sunscreens to ensure they hold up to summer sweat and heat can leave the skin with breakouts, bumps and clogged pores.
In this post, I’ll share my unique layering technique along with important sunscreen removal tips. Since I am someone who can get clogged pores and bumps easily, I developed this process for my own skin. It’s worked very well for me and I hope it’s success for you, too.
Since water-resistant sunscreen is clogging your pores, try this sunscreen layering technique.
Step 1. Use a non-waterproof sunscreen that you know is compatible with your skin type.
Since water-proof sunscreens (technically called water-resistant) are notorious for using ingredients like oils that tend to block the pores, you don’t want this kind directly touching your skin first. Instead, you’ll apply one that you know works for you as your first layer.
Recommended sunscreen: Weightless Protection SPF 30. If sunscreen is clogging your pores, this one is perfect. It is ideal for anyone that wants a completely greaseless formula that doesn’t cause breakouts. It’s been one of the best-selling products in my line since 2000 because it is so wearable under makeup and doesn’t feel greasy.
Of course, you’ll want to cleanse, tone and apply a vitamin C&E serum before applying a generous layer of your favorite everyday sunscreen. That’s the secret. It’s not so much about the SPF number but how much you apply so don’t skimp.
Step 2. Apply a water-resistant, sweat-proof sunscreen.
Once the first sunscreen has settled in, you’ll want to seal it in with a water-resistant version. The idea here is that this is more like a top coat sitting on the skin’s surface but doesn’t really slip into the pores.
Recommended water-resistant sunscreen: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60. It is a water-resistant sunscreen that I first discovered over in France years ago but is now available in the States. (Note: per the FDA, sunscreens can no longer be labeled as “water-proof” so you’ll see the words “water-resistant.”) I like the way this one feels; it’s not too heavy on my skin and does not seem to cause any bumps and breakouts. It holds up with sweating and swimming for 80 minutes as long as you’ve applied it generously enough.
Step 3. Blot the skin with a tissue.
This removes any surface oil and tackiness that the water-resistant sunscreen might leave behind. Essentially, it’s de-greasing the skin and preparing your face for the final step of my special layering technique.
Step 4. Apply a water-resistant sunscreen powder.
Since you want to be so careful with you protecting your skin outdoors, adding a third layer of sunscreen ensures that your skin is really blocked from the sun.
Recommended sunscreen powder: ColorScience SPF 50 mineral powder. It comes in a self-dispensing brush but because it’s being applied over slightly tacky water-resistant sunscreen, it can make the bristles get clumpy and gross. I’ll pour out a little into the palm of my hand and pat on using a Toning Cloth or cotton round.
Since the SPF powder uses titanium dioxide and zinc oxide physical blockers, this works great as your last step to make the sun’s rays bounce off the skin’s surface. (Read about the pros and cons of physical vs. chemical sunscreens.) Note: Colorescience only has a few shades so it’s hard to get a good match for your skin tone so look around and see what other SPF-infused powders you can find.
You’re now all set to enjoy your time outdoors!
For reapplication of sunscreen: Simply dust on the mineral powder every 90 minutes. It’s super easy and will hold up to sweat and swimming since mineral powders tend to be water-resistant. In fact, you can actually see sweat or water bead up on the skin while the powder will stay put.
Why this layering technique works.
The result of this layering technique is that you’re getting inside-out protection from both chemical and physical sunscreens. These products will hold up with sweating and swimming, and most importantly won’t clog the pores and cause bumps. Well…as long as you remove them properly. Read on for the removal portion.
Note: Because I am recommending to use an SPF of 30, 60 and a 50, this doesn’t mean that the skin is getting an SPF of 140. When it comes to layering sunscreens, the scientific community is unsure as to exactly what SPF number this truly makes or exactly what protection you’re getting. However, it does ensure that you’re protecting every inch of your skin with generous applications that will hold up to sweat and swimming.
Since water-resistant sunscreen is clogging your pores, here’s how to properly remove it.
Wearing sunscreen to protect your skin from dangerous rays is important, but proper sunscreen removal is also crucial. Especially if you’re a skin type #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 or #6 (clogged-prone skin types), it’s absolutely essential that you clean out pores and use ingredients that will help disrupt the breakout cycle.
Step 1. Wash the skin using a lightweight cleansing lotion over dry (not wet) skin for 60 seconds.
The type of cleanser you choose is SO important. You need to use a cleanser that contains lightweight emollients (oils) versus a water-based cleanser. The reason is that water-resistant sunscreens contain emollients and oils that are designed to repel away water. If you use a water-based cleanser, it can’t break it down sunscreen properly to thoroughly clean your pores.
Recommended cleanser: Vitamin-Infused Cleansing Emulsion. This cleanser is excellent to use since it’s not greasy and truly gets the job done.
Apply it to the skin and don’t apply water just yet. Massage it thoroughly over the face for 60 seconds. Then, wet your fingertips, massage through again, repeat and rinse off. Next, and the most important part, is to wipe over the skin with a facial sponge or gentle baby washcloth. You want to really lift off and remove what you have just dissolved. (In the video down below at the end of this post, you’ll see the ColoreScience powder appear on the washcloth. This cleanser really removes it nicely so you can feel confident that it’s not hanging out in your pores.
Step 2. Treat your pores to a cleansing mask.
Since water-resistant sunscreen is clogging your pores, your skin will really benefit from a quick deep pore cleansing treatment. Not all masks are equal so you’ll want to look for one with salicylic acid. This ingredient is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) and since it’s oil-soluble, it can penetrate into the pore lining to clear out any trapped debris that can lead to bumps and breakouts. Apply the mask to your entire face and leave on for 15 minutes.
Recommended deep pore cleansing mask: Rapid Response Detox Masque.
What makes Rapid Response Detox Masque unique is that it’s not a drying clay mask like most acne focused masks are. Instead, it’s an incredibly soothing and hydrating gel and feels so great when you’ve been in the hot sun all day.
*If you have extra time, it’s beneficial to exfoliate prior to using the mask to remove any surface dry skin cell debris. This ensures that the mask can really perform its best and penetrate even deeper within the pores. Triple Berry Smoothing Peel works beautifully to exfoliate the skin. A gentle facial scrub can work well, too.
Step 3. Rinse off the mask, apply a toner and antioxidant serum.
After rinsing off the mask, you now want to apply an alcohol-free toner. Next, you’ll want to apply a powerful repairing serum. Since your skin’s natural antioxidant supply has been depleted some from being outside (even if you applied a vitamin C serum pre-sun), you’ll want to restore it with essential vitamins. This could include applying a vitamin C serum again, or if it’s later in the day, I recommend Firm + Repair Overnight Serum. This product is full of potent vitamins found in superfruits and superfoods to restore your skin back to a healthy condition.
Step 4. Lastly, apply a lightweight oil-free lotion.
You’ll want to apply something lightweight and oil-free. Your skin has had a lot of oily emollients on the skin from the water-proof sunscreen so using something light and refreshing will feel great.
Recommended lotion: Sheer Moisture Lotion. This is loaded with essential antioxidants which your skin will surely drink up after spending a day outdoors.
The end result.
The skin is now properly cleaned and left feeling impeccably fresh. You won’t have to worry about a post-sunscreen backlash of clogged pores, bumps, and blemishes. This is process works really well for my sensitive skin and I hope you find it works for yours, too.
Did your sun spots or freckles show up from a day outside?
Even with your skin completely protected, sun spots can occur because HEAT (not just sun exposure) raises the skin’s internal temperature. This will stimulate melanin cells and result in increased pigment to form. Read 7 Ways To Get Rid Of Sun Spots.
I have filmed a step-by-step tutorial. Click below to watch.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”