Since I’ve been using the 10% AHA every morning, my skin is much more sensitive to the sun, necessitating a good SPF during the day. I was using a zinc oxide based SPF for the first few weeks with great results. My skin was 100% clear. Then, against my better judgement, I decided to try an avobenzone based sunscreen. Avobenzone based sunscreens have always caused breakouts for me in the past, but I like how they go on less white than zinc oxide based sunscreens. Thanks to the AHA I managed to use the avobenzone for a few days with no problems, but finally did end up with a few small comedones. Me no like. I immediately went off avobenzone and back on a zinc oxide SPF and the breakout is fading. This is probably the fourth time an avobenzone based sunscreen has caused me problems. I guess I’m ready to declare that avobenzone is comedogenic at least on my skin.


Leave a Reply

  • Jamie

    Avabenzone is a synthetic based UVA sunscreen. It can pose a risk of irritation, but its a great sunscreen! Zinc oxide and Titanium Dioxide are both excellent mineral UVA/UVB sunscreen. They do not cause irritation. Another benefit of the mineral based sunscreen is that if you get it in your eye, it doesn’t sting. However, like what you said, it can cause the skin to look white, which is not a nice side effect. Also, it can clog pores, expecially for people with oily skin. Personally, I have had much success with the Avabenzone since my skin is more oily. But I love the mineral based sunscreens on the rest of my body (from the neck down).

  • Ospray

    That’s internesting. I used an Avobenzone sunblock all last summer (Coppertone oil-free) and had absolutley no problems *link edited out* What brands have you used?

  • Claire

    I was just wondering what brand of zinc oxide sunscreen you use? It seems difficult to find sunscreens that only contain zinc oxide and not some of the more synthetic sunscreens (like avobenzone). Thanks πŸ™‚

  • Dan

    The best one I’ve found so far is olay complete for sensitive skin. But I definitely have to add jojoba to make it work well enough for flakiness.

    As far as the Coppertone one, I hope people will try it and let me know what they think. I for one don’t really want to be a guinea pig again for avobenzone though. I’ve convinced myself probably 5 times in my life now that I can get away with avobenzone in a sunscreen and every time I’ve paid the price. Perhaps I am just one of the sensitive people to it. For instance, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer is very highly rated here on which leads me to believe avobenzone may be OK for a lot of people. So who knows. Regardless, because I make products for myself too — I have to use them too — and also because I much prefer physical sunblocks like zinc of titanium, I’m committed to those over avobenzone during my formulation of a sunscreen for all of us. It’s on its way. I gotta believe! I’m trying sample after sample after sample and we’ll get it in time.

  • Jamie

    People with oilier skin who choose to wear Titanium Dioxide and Zince Oxide would have a higher chance of breaking out due to the shape of these minerals. If I had a wish, I would hope for 2 different types of sunscreens for Dan’s line one for normal to dry skin and another for normal to oily skin. People with more normal to dry skin would benefit from a sunscreen with TD and ZO and someone with more normal to oily skin would benefit from Avabenzone. On a more personal note, I use Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 30. It is elegantly formulated with antioxidants and water binding agents and emmolients and Avabenzone as its UVA sunscreen. The only drawback of this product is the fragrance, but other than that it is excellent. If you want to try a 100% mineral sunscreen, I would recommend Neutrogena’s Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 30. I use it daily on my hands and arms and my legs if I am wearing shorts or plan on staying in the sun for an extended period of time. Sorry to sound so OCD about sunscreen. A final note for Dan, if you are looking for guinea pigs for new products, send me an email, I would love to help out if I can.

  • CCass

    Dan! Shiseido makes the most cosmetically ellegant and effective sunscreens that utilize minerals for uva protection! try em out

  • Sherry

    I use Aveeno Sunblock Lotion, Continuous Protection, for the Face SPF 30- however it is Avobenzone based. I started using this a year ago because it and Aveeno’s facial moisturizer were the only things gentle enough to heal my skin after a bad run in with Neutrogena Acne Rapid Clear Pads (I used 2 pads- and that was enough to leave me with sunburned looking redness that was painful to touch and peeled)…

    I like Jamie’s suggestion of offering two kinds of sunblock so people can use which ever works best for their skin type.

  • Michael

    Hey Dan:

    Always a pleasure reading your stuff, your 10% morning and night ritual saved my life when as a 31 year old I experienced acne for the first time πŸ™

    I’ve been using the new L’oreal UV lift with Mexoryl and Avobenzone and it really is a lot lighter and less gooky (real word?) on my face. The break-outs have lessened. I actually experience break-outs with TDioxide and Zoxide, maybe because I have a bit oilier shiny skin in the summer. I heard some rave reviews about the new Lancome Paris with Mexoryl from a blog. THey said it was a little thicker, but handled sweat and water pretty well, and didn’t cause break-outs in heat. I’m going to try it and I’ll let you know. Can’t wait to try your product though when it comes out. Please keep me on the mailing list when you get it up and running.

  • starfish

    Anything benzone, octyl, octryl or metho or parsol have been are comedogenic and stingy for me. Im so obsessed with my skin, I have spent tons of money on sunblock, I should be declared investors in Longs, Rite-Aid and Walgreens in search of the best non comedogenic, non stinging, hyoallergenic PABA free water proof, sweatproof in short PERFECT sunblock. Titanium Dioxide and zinc oxide based sunblock may give you a bit of a whitish sheen but fades away after a couple more seconds of light patting on your face. No comedones, even when Im too tired to cleanse my face. For you guys waiting for Dan to come out with his SPF, here are couple of TD and ZO based sunblocks that have been skin friendly for me: Clinique city block spf 25 – can replace your sheer make-up because of the tint to neutrulize the white, Neutrogena sunblock for sensitive skin – both spf 30 in the regular bottle and the spf 60 with pure screen in the squeeze tube – less expensive and TruKids Sunny days suncreen spf 30 – truest all natural sunblock for babies and kids, naturally fragrant and greasy because it’s plant based, but non comedogenic. And for those who are not price conscious I recommend Clarins Sun Eye Contour Care Ultra Protection SPF 30 it’s pricey for its size but I used it on my face and it was perfect. Try the Clarins Sunscreen Cream High Protection “For Children” SPF 30 same formuation i think but in a bigger tube. Simplest non comedogenic, non sting, non irritating, fragance free, hypoallergenic fix for facial grease: blot your face with lotion free facial tissue.

  • padresfan

    I have the same problem with chemical sunscreens! And it’s difficult to find a physical sunblock that doesn’t turn you white or that’s non-greasy or not thick.

    I love Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Lotion SPF 60+.
    It has both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract (like Aveeno products). It doesn’t leave that white cast that most physical sunblocks do. It absorbs very well and is the best sunblck I’ve ever used that agrees with my ultra-sensitive skin.

  • alex

    Shesido sunscreen for sensitive baby skin, Clinique City Block 30, Biotherm homme spf 50 . they make me break out and cyst acne. Paula choice spf 15 sunscreen with avobenzone also break me out and clogged my pore although not as bad as the others, it is also cause small irritation.
    I am going to try Invisible zinc. a zinc oxide base sunscreen by megan. anyone tried ? Titanium dioxide compare with zinc oxide, which one is more pore clogging?

  • Mimi

    I am looking for a high SPF sunscreen that won’t cause breakouts ?? I have never had a pimple in my life
    ( sorry folks)
    But my sister sufferer with severe acne. My son is on the regime and 99% under control. He can handle the sun SPF 30 better than the rest of the clan We are fair Scotish .
    My grand daughter ( my legal ward) woke up a month ago with overnight (poor thing) Pizza face.
    She/ we thought it had to be a case of ” black spotted mumbai spider bites” Bug bites but my son said no,
    puberty + family history = BAD ACNE overnight… SHE WENT ON THE REGIME THAT VERY MORNING AND was clear in 3 days with the exception of an almost volcanic singlelton. The volcano took a week to go away .
    She is very lucky to have had an acne sufferer and expert ( due to living in the same house.
    She has her peaches and cream skin as long as she doesn’t skip more than 1day
    She needs a 45 spf or up. That is non-comedagenic? according to my son. She is a lighter shade of pale
    w /freckles and oily skin. odd combo I use Ti-Silc spf 45 but I have to put it on when I wake up so it can soak in and I have dry skin . ANYONE found a Non pore clogging high spf.?? Thank you for your time.
    Regards, Mimi

  • Karen

    About one month ago I began to use the line DDF. I use their acne sulfur mask every night (sometimes leaving it on) and I use the 10% glycolic gel every day. I made the terrible mistake of going into the sun unprotected and quickly realized I NEED sunscreen with these products. I went for DDFs oil control SPF 15 cream. That product has avobenzone, ensulizole, octisalate, and octocrylene. I broke out terribly for days! Now I am stumped as to what I should be using! Any suggestions? I need to figure this out before I leave for a long nternational trip in one week! The sun will be VERY strong there and it will be VERY humid.

  • mauwong

    Avobenzone breaks me out, too. It happened everytime I use Neutrogena’s sunblock w/ avobenzone.

    I’ve been relying on Olay Complete SPF15 which used to be zinc oxide based. I’m incense when I re-ordered it from and found out that it has been reformulated with avobenzone. still has not updated its ingredient list as of 8/1/09. So buyers beware.

  • Jack

    Oh, this explains everything! I’ve been using Olay Complete for a long time because I’ve always heard it was a great product, it’s inexpensive, and saw that you had recommended it. The only problem I had with it was that it didn’t moisturize that well in the winter time — a common problem everyone seems to have with this product, hence the reason you suggested adding jojoba oil.

    When I went to the drugstore to pick up a new one after running out, I saw that it had a new packaging: very exciting to say the least and not knowing that they had actually changed the formula.

    But yes, I have been breaking out too. I don’t know why. I thought it was because of the summer weather. I have really oily skin. I also sweat really easily. So I thought the heat was making me produce more sweat and oil causing these breakouts. But for the past few weeks, the weather has been cooler and my skin has been fine, except I’ve been breaking out with small comedones all over my cheeks and jawline. I’ve stopped using my new bottle of Olay hoping my skin will show an improvement.

    I hope Olay is what’s been causing these breakouts. It’s weird to hear that people with oilier skin is recommending avobenzone instead of zinc oxide. I feel like an outcast haha.
    It’s much easier to switch a moisturizer than trying (different products) and switching from a acne routine that I’ve trusted for years.

  • April

    I’ve been breaking out really bad since the beginning of summer which I blamed on being pregnant. After reading this blog I’ve suddenly had a “eureka!” moment and now I know it’s the avobenzone in my olay complete moisturizer! My breakouts were so bad that I bought a BHA exfoliant in hopes that all these closed comedones would finally come to the surface and purge. I stopped using the olay for a while because the BHA made my face feel pretty moisturized by itself and I noticed my face getting better! Then I remembered that I need to use a sunscreen so I started using the olay SPF moisturizer and pretty soon my cheeks were covered with tiny bumps again! It all makes sense now…

  • JB

    Please if your skin is anything like mine, DO NOT use sunscreen with avobenzone. I switched to titanium and zinc oxide based three weeks ago (Neutragena Sensitive Skin spf 60) and noticed a dramatic difference. While using Neutragena ultra sheer, I would get swelling blemishes and couldn’t figure out for the life of me why. But it seemed related to sun and UV exposure (I work around arc welding) so I kept increasing the spf but to no avail. Then I was reading what Dan had posted about avobenzone and figured I should heed his advise. I’m still getting a few small pimples which I’m currently trying to figure out the root cause but like I said, dramatic difference.

  • Jennifer

    Same here. I decided to try a new moisturizer, Ambi, because of everything else good it contained…what a mistake! I started breaking out like crazy and new I wasn’t even close to my TOM. I checked the ingredients after I perused Dan’s regime again to see if I was doing something wrong, BINGO! I threw it away immediately! Back to TD and ZO based stuff. (I have oily skin as well and live in an ultra humid place too.)

  • Amelia

    I have recently decided to try a moisturizer with Avobenzone (hopefully it works), but the best Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide moisturizer I have found is Burt’s Bees Radiance. I had the best skin ever with it, but it has a slight sticky feel to it. I think that is probably the royal jelly in it.

  • Shen

    Avobenzone breaks me out. I’ve tried reintroducing it into my skincare routine several times as well… Each time, I end up with inflamed skin with little bumps πŸ™ I’m about ready to just leave out sunscreen from my routine and endure a week of sunburned skin after an outdoor activity… why is WAY better than a breakout πŸ™

  • Jessica

    Avobenzone always makes me breakout and it’s in so many products. Neutrogena’s Sensitive skin sunscreen and Eucerin’s redness relief w/ spf 15 have not caused breakouts. It’s not easy finding a sunscreen w/o avobenzone or anti-again day cremes.

  • Tina

    I am a cosmetician and most of the time I spend time reading and understanding ingredients. The two best mineral based sunscreens are cliniderm and aveene. Aveene has two kinds of suncreen one has little foundation and the other doesn’t. But both are mineral based. Unlike avobenzone based sunscreens cliniderm and aveene (not aveeno) leave your skin smooth. They are not greasy or sticky. The also have no perfume. Vichy, La Roche Posay, Roc, LOreal, Olay, … are all avobenzone based. Lise Watier is also mineral based but because of high amounts of zinc it is very white and is the most expensive the size is also small. 40 ml for $38 Canadian. The other two are $30 for 125ml.
    Good luck.

  • niccolo

    The other problem with avobenzone is that it oxidizes iron, so if you get it on your clothes–e.g. shirt collar–it will create rust stains if your laundry water has iron in it. So if you get brown/orange/yellow stains on your shirt collars that aren’t there before washing but appear after washing, at least you know what the problem is.