Lately sunscreens have been sort of a 'hot' topic in regards to their ingredients, safety and efficacy. We all know the dangers of the sun and prolonged exposure to UV rays that can lead to sunburn and increases the risk of skin cancer. In this blog post we will break down the two different types of sunscreens: chemical-based and mineral-based and discuss what ingredients are beneficial and which ones you should try and avoid.
The main difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens can be found in their ingredients lists. Chemical based sunscreen is one whose active ingredients are non-natural, chemical compounds such as: Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has noted that more testing is needed to understand the safety of these chemical compounds but at this point still has these chemicals approved. The FDA raised concerns about oxybenzone in particular. They have concerns about the substantial skin absorption of oxybenzone, its potential to affect hormone levels and the increased absorption susceptibility of children. Chemical-based sunscreens absorb the sun's UV rays, then through a chemical reaction the sunscreen dissipates the UV rays. However, before the chemicals offer any protection, your skin has to absorb them. Additionally, trace amounts of these chemicals can trickle into your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, these can filter into other bodily fluids, such as breast milk. Chemical-based sunscreens have also been shown to cause allergic skin reactions and cause hormonal imbalances as well.
Your other option would be mineral sunscreens. These are sunscreens that use natural minerals as its active ingredient. The two most common ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Mineral sunscreens work in a completely different way than chemical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens needed to penetrate the skin in order to provide protection, mineral sunscreens simply sit on top of your skin and reflect UV rays away from your body. They provide a physical barrier from the UV rays rather than uses a chemical reaction to dissipate the rays. Studies have shown that mineral sunscreens are much more safe for babies as well as adults. Mineral sunscreens are much more natural, usually don't have any harmful chemical ingredients and are much more likely to be recommended by a professional dermatologist. These types of sunscreens usually have vitamins as inactive ingredients such as vitamin E which helps promote skin health. Any sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide as a main ingredient would be a good place to start when looking for a mineral based sunscreen
A few more facts to consider: make sure you a getting "broad spectrum" sunscreen regardless, this just means the sunscreen protects you from all types of the sun's UV rays. SPF 30 provides 97% of the suns rays, SPF 50= 98% blockage and SPF 100=99% blockage of the sun's UV rays. If you are outside for long periods of time or in the water make sure you are reapplying the sunscreen after 60-90 minutes of exposure. And remember; zinc oxide and titanium oxide are your friends! They are the only FDA approved sunscreen ingredients that actually have shown benefits with no harm to the skin or other organs.
Below are two links to a couple of natural mineral based sunscreens that are dermatologist recommended:
Blue Lizard Sunscreen
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen’s mineral-based Sport sunscreen starts with Zinc Oxide to provide true broad spectrum sun protection without using any harsh chemicals that are not only potentially harmful for you, but also bad for the environment. Sport is designed to keep up with maximum water resistance and sweat resistance. This new formula contains no Oxybenzone and no Octinoxate.
Thinksport is the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements and top-rated by EWG since creation in 2010 with a “1” rating. This product is free of biologically harmful chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, paraben, phthalates, PABA, 1,4 dioxane, and UV chemical absorbers, and is also free of known reef damaging chemicals and is highly biodegradable. Non-nano zinc oxide formulation
applies and absorbs easily without the oily feeling or obtrusive smell of traditional sunscreens. Leaping Bunny certified cruelty free, gluten free & vegan.
Beyond Coastal Sunscreen
Beyond Coastal's active formula is designed for athletes who spend their lives in the harshest and most demanding conditions. Built to endure, the Active formula is broad-spectrum and water resistant for up to 80-minutes. Made from clean ingredients that rub in clear with no odor and no residue, this is the perfect formula for those on the go who don’t want greasy hands or greasy gear.
Be on the lookout for some videos within the next month where Dr. Paul and Dr. Brian put some mineral based sunscreens to the test!