If you’re someone who experiences lupus, it’s important to take extra precautions. You need to protect yourself from sun damage and the subsequent issues it can cause. This is especially pertinent if you also experience photosensitivity.
As an autoimmune disorder, you’ll be aware that lupus inhibits the body’s ability to replace old cells with healthy new ones.
But did you know that sunburn causes instances of massive cell death?
When these dead cells build up, an inflammatory response can be triggered and this can lead to a lupus rash.
So, does this mean you shouldn’t go out in the sun?
Of course it doesn’t! It just means you have to be smart.
After careful investigation, SimplySunSafe can confidently recommend BurnOut SPF 30 for Face and Body as the best sunscreen for people with lupus in 2021. It is safe, affordable and takes into account the specific elements of this autoimmune disorder.
But we understand you might like to do your own research.
That’s why we’ve compiled in-depth information on our top five sunscreens for lupus, for you to review and compare. Read on for a comparison table, detailed buyer’s guides and honest product reviews.
Best Sunscreen for Lupus Comparison
|BurnOut for Face & Body||CōTZ Sensitive||Aveeno Protect + Moisturize Lotion||EltaMD UV Physical||SunBum Mineral Sunscreen|
|Active ingredients||Zinc Oxide (18.6%)||Zinc Oxide (20%)||Avobenzone (3%) Octocrylene (6%)||Zinc Oxide (9%) & Titanium Dioxide (7%)||Zinc Oxide (19.2)|
|Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
To make sure they get the serious skin protection they need, lupus sufferers should make sure the product they choose a sunscreen that has the following features:
Broad spectrum protection
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes in two separate forms with different effects.
UVA radiation can damage the DNA of deep skin cells, which leads to skin cancer and an increase in visible signs of aging such as skin sagging and wrinkling.
UVB radiation is particularly responsible for sunburn and the destruction of surface-level skin cells that cause rashes for those with autoimmune disease.
While most sunscreens offer protection from UVB rays, it is vital to get the widest range of protection possible. Broad spectrum sunscreens prevent UVA and UVB equally, ensuring that your skin is protected in the short and long-term.
Best SPF for lupus
Sun protection factor (SPF) is a common barometer for the effectiveness of sunscreen. However, simply knowing that a higher number is better is not enough to give you a complete understanding of what this number means.
SPF operates on a rating system that indicates the amount of UVB radiation it lets through to your skin. So an SPF 15 sunscreen lets 1/15th of UVB radiation reach your skin while SPF 30 lets 1/30th. This means that, contrary to popular belief, SPF 30 sunscreen does not offer twice as much protection as SPF 15.
This system also hints that SPF indicates the amount of increased time you can spend in the sun without burning. If it normally takes you 10 minutes to burn, an SPF 15 sunscreen will protect you for 15 times longer, or 150 minutes. However, this tend to exaggerate how long you will be protected as an SPF 50 sunscreen would suggest the same person could last for 500 minutes in the sun.
Regardless of the number rating, the effectiveness of most sunscreens wears off around two hours after application, especially if you’re sweating or swimming. A combination of reapplication, wearing protective clothing, and sticking to the shade when possible are all important things to think about in protecting your skin from the sun. Plus, this 2 hour maximum can be reduced based on external factors like sunlight intensity and the thickness of application.
This is especially true for someone with highly photosensitive skin as is a common symptom of lupus. Your ability to resist UV exposure will be dramatically reduced, meaning high SPFs and the extra precautions recommended above are a must.
Also note that SPF concerns UVB radiation specifically, and that reading the product’s active ingredients is the only way to get an idea of UVA protection (more on this in a minute).
To get a clearer understanding of what SPF actually means to us, let’s just focus on the amount of UVB protection each SPF rating provides:
|SPF Rating||UVB Protection|
As shown in the above table, the effectiveness of sunscreen directly correlating to its SPF rating generally caps off after SPF 30. The FDA discourages any rating above 50 in order to stop marketers from using high ratings (100) to mislead people into thinking it will protect your skin for hours on end.
Since no sunscreen is 100% effective, dermatologists say an SPF of 30 or more is usually good enough, and don’t recommend anything higher than SPF 50 even for those extra sensitive cases like people suffering from lupus.
Physical is better than chemical
Physical sunscreens work by reflecting sunlight away from the skin due to their active ingredients. Chemical sunscreens rely on (sometimes harmful) materials to absorb UV radiation as it hits your skin.
As a body care product which requires thick and frequent application, you would think it should be a top priority of its manufacturers to limit the amount of chemicals that can be irritating to the skin as much as possible. According to the Environmental Working Group, however, sunscreens often contain ‘penetration enhancers’ that help the product stick to your skin and as a result are absorbed directly into the body.
Some chemical UV filters mimic hormones or cause allergic reactions in users, a threat directly relevant to those already susceptible to skin discomfort like lupus patients. The biggest culprit of this undesirable effect is oxybenzone, which is known to disrupt hormone regulation.
Other chemical filters in addition to oxybenzone are labeled as endocrine disruptors. Multiple studies have shown all kinds of issues affecting cell development by altering reproductive and thyroid hormones. The direct correlation between these chemicals and hormone regulation are not totally clear, but it is recommended that someone who already has issues in this area take extra care to stay away from these kinds of products.
So if you’ve got lupus, you should steer clear of chemical sunscreens and stick to purely physical ones instead. On top of not using nasty chemicals that could affect your condition, they have the added bonuses of:
- Working immediately upon application
- Lasting longer
- Being less likely to cause irritation
- Having a longer shelf life
To make sure you’re buying a physical sunscreen rather than a chemical one, check the active ingredients list for high concentrations of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These are the two physical sunscreen filters you’ll want to ensure your body is protected without being irritated or affected hormonally.
Alternatively you could just choose one of the sunscreens recommended on SimplySunSafe as all of the sunscreen recommended for lupus her are physical sunscreens that offer fantastic protection without affecting your condition.
Avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone
One of the most common ingredients used in sunscreens with chemical filters is called oxybenzone, which may disrupt hormones by acting like estrogen in the body (Rodriguez 2006, Krause 2012). As lupus is an autoimmune disorder that directly relates to hormonal imbalance, it is strongly recommended to avoid using sunscreen with this active ingredient.
This chemical is also known to correlate with endometriosis in women, and for this reason, is especially absent from the list of recommended sunscreens for lupus.
Suitable for daily use and wearable with makeup
It’s worth noting that females are much more likely to develop lupus than males, a trend that has led researchers to explore the relationship between hormone imbalance, particularly estrogen, and the severity of its symptoms.
With this in mind, this guide to the five best sunscreens for lupus takes into account products that are formulated for use with cosmetics and makeup.
One common side effect of lupus is referred to as a ‘butterfly rash’ across the face and nose (pictured above). It’s important to choose a sunscreen that is safe and convenient for facial application, and that it is gentle enough for everyday use.
If you are going to be wearing makeup, an additional requirement of the desired product is compatibility with cosmetics. While each sunscreen is different, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to apply it at least 20 minutes before makeup to ensure it is fully absorbed before proceeding with your standard beauty routine.
5 Best Sunscreens for Lupus
After thorough research that combined discussing issues with customers, reviewing customer feedback, examining manufacturer specifications, participating in skincare forums, and reading medical journals SimplySunSafe has chosen the 5 best sunscreens for lupus. All of these sunscreens provide broad spectrum, physical protection of SPF 30 or greater, do not contain oxybenzone, have an invisible finish, and are compatible with makeup products.
- zinc oxide sunscreen
- no chemical sunscreens
- uva / uvb broad spectrum protection
- light weight, oil-free, perfect for daily use, and under make up
- paraben-free, fragrance-free
Last update on 2021-10-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
BurnOut SPF 30 for Face and Body scores well in all categories to make it an all-around great sunscreen for lupus sufferers.
It is a physical sunscreen with broad spectrum protection to cover both UVA and UVB radiation, uses zinc oxide as its active ingredient, avoids chemicals which may disrupt hormones, is good for daily use on the face (as mentioned in the name), and has a matte finish without that pesky white cast left on your skin.
With proper use, even users with darker skin tones are satisfied with BurnOut’s completely matte look. It also absorbs well so that makeup can be applied over your invisible protective layer.
In addition, this product is paraben, oil, nanoparticle, and fragrance free, and priced reasonably for its high quality. All of these features put together make BurnOut for Face and Body a confident pick as the best sunscreen for lupus patients.
It’s important not to confuse this product with Burnout Eco-sensitive Zinc Oxide Sunscreen. The original recipe was changed for this version to increase the SPF to 35, which has unfortunately resulted in a reduction of quality. Although it offers great protection, this sunscreen is not good for facial application as it feels and looks greasy, making it a particularly unappealing choice in the search for the best sunscreen for discoid lupus.
- High concentration of active ingredient
- Great value
- Matte finish makes it a great base for makeup
- Formula feels a little thick
- Laser, Cosmetic Surgery, Microdermabrasion, Acid, Peel
- - 100% Free of Oils, Chemical Sunscreens, Oils, Fragrances, Preservatives, PABA, Gluten, Phthalates - Will not irritate or sting - Contains #1 rated sun protection ingredients
- - Provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection - Photostable, will not breakdown when exposed to sunlight- Water Resistant (40 Minutes) - Non-Greasy- Not tested on animals
Last update on 2021-10-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
CōTZ Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 40 is a close second in the race for the best sunscreen for lupus. It is specifically formulated for sensitive skin (again, it’s the name) and shouldn’t irritate or cause flare-ups on the most sensitive lupus-affected skin.
It is extra gentle and free of chemical sunscreen filters as required for lupus. It offers balanced broad-spectrum protection and is even water and sweat resistant, but this shouldn’t stop you from reapplying often.
This product has no fragrance and contains zero preservatives. It blends translucent and won’t clog the pores on your skin. It soothes while protecting sensitive areas, making this particular version great for your face.
It is priced as reasonably as BurnOut for an equally effective sunscreen. The only reason it places second is its slightly higher zinc oxide content (which makes it a little less compatible with cosmetics) and less unanimously positive user reviews.
However, don’t let this deter you from trying out what works best for your own skin! Chances are good it will do as well of a job as the top pick.
- A high concentration of active ingredient
- 40-minute water resistance
- Designed for sensitive skin
- Not as compatible with cosmetics
- 3-ounce tube of Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion for Face with Broad Spectrum SPF 50 from a dermatologist-recommended brand to help protect and moisturize skin
- Made with antioxidant oat, this daily facial sunscreen protects, moisturizes and nourishes your skin to help keep it feeling soft and healthier than before you went in the sun
- Suitable for use on the face and body, it provides UVA and UVB sun protection to help prevent sunburns and signs of premature skin aging
- Its lightweight formula is fast-absorbing, oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it won't clog pores, and is sweat-resistant and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
- The SPF 50 face sunscreen lotion is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation as an effective broad spectrum sunscreen and is available in a travel-friendly size Apply prior to sun exposure to protect skin during outdoor activities
Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The Aveeno Protect + Hydrate sunscreen product provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection from sunburns and mitigates the effects of sunburns and premature skin aging while at the same time, moisturizing and nourishing the skin so that it feels even more supple, healthier, fresher and softer. It is made with an active natural colloidal oatmeal which is a skin protectant. This oatmeal serves to restore the skin’s pH level to normal and further maintains the skin moisture, thereby, helping to prevent dry, itchy skin. It doesn’t irritate the skin and the oatmeal extract is especially good for people with sensitive skin.
The product is lightweight, allowing easy absorption into the skin. It is also noncomedogenic, oil-free, hypoallergenic, won’t clog your pores or mess up your makeup. It is water and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes, can be used on both the face and other parts of the body and it comes highly recommended by dermatologists and the Skin Cancer Foundation for its effectiveness.
- Great for sensitive skin
- Leaves no white cast on the body
- Moisturizes the skin
- Contains oxybenzone
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EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 Sunscreen protects against the entire range of UV rays using physical protection, as the name suggests. It uses both zinc oxide and titanium oxide but is still missing those dangerous hormone distruptors. It dries clear and is a good base for makeup.
This product is free of oils and fragrances, and was designed for sensitive skin. This is great for people who are just as aware of the value of comfort as its manufacturers.
This sunscreen is tinted slightly to brighten skin tone. In combination with makeup, EltaMD UV Physical blends well and looks natural.
While darker skin tones have been occasionally known to experience an ashy look after applying, this can be easily fixed with a good makeup foundation. For this reason it is listed as number four in this list of the best sunscreens for lupus sufferers.
- Designed for sensitive skin
- Lightly tinted
- Lower levels of active ingredients
- MINERAL SPF 50 SUNSCREEN FACE STICK. Some of us like to go au naturel. Our natural, easy roll-on zinc-based Mineral face stick sits on top of your skin to block sun, leaving a matte finish with Broad Spectrum SPF 50 protection from UVA/UVB rays.
- CHEMICAL FREE SUNSCREEN. Our zinc-based Mineral collection was created for your lounging and earth loving pleasure. Lightweight and silky, this Sun Bum collection is sure to leave your skin feeling clean, natural and protected!
- HOW TO USE. Apply liberally 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating and every 2 hours. Sonny’s Tip: A white tint is normal, as this rad screen sits on top of your skin as opposed to absorbing into your skin!
- PROTECT YOUR SKIN. The key to safe sun is to protect and moisturize your skin. Our Mineral Sunscreen line is enriched with Zinc Oxide, and is Hypoallergenic, Gluten and Cruelty and Free to ensure a fun, clean day in the sun.
- TRUST THE BUM. What does that mean? It means trust us, the ones who live on the beach and need products that work on the most intense days in the sun. The simple truth is, when you make products to protect the ones you love, you make ‘em better.
Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Lightweight, non-greasy and cruelty-free, this sunscreen offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 50 protection from the rays of the sun. It is made mostly from natural ingredients and safe minerals such as coconut oil, avocado, safflower, and linseed oil, rice bran wax and candelilla wax which makes as natural a product as it can be. It feels silky, smooth and light when applied on the skin and leaves a nice matte finish making you feel fresh and soft.
It is an environmental, reef-friendly product that is hypoallergenic and doesn’t irritate the skin. It is gluten-free, paraben, oxybenzone and PABA free and it rubs smoothly on every part of your skin. It is also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes allowing you to go to the beach or pool for a swim and not minding sweat. It comes in a compact size which makes it easy to go around with. It is advisable to apply it about 15 minutes before going out to the sun. Perhaps, the only downside of the product is that it leaves a white film on your body and this is because it stays on your skin and isn’t absorbed into your pores!
- Doesn’t irritate the skin
- Made from all-natural ingredients
- Leaves white film on the skin
After consulting this comprehensive guide looking into the best sunscreens for lupus, you should be much more familiar with the necessity of this product for lupus sufferers, the important feature of sunscreens, and how to go about making your choice.
While SimplySunSafe recommends BurnOut SPF 30 for Face and Body, all five products will provide the protection you need without causing any extra discomfort due to your lupus. Choose the product that sounds best for you and if it doesn’t work out, come back and try another until you find the right sunscreen for your skin.
If you experience particularly positive results with any other brands, share them in the comments and I’ll do some research and might add them to this guide.
If you’d like sunscreen recommendations for other skin conditions, SimplySunSafe has a range of guides including keratosis pilaris sunscreen, sunscreen for melasma, and sunscreen for rosacea. Just go to the top of this page and search for a condition to find the recommendations you’re looking for.