These beauty products that react badly to the sun

Sun and beauty do not always mix. The risk of skin reaction is not trivial. Here’s everything you need to know about cosmetic photosensitizers.

Certain drugs (psychotropic pills, antibiotics) have a photosensitizing effect. They have a specific symbol on the packaging: a cloud and a sun inside a red triangle:

But it is clearly less wary of our beauty products.

“Some of them, when subjected to sunlight, so too can trigger or contribute to skin sensitization, with a whole host of adverse reactions to the key (intolerances, redness or brown spots, burns, eczema, allergies .. .) ” as recalled Dr. Nadine Fermond.


The first mechanism involves mainly phototoxic like some plants (extracts or essential oils): This skin reaction similar to sunburn, characterized by redness and small vesicles. It usually occurs after use of certain creams containing these plants, which will potentiate the effect of sunlight on the skin.

The second allergic is the photosensitivity that occurs about 48 hours after UV exposure and can cause injuries like eczema or urticaria.

These are primarily located on exposed areas and may extend to protected areas if the ouster of photo-allergen has not been achieved.


The products involved are multiple; the list tends to lie regularly.

  • The perfumes containing oak moss, citrus oils, especially bergamot (very rich photosensitizing psoralen), sandalwood, cedar, vanilla, and some essential oils.
  • The musk ambrette which has long raised concern has been banned since 1995.
  • The essential oils, pure or diluted in a cream, milk or oil. Suspicion particular with the essential oils of verbena, angelica, caraway, celery, cumin, Tagetes (marigold) and absolute lime. And of course, the citrus oils.
  • Cosmetics or rarely shampoos containing plant extracts rich in furocoumarins such as citrus again, but St. John’s wort, fig, geranium, or those that include cinnamon.
  • The antibacterial cleaners. If some antibacterial assets have long been primarily responsible for photoallergies (salicylanides in soaps), most of these substances have been withdrawn from the market. But some are still used antiseptics, such as triclocarban in disinfectant solutions and triclosan in deodorants, soaps and even toothpaste (with a risk nevertheless considered low). DThe mosquito, based on essential oil and / or lemon extract.
  • The para-phenylenediamine (PPD), a black coloring substance present in many hair dyes and whose use is highly regulated in France. It is also sometimes mixed more artisanal way therefore more risky for the henna tattoos that can be exposed to the sun.
  • The sunscreens, many of which are criminalized. While the use of benzophenone-3 was restricted in solar products are not prohibited (except in products for children under 10 because they are suspected of being endocrine disruptors), derivatives of benzophenone family remain important photosensitizers.
  • Other filters are now in the crosshairs of dermatos, especially octocrylene, camphor derivatives, cinnamates, para-amino benzoic acid (PABA and its derivatives). If you have children, use products designed for them, and if you have a tendency to allergies, opt for solar containing mineral sunscreens(zinc oxide and titanium dioxide).


When exposed to the sun, it is better:

  • ban scented cosmetics as well as those containing alcohol (it is not photosensitizing but dries the skin, which can worsen symptoms);
  • do not wear perfume before going in the sun, or prefer the summer without alcohol or hazardous substances perfumes.


If “despite your precautions, you have an abnormal reaction, stop exposing yourself and consult a health care professional,” said DrFermond.

For a photosensitivity reaction to occur, two conditions are necessary: ​​a potentially photosensitizing substance and sunlight.

To stop the symptoms:

  • either avoids the substance
  • it is limited to maximum sun with a protective clothing, seeking shade, and sunscreen with a high SPF (50) containing only mineral sunscreens.


If the term Lucite applies in theory to all states in which the skin reacts abnormally to light, it is used especially when the photosensitizing molecules are not identifiable. it may be a reaction to light or to a non-referenced molecule.

The lucite is manifested by itching followed by erythema, and the emergence of small papules and plaques that last a few hours to several days and disappear without leaving a mark. They are found on the neck, the forearms, back of the feet, while the face is spared.

After several years, the disease can eventually disappear. the treatment of acute episodes may require topical application of corticosteroids (prescription); prevention through the use of solar products and high index of specific solar capsules.The latter being effective or not according to people like seeing dermatologists without being able to explain why.


on Twitter, 'LIKE' us on Facebook

Comments are closed.