Are Mineral Sunscreens Right For You?


So you're packing for another glorious day at the beach, and you grab the same bottle of sunscreen you always use. But maybe you've noticed some slight irritation when using your tried and true sunscreen solution. That could indicate that your skin isn’t reacting well to the chemicals in your sunscreen.
    The next time you go to buy sunscreen, know that you have options beyond the brand. But before exploring your options, let's quickly revisit why you need sunscreen.

UV Rays & Broad Spectrum Sunscreens

 The problem is the source of summer happiness: the sun, and the ultraviolet rays radiating from it. There are two types of rays you need protection from:
       1)    UVA: Rays that penetrate deep into the dermis, your skin's thickest layer. Exposure without protection can result in photoaging, which is premature skin aging and wrinkling.
        2)    UVB: Rays that burn the surface layers of your skin and have been linked to skin cancer.

    So what broad spectrum sunscreen will you choose to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays? 
    There are two main options:
        1)    A chemical-based sunscreen
        2)    A physical (or mineral) sunscreen.
    If you are wondering what type of sunscreen you're currently using, after completing this article refer to the back of your bottle and see what the active ingredients are.

Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreens

 In 2016, one consumer report found that almost half of the 1,000 sunscreen-using respondents said they look for a natural product when looking for sunscreen. In this case, a “natural” sunscreen refers to a sunscreen that uses minerals instead of chemicals, and these are commonly referred to as “physical,” or “mineral” sunscreens. 
    Mineral sunscreens are classified as “physical sunscreens” because they aren’t absorbed into the skin, but instead, create a physical barrier on the top of the skin. They act as a mirror to deflect harmful UV rays. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which need time to absorb into the skin to offer full protection, mineral sunscreens provide instant protection. The two minerals most commonly found in physical sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
    Zinc Oxide is often found in diaper rash formula, speaking to its ability to soothe and protect skin. Titanium dioxide, is often found in cosmetic concealers because a thin application provides high opacity.
    Because chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin, the real question is how will your skin react to chemicals like oxybenzone, padimate O, avobenzone and homosalate? Mineral sunscreens aren’t absorbed into your skin so they're less likely to irritate it.

So which is better?

There is one small potential draw-back to mineral sunscreens. Because they aren’t absorbed into your skin, they can be washed away or rubbed off more easily, especially when swimming or sweating. So, you may need to re-apply more frequently than a chemical sunscreen.
    In the pursuit of having protection from the sun’s UV rays while being comfortable in your skin - the biggest outstanding question is: do these mineral sunscreens work as well as chemical sunscreens?
    Per the Personal Care Products Council, there’s no difference in performance between chemical and mineral active ingredients. So it's not a matter of which kind is going to keep your skin safe from the sun – both kinds will.

It’s Up to You

 It all depends on how your skin reacts to sunscreens. If you have found that sunscreen tends to irritate your skin, chances are you’re using a chemical sunscreen. Since there is no evidence proving a difference in efficacy between chemical and mineral sunscreens, it is probably worth giving a mineral sunscreen a try. Any solution that can protect your skin from the sun's damaging rays without upsetting your skin is worth trying. 
Learn more about defending your skin during the summer by clicking here.

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