EDIT: This post was edited on 09/02/2019 with the latest scientific information.
Do you really need a special cleanser to remove sunscreen?
Rumour has it that only oil-based cleansers can melt those stubborn UV filters away. Does that mean you have layers of sunscreen still clogging your pores?!
Do You Need An Oil-Based Cleanser To Remove Sunscreen?
Good news: you don’t need an oil-based cleanser to remove sunscreen. You need oils AND/OR surfactants.
I get it how the myth started. A lot of UV filters have oily textures, and there’s nothing like an oil to remove another oil.
Oils work because like attracts like. The oils in your cleanser attach to the oils in your sunscreen, melting them off and away.
But surfactants are good for the job, too. They help water mix with oils, rinsing them off down the drain.
It’s like washing your dishes. The last time you had to clean a greasy pan, did you use an oil-based cleanser to do the job? Of course not! You used your regular dish washing soap. Guess what that has? Surfactants!
If surfactants are good enough to clean a greasy pan, you can trust them to remove your sunscreen. Sure, your cleanser has gentler surfactants than dish washing soap, but you get the point: surfactants CAN remove sunscreen.
Are There Any Cleansers That Can’t Remove Sunscreens?
Yes, but they’re rare. Occasionally you will come across a cleanser like Avene Tolerance Extreme Lotion that has neither oils nor surfactants.
They make good morning cleaners but they can’t get rid of sunscreen or waterproof makeup. You need something stronger for that.
The Bottom Line
You don’t need a special cleanser to remove your sunscreen. Any cleaser with oils and/or surfactants will do the job. And that includes 99% of cleansers on the market. Phew!
How do you remove your sunscreen? Share your experience in the comments below.
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