Can I Perform Wudu over Any Variant of Sunscreen?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I wear sunscreen every day because I sunburn easily and to prevent skin aging. I frequently use a water-resistant mineral sunscreen that sits on the skin’s surface, whereas chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the bloodstream. There are water-resistant and non-water-resistant varieties of both. There are also combination sunscreens that contain both mineral and chemical UV filters. I wear water-resistant and non-water-resistant types of all of these sunscreens. I frequently wear multiple layers of sunscreen, mixing mineral, chemical, and combination sunscreens, and water-resistant and non-water-resistant.

I try to apply 2-3 layers of sunscreen daily. Is my wudu valid with these on my face, neck, hands, and forearms, or do I have to wash it off first? Please consider all the factors I mentioned, physical versus chemical versus combination sunscreen, water-resistant sunscreen versus non-water-resistant sunscreen, and one layer versus two or three. It is a big hassle to wash it off before every prayer.

Answer

Please see the following links about using creams and how they affect wudu.
Do I Have to Wash Moisturising Cream on My Skin Before Performing Wudu?
How To Perform Wudu When One is Suffering from Eczema?
Dirt or sunblock remaining on one’s face after making wudhu
Validity of wudu on oils, ointments or such preparations

There is a lot of discussion about water-resistant sunscreens. It would help if you looked at the following articles, which explain why sunscreens cannot legally be called waterproof but water-resistant.
Is Sunscreen Waterproof: What Makes Sunscreen Water Resistant?

This article explains the effect and meaning of SPF:
What is SPF Sunscreen?

With all the links above, one can see that any thin ointment rubbed into the skin and no longer traceable would not block the water from reaching the skin; therefore, the wudu would be valid, no matter what is labeled.

Since you have so much experience with sunscreen, I had none, and you should examine your arm or hand and see if this water-resistant sunscreen leaves a thick film on the skin that would block water. You would be the best judge of this.

Another way is to make wudu before applying the sunscreen and then again a couple of hours after application. According to the article above, the effect of sunscreen is minimized after two hours, so the water resistance would be less problematic than when first applied.

Another option used widely in the desert among bedouins for hundreds of years is to cover up. Men would wrap their heads and necks with a wool cloth to avoid being burnt by the afternoon sun. People in the West still do the same with wide-brimmed hats, sun gloves, and shade scarves. Sometimes the more straightforward way is the most practical. And Allah knows best.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.