Everything you need to know about photosensitive ingredients in skincare
Our risk of photodamage is peaking, but the UV index isn't the only factor to consider to keep your skin protected from sun damage this summer.
There are some common skin care ingredients that have been shown to increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun. Some can be used safely, while others can do more harm than good.
KEY PHOTOSENSITIZING ACTIVES
Retinol and AHAs (like glycolic acid) are two of the most highly recommended ingredients for a radiant, youthful complexion. While both are ideal for improving the signs of photoaging, these skin-renewing multitaskers can sometimes intensify sun damage through the same mechanism they use to reverse it: exfoliation.
The layer of dead cells on the skin's surface naturally offers some protection from ultraviolet light. By removing this layer, chemical exfoliants not only reveal the fresh, glowing new skin below, but also expose it. This allows sunlight to more easily penetrate living tissue and cause sunburn, inflammation, discoloration, premature aging, and more.
OTHER SUN SENSITIZING INGREDIENTS
Salicylic Acid – BHA is less likely to increase skin sensitivity to UV rays compared to AHA; however, all forms of exfoliation can affect the skin, particularly for sensitive skin types.
Hydroquinone and Kojic Acid: In addition to causing photosensitivity, these brighteners are excluded from all Dermoeffects products due to a documented risk of harmful side effects.
Essential oils: When combined with sun exposure, certain oils and fruit extracts, especially bergamot, lime, and lemon, can cause phytophotodermatitis in some groups of people. (Note: Dermoeffects formulas use essential oils that have been modified to remove active UV sensitizing compounds).
AVOID SENSITIVITY TO THE SUN IN SUMMER
Retinol and AHAs are best used at night to limit sun exposure. Even so, though, it's important to protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day. People who spend a lot of time outdoors may want to switch to a lower-strength glycolic acid or retinoid formula for their summer skin care routine. For a more natural glow, topical vitamin C is a great alternative that doubles as a photoprotective antioxidant treatment.
Like any potent active you put into your body, retinoids and AHAs must be used with care and formula selection, but this does not negate the tremendous benefits they have to offer. We recommend these rejuvenating ingredients all year long. Just be sure to take home with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, too.