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Skincare Ingredients Which Can Damage Your Skin in the Sun

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If you think make-up will protect your skin from burning, you may be wrong. Around seven times the normal amount of foundation is needed to get a sufficient amount of sun protection.

What many may not realise is that there are certain ingredients in your everyday make-up products that can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun without you even knowing.

Often you will read the phrase ‘active ingredients’ on the majority of your product’s bottles, designed to smooth wrinkles, shrink pores, and clear acne. However, they can also trigger side effects, one being photosensitivity, a type of reaction the skin experiences when the treated area is exposed to sunlight.

Nick Drewe, Skincare expert at Wethrift explains the ingredients that can put your skin at risk of sun damage, recommending alternative products that do not contain these ‘active ingredients’, and why these alternatives are better for your skin.


A substitute for vitamin A for the skin, retinol, is a topical ingredient that promotes skin renewal and enhances collagen production. It is recommended by many dermatologists to be the best solution for anti-ageing, targeting fine lines, wrinkles, pore size, uneven tone, and texture.

Nick Drewe says: ‘Whilst retinol triggers cell renewal to help produce new skin cells, the new skin that develops is more delicate and thinner and, when exposed directly, sunlight can cause serious damage to the skin. This is why most products containing retinol are to be used at night only, however, many people like to introduce it to their morning skincare routine.’

Fortunately, there are anti-ageing products available with alternative ingredients that promise to pack a powerful punch against wrinkles without any of the side effects.

Nick Drewe recommends AmorePacific, an antioxidant-rich rare pine mushroom and green tea ingredient that defend against solar radiation and free radicals, which can spur on the ageing process. 

The 12 potent Asian botanicals added to the formula, including ginger and soybean, helps repair skin damage and include hyperpigmentation for the breakdown of collagen and elastin.


One of the most important ingredients to look out for on the bottle of your products is hydroquinone, a lightening agent that fades discolouration of the skin. 

Whilst it takes action by disrupting the formation of excess melanin that leads to dark and brown spots – hyperpigmentation, and melasma – this decrease in melanin production can make the skin more susceptible to harmful UV radiation.

Nick says: ‘This side effect can counteract the purpose of hydroquinone, therefore, it is normally recommended in small doses. Before beginning treatment with hydroquinone, always consult a dermatologist as well as avoiding direct sunlight as much as possible.’

There are many alternative lightening creams available without hydroquinone. Nick Drewe recommends Clinique iD: Moisturiser + Concentrate for Uneven Skin Tone a lightweight, airy formula that glides effortlessly across your base.

This oil-free moisturiser contains a rejuvenating cocktail of cucumber extracts, barley, and sunflower seed that work to promote the production of melanin production, helping to protect your skin from any harmful rays.

Alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid) 

Referred to as AHAs, these are naturally derived acids that chemically exfoliate the skin. Normally they are found in skin-brightening and acne-fighting products, designed to prevent the surface of your skin from build-up to keep skin soft and hydrated. 

Nick Drewe says: ‘These acids weaken the ‘cellular glue’ that makes dead skin cells stick together, encouraging exfoliation and revealing healthy, younger skin cells.

‘However, consistent exfoliation can cause your face to become more susceptible to ultraviolet (UV) radiation even on days you don’t use them.

It is proven that AHAs can cause your skin to burn when exposed to UV light up to 24 hours after your last application.’

Nick recommends Beauty Without Cruelty, a skin renewal moisturising lotion that is 100% vegetarian, offering up an 8% plant-based alpha-hydroxy blend with natural products including kukui nut, avocado, sea minerals, and green tea.

While this formula reduces the physical signs of ageing, helps retain moisture, protects the skin from environmental agents, tones, texturises, it will also help to remove any dead skin you would normally use an exfoliant to do so whilst keeping your skin sun protected.

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