Picture me with my hands up by my shoulders, palms upward, with a silly frown on my face. That’s where I feel like I am with the whole SPF issue. I just don’t know where to go from here. I’ve tried tons of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide SPFs at this point, probably around 70 samples from our formulators and 10 over-the-counter products. Yeah, that’s pretty ridiculous. But it took me trying that many to realize zinc and titanium probably aren’t going to work for us. It turns out they are flake promoting ingredients, and I can’t seem to formulate the flakiness away.

So, what do we do? Well, one option would be moisturizing with a regular moisturizer first, and then applying a zinc or titanium SPF on top of it. That seems kind of annoying to me though. There are already three parts to the regimen and I’d rather not make it four. Plus, my gut says it will still cause flakes. But, it’s always something I could try, so I will try that out and let you know how that works. If you’d like to try with me, I’d love to hear your feedback.

So let’s theoretically say zinc and titanium are out. That would leave us with avobenzone as the only other broad spectrum SPF option. Any other SPF ingredients are not going to give us the UVA protection we want. But, avobenzone-based sunscreens tend to break me out. So, it’s time to look into this issue more deeply. Is it the avobenzone that’s breaking me out or other ingredients in avobenzone products I’ve tried? I’m going to delve into this and see what I can come up with. If we can make avobenzone work without breaking people out, it may be our best option.

In the meantime, I wear hats. I just wear a hat every day. It’s become part of my wardrobe. I put some zinc or titanium SPF on the back of my neck, throw on a hat, and I’m out the door.


Leave a Reply

  • Richard

    Dan, i always use moisturizer first before i apply any spf, the moisturizer seems to moistuirize my face better than the spf and handles some flakiness. everytime i apply the olay( with jojoba oil also) after the bp, i always tend to look more flaky and i have a white tint on my face which really annoys me because the olay doesnt absorb that well as the moisturizer but after i use the moisturizer, i apply the spf and it seems to make the spf absorb better and i had no problems with it. oh and im still using the zinc oxide based olay btw

  • jamie


    Why not make 2 types of sunscreen products. One with zinc or titanium and another with avobenzone. Research shows that zinc and titanium doesn’t work well for people with acne prone skin since they can clog pores due to their molecular shape. Avobenzone does pose the risk for irritation…but does well for people with very oily acne skin. I understand your frustration since it does take a bit of experimenting with different types of sunscreens to find one that works. I think that the trade off of possible irritation vs skin cancer is the lesser of the two evils.

  • Nick

    Thanks for your continuing research on this, Dan! We all appreciate it!

    I know one of the products you recommend is Olay Complete Daily Sensitive UV Fluid, but I was wondering have you ever tried the UV Cream they also do, specifically for normal/dry skin. I bought this one when I was first on the regimen by mistake, but have since found it’s actually better than the fluid AND better than the ‘sensitive skin’ option. I hardly get any flakiness, about the same as when I use the UV fluid WITH jojoba oil. The fluid also sometimes burns a little and I think that’s because it reacts with the BP for me sometimes… I don’t have this problem with the cream as it’s much more gentle. I also recently tried the cream and got the ‘sensitive skin’ option – this did cause more flakiness. So the UV Cream for normal/dry skin works best for me.

    I think our natural instinct as people with acne prone skin is to choose the ‘sensitive skin’ option, but actually I think the ‘normal/dry’ cream option is the perfect choice for an SPF moisturiser that doesn’t flake up too much. Have you ever tested that one, Dan?

  • Bob


    I appreciate ALL that you do for us. Please keep working hard on an spf, I have been desperate for a good one since everything I’ve tried either makes me break out, or makes my face white and oily for the whole day. Keep at it!

  • help3

    thnx for the info about the SPF.

    does jojoba oil and SPF (with zink) still gives you flakes?
    I wouldn’t mind to make jojoba a must if here is no other way..

    I just can’t find ANY good non-com. moisturizer right now, would be nice just to be able to order one that is big-sized and good for acne prone skin. I would just mix is up with jojoba then..

  • Realme2008


    Thank you for all the hard work. I really hope you continue working on a SPF moisturizer though.

  • senshiminako

    i agree with ^.^ a dual dispenser would be fabulous!

  • Anonymous

    Biore Dual Fusion is fantastic. I tried it on a whim, but have been pleasantly surprised. It’s not ridiculously moisturzing (which is why I can put it on my nose and forehead), but maybe some jojoba would help.
    If you do something along the same lines, please don’t make the dual pump as ridiculous as the Biore one (Honestly, it’s my only complaint with the product.) I’ve written to the company and was told to tap it on a hard surface, but found I had to BEAT it against my tile countertop to get both sides to come out at the same time.
    And, thanks for researching and looking into all of the options. I feel confident buying products from your company because 1.) They work! and 2.) I get the sense that you’re working really hard to present the best stuff, not just to make money.
    Thanks for all you do!

  • amy

    ive gotta be honest–ive been checking back here for months in hopes of ordering the sunscreen, however, if it ends up containing avobenzone, i will not be purchasing.

    the reason for this goes beyond breakouts and involves overall health. have you read up on the harmful effects of chemical sunscreens? they penetrate deeper than physical and can be absorbed into the bloodstream. also, the reaction that happens as they absorb UV rays is thought to be carcinogenic.

    besides that, chemical blockers do not provide the same standard of protection as physical and are irritating to MANY people, especially those who use retinoids or AHA’s aka a looot of people who have acne. as a person who has struggled for years to find the best sun protection possible i have found zinc to be the best for me as it doesnt cause breakouts and feels soothing. titanium dioxide can be clogging, but i would still prefer it over any chemical alternatives.

    im not trying to be mean, i was just really looking forward to a new physical sunblock, and knew that you would make sure the best ingredients went into it! good luck! and thanks for keeping issues like this open to customer feedback, it really keeps people (me!) coming back.

  • Dan

    Thanks for your comments everybody. A couple responses:

    I don’t think I have tried the Olay cream. I’ll go take a look at the store later today.

    Jojoba + zinc = flakes still.

    The Biore Dual Fusion is one that I have tried. I have it right here next to me actually ๐Ÿ™‚ Didn’t work for me. Too many flakes.

    Finally, I hear ya Amy. But I feel like we’re in a no-win situation. Zinc and titanium are flake promoting and chemical sunscreens have their own drawbacks.

    Please keep the comments coming.

  • Sharpy

    I agree with Amy–I woul d not use a chemical sunscreen for all of the reasons she stated. I am fine with putting the sunscreen on after moisturizer. That is what I do now anyway.

  • Jordy

    I’ve stopped using BP and started just using Dan’s Sal Acid. So flaking isn’t a problem anymore, neither is acne by the way :). Finding a decent Zinc Oxide sunscreen is a problem though now that Oil of Olay stopped using it. I think you should pick your favorite Zinc Oxide sunscreen mixture and do a beta for us. Flaking is going to be a problem with anything you do. On BP I flaked using your regular moisturizer and jojoba oil! So I think you have unrealistic expectations for a sunscreen moisturizer stopping the flakes.

  • Lin

    Hey dan, take a look at Devita Solar Protective Moisturizer! That stuff goes on really clear and doesnt seem too flaky!..However it stings my eyes like crazy because of a certain ingredient in there (not sure which one and it seems to sting my face like the way fruit of the earth’s aloe gel stings my face so it might be the type of aloe gel they use). So maybe you could try to formulate a sunscreen like theirs expect leave out the stinging ingredient?

  • marilyn

    Hey Dan,

    I’ve been on your acne.org regimen for the last two months and it’s really helped a lot with my acne. I don’t think it’s necessarily true that zinc oxide sunscreens when used together with BP, results in flaking. In the day time, what I like to do is mix a Japanese zinc oxide sunscreen with Cetaphil lotion (I adjust the amount of Cetaphil lotion depending on how dry my skin is) to create my own moisturizer with spf. I use this over BP and I’ve NEVER experienced any problems with flaking. In fact, it leaves a really nice matte fnish.

    So maybe you could look into Japanese sunscreens- their formulations are usually zinc oxide based, feel very nice on the face, and not greasy/shiny at all. I sometimes find them a bit drying in fact-which is why I mix it with Cetaphil. The one I use is Kao Biore UV Perfect Milk but it comes in different formulations for different skin types. I think this is only available in Asia, but you might be able to find it in some Japanese/ Asian supermarkets in the US. Here’s a website with a product description: http://www.kao.com/sg/biore/bio_perfect_milk_00.html

    Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • marilyn

    Nope, the Japanese sunscreen is different. The ingredients aren’t the same: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Zinc, Oxide, Alcohol, Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Lauryl Methacrylate/Sodium Methacylate Crosspolymer, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Talc, Glycerin, Methicone, Polysilicone-9, PEG-12, Dimethicone, Titanium Dioxide, PEG-3 Diemthicone, Cetyl-PG Hydroxyethyl Palmitamide, Aluminum Hydroxide, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Silica

    The thing is that the Biore products sold in the US are different from the ones you’ll find in Asia. Japanese sunscreens usually have a runny/ milk-like texture. Other possible brands you can try are Shiseido’s Anessa or Sofina. They’re all similar, but Biore’s are the cheapest.

  • admin

    I have a suggestion for the ladies. If you wear makeup, try Almay Smart Shade. It has spf 15 that is zinc oxide and titanium dioxide based. Wear whichever regular moisturizer you like, and put the Smart Shade on over top and you’ve got your spf 15 for the day. This is what I do and it works very well for me on a daily basis. Now for longer periods out in the sun, get yourself a sun visor or hat and get used to wearing it! I never used to be much of a hat-wearer but the past few years I’ve gotten used to wearing one and wear it religiously if I’m going to be outside a lot.


  • acne treatment

    well i have to say If you do something along the same lines, please donโ€™t make the dual pump as ridiculous as the Biore one (Honestly, itโ€™s my only complaint with the product.) Iโ€™ve written to the company period.

  • Jordy

    What’s wrong with the dual pump?

  • Ken


  • Ken

    Hi guys……Dan, you may want to look at Murad oil-control mattifier, wth spf 15. It has all the right ingredients, and goes on smooth as silk… As a bonus, it controls oil production as well. If you somehow cloned this one I would buy it from you!

  • Iseul

    You may be aware of this already, but avobenzone is not a photostable filter – it has to be photostabilized with other filters (octocrylene, for example) or a limited number of inactive ingredients. It also can’t be stabilized in the presence of octinoxate (at least in the US – there are a few filters available in Europe the stabilize avobezone + octinoxate). It’s sort of problematic because you will likely have to pay licensing fees to the company who owns the patents for the particular method of stabilization you choose or make an unphotostable (potentially harmful to the skin) product.

  • Medusagorgonia

    Being in Australia Sunblock SPF 30 + is an absolute nescitity.Zinc Based ones provide the best protection but they can make the skin feel very clogged. I don’t know if the Sunsense brand is available in America but you could look up their website.

    Personally even though it’s an extra step I prefer a seperate Sunblock.

  • mauwong

    Just want to put my two cents in.

    Avobenzone is a no no for me. Whenever I try an avobenzone based sunscreen, I break-out.

    I’m so looking forward to your zinc oxide sunscreen since Oil of Olay Complete changed its formula to avobenzone. All I ask for is that it’s relatively light and fast drying.

  • zoe

    Avobenzone products have always broken me out too. I guess there is no way to be sure it is the avobenzone and not some other ingredient, but that’s what I’ve noticed.

  • Pete

    Hey Dan:

    Have you looked into Vitamin C and E compounds as a sunblock. I know they can boost the SPF of certain sunblocks when properly stabilized, but I’m not sure how it would work stand-alone. I assume there are lab techniques to determine what a products SPF rating is. Might be worth a look. Even if you can get minimal protection, it would still be worth it to people.

  • Jade

    Dan (or anyone else who wants to test this and give a review),

    I found something that looks like it might be worth a test. It does have zinc oxide, but it has plenty of other ingredients that might counteract the flaky-ness. It has no chemicals and seems to be pretty natural. Tell me what you think! Here are two links:



    I’m not sure if MelanSol has been mentioned before, sorry if it has.


  • Elissa

    What about copying the old Olay UV fluid formula? I’m so disappointed they changed it to avobenzone

  • goodgirl101

    have you heard of solarx?
    link edited out

    on a daily basis i wear my makeup as an spf 15(minerals), but at the beach you need something more.

    my brother brought this home once upon a time and i’ve been using it for those hard-core beaching-it days. in the past, i had always used various neutrogena sunblocks, but they always ALWAYS broke me out. this, i think because of the newfangled technology, doesn’t. cons: it kinda sucks onto your skin and feels tight on your face, almost as if you’d put hairspray on it? pros: but the sensation goes away and it seems to be the best for break-outs for me, so far. it looks shiny but it is NOT greasy. i wouldn’t use it daily tho because of the cons. and i wish it came in spf 40 or 50! link edited out

    once upon a time i also emailed them about an avobenzene free one, and this is what they wrote back:
    new SolarexMD–this rated spf 40 after 8 hours, no
    avobenzone, no oxybenzone, and it has WaterBlock, our waterproof system.

    i’ll probably try that this summer.