How to Remove Sunscreen From Your Skin & Clothing

How to Remove Sunscreen From Your Skin & Clothing

The best way to remove sunscreen is by using a foaming cleanser. However, knowing how to remove sunscreen is something often misinterpreted. Many believe that a bit of soap and water would do the trick, however 9 times out of 10, this is not the case.

When it comes to enjoying outdoor activities while ensuring proper sun protection, sunscreen becomes an essential component of your skincare routine. We apply sunscreen at the start of our day and spend the rest of the day reapplying sunscreen. However, removing SPF can sometimes be a challenging task, especially when stubborn stains are involved. Whether you've spent a day at the beach or simply need to cleanse your skin before bedtime, understanding the best methods for removing sunscreen is crucial in keeping your skin healthy. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore expert-recommended techniques for efficient removal using a variety of methods. From our Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser to oil-based methods, we've got you covered on how to remove SPF from your skin, face and clothing. 

What the Experts Say

Before getting into the specifics of removal, it's important to understand what skin care experts recommend. We all know that SPF is used to stop premature aging.

So, why can SPF leave our skin feeling irritated and in some cases lead to breakouts? According to Dr. Kenneth Mark, the sun encourages our skin cells to reproduce at a more rapid rate, in turn producing extra oil. However, they do not shed any more rapidly. 

As a result, this yields “The perfect storm for clogging pores”. This is because high-performance sunscreens are designed to stay on, especially water resistant formulas. Ingredients like beeswax contribute to this and can lead to clogging of the pores if proper removal isn't carried out.

Using a regular cleanser to remove sunscreen is essential to prevent clogged pores, breakouts, and skin irritation. Leaving it on your skin for an extended period can also lead to the accumulation of excess oils and sweat, which may affect your skin's overall health. To maintain healthy skin, thorough cleansing is crucial to remove sunscreen at the end of the day.

Remove Sunscreen with Water

As many high-performing sunscreens can be up to 4 hours water resistant, this method usually isn't enough to remove SPF from your face. In saying that, face sunscreens are usually not resistant to water, so using water can be a good start to try and remove SPF from your face.

After splashing your face with water, using a traditional cleanser like our Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser to cleanse the skin is a great way to remove any traces of sunscreen. Our Gentle Foaming Cleanser will tell excess dirt, oil and sunscreen to sud off, while being gentle on the skin with our non-stripping formula. 



Remove Sunscreen with Olive Oil or Coconut Oil (AKA, The Home Remedy)

Previously, cleansing oil such as olive oil, jojoba oil and coconut oil or sweet almond oil, had been thought to be effective in breaking down sunscreen and removing it from the skin.It was conceived that these oils work well for dissolving sunscreen's oil soluble components, such as zinc oxide. 

Due to a lack of evidence, there’s nothing to suggest cleansers with an oil base are more effective at removing mineral and chemical sunscreens than your traditional gel or foaming cleansers.

Many sunscreens, especially those designed for extended outdoor activities, are water-resistant or even waterproof. These sunscreens have a unique formula that makes them adhere strongly to the skin, and oil alone may not be sufficient to break down and remove them effectively. This is because an oil cleanser might lack a key ingredient in water based or foaming cleansers called ‘surfactants’.

In the long term, SPF protects us from the damaging effects of the sun’s rays (UV rays). In the short term it may clog pores and cause your skin to produce excess oil. This can lead to other skin problems occurring such as acne or irritation. Hence, the use of household products and oil cleansers to remove SPF can be disadvantageous when it comes to the overall well-being and health of your skin. 

According to Lab Muffin, a regular cleanser will remove SPF from your face (including water resistant formulas). The reason is because traditional cleansers like our Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser have these fancy things called ‘surfactants’. 

These ‘surfactants’ are a special class of ingredient with a unique structure that can help oil dissolve in water. These unique ingredients mimic ‘oil’ within its structure and hence, produce molecules to achieve adequate SPF removal. Essentially these ‘trick’ molecules in SPF, as surfactants present as water and oil emulsifiers. Think two birds, one stone.




However, if you’re a fan of home remedies and would like to use this method; start by applying a small amount of oil to your face and gently massage it in circular motions. This helps lift away excess sunscreen, dirt, and impurities. Then, wipe the oil off your face with a warm, damp cloth, leaving your skin clear and moisturised.



How to Remove Sunscreen from Your Face: The Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser

If you prefer the ‘classic cleansing’ approach to removing sunscreen. You might be interested in a simpler cleansing routine.

You know We Are Feel Good Inc. as the sunscreen that feels good on your skin from the moment it was applied, till hours of fun later. Nonetheless, when the day’s over and the time comes to wash the day away, say sud off to sunscreen and build up from your daily adventures with our Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Packed with powerful antioxidants from Grapefruit Extract and Aloe Vera to moisture-boosting ingredients, Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid. Our Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser is tough enough to deeply cleanse and remove all SPF residue all the while being gentle on the skin. It is also effective at removing both mineral and chemical sunscreens.

For the delicate skin on your face, a thorough but gentle approach is essential. Follow our simple two-step removal routine: 

  1. Begin by rinsing your face with water or using a micellar water (face wipes will work too).
  2. Follow up with our water-based Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser to remove the initial layer of sunscreen. This helps dissolve the sunscreen's water-soluble components. Then rinse with water.


If you’re a fanatical skincare guru, then you might want to try the double-cleanse method.  To double cleanser, simply repeat the above steps.

Double Cleansing Isn’t Always Necessary

It is important to note that, even though the double method is suggested to be a “great way” to remove SPF by skincare experts. This is a little convoluted when it comes to different skincare regimes, as there is little evidence to support that cleansing twice is more effective than a single cleanse.

As you know, we like to keep things simple at We Are Feel Good Inc. and that’s why our Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser fits the bill from the very first wash. Meaning, you can enjoy a full day of sun-soaked adventures knowing we’ve got you covered with a simple removal routine. No double cleanse necessary!

Cleansing Benefits: The Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser

  • Enriched with antioxidants from fruit extract (Grapefruit) & Aloe Vera to help leave the skin looking and feeling plump & fresh. This also doubles to provide extra nourishment.
  • Added Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramides and Glycerin for that extra moisture boost, all the while leaving your skin clear.
  • Our pH balanced foaming formula cleanses deep into pores to remove impurities, dirt and excess oil without stripping the skin’s natural barrier.



How to Remove Mineral Sunscreen  

The formulation of mineral sunscreen is quite different to chemical sunscreens. That is because zinc oxide based mineral SPF is oil-based, whereas chemical SPF is usually water-based. But, don't worry! We’ve got you covered! Did we mention that our Good Night Gentle Foaming Cleanser works to remove mineral formulations too? Because of its surfactant properties and ingredients like Glycerin and Grapefruit Extract it is tough enough to deeply cleanse while being gentle on the skin. Voila! No need to double cleanse after-all!

To remove mineral sunscreen:

  1. Start by rinsing your face with cold water to dislodge any excess powder and sunscreen.
  2. Then, apply our Gentle Foaming Cleanser face wash to emulsify the sunscreen. Gently massage the cleanser into your skin, paying attention to areas where it was applied. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and pat your face dry.

How to Remove Water Resistant Sunscreen

Water resistant sunscreens are formulated to stay on the skin even when exposed to water thanks to ingredients like Beeswax. For that reason, there are a lot of myths out there suggesting that these types of formulas need a special cleanser. Before double-cleansing was discovered, this begged the question; were we leaving it on our face? Is double-cleansing the only way to remove SPF from your skin?

Thankfully, the answer is no. As mentioned above, a regular cleanser (foaming or gel) used once is sufficient in removing water resistant formulas due to those handy surfactants, which essentially (in their chemical structure) mimic oil and help to dissolve oil in water. These surfactants (also known as emulsifiers) help to lift oily substances off the skin and form oil droplets that end up dispersing in water. These droplets, much like washing the day away, are rinsed off your skin, leaving it clean and SPF free.



The Good Night Gente Foaming Cleanser is a water based cleanser that has been designed with this in mind and hence is sufficient in removing high-performance resistant sunscreens. Massage the cleanser into your skin to lift SPF particles and rinse off with cold-water. It’s that simple! Follow with our Good Night Skin Restoring Cream to deeply hydrate, especially after a day in the sun.

How to Remove Zinc Sunscreen Stains from Clothes

Mineral or zinc sunscreen often contains an active ingredient like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These titanium and/or zinc based active ingredients form the main component in the ‘physical’ barrier for most, if not all physical sunscreens. It’s because of these physical particles (mineral filters) that stubborn staining can occur. These physical particles bind to the fibres on clothing, materials and upholstery, even after washing. Sometimes the components in tinted zincs can leave stubborn stains too! 

How to tackle zinc oxide and remove zinc sunscreen stains:

  1. First, scrape off any excess sunscreen using a dull knife. 
  2. Then, apply a small amount of dishwashing liquid to the stained area to wash sunscreen away and gently scrub or rub the fabric together. 
  3. Allow the dishwashing liquid to sit on the stain for an hour or so and then rinse for a few minutes, with cold water.
  4. If this doesn’t work, try and let the stained clothing sit overnight in dishwashing liquid or stain remover. Follow up with a normal wash using regular laundry detergent or cleaning solution. 


For tougher stains, consider using a stain remover or diluted laundry detergent before washing.


A Few Tips for Successful Sunscreen Removal and Removing Sunscreen Stains

  • Avoid using hot water for rinsing, as it can strip your skin of essential oils and cause dryness. We suggest either cold or warm water.
  • Consider using a soft brush or a gentle exfoliating cloth to aid in the removal of sunscreen. Psst! sometimes a dry cloth can help too!
  • If mineral and chemical sunscreens staining persists on clothing, try treating the stain with lemon juice or apply baking soda before washing.
  • To prevent sunscreen stains, allow your sunscreen to fully absorb into your skin before dressing.
  • Always follow up sunscreen removal with your regular skincare routine to keep your skin healthy and clean.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, proper and thorough removal of sunscreen is a crucial step in maintaining healthy and radiant skin. From cleansing oil to water-based methods, there are several effective ways to remove SPF and prevent stains. Remember! Cleansing oils don’t always remove SPF better due to their lack of surfactants, and in many cases can be worse at removing sunscreen and oil based products than your traditional foaming cleansers. 

With these expert-recommended techniques, you can enjoy the benefits of sun protection without worrying about lingering sunscreen residues on your skin and clothing.

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Does Sunscreen Cause Stains?

No, SPF doesn’t always leave stains. However, there are many factors that come into play that could leave staining on your clothes. As SPF is either chemical or mineral based, sometimes environmental elements can react with the chemicals or minerals in SPF to cause slight staining. This can be anything from a moisturiser to chlorinated water in your swimming pool.

To avoid staining, we recommend letting your SPF fully absorb into your skin before clothing yourself. NOTE: this can sometimes take up to 15 minutes.

Can normal soap remove sunscreen?

While normal soap can help remove some residue, it is advised that you use products with richer properties to deeply cleanse and replenish your skin. As our SPF is water-resistant to ensure long-lasting protection wherever your day may take you, most of the time soap alone won't remove all SPF residue. To thoroughly remove SPF, we recommend using a dedicated our Gentle Foaming Cleanser specifically designed to break down SPF ingredients.

Is face wash enough to remove sunscreen?

Yes, cleanser alone is enough to remove SPF as long as it has ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid and Grapefruit Extract that can deeply cleanse. However, if you really want to reap the benefits of your skin care products we recommend using a makeup remover or micellar water prior to washing your face. This will remove the top layer as well as dirt residue. Following up with our Gentle Foaming Cleanser will deeply cleanse and leave the skin on your face feeling clean and fresh.

Do you need to double cleanse to remove sunscreen?

No, you do not need to double cleanse to remove sunscreen. Our Gentle Foaming Cleanser will completely remove sunscreen residue, dirt and makeup. If you’re a skin care guru, there is no harm in double cleansing. But, there is no evidence to suggest this is more efficient than a single cleanse in maintaining healthy skin and removing sunscreen. If you have both sunscreen and makeup applied, perhaps it’s also a good idea to gently wipe your face with makeup remover before cleansing.

What Happens If You Don't Remove Sunscreen?

Failing to properly remove sunscreen can lead to a variety of issues. SPF residue can clog pores, potentially causing breakouts or skin irritation. It can also interfere with the absorption of your skincare products. Plus, leaving SPF on overnight can hinder the natural rejuvenation process of your skin and create a build up of dead skin cells. So, it's important to remove SPF before bedtime to keep your skin feeling its best.