When it comes to sun protection, it is important to know that not all chemicals are created equal. Many available mineral sunscreens use zinc or titanium as the active ingredient for blocking out the sun’s rays. These ingredients have some advantages over chemical-based sunscreen in that they tend not to be absorbed into the skin and can reverse the damage done by environmental toxins, especially when applied properly before going outdoors.
What’s a Mineral Sunscreen?
There are two categories of mineral sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreen uses particles, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, to block out the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreen uses synthetic chemicals to filter the sun’s rays.
Benefits of Mineral Sunscreens
1. Non-toxic– the ingredients in physical mineral sunscreens are non-toxic, unlike those in chemical sunscreen which can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin and cause serious health problems.
2. Broad-spectrum– most chemical sunscreens are not broad-spectrum, meaning that they only protect against UVB rays (the ones that cause skin cancer) while some block UVA (the rays that penetrate deep into the skin). Physical mineral sunscreen protects from both UVB and UVA rays.
3. Easier to use– chemical sunscreens tend to be messier, especially during application. Careful application is necessary to prevent inhalation of the chemical ingredients. Physical minerals do not tend to foist irritating dust on the skin while they’re applied and some are even talcum-based which makes them easier and more convenient to use as a daily means of sun protection.
4. No chemicals absorbed into the body– Unlike chemical sunscreen, physical mineral sunscreen does not contain any chemicals (e.g. parabens) which have been linked to cancer, hormonal disorders, and thyroid problems.
Chemical sunscreen can still be used in areas of the body exposed to direct sunlight, especially the lips, as well as areas that are prone to damage from other chemicals (like the eyes and mucous membranes). Read labels for caution as some types of physical mineral sunscreen are not recommended for use on these parts of the body.
Where to Find Them
Most preparations of physical mineral sunscreens are available at health food stores, drugstores, and most grocery stores.
How to Use Them
Physical mineral sunscreens tend to be easier to apply than chemical sunscreens, albeit messier during application. You need to be careful during application as too much can make you look like a walking snowman. Physical mineral sunscreen is the easiest type of sunscreen to apply by applying the sunscreen first, then the clothing you intend on wearing. You can also spray them on before going outside and reapply once you get back in.