- Does Natural Sunscreen Hold Up Against Regular Sunscreen?
Why switching from chemical to mineral sunscreens might be your best bet
- CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen
- Clean Screen Mineral mattifying face sunscreen
- Brush on Block Protective lip oil
- Supergoop Smooth and Poreless 100 Percent Mineral Matte sunscreen
- Drunk Elephant’s Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
- Countersun Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30
- UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50
- What the hell is a mineral sunscreen, anyway?
- Are they actually non-toxic?
- How do I decide which sunscreen is right for me?
- And if I want to go with mineral sunscreen, how do I pick one?
- Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen: Know The Difference!
- What Is The Difference Between Mineral And Chemical Sunscreen?
- What Is A Chemical Sunscreen?
- Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen: Additional Facts To Consider
- The Difference Between Chemical and Physical Sunscreen
- All You Need to Know About Sunscreen
- How do sunscreens work?
- What does SPF mean?
- Does higher SPF mean more protection?
- What sunscreens provide UVA protection?
- Chemical VS mineral sunscreen
- More sun protection tips
Does Natural Sunscreen Hold Up Against Regular Sunscreen?
During summer, the only question more important than “Which way to the beach?” is “Did someone bring sunscreen?” Skin cancer is no joke: Rates of melanoma have been on the rise for the last 30 years, and the Mayo Clinic recently reported that two types of skin cancer rose a jaw-dropping 145 percent and 263 percent from 2000 to 2010.
While we know sunscreen helps protect against skin cancer, you may be protecting your skin way less than you think by unknowingly choosing the wrong formula. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released their 2017 annual sunscreen guide, rating roughly 1,500 products advertised as sun protection for safety and efficacy. They found a whopping 73 percent of the products didn’t work very well, or contained concerning ingredients, including chemicals tied to hormone disruption and skin irritation.
Their researchers point out that even though most people focus on a high SPF, what they should really be looking at is the ingredients in the bottle. The brands least likely to have potentially harmful or irritating compounds typically fall into a category called mineral-based, or “natural,” sunscreens.
Apparently, a lot of you are already curious about the category: A 2016 Consumer Reports survey found that nearly half of the 1,000 people surveyed said they look for a “natural” product when shopping for sunscreen. But can natural sunscreens really match up to the protection provided by chemical formulas?
Surprisingly, two dermatologists confirm that they in fact can. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s In a Mineral Formula?
The difference between traditional, chemical-based sunscreens and the mineral variety comes down to the type of active ingredients. Mineral-based creams use physical blockers-zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide-which form an actual barrier on your skin and reflect the UV rays. The others use chemical blockers-typically some combination of oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and/or octinoxate-which absorb UV radiation to dissipate it. (We know, it’s a mouthful!)
There are also two types of UV radiation: UVB, which is responsible for actual sunburns, and UVA rays, which penetrate deeper. Mineral-based, physical blockers protect against both. But since chemical blockers absorb the rays instead, this allows UVA to reach those deeper layers of your skin and do damage, explains Jeanette Jacknin, M.D., San Diego–based holistic dermatologist and author of Smart Medicine for Your Skin.
The Problem with Chemical Blockers
The other biggest concern with chemical blockers is the idea that they disrupt hormone production. This is something animal and cell studies have confirmed, but we need more research on humans to tell us how it functions specific to sunscreen (how much of the chemical is absorbed, how quickly it’s excreted, etc.), says Apple Bodemer, M.D., professor of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin.
But studies on these chemicals, in general, are alarming for a product we’re supposed to spread on every day. One chemical in particular, oxybenzone, has been linked with a higher risk of endometriosis in women, poorer sperm quality in men, skin allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage-and oxybenzone is added to nearly 65 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens in the EWG’s 2017 sunscreen database, Dr. Jacknin points out. And a new study out of Russia published in the journal Chemosphere found that while a common sunscreen chemical, avobenzone, is generally safe on its own, when the molecules interact with chlorinated water and UV radiation, it breaks down into compounds called phenols and acetyl benzenes, which are known to be incredibly toxic.
Another worrisome chemical: retinyl palmitate, which may trigger the development of skin tumors and lesions when used on skin in sunlight, she adds. Even on a less alarmist page, oxybenzone and other chemicals tend to cause problems with skin reactions and irritations, while most minerals don’t, Dr. Bodemer says-though she adds that this is mostly just an issue for adults with sensitive skin and kids.
So Are All Mineral-Based Creams Better?
Mineral-based creams are more natural, but even their cleaner ingredients go through a chemical process during formulation, Dr. Bodemer clarifies. And a lot of mineral-based sunscreens have chemical blockers in them, too. “It’s not uncommon to find a combination of both physical and chemical blockers,” she adds.
That being said, since we know so little about what chemical blockers really do in our bodies, both experts agree your best bet is reaching for mineral sunscreens with physical blockers, especially if you have sensitive skin.
The superior protection does come at a superficial price, though: “One big downside is that many natural sunscreens with high concentrations of zinc and titanium dioxide are very white and not cosmetically pleasing,” Dr. Jacknin says. (Think surfers with the white stripe down their nose.)
Luckily, most manufacturers have counteracted this by developing formulas with nanoparticles, which help the white titanium dioxide look more transparent and actually offer better SPF protection-but at the cost of worse UVA protection, says Dr. Jacknin. Ideally, the formula has a balance of larger zinc oxide particles for greater UVA protection, and smaller titanium dioxide particles so the product will go on clear.
What to Look For
While mineral sunscreens are typically better for your skin, how much better really depends on what else is inside. Just like with food packaging, the word “natural” on the label really holds no weight. “All sunscreens have chemicals in them, whether they’re considered natural or not. How natural they are really depends on the brand,” Dr. Bodemer says.
Look for sunscreens with active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. You’ll probably find the best selection at an outdoor store or specialty health food shop, but even ubiquitous brands like Neutrogena and Aveeno have mineral-based formulas. If you can’t find these on the shelf, next best is avoiding ones with the chemicals that science says are most harmful: oxybenzone, avobenzone, and retinyl palmitate. (Pro tip: If you have sensitive skin, look for bottles labeled for kids, Dr. Bodemer shares.) As for the inactive ingredients, Dr. Bodemer recommends looking for bottles labeled “sport” or “water resistant” rather than a specific base, as these will stay on longer through sweat and water. And while most of us are taught to look for SPF, even the FDA calls high SPF “inherently misleading.” The EWG points out it’s far more effective to apply a low SPF sunscreen properly than a higher one half-heartedly. Dr. Bodemer confirms: Every sunscreen will wear off, so no matter the SPF or active ingredients, you need to reapply at least every two hours. (FYI here are some sunscreen options that stood up to our sweat test.)
And although it might be more of a hassle to put on, you’re better off sticking to lotion-those nanoparticles that minimize chalkiness are generally safe, but could cause lung damage if you inhale them from a spray formula, Dr. Jacknin adds. Another important application FYI: Because mineral sunscreen protects by forming a barrier, you want to lather up 15 to 20 minutes before you head out-before you start moving and sweating-to ensure you have an even film across your skin once you hit the sun, Dr. Bodemer says. (For the chemical kind, put it on 20 to 30 minutes pre-sun exposure so it has time to soak in.)
The EWG rates every brand of sunscreen for efficacy and safety, so check out their database to see where your favorite formula falls. A few of our favorite brands that meet the guidelines of these derms and the EWG: Beyond Coastal Active Sunscreen, Badger Tinted Sunscreen, and Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen.
Remember though that in a pinch, any type of sunscreen is better than no sunscreen. “We know UV radiation is a human carcinogen-it definitely causes non-melanoma type skin cancers, and burns in particular are strongly associated with melanoma. Going out in the sun has a much higher likelihood of causing cancer than putting sunscreen on your skin,” Dr. Bodemer adds.
- By Rachael Schultz @_RSchultz
Why switching from chemical to mineral sunscreens might be your best bet
What’s in your sunscreen?
Chemicals long used in sunblock are under new scrutiny — and may signal it’s time to start reaching for alternatives.
Some of these chemicals enter the bloodstream at a rate that should require additional safety data, according to a preliminary study published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The four chemicals — avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule and octocrylene — are among the 12 ingredients that the FDA recently flagged in its efforts to update sunscreen regulations. The administration has proposed new rules that would encourage manufacturers to research these chemicals before the government deems them “generally regarded as safe and effective.”
Mineral sunscreens, as opposed to chemical sunscreens, are a better bet, says Upper East Side dermatologist Michele Green. They contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — which the FDA has deemed generally safe and effective.
They physically block both UVA rays (those that can cause premature aging) and UVB rays (the ones responsible for burns), providing a shield on the surface of skin, instead of absorbing the sun’s rays as chemical sunscreens do.
And while Green would prefer folks — especially those under the age of 21 — slather on mineral-based blockers, she cautions that a chemical sunscreen is still safer than no protection at all.
“Should you throw it away? No, you absolutely need it to protect you against skin cancer,” says Green. “On average, a person’s risk of melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.”
Looking for some more guidance as you rethink your sunscreen supply?
Last week, the Environmental Working Group released its annual guide to safe sunscreens. The watchdog group’s researchers found that two-thirds of the more than 1,300 sunscreens on the market either don’t provide enough protection or contain ingredients that are especially worrisome — such as oxybenzone, which may have hormone-disrupting qualities dangerous for kids. You can type in the name of your sunscreen at EWG.org to see how it ranked and get a full ingredient breakdown.
Mineral sunscreen’s only con? Its reputation for leaving an unbecoming white film on the skin.
“But I would rather have that than cancer,” says Green, adding that the film makes it easier to see where you’ve applied it. “It’s a good way to know your skin is really protected.”
Some sunscreen makers have created mineral formulas that offset the dreaded opaque white hue without sacrificing protection. Here are some of our favorites:
CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen
Thanks to hyaluronic acid and ceramides, this body sunscreen (available in SPF 30 and 50) actually moisturizes as it protects — and for a great price. Just make sure you rub it in!
$12.79 at Target.com
Clean Screen Mineral mattifying face sunscreen
If most facial sunscreens leave you greasy, reach for this SPF 30 matte cream, which feels rich (it’s got yellow passion fruit for anti-oxidants) even while it absorbs oil.
$36 at USA.RenSkincare.com
Brush on Block Protective lip oil
Lips need love, too — this neutral-toned SPF 32 lip oil goes on like a hydrating gloss, and also has iron oxides to help block blue light from screens, in addition to UV protection.
$25 at BrushOnBlock.com
Supergoop Smooth and Poreless 100 Percent Mineral Matte sunscreen
The universal tint of this face and body cream gives it a subtle smoothing quality, for guys and gals alike. It’s also water- and sweat-resistant and comes in SPF 40.
$38 at Dermstore.com
Drunk Elephant’s Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
Even with its superhigh concentration of zinc (20 percent!), this silicone- and fragrance-free formula is moisturizing thanks to infusions of marula and raspberry seed oils.
$34 at Sephora.com
Countersun Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30
This newly launched tinted mist (there is also an untinted version) adds a flattering glow to legs and sprays on evenly sans aerosol — it’s air-powered.
$39 at BeautyCounter.com
UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50
Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, this water-resistant cream stands up to summer’s outdoor activities, whether you’re out on the tennis court or golf course.
$34 at EltaMD.com
I’ll admit it: I’m afraid of the sun. Growing up in Australia, where I’ve woken up sunburned after merely dreaming about the sun, I’ve had enough run-ins with that big burnin’ star to justify a lifetime of hiding in the shade. This has led to an unabashed obsessed with sunscreen wherein I never leave the house without it and have even been known to slather it on my loved ones without their consent. I take pride in being a grown-ass adult who cares about sun protection.
So when Leandra recently asked the Man Repeller editorial team: “What’s the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen? WHAT SHOULD I DO?” I immediately volunteered as tribute. I spoke to Ivy Lee, adjunct assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California, and Anisha Patel, MD and board-certified dermatologist, to find out everything there is to know about mineral sunscreen.
What the hell is a mineral sunscreen, anyway?
Mineral sunscreens protect your skin by physically blocking and reflecting UV light, which is why they’re also known as physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens, which are more common, work in a different way, absorbing UV light, then releasing it as heat after a chemical reaction has taken place. (Science!)
While chemical sunscreens take about 20 minutes to begin working, mineral sunscreens start protecting the skin as soon as they’re applied. They also only include two ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. According to Lee, mineral products are less likely to irritate sensitive skin and have a longer shelf life than chemical formulas.
Are they actually non-toxic?
They are! “Mineral sunscreens are a wonderful non-toxic option,” says Lee. “They are chemically inert, don’t penetrate the skin, and aren’t absorbed systemically.” They’re also reef-safe, which means they won’t have any negative impact on marine ecology when worn swimming. If your summer plans include snorkelling, and you want that coral to keep shining bright, a mineral sunscreen is the way to go.
However, it is worth noting that even sunscreens that do contain chemicals aren’t inherently bad for you or your skin. So, if you’re happy with the product you use and aren’t swimming by a coral reef any time soon, it’s perfectly fine to choose either kind of sunscreen.
How do I decide which sunscreen is right for me?
According to Patel, the best sunscreen is one you’ll actually wear. “Chemical sunscreens usually have lighter formulas and blend into my skin better, so that’s what I use most days. But if I’m going to spend the day outdoors, I’ll use a mineral sunscreen,” she says.
When deciding between mineral or chemical it’s important to consider your skin type. Chemical sunscreens can irritate the skin, so if you’ve found your face burning after applying sunscreen, it might be wise to make the switch to mineral. The same goes for people who are acne- or eczema-prone — with less active ingredients, mineral sunscreen is less likely to freak out sensitive skin.
That said, mineral sunscreen formulas can be thick and chalky (think of a lifeguard’s zinc-covered nose), so aren’t always preferred by people with darker skin tones. If you’re worried about your skin getting the ghost treatment but still want to try a mineral sunscreen, look for a tinted product (like this super popular Drunk Elephant one) and always try before you buy when possible.
And if I want to go with mineral sunscreen, how do I pick one?
Before you do anything, check the ingredients. A true mineral sunscreen should only include zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or a combination of both, says Lee. Your product should also be at least SPF30 and be broad spectrum, meaning it will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Once you’ve ticked off those keywords, go ahead and test the sunscreen for blendability and feel.
They say it’s important to face your fears and after writing this story, I think I’m finally ready to take on the sun — but only if I’m covered head to toe in sunscreen first.
Photo by Michael Ochs via Getty Images.
Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen: Know The Difference!
We all understand the dangers of the sun. It’s no secret that prolonged exposure to UV rays leads to sunburn and increases the risk of skin cancer. It’s also common knowledge that protecting your baby’s skin with sunscreen is especially important.
But did you know that many sunscreens contain chemical ingredients that may have adverse health effects for you and your little one?
In this article, the baby experts at Mustela will give you an in-depth look at mineral vs. chemical sunscreen. Along the way, we’ll answer the following questions:
- What is the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen?
- What is a chemical sunscreen?
- Are chemical sunscreens safe for babies?
- What is a mineral sunscreen?
- Are mineral sunscreens safe for babies?
We know that your baby’s well-being is priority number one, so we’ll give you all the information you need to keep your little one safe in the sun.
What Is The Difference Between Mineral And Chemical Sunscreen?
The main difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens can be found in their ingredient lists.
Chemical sunscreens have ingredients that may potentially cause health problems for you and your baby. Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, use two natural minerals—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—as active ingredients. These minerals simply sit on top of your skin and protect it by reflecting away UV rays.
To better understand the differences between chemical and mineral sunscreens, let’s take a closer look at each.
What Is A Chemical Sunscreen?
A chemical sunscreen is one whose active ingredients are non-natural, chemical compounds. Here are a few examples of chemical ingredients commonly found in sunscreen.
Despite the fact that these compounds have all been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), research shows potential risks for several of them, including:
- Padimate O
The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens, like the ones listed above, are effective because they absorb the sun’s UV rays. Then, through a chemical reaction, the sunscreen dissipates the UV rays. This means that your skin is protected because the UV rays never actually hit your body.
However, before these chemicals can offer any UV protection, your skin has to absorb them. This can cause irritation and discomfort, especially for children with sensitive skin.
Additionally, trace amounts of the chemicals found in chemical sunscreens can trickle into your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, they can filter into other bodily fluids, such as breastmilk. A study published by a team of scientists, led by Dr. Margret Schlumpf of the University of Zurich, found trace amounts of at least one sunscreen chemical in the breast milk of 76.5 percent of the women they tested.
Octinoxate was detected in a whopping 64.7 percent of the sampled women’s breast milk. Three other FDA-approved sunscreen chemicals—oxybenzone, octocrylene, and padimate O—were also found in significant amounts. This raises serious questions about breastfeeding safety.
At this point, you must be wondering whether or not these chemicals are safe for your baby. Let’s address that concern now.
Are Chemical Sunscreens Safe For Babies?
As we discussed in the previous section, the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens often seep into your bloodstream. What happens then? Some of the compounds can affect the hormone levels in your body. For example, studies show that chemical ingredients in sunscreens can increase the risk of endometriosis in women, decrease sperm concentration in men, and lower testosterone levels in adolescent males.
If research found that these chemical compounds might negatively affect your health, why did the FDA approve them? The short explanation is that the FDA approved these chemicals when they first began regulating sunscreen in the late 1970s.
At that time, most of these chemicals had already been used in sunscreens for years. As such, they were approved without having to go through the strict approval process. In other words, they were grandfathered in.
Although recent research suggests that some of these chemicals are potentially harmful, the research is not yet conclusive. Scientists are still trying to understand the effects of the ingredients in chemical sunscreens. The FDA would need unquestionable evidence in order to reverse its approval and ban any single chemical from being used in sunscreens. That’s why they remain on the market today.
So, given the above information, are chemical sunscreens safe for babies? Unfortunately, we simply don’t know if chemical sunscreens are safe for young children. In fact, we aren’t even sure that they’re safe for adults! More research is necessary before we can draw any definitive conclusions.
All of this might sound concerning, but don’t worry! There’s a safer option available for protecting your little one’s skin from the sun: mineral sunscreen. Simply put, mineral sunscreens are safer alternatives to their chemical cousins.
What Is A Mineral Sunscreen?
A mineral sunscreen is just what it sounds like—a sunscreen that uses minerals as its active ingredients. The minerals most often used are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Both of these ingredients occur naturally, although they can also be created synthetically.
Mineral sunscreens work in a completely different way than chemical sunscreens. Remember, chemical sunscreens penetrate your skin and offer protection by dissipating UV rays. By contrast, mineral sunscreens simply sit on top of your skin and reflect UV rays away from your body.
Mineral sunscreens are sometimes called physical sunscreens because they provide a physical barrier between your skin and the sun’s rays. Think of these minerals as millions of tiny mirrors resting on the surface of your skin, bouncing away harmful UV rays.
Are Mineral Sunscreens Safe For Babies?
Sunscreens that contain only mineral-based active ingredients are safe to use on babies. This is indisputable.
The only thing to keep an eye out for is sunscreens that use both mineral and chemical ingredients. These sunscreens might advertise themselves as mineral sunscreens but may have chemical ingredients, too. As always, read the label and check the ingredients before putting any products on your baby’s skin.
If you’re looking for a sunscreen that’s safe for your child, try Mustela SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. It has 100 percent mineral-based active ingredients that offer superior protection from UV rays. On top of that, the natural ingredients won’t irritate your baby’s delicate skin. Why take chances with a chemical sunscreen when there are safe, effective options already available?
Some corporations that manufacture chemical sunscreens have suggested that mineral sunscreens can also be absorbed by your little one’s skin. These companies claim that since the ingredients in mineral sunscreens are broken down into tiny pieces (called nanoparticles), they can easily seep into your baby’s skin cells.
However, this claim contradicts the findings of the international scientific community. A 2009 report published by the Australian Department of Health reviewed all major studies of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The conclusion was stated plainly:
“To date, the current weight of evidence suggests that TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles do not reach viable skin cells, rather, they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer layer (stratum corneum) of the skin.”
This is one case where the science is clear. Mineral sunscreens are the safest option for protecting your precious baby from the sun!
Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen: Additional Facts To Consider
In addition to the ingredients in mineral and chemical sunscreen, there are a few other factors to consider before deciding on a specific product.
First, some mineral sunscreens may leave a slight residue on your baby’s body since the minerals are not actually absorbed into their skin. Chemical sunscreens include ingredients called penetration enhancers, which help the chemicals make their way into your child’s skin. This makes it easier for chemical sunscreen to be rubbed in smoothly and transparently.
But remember—you don’t want your baby’s skin absorbing these harmful chemicals! The fact that mineral sunscreen may leave residue behind is just further evidence that they’re safer for you and your little one.
There’s one last thing to keep in mind when choosing a sunscreen. Make sure that your sunscreen is labeled “broad spectrum.” This means that the sunscreen blocks all types of the sun’s UV rays. Mustela SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion is the best option for a broad-spectrum, 100 percent mineral-based sunscreen.
We also offer a soothing After Sun Spray that’s perfect for everything from long days at the beach to short trips to your local park. Apply it to hydrate and refresh your baby’s skin after enjoying the sunshine.
We all know that the sun can damage our skin. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the great outdoors with your baby! With a safe, broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen, you can enjoy the sun with peace of mind.
The Difference Between Chemical and Physical Sunscreen
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The difference between chemical and physical sunscreens
According to the Cancer Council Australia, skin cancer accounts for 80% of cancers diagnosed each year. That’s why it’s so important to always wear sunscreen to help protect both you and your family from the sun’s UV rays. The Cancer Council urges Australians to wear sunscreen all year round – even on overcast days, UV radiation can be highly dangerous!
There are two types of UV radiation – UVA and UVB. According to research, UVB rays are mainly responsible for sunburn, while UVA rays can penetrate deeper into the skin and cause long term damage. However, with so many choices and different types of sunscreen, knowing which one is right for you can be hard – but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re looking for a sunscreen for your face as a natural anti-ageing product, for your kids to use every day at school or daycare, or just for long days at the beach, here at Nourished Life we have you covered with sunscreens for the whole family.
What is the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens?
When choosing a sunscreen for you and your family, did you know that there are two types available? Both chemical and physical sunscreens are designed to help protect you from UVA and UVB rays, however they work in different ways. Where one contains active ingredient/s to absorb UV radiation, the other works to reflect it. When choosing a sunscreen there are some considerations when it comes to finding the formula right for you.
What is a chemical sunscreen?
According to the Cancer Council, chemical sunscreens contain UV absorbing ingredients to help absorb UV radiation and stop it from penetrating skin. These sunscreens use chemical ingredients to absorb the sun’s UV rays, such as Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor and Butyl Methoxy Dibenzoylmethane. According to Sinead Roberts of WOTNOT, “while chemical sunscreens are great for leaving little to no residue, the synthetic ingredients they contain can result in allergies and irritation.”
According to Choice, the ingredients in chemical sunscreens may cause irritation, allergy or sensitivity, so patch testing is always recommended prior to using any chemical sunscreen. Some types of chemical sunscreen may only protect skin from UVA, others only UVB, and some offer protection against both UVA and UVB. “Broad spectrum” sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays – in Australia, all sunscreens over SPF4 must be broad spectrum.
The long term safety of these sunscreens has often come under fire with concerns of potential health risks. Pete Evans is a well known name that has often spoken out against chemical sunscreens saying, “The silly thing is people put on normal chemical sunscreen then lay out in the sun for hours on end and think that they are safe because they have covered themselves in poisonous chemicals, which is a recipe for disaster as we are witnessing these days.”
What is a physical sunscreen?
Unlike chemical sunscreens, physical sunscreens help to protect your skin from the sun by using natural minerals to create a physical barrier (as the name suggests), rather than absorbing rays. These natural alternatives use ingredients such as Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide to reflect the sun’s UVA and UVB rays – both of these offer broad spectrum protection. According to Choice, physical sunscreens may also be more suitable for those with sensitive skin, and are particularly recommended for children. According to SunSmart, “Sensitive and toddler sunscreens usually use scattering ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and avoid ingredients and preservatives that may cause reactions in young skin.”
Although they are heavier than their chemical based counterparts, more recent physical sunscreen formulations differ from traditional heavy or thick Zinc sunscreen formulations, resulting in a lighter and sheerer finish than the old ‘ghostly’ or ‘pasty’ look. At Nourished Life, we only stock physical sunscreen brands across our SPF 30 natural sunscreen products and across our range of SPF 15 facial moisturisers.
The Cancer Council recommends that sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure to create the intended protective barrier. Physical sunscreen should be applied liberally and evenly to clean and dry skin, ensuring enough is used for adequate protection. For adults, the recommended amount is approximately seven teaspoons to cover the entire body (including arms, legs, the torso and face.) Sunscreen should also be reapplied every two hours at least, even if the sunscreen is ‘water resistant’, as physical exercise can affect how the sunscreen works.
Physical sunscreens to try
Natural Sunscreens for the Face
The Life Basics SPF 30 All Natural Facial Sunscreen $24.95, is great for wearing every day beneath makeup, containing deeply hydrating Green Tea, Rosehip Oil and Calendula to soothe and nourish skin while providing long lasting UVA and UVB protection.
The Eco logical Face Sunscreen SPF 30+ $19.95, can also be worn daily. This gentle sunscreen can be worn in replacement of your regular moisturiser or layered over the top. Containing antioxidant-rich ingredients including Cucumber and Green Tea, this sunscreen hydrates and restores.
Natural Sunscreen for the Body
Ideal for the whole family, UV Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+ $16.95, can be used all year round. This fast absorbing formula uses a combination of nut oils and 24.8% natural Zinc Oxide to protect and nourish your skin.
Natural Sunscreen for Kids
Kids love playing outdoors, so it’s important to keep their precious skin protected! The Eco Logical Baby Sunscreen SPF 30+ $19.95, is specifically formulated for delicate and sensitive baby skin. This water resistant sunscreen is filled with moisturising ingredients including Jojoba, Shea Butter and Avocado.
The WOTNOT Sunscreen SPF 30 $19.95, is also gentle enough for babies and children of all ages. This sunscreen contains soothing Aloe Vera and Shea Butter for a smooth, moisturising consistency, making it nice and easy to apply all over the face and body.
Read more about natural sunscreen options for kids.
Natural Sports sunscreen
The UV Natural Sports Sunscreen 30+ $28.95, is a great option for anyone who plays outdoor sports. This non-whitening physical sunscreen protects for up to three hours from both water and sweat. You’ll love this nourishing cream which is filled with natural ingredients including Macadamia Nut Oil and Vitamin E.
Natural Waterproof Sunscreen
For long days at the beach or by the pool, you need a water resistant sunscreen. The Soleo Organics Sunscreen SPF 30+ $16.95, is water resistant for up to 3 hours. This non-greasy, easily absorbed sunscreen can be used on both the face and body during summer and all year-round.
After Sun Care
If you’ve spent too long in the sun, you may want to soothe your skin with a balm of gel. The Badger After Sun Balm $21.95 is a gentle balm filled with nourishing ingredients including Beeswax and Jojoba oil. Otherwise, you can’t go past that soothing and cooling feeling of an Aloe Vera Gel!
With all sunscreens avoid contact with eyes and if irritation persists discontinue use. Sunscreen is only one part of sun protection. Wear protective clothing, hats and sunglasses when exposed to the sun, and stay in the shade where possible. Prolonged high-risk sun exposure should be avoided. Frequent reapplication and use in accordance with the directions is required for effective sun protection. Always read the label and use only as directed.
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All You Need to Know About Sunscreen
When it comes to sunscreen, how much do you know? How do you go about choosing the best and most protective? What is SPF, and do sunscreen really pollute the ocean? We explain all these and more for your sun protection, no matter the season.
How do sunscreens work?
Sunscreens protect the skin from UV (ultraviolet) rays using chemical or mineral filters. Chemical filters absorb UV rays, breaking them down and releasing them as heat, while mineral or physical blockers act as physical barrier on the skin, reflecting UV light. Examples of chemical filters include oxybenzone, octinoxate and avobenzone, while mineral sunscreens are generally derived from titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.1
Long-wave UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and is associated with long-term effects of sun exposure. UVB rays are shorter, only reaching the skin’s surface causing tanning or sunburn. Both UVA and UVB increase the risk of skin cancer.3
What does SPF mean?
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to protect the skin from UVB damage. (For sunscreens with UVA protection, see below.) Here’s how it works: however long it usually takes you to turn red from the sun, an SPF 30 sunscreen would prevent the reddening by 30 times longer. If it takes you 20 minutes of sun exposure before turning red, an SPF 30 sunscreen would provide you with approximately 20 x 30 = 600 minutes of UVB protection.3
Does higher SPF mean more protection?
This depends on each individual’s skin type. People with naturally darker skin tend to require lower SPF ratings.4 Nonetheless, it is generally advised to wear an SPF 15 sunscreen or higher. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%; SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. No sunscreen provides you with 100% UV protection.5
Banyan Tree Coconut & Seaweed Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is reef-safe, using only non-nano mineral filters that are safe for the earth, and for you.
What sunscreens provide UVA protection?
There is no standard indicator for UVA protection in sunscreens. In fact, many sunscreens still do not offer protection against UVA rays. For sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protection, look for the term ‘Broad Spectrum’ on the product.6 Sunscreens with mineral filters Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide almost always offer broad spectrum protection, being physical blockers.
Banyan Tree Essentials uses the PA (Protection Grade of UVA) rating for UVA protection, a system developed in Japan and widely adopted by Asian brands. It features plus signs (ranging from one to four) to indicate the level of UVA protection provided. More plus signs denote higher levels of UVA protection.
Chemical VS mineral sunscreen
In recent years, chemical sunscreens have come under fire for its negative health and environmental effects. Oxybenzone, though an effective chemical filter, could trigger skin irritation and allergies in people with sensitive skin. It has also been linked to hormone disruption in children and adults.7
On top of that, chemical sunscreen filters have been found to be toxic to coral reefs, contributing to coral bleaching. Regions like Hawaii and Palau have banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in an effort to protect their oceans.8 For reef-safe options, look for 100% mineral sunscreens with mineral UV filters only (usually non-nano titanium dioxide or zinc oxide). Other than being natural and gentler on the skin, mineral filters are safe for coral reefs, merely settling as part of the ocean floor sediment when washed into the sea.
More sun protection tips
According to research studies, we wear less sunscreen than is required. Dermatologists recommend the amount of a shot-glass for the entire body, and one to two tablespoons for just the face. It is also recommended to reapply your sunscreen every two hours, even when wearing sunscreen that boasts “extended wear” benefits.9 If you’ve gone into the water, reapply sunscreen—no sunscreen is truly waterproof.
Even though sunscreen is vital to any sun care regime, it can’t be relied upon alone to protect you from the sun. In general, stay out of the sun from 12pm to 4pm when its rays are harshest, or wear a hat and sunglasses. If you have a family history of photo-sensitive skin, ditch the tanning beds and stay in the shade as much as possible. Where necessary, cover up with long-sleeved or UV-protection clothing.
For more summer wellness tips, refer to our Conscious Summer Guide.
Banyan Tree Coconut & Seaweed Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is a coral reef-safe, non-nano mineral based sunscreen. Free from chemical UV filters, it uses natural and biodegradable minerals Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide to provide broad spectrum protection while protecting the ocean.
To shop, or to learn more about Banyan Tree products, visit www.essentials.banyantree.com. For any enquiry, contact us at [email protected]