DOI: 10.1111/phpp.12943 ISSN: 0905-4383

A narrative review of the impact of ultraviolet radiation and sunscreen on the skin microbiome

Garett J. Grant, Indermeet Kohli, Tasneem F. Mohammad
  • Dermatology
  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Immunology
  • General Medicine
  • Immunology and Allergy



The human skin microbiome is a dynamic ecosystem that plays an important role in skin health. The skin microbiome has been implicated in numerous diseases, and our knowledge surrounding it continues to evolve. A better understanding of the interactions between the environment and the skin microbiome will lead to improvements in skin health.


This article reviews the published literature surrounding the impact of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and sunscreen on the skin microbiome.


Skin microbes are differentially impacted by UVR, and alterations in the microbiome can be detected following UVR exposure. These changes are related to direct bactericidal effects, alterations in the cutaneous metabolome, and changes in the cutaneous immune system. UV filters used in sunscreen have been shown to have bactericidal effects, and many compounds used in sunscreen emulsions can also negatively impact cutaneous microbes.


A healthy microbiome has been shown to produce compounds that help protect the skin from UVR, and sunscreen has the potential to reduce the diversity of the skin microbiome. This indicates that designing sunscreen products that both provide protection against UVR and preserve the skin microbiome may offer additional benefits to skin health when compared with traditional sunscreen products.

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