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3 Popular Skincare Treatments That Make You Photosensitive

3 Popular Skincare Treatments That Make You Photosensitive

When you’re into anti-aging it can be easy to get swept up in the latest skincare trend without knowing all of the side effects or how it might interact with your skin. As sun protection advocates, we wanted to call out a few popular treatments that will make you photo-sensitive. 

“Ingredients that exfoliate or encourage skin cell turnover are the biggest culprits of causing photosensitivity,” says Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “When you remove dead skin cells and expose the new, more delicate skin underneath, your skin becomes more susceptible to damage from UV rays.”

So which treatments seem to cause the most sensitivity?


Dermaplaning is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that removes the top layers of skin with a scalpel or razor blade. The procedure can be performed by a dermatologist, licensed esthetician, plastic surgeon, or at home for a lighter exfoliation. 

Dermaplaning helps even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars. It can also be used to remove fine facial hair. 

While this technique is growing in popularity and yields instant results, it also removes a delicate layer of the skin, and with it, a layer of protection. As a result, your face will be more sensitive to UVA and UVB rays. Because of this, you may want to wait 3 days before direct sun exposure after a dermaplaning session and be generous with the sunscreen when you get back out there. 


Sometimes found in-store as “peel pads”, these at-home facials are a type of chemical exfoliant using ingredients like salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), and enzymes to break down the cellular glue between dead skin cells. Because this process can act as a heavy exfoliant, it makes the skin extra sensitive to touch, certain products, and of course, the sun. Take extra precautions when going out in the sun while using products with AHAs, including wearing sun protective hats and hoodies, using sunscreen, and limiting sun exposure. 


Retinol, touted by many as the holy grail of flawless skin, can help encourage collagen production, blur fine lines, even skin tone, thicken the deeper layer of skin, and reduce collagen breakdown. Unfortunately, it can also make you extra sensitive to the sun and put you at higher risk for sun damage. 

Dr. Sarnoff also points out that “retinol is actually rendered less effective by sunlight, so it’s doubly important to keep UV rays from reaching your skin while you use it.”

“Regardless of if or when you use skin care products that cause photosensitivity, sun protection is important every day,” says Dr. Sarnoff. “You should be extra vigilant about applying sunscreen if you’re also using a retinol, AHAs, BHAs or hydroquinone.”

Love these trends, but want extra sun protection? Try our Sport or Crop hoodies featuring an extra wide hood. Pair them with a ball cap or visor to help your face stay protected and sun-damage free. 


Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash