Rosacea Sunscreens
Patient guide by Dr. Cleckley, Dermatologist, FACD.

"Sunscreen is amazing for rosacea – if you get it right!"

Antioxidants Useful in Sunscreens for Rosacea

New 2016 — Public Proof About Zinc

The Basics of Real Sunscreen Therapy

Sunscreen Selection Guide

Suggested Sunscreens

Application Suggestions

Solar Wavelengths

Index of Chemicals

Useful Antioxidants

Adverse Effects

Vitamin D


About Dr. Cleckley and This Site

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Marketing:

Antioxidants can improve a sunscreen's performance in preventing UV-induced rosacea symptoms, sun damage and can actively reduce inflammation, redness, burning and stinging.

For antioxidants in sunscreens to be useful, they must be chemically stable up to the point of application, have a molecular size small enough to be absorbed by skin, and be present in high enough concentrations.

Generally, it is only high specialized products marketed through dermatologists or pharmacies which meet this criteria (refer list) and they typically have a shelf life of under 6 months.

This point of sale advertisement for sunscreen with an antioxidant "Cell-Ox Shield" (an extract of Senna alata) together with the phrase "dermatologists often warn mineral [physical] sunscreens often have high SPF but low UVA protection" ironically only contains micronized titanium dioxide as its active sunscreen agent.

It is generally the case that sunscreens containing a combination of antioxidants are more beneficial than products containing a single antioxiant. This is because antioxidants can work in concert.

Antioxidants useful to rosacea patients are those which do not cause counterproductive burning, stinging and irritation.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and other "alpha hydroxy acids" are examples of known effective skin care antioxidants which are nevertheless contraindicated in rosacea due to the symptoms they provoke.

Antioxidants for which data (and in some cases clinical experience) indicate benefit to rosacea are listed below, in approximate order of magnitude of supporting evidence:

  • Green Tea.
  • OPCs (Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins) from Grape Seed Extract (as a supplement and in skin care).
  • Niacin/niacinamide.
  • Caffeine (although hot caffeinated drinks are a trigger for many patients, caffeine itself appears to benefit rosacea by helping constrict capillaries and by antioxidant mechanisms).
  • Silymarin.
  • Pomegranate.
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol not derivatives).
  • Coffee Arabica and Coffeeberry Extract.
  • Genistein.
  • Polypodium Leucotomos (as a supplement).
  • Co-Enzyme Q-10 and Idebenone.
  • Senna Alata Extract (Candle Bush, Cell-Ox Shield).
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid.
  • Selenium.
  • Glutathione.
  • Resveratrol.
  • Lycopene.
  • Curcumin.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that products containing antioxidants beneficial to rosacea may nevertheless contain ingredients which provoke symptoms, usually of burning, stinging, prickling and redness.

Where possible, choose a product formulated or known to be effective for rosacea on the basis of clinical experience.

Cosmetically-oriented dermatologists not profiting from the products they recommend are a source of personalized, genuine skin care recommendations.

Author: Jeremy Cleckley

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