Is Mineral Sunscreen Good for My Skin?
YES!!! Yes it is and we love it!!! While mineral SPF comes with it's own set of issues, which we'll go over in a sec, we do love and prefer mineral SPF over chemical sunscreen filters for a few reasons.....
Chemical sunscreen filters are designed to penetrate into the outer layers of the skin to absorb UV rays and turn them into heat particles before they damage the skin below. Also note, it takes about 15 minutes for chemical sunscreen filters to properly penetrate into the skin which is why on their bottles they always recommend waiting after application before sun exposure. Some common mineral SPF ingredients are Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate, and Octocrylene....
Mineral sunblocks work by creating a physical barrier on top of the skin which block UV rays from going through it. Newer research has shown that mineral sunblocks do also penetrate the skin as well similar to how chemical spf's do, but not to theame extent. The most common mineral SPF ingredients are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.
Well what are the issues then with mineral SPF?
Zinc is amazing at blocking UVA and UVB rays, yet is naturally a thick, white substance. Titanium is not as powerful as zinc at blocking rays but is more transparent in formulations than the whiteness of zinc, so helps with the texture and color. Because of the way zinc naturally looks and feels, it can easily leave a white-ish cast on the skin and feel thick, making many people have an aversion to it. This is especially challenging for darker skin tones as zinc is nearly impossible to make fully transparents regardless of the marketing lingo. The good thing is color can be added to mineral formulas including for darker tones, but then is more of a makeup with SPF in it that can rub off on things or have the color drip when sweating or swimming, making it less appealing.
Then, why do you like it over chemical sunscreen filters?
I've found that mineral seems to feel more effective at protecting the skin against UV. Another issue, is when chemical sunscreen filters turn UV into heat particles, the heat alone can trigger hyperpigmentation in many skin types causing uneven skin tone. Zinc is naturally anti-inflammatory and so the blocking of UV rays and the natural cooling effect is better for people with hyperpigmentation. Also, since zinc is anti-inflammatory, this makes it great for protecting skin dealing with acne and rosacea.
Any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen. I find for clients who may have an aversion to "feeling" a layer of product on their face, or for people with darker skin tones who need a clear product for sport or swim, I'll then recommend chemical sunscreens as they can be made to feel virtually weightless and absolutely clear and sheer while providing great protection agains UVA and UVB rays. Chemical sunscreens have been used safely now for generations and are also the predominant protection in the EU which has stricter safety regulations for beauty and skincare products than in the US.
Mineral sunblocks on the other hand are all reef safe as some chemical sunscreens have been shown to be damaging to natural reefs and corals. Because of the reef damage and hole in the ozone layer in Australia, mineral SPF is the predominant sun protection product there.
In the end, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and the most preventable. There is more proof and studies of UV rays causing cancer than the minimal studies suggesting that SPF can be dangerous at all. Between global warming, probelms in our ozone layer and In my practice, I've seen skin cancer over and over and over and over again, so I highly suggest getting any form of sun protection that feels comfortable enough to wear daily rain or shine. :)