Do I Need a Special Cleanser to Remove Sunscreen?

Do I Need a Special Cleanser to Remove Sunscreen?

Here’s a myth I’ve been seeing around skincare communities: that you have to use a special cleanser to remove water-resistant sunscreen. For example:

“Keep in mind that most of these sunscreen actives are also oil-soluble (only dissolves in oil, not water), which gives sunscreens their water-proof and sweat-proof properties. Therefore, in order to completely remove sunscreen, you have to use an oil, cleansing oil, emollient cleanser, or makeup remover of some kind.” (Source: Skinacea)

Have we all been leaving sunscreen on our faces before we discovered the magic of double cleansing??

Do I Need a Special Cleanser to Remove Sunscreen?

How Do Cleansers Work?

Luckily, the answer is no. A regular cleanser will remove waterproof sunscreen! The reason for this is surfactants.

Surfactants are a special class of chemical I’ve mentioned quite a few times before. They look a bit like a tadpole, with a lipophilic (oil-loving) “tail” and a hydrophilic water-loving) “head”.

Do I Need a Special Cleanser to Remove Sunscreen?

(Related posts: How Do Cleansing Balms Work?, How Does Micellar Water Work?, The Science of Face Washing)

Because of this special structure, surfactants can help oil dissolve in water and vice versa. The tail binds to oil while the head binds to water. The surfactants help the oil lift off the skin, forming little oil droplets that end up dispersed in the water as an emulsion (surfactants are also known as emulsifiers for this reason). The droplets can then be rinsed away, leaving your skin clean.

Read more