With so many brands of new sunscreens flooding the market every year; it’s easy to get lost in between and not be able to choose the right one. All sunscreens utilize what we call UV filters, or the special ingredients that protects your skin from the sun. These filters can be chemical or physical. While there are many chemical UV filters, there are only two physical filters: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
While both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work by physically blocking and reflecting the sun’s rays as they reach your skin, zinc oxide is less whitening and offers superior UVA protection compared to titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide is considered an antiseptic and it’s sufficiently active to protect skin from infections without inducing any side effects.
It is the only sunscreen filter that soothes and benefits irritated skin, that’s why it’s commonly used in creams for diaper rash, sunburn and similar conditions.
Zinc oxide can be applied to skin to keep excess oils from generating at the surface and can be used for acne treatment. It is believed to reduce the appearance of blemishes and reduce skin irritation and inflammation, reducing the number and severity of acne breakouts.
Chemical filters are characterized by instability. Over time, the reaction that occurs when UV rays hit chemical filters in your skin causes those filters to degrade and break down, becoming useless. This does not happen to physical filters. Zinc oxide particles remain protective as long as they are on your skin and never degrade or become unstable.
When selecting a zinc oxide sunscreen, look for at least 14% zinc oxide and an SPF of 15. The formulations with the lightest feel will have water and glycerin in the ingredients list instead of only oils, waxes and butters. Look for all natural (100% Natural) on the label; you want to avoid sunscreen with harmful chemicals. Some high quality brands will add natural essential oils like avocado oil, sesame oil to their formula to make it smell better and to add some other good properties for the skin.
Here is a list of the harmful chemicals that you should avoid and that are included in the most popular sunscreen brands on the market:
- Oxybenzone: this is a hormone disrupting chemical which penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream. It is the most popular ingredient in chemical based sunscreens and only blocks UVB ray (sun’s good rays that provide vitamin D production), not UVA which are the most free radical damaging rays. Avoid any sunscreen that has this chemical at all costs, especially for children.
- Vitamin A: A 2009 study by U.S. government scientists released by the National Toxicology Program found when this is applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, it may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.
- Artificial fragrance: Sure it may make the product smell nice, but this is a petroleum based product that is responsible for organ toxicity and skin allergies.
Article written by Teddy Nseir