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I hated using body sunscreen until I figured out the right way to remove it

I hated using body sunscreen until I figured out the right way to remove it
PHOTO: Pexels

As a beauty enthusiast, anyone who asks me for skincare advice will always hear me stress the importance of using sunscreen. Remember: Sun damage is permanent and cumulative.

That tan you got on holiday? That sunburn you got from that hike? Yeah, that is going to haunt you in the future with signs of ageing like wrinkles, age spots, or worse, skin cancer.

Here, my nagging begins: Failing to wear sunscreen will expose you to the biggest source of skin ageing, regardless of how much anti-ageing skincare you use or how "cutting-edge" your anti-ageing skincare technology is.

As a sunscreen crusader, many of my friends have turned to me for recommendations - perhaps after the behest of my alarmist tendencies.

However, despite my fervour for sunscreen, I have a confession to make: I avoided applying sunscreen to my body for five years, until I was enlightened by a YouTube video this year. 

Why I didn't use body sunscreen before

Before I was enlightened, my main gripe with body sunscreen was how difficult it was to remove it properly.

Removing sunscreen from my face was easy since I apply makeup and can remove it all in one fell swoop with an oil cleanser before jumping into the shower.

Removing body sunscreen, on the other hand, was relegated to the cleaning abilities of my body wash.

And since I use mainly gentle, hypoallergenic-type cleansers, these tend to lack the stripping abilities required to remove sunscreens, especially the tenacious water-resistant ones that are most commonly available.

(P.S. The usual, run-of-the-mill body washes are also ineffective in removing sunscreen.)

My history with body sunscreen

I vividly remember an instance where the inability to remove body sunscreen became a problem for me.

I was on holiday in Mauritius a couple of years ago (remember those good ol' pre-Covid days?) and my family and I made the best of the island vacation by heading to the beach as many times as possible.

Being the dutiful sunscreen user, I slathered on body sunscreen conscientiously and reapplied every time I came out of the water.

Back at the villa, I would shower as usual using my regular body wash. This repeated every time we headed to the other beaches around Mauritius.

The aftermath

After a few days, my upper back and chest broke out with severe whiteheads.

While it was fun popping the pimples (which you shouldn't, by the way), they were painful, red and persistent.

In addition, my legs felt sticky whenever I put them together when I slept, as though there was a thin film enveloping them.

That feeling was enough to keep me up because I am that sensitive. Eventually, the sunscreen coating wore off, and the breakouts tapered off.

This experience, however, really put me off body sunscreen.

What I've learnt


Now older and wiser, and with better access to the troves of knowledge on the World Wide Web, I've found a way to effectively remove body sunscreen.

And it is in part, thanks to this video by Korean-American beauty YouTuber Gothamista.

So how do you remove water-resistant body sunscreen? The answer has been in front of me all this time: Oil cleansers.

How to remove body sunscreen properly

Used as the first step of a double cleanse routine, the oil cleanser breaks down body sunscreen the same way it does with makeup.

With dry palms and dry skin, dispense an adequate amount of oil cleanser into your hands and massage all over the areas you've applied sunscreen. You can even give yourself a small massage while at it.

Once you feel like you've adequately broken down the sunscreen, step into the shower and continue cleaning with regular body wash.

You'll know that the sunscreen is washed off properly when the water droplets don't look like they are on a waterproof surface on your skin.

Also, your skin wouldn't have that filmy feeling. After your shower, apply aloe vera if you're burnt, and finish with a body moisturiser of your choice.

ALSO READ: 10 non-greasy sunscreen perfect if you have oily skin

What about scrubbing?

A friend shared with me that she would use a physical exfoliant, like a shower loofah, to scrub away the sunscreen.

I don't recommend that as your skin would have already endured damage from sun exposure and scrubbing might exacerbate it.

Also, imagine scrubbing sunburnt skin - ouch. This removal method of using oil cleansers is far gentler and much more effective.

Now, with this sunscreen removal guide (oil cleanser!) in mind, I use body sunscreen more often. After all, the damaging effects of the sun are indiscriminate.

If I feel lazy to slather sunscreen before leaving the house, I would at least arm myself with sunglasses and an umbrella, preferably dressed in long sleeves though it's not comfortable with Singapore's heat, while dashing from the nearest shaded walkway to the next.

By sharing my experience and knowledge, I hope that you will start using body sunscreens regularly too.

Here are three budget-friendly oil cleansers I'd recommend for sunscreen removal:

Kose Cosmeport Softymo Deep Cleansing Oil 230ml, $16.90, from Shopee

PHOTO: Shopee

The Softymo cleansing oil uses paraffin and a blend of plant oils including rice bran, shea butter, sesame and jojoba oil to lift any makeup and sunscreen off your body.

Buy it here

Hada Labo Hydrating Cleansing Oil 200ml, $20.90, from Shopee

PHOTO: Shopee

If you're looking for a mineral oil-free product, try this Hada Labo iteration.

It contains olive and jojoba oil and is the only fragrance-free product of this curation. True to the brand, this cleansing oil also contains hydrating hyaluronic acid.

Buy it here

Bioderma Atoderm Huile de douche Anti-Irritation Face & Body Cleansing Shower Oil 1L, $39.90, from Shopee

PHOTO: Shopee

While this is a shower oil and not a cleansing oil per se, I've used it to effectively remove sunscreen.

This eczema-friendly product contains niacinamide that can help stimulate the production of ceramides to repair the skin barrier.

Buy it here.

All the items are independently selected by our editorial team. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

But we only recommend products we love. Promise.

ALSO READ: The ultimate guide to the best sunscreens for Singapore weather

This article was first published in Her World Online.

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