Does Sunscreen Protect from Infrared (IR) Light?

We wear sunscreen every day to shield our skin from the damage caused by UVA and UVB rays, but you probably didn’t know that there’s another type of sun ray we need to think about. Odds are you’ve heard of infrared rays, but research is beginning to shed light (no pun intended) on the ill effects this energy has on our skin.

What are infrared rays?

Simply put, infrared rays are produced by the sun, ovens, hairdryers and light bulbs. (In fact, 54% of the solar energy that reaches the skin’s surface is infrared.) Similar to UV rays, there are three kinds of infrared rays: IFA, IFB and IFC. We can’t feel the IFA type rays, but they penetrate deeper in the skin than UV does, and cause damage that leads to skin aging.  (You can feel IFB and IFC, which get reflected off of the skin’s surface.)

How infrared rays affect our skin

IFA rays do not generate heat, but they penetrate deep into the skin and damage the mitochondria (energy-producing organelles) and other parts of our skin cells by generating free radicals. Infrared rays have also been found to increase pigment production within the skin. Recent research also shows that IFA rays cause inflammation as well as signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. Infrared rays may also be the root cause of “laptop rash,” a red, blotchy irritation (medically known as erythema ab igne) that looks like brown, red patches in areas of heat contact.

How can you protect yourself?

Sunscreens do not shield skin from any type of infrared rays. Topical antioxidants should help shield the skin but the only one that has been tested (and proven) to protect against IFA is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic.


Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through

August 12, 2016 Skincare