Ingredients that can cause sun sensitivity

I’m a bit unhappy because I discovered a brand new pigmented spot near the corner of my left eye.  This, despite the skin care products I’ve been using!  I’ve been mulling over the reason and I think I found the answer in a little window located to the left side of my bed.  While it is covered, there is a little gap that lets in some early morning sunlight.  I think that’s causing the damage.  But the question is, why wasn’t there any noticeable damage before as the window has always been there?

Common ingredients contributing to sun sensitivity
I strong believe it is either due to the Tri-Luma Hydroquinone Cream that I was using for 7 weeks or the TDF C Scape Serum I am still using.  Both contains ingredients that can cause greater sun sensitivity and it is important to wear sunscreen when using products containing them.  But how can I wear a sunscreen to sleep? 

So this prompted me to put together this table of common ingredients in skin care products that can increase sun sensitivity. 

Sun sensitive ingredients Product application 
Alpha Hydroxy Acids Widely used as skin exfoliant
Accutane Skin exfoliant used to treat acne
Beta Hydroxy Acid Popular topical exfoliant ingredient
Benzoyl Peroxide Topical ingredient for acne treatment
Hydroquinone Skin pigment lightening agent
Kojic Acid Skin lightening and bleaching
L-Absorbic Acid Often known as the true Vitamin C
Lactid Acid A form of alpha hydroxy acid
Licorice Extract A form of alpha hydroxy acid
Retinol A derivative of vitamin A
Salicylic Acid Most common type of BHA
Tretinoin Acid form of Vitamin A

This table is by no means comprehensive.  There are probably a few more ingredients that I have missed out but I think as a general rule, if you’re using something strong for skin lightening or acne treatment, chances are, it could contain ingredients that might increase sun sensitivity. 

Natural ingredients causing sun sensitivity too
In addition, I found out that many natural ingredients can cause sun sensitivity as well.  This is why I’m uncomfortable with the Organic Surge Pure Extracts Toner because I’ve learnt that one should avoid sun exposure when using citrus oils such as Bergamot, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin and Orange Sweet.  

This is also confirmed by this article at Cosmetic Corp which indicates that ingredients like Almond Extract, Allspice, Angelica, Arnica, Balm Mint Oil,Balsam, Basil, Bergamot, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Clover Blossom, Cornstarch, Coriander Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Fennel, Fir Needle, Geranium Oil, Grapefruit, Horsetail, Lavender Oil, Lemon, Lemon Balm, Lemongrass, Lime, Marjoram, Oak bark, Papaya, Peppermint, Rose, Sage, Thyme, Witch Hazel and Wintergreen can cause our skin to become sun sensitive!

While a lot has to do with the exact product formulation and it doesn’t mean these ingredients will cause sun sensitivity for all, but still?

Well, perhaps as a consolation to myself, I’ll say that we should try to use products in moderation and not to be overly “enthusiastic”.  And by always using a sunscreen with a good SPF offering both UVA and UVB protection, that might hopefully prevent further sun sensitivity problems.

I’m definitely going to have to seal up that little window of mine!


  1. parisb says:

    I knew about hydroquinine, AHA and retinol which is why its always advisable to use a strong sunscreen if anyone is using these products. I didn’t know about the others. Thanks for the info!

  2. nicole says:

    I never know plant extract can causes sun sesitivity, will definitely beware of this. Great finding!

  3. Katie says:

    Actually, I believe that Vitamin C protects against sun damage, rather than making it more sun sensitive

  4. sesame says:

    On one level it does, but it must still be used together with sunscreen.

  5. Mon says:

    oh gosh, does this mean I should not use rose/lavender/orange flower hydrosol in the daytime anymore??

  6. sesame says:

    Don’t worry about it too much because the concentration isn’t too high. Plus, if you apply sunscreen on a daily basis, it would be lesser of a concern. But if you’re still worried, then use those hydrosols only in the evenings.

  7. Himanshi says:

    Does aloevera also cause sun senstivity?? I use aloevera during night time because i have pigmentation issues

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