Some sensitizing cosmetics carry a risk of photosensitization when exposed to the sun. This translates into a heightened skin sensitivity from which can affect anyone regardless of their phototype and without any particular predisposition. These reactions appear from first exposure and manifest themselves as brown spots, allergic irritations, redness associated with sunburn and sometimes blisters.

This photosensitization only affects the area exposed to the sun where cosmetic sensitizer has been applied.

In more unusual cases, and in a similar fashion to a sun allergy linked to drugs, the combination of certain active substances and sun exposure can lead to a photoallergic reaction, which most commonly manifests itself as eczema which can cover even parts of the body protected by clothing.

In order to reduce the risk of pigment spots and burns and to prevent sunburn it is important to avoid:
Cosmetics containing plant extracts. A cream although well tolerated in winter may be risky in the summer due to UV rays ;

  • Aerosol deodorants, which can deposit particles on the face or other parts of the body during application;
  • Cosmetics containing citrus essential oils and citrus fruit (eg lemon masks before sun exposure, etc …);
  • Other essential oils may also produce similar results;
  • Exfoliating scrubs (especially acid-based fruit) as they refine the skin and make it much more sensitive to the sun. Remember, just as tanning is the manifestation of irritated skin (skin forms a natural barrier against the rays of the sun), it is counter-productive to exfoliate as sunlight causes the skin to thicken in order to protect itself from the effects of the sun.. Treatments of this type should be reserved for the Autumn and Winter periods;
  • Perfume, eau de toilette and colognes are not always compatible with the sun.

However, contrary to popular ideas, skin allergies do not originate from alcohol content, this vanishes in less than a minute. Only perfume concentrate can cause skin reactions. Fragrant molecules can also be photosensitizing (whilst alcohol is not).

The risk is not automatic but remains very real.

The outward signs can be small pimples, pigmented spots (which are likely to remain on the skin for a very long time) or allergies.

Heat and heavy perspiration can “alter” a fragrance.

It is preferable to the use fresh, light fragrances and “eau de Cologne” during the day (less than 6% of perfume concentrate). Do not apply directly to the skin – especially before sun exposure. Keep perfume just for evening wear (a tip: apply treatment oil to your hair, often it has a pleasant fragrance).

Read also: Sun and…