Sun care: a guide to sunscreens part 1

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It’s June tomorrow! The sun is out, and yet you still aren’t sure which sunscreen product to pick. Skinity is here to help!! Over the next few posts, I will cover different sunscreens available on the market so you will be able to make an informed decision to protect your skin this Summer!!

HELLO, healthy and happy Summer skin!

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First things first: How to recognize which type of sunscreen is in the product

Sunscreen is treated as an active ingredient – similar to “over the counter drugs”. That’s why sunscreens are listed with concentration and its purpose at the top of the INCI list.

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Sunscreens are divided into mineral (inorganic) and chemical. (organic) Don’t be misled by the name organic in the chemical ones – this merely means they are made up of carbon molecule. 

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Sunscreens are divided into two groups:

Mineral sunscreens create a physical barrier on your skin and REFLECT UV rays. These don’t even reach your skin (well, SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, so you will still tan!).

Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, ABSORB UV light and convert them into heat. The downfall of chemical sunscreens is that they are not very stable when exposed to UV rays – Doesn’t make much sense, does it? They are also very much connected to some serious skin irritations and even hormonal disruption.

As there are only two mineral sunscreens available (plus mineral sunscreens are my one and only choice), let’s cover those first.

As mentioned before, they provide the most reliable sun protection as they create an immediate physical barrier on the skin (you don’t have to apply it 30 minutes prior to sun exposure as you do with chemical filters). In terms of sun protection for you or even your child, it’s a no-brainer that mineral protection is the safest choice.

BUT …

Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are both used in sun care products in white mineral powder form. This means they have a chalky feel to them and can leave a white residue on your skin. Brands are trying to find a way to create a formulation that would minimize the “rugby player effect”. In order to achieve this without compromising the level of protection, they are aiming to use smaller and smaller particles.

About nano particles …

A particle becomes a nano when it’s size doesn’t exceed 100 nm. In the past, people feared nano particles claiming they were able to penetrate the skin and cause unrepairable damage.

However, modern research has shown that they can’t penetrate living healthy skin in concentrations that would be harmful to your health. The general consensus is still sticking to the “nano” gossip where the majority of brands state the non-nano size of minerals in their products.

As much as we love mineral sunscreen, we don’t want it to get in our organism. The biggest threat is inhalation; the use of loose powders and make-up which contain one of two minerals is not highly recommended.

Which of the two should you choose?

There are some differences between Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide that you should be aware of when choosing a sunscreen. Zinc Oxide offers broader protection from UVA rays, but it feels heavier and chalkier on your skin. Titanium dioxide is also more reactive when exposed to UV radiation and can form more free radicals. But there are some really good antioxidant ingredients mixed into good sun care products which counteract this. In the past, it was also linked to harming reef life. But so was oxybenzone – the chemical filter that is widely used in drugstore sunscreens. More on that next week.

As you’ve probably noticed by now, I am a mineral sunscreen girl. There is not a lot of choice on the market though, as brands that stuff their products with unnecessary fillers.

Yes, mineral sunscreen formulations are heavy, I might get a spot or two every few weeks. I might look like a ghost on my holidays. Sand may stick to me like there is no tomorrow and it’s not the easiest task to get rid of. But you know what? I don’t go on holidays to pose at the pool, I go to collect memories. I wear a helmet on a moped “just in case something happens”. So of course I will protect my skin with the best possible option. There is no “just in case” with sun exposure. The sun damage is there and it’s happening. Whether you see it or not!!

My products of choice at the moment:

Face:

John Masters Organics (SPF 30)

It’s a great light formula with both mineral sunscreens for the widest of protection.

Aesop – Sage and Zinc (SPF 15)

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One of the lightest formulas I have ever tried. If you haven’t tried mineral sunscreen before, this information might be misleading. It’s the lightest mineral sunscreen formula!

Badger 

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It’s a “rugby face stick”. I was on holiday recently and was topping up the Aesop sunscreen with this one when I was exposed during the hottest hours. Amazing protection, very heavy formula (beeswax, cocoa and shea butter – may clog pores).

Body:

DeVita Solar Body Moisturiser SPF 30 

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Aloe vera based light formulation. I stumbled upon this brand at one of the natural beauty shows; got few samples and fell in love within few days of usage and with the ingredients list. It contains aloe vera. They don’t even have their own website, I’ve ordered more from Biovea.

Badger – any sun care product really!

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You really cannot miss with Badger Sunscreens. I’ve always been happy with every single one I’ve ever tried. This time I opted for Unscented Sport edition (SPF 35) (I believe at the time all others were out of stock). It’s heavier than the DeVita one (it’s oil based, very simple formulation: few oils, beeswax, and vitamin E), but offers great protection.

Mineral sunscreens rock! But if you are still more interested in lighter formulations, I will put some of the most commonly used chemical sunscreens under the spotlight in the next week’s post.

Bring it on Summer!

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