Clear Sunscreen: Is Sheer Sun Protection Actually Effective?

When we're out enjoying fun in the sun, the last thing we want to worry about is skin cancer. Many of us traded the tan lines of our teens for soft, healthy, sun-screened skin. However, we've all experienced the struggles that come with traditional sunscreen. Either it doesn't get fully absorbed into our skin, it creates a white cast on our face, or it leaves behind a sticky residue. Sunscreen is vitally important to prevent sunburns and skin cancer, but many are annoyed by the struggles they have with different, traditional sunscreen products. It's hard enough to apply it properly without leaving a white residue on ourselves and our clothing. That's why sheer sunscreen is such an attractive alternative.

Because traditional sunscreen can be inconvenient due to the mess that it makes, some people turn away from using it at all. This is risky because it raises the chances of getting skin cancer from exposed skin. The good news is that clear sunscreen is a great alternative to its traditional counterpart. If your skin can tolerate the chemical mixture, clear sunscreen may be the end of your physical sunscreen woes.

Traditional sunscreen versus clear sunscreen

There are two types of sunscreen that are the most popular for people wanting to enjoy a safe time out in the sun: physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. Physical sunscreens — also known as mineral sunscreens — usually come out of the bottle or can as a white cream, and they sit on our skin, acting as a barrier from the sun. Chemical sunscreens are different in that they tend to have a thinner consistency and are designed to quickly absorb into our skin. 

Chemical sunscreen is often referred to as clear sunscreen. If you look at the ingredients, you can tell why chemical sunscreens have this name. They contain chemicals such as octocrylene, oxybenzone, homosalate, and octinoxate, which work to soak up the sun's harmful rays before your skin can, per Healthline. The FDA does monitor what should be allowed in our skin products, but certain sensitive skin types may not tolerate these well. This can be problematic for those who suffer from skin irritation, or conditions such as acne or eczema. It is true that sheer sunscreens can put several chemicals into our systems, but experts still agree that it's a better alternative to skin cancer, as reported via CNN

Is it effective

When used correctly, physical and chemical sunscreens are effective in protecting our skin from the sun. In order to maximize the benefits, you must use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, use enough to cover your exposed skin, and reapply after an hour or two of extended sun exposure. Chemical or clear sunscreens are not appropriate for all skin types, so when you are deciding which kind of sunscreen to use, apply just a little to a small section of skin to make sure you don't experience any adverse reactions. Because clear sunscreens contain more chemicals that are absorbed by the skin, you most likely won't have to take the same precautions with your physical sunscreen although it's always a good idea to patch-test new skincare products.

No matter what, it's always best to weigh the pros and cons with your doctor or your dermatologist. They know your skin well and will understand easily which products would most benefit you. The most important fact to keep in mind is that sun-protected skin is happy skin.