dry skin from sunscreen

Can You Get Dry Skin From Sunscreen? List of Ingredients to Blame!

Have you ever noticed how your skin can feel tight and dry after slapping on some sunscreen, as if your skin is screaming for a drink? 

It’s a pretty common thing, and it might make you wonder if your sunscreen is doing more harm than good when it comes to keeping your skin soft and happy. 

I want to show you how natural sunscreens with nourishing ingredients can be a game-changer for your skin’s hydration. In my experience, you won’t go back once you go natural.

Article at a Glance:

Chemicals that can cause dry skin from sunscreen

What to look for in a hydrating natural sunscreen

How to enhance skin hydration

Chemicals that can cause Dry skin from sunscreen

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Chemicals That Can Cause Dry Skin From Sunscreen 6

What Causes Dry Skin from Sunscreen?

Dry skin from sunscreen occurs when the product’s ingredients compromise the skin’s natural moisture barrier, leading to dehydration and irritation. Recognizing this condition is the first step towards choosing sun-protective products that nourish and hydrate rather than strip away moisture.

🌿 Reasons You Need to Know Ingredients That Cause Irritation and Dry Skin From Sunscreen

Understanding this condition is pivotal for anyone looking to protect their skin from the sun’s rays without compromising on hydration:

  • Protect Skin Health: Knowledge helps prevent the dryness and irritation associated with certain sunscreens.
  • Make Informed Choices: Awareness allows you to select sunscreens that are kind to your skin and the environment.
  • Maintain Hydration: It ensures your skin stays moisturized and healthy, even with regular sunscreen use.

Switching to natural sunscreens with hydrating ingredients is the ultimate solution to this problem.

Ingredients in Sunscreen That Can Cause Dry Skin

I’ve found it’s crucial to be aware of certain ingredients in sunscreens that may lead to dryness. Without understanding the ingredients to look out for on labels, it is easy to get wrapped up in the marketing of products (I did for years). Here’s a detailed look at common culprits:

Alcohol (or Ethanol)

Role: Used in sunscreens for its quick-drying properties, making the formula less greasy and more appealing for oily skin types.

How it dries the skin: Alcohol acts as a solvent, dissolving the skin’s natural lipids and compromising the protective barrier. This leads to increased water loss from the skin’s surface, resulting in dryness and dehydration.

effects alcohol in sunscreen

Salicylic Acid

Role: Incorporated for its ability to exfoliate the skin, clear pores, and combat acne.

How it dries the skin: Salicylic acid can disrupt the natural balance of oils on the skin, removing too much sebum and leading to dryness. Overuse or high concentrations can exacerbate skin dryness by breaking down the skin’s protective lipid layer.


Role: A common UVA filter in sunscreens, avobenzone protects the skin by absorbing ultraviolet light.

How it dries the skin: While avobenzone itself may not directly cause dryness, it can degrade quickly in sunlight, leading to the need for other stabilizing chemicals in the formula that can irritate and dry the skin.

Fragrances (including Essential Oils)

Role: Added to enhance the sensory experience of sunscreen by providing a pleasant scent.

How it dries the skin: Fragrances and essential oils, even those derived from natural sources, can cause allergic reactions and skin sensitivities. They can disrupt the skin’s barrier function, leading to moisture loss and dryness.


Role: A chemical filter that absorbs UV radiation, preventing it from penetrating the skin.

How it dries the skin: Oxybenzone is a potential allergen and irritant that can cause skin reactions and dryness. It can also disrupt hormonal activity, which might affect the skin’s ability to retain moisture.


Role: Used in sunscreens for its UV filter properties, octinoxate absorbs both UVB and short UVA rays.

How it dries the skin: Octinoxate can cause oxidative stress and cellular damage in the skin, leading to irritation and dryness. It can also disrupt the skin’s hormonal balance, affecting its natural oil production and moisture retention.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Choose Natural Sunscreen with Hydrating Ingredients

Let’s navigate through the selection process of natural sunscreens that keep your skin hydrated and protected.

Step 1: Ingredient Check

  • Focus on Hydration: Look for ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid that actively boost skin moisture.
  • Look for Antioxidants: When choosing a good natural sunscreen, I will always scan for natural antioxidants like Vitamin E or botanicals that provide plenty of Vitamin C for skin health and to combat oxidative stress. My favourite is the Australian Native Kakadu Plum, which contains 100 times the vitamin C content of an orange.

Step 2: Patch Testing

  • Test for Compatibility: Always patch test a new sunscreen to ensure it suits your skin type and doesn’t cause irritation.

Step 3: Layer Wisely

  • Moisturize Before Sunscreen: Applying a hydrating base layer before your sunscreen can enhance skin hydration and protection.

Organic Face Sunscreen Tinted Mineral SPF 50

(80 customer reviews)
Original price was: AU$40.00.Current price is: AU$34.99.

Hydrating, antioxidant-boosted natural face sunscreen crafted for adventure and endurance sports.

Key Considerations For Successfully Using Hydrating Natural Sunscreen

Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Safest bet is to steer clear of chemical UV filters altogether. These include; Homosalate, Benzophenones, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octisalate, Padimate O and others listed here

Look for Antioxidants: Ingredients like vitamin C or vitamin E can protect and nourish your skin.

Reapply Regularly: Ensure continuous protection and hydration by reapplying sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals in Sunscreen

How to Enhance Skin Hydration & Fix Dry Skin

To further combat dryness, integrate a serum or mask with ingredients like ceramides or niacinamide into your skincare routine, which can help restore the skin’s barrier and retain moisture.

Alternatives to Traditional Sunscreen

Mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are excellent alternatives. They offer physical UV protection with less risk of irritation and are often combined with natural moisturizing ingredients. 

Our hydrating, natural & organic face sunscreen, “Skorcha Face” is the perfect mix of zinc oxide, antioxidants and hydrating hyaluronic acid.

Wrapping Up and My Experience With Sunscreen-Induced Dry Skin

Wrapping this up, I know how crucial it is to find the right sunscreen that doesn’t leave your skin feeling like an old leather boot.

Back in my roofing days, I learned the hard way how the sun and the wrong sunscreen can make things worse. That’s why I started Skorcha Organic Suncare. 

We’re all about giving you that perfect blend of sun protection and moisture your skin craves without the dryness. Trust me, with the right natural sunscreen, you can keep your skin looking and feeling top-notch, even under the harshest sun.

Why you can trust us:

  • Real-World Experience: Mick founded Skorcha Organic Suncare to provide effective organic and natural suncare products based on his 10 years of working under the sun as a roofer and door-to-door salesman.
  • Self-Testing: We live and breathe suncare and everything related to caring for your skin under the sun. If we haven’t tried it ourselves, we have researched it thoroughly.
  • Continuous Learning : Always learn about natural ingredients’ power for suncare and our skin health.

Want to know more? Visit our store


Can sunscreen make your skin dry?

Sunscreen can sometimes make your skin dry. This usually happens if it contains certain ingredients like alcohol or salicylic acid, which can strip moisture from your skin. To avoid this, look for sunscreens with hydrating components like aloe vera or glycerin, especially if you have naturally dry skin.

Why is my skin dry and flaky after sunscreen?

Do you have dry, flaky skin after using sunscreen? It’s likely due to sunscreen ingredients that are nipping at your skin’s natural moisture. Look for moisturising ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, or hyaluronic acid in the ingredient list. These goodies can help counteract the dryness and keep your skin smooth and supple.

Why is my skin getting rough after using sunscreen?

If your skin feels rough after using sunscreen, it might react to certain ingredients in the product. Some sunscreens contain chemicals or fragrances that can strip away natural oils, leaving your skin dry and textured. Switching to a gentler, natural sunscreen and moisturising can help keep your skin smooth and happy.

Can sunscreen cause eczema?

Yes, sunscreen can sometimes trigger eczema, especially if it contains certain harsh chemicals or fragrances that irritate sensitive skin. Opting for a fragrance-free, mineral-based sunscreen with ingredients like zinc oxide can be a gentler choice for eczema-prone skin.

Can I use sunscreen without moisturizer?

You can use sunscreen without a moisturizer, but it might not be the best move for your skin. Sunscreen protects you from the sun’s rays, but it doesn’t always provide the same hydration as a good moisturizer. For happy, hydrated skin, it’s smart to layer a moisturizer under your sunscreen. This way, your skin gets the moisture it needs, plus the sun protection it deserves.

Mick Wadley

Mick Wadley – Founder of Skorcha

After a decade in the scorching sun as a roofer and going door-to-door in sales – I was forced to take my skin health seriously following a skin cancer scare before the age of 30.

So began my passion for suncare, which is both effective and natural. Crafted for adventure and endurance sports, Skorcha formulas are non-greasy, have no eye sting and absolutely no bullshit (100% Organic).

My goal is to share what I’ve learned about skin health and safe ingredients, inspiring happier, healthier lives through adventure, organic goodness and conservation!

Help us plant a mangrove tree with every Skorcha product sold to protect fragile marine ecosystems and support underprivileged communities around the world.

Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is the responsibility of you and your healthcare providers to make all decisions regarding your health. Skorcha recommends that you consult with your healthcare providers regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition.