Looking for a safe and healthy way to protect your skin from the sun? Sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are considered mineral (or physical) sunscreens. Unlike their chemical counterparts that work by absorbing the sun’s harmful rays, mineral based sunscreens protect you from the sun by sitting on top of your skin. This physical barrier to the sun, protects you the same way like if you were wearing a shirt. Most traditional plastic sunscreens are made of chemicals, such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, that can cause acne, skin irritations and are absorbed by your skin into your bloodstream.
There are two types of mineral based active sun blocking agents; zinc oxide & titanium dioxide. Out of the two, zinc oxide is much safer and a more effective sunscreen than the latter, based on physical chemistry and biological effects. In addition, zinc oxide is the only mineral based ingredient approved by the FDA for sale in the US & Canada.
In traditional plastic sunscreens, 12 out of the 17 most common ingredients (ex; cinoxate, padimate O, oxybenzone and avobenzone to name a few) were all recently delisted by the FDA. If that's not enough for you to make the switch to mineral sunscreens, 75% of the traditional plastic sunscreens currently on the market offer inferior protection. That means most brands are selling sunscreens that don't actually meet the protection claims on their labels—leaving you vulnerable to sunburn, premature aging and even skin cancer. What's more, active chemical ingredients, absorbed into our bloodstreams causing hormone disruption, are still in widespread use.
Non-nano zinc oxide is an active SPF ingredient in mineral sunscreens, which act as a physical barrier laying on the top of your skin, protecting you from the sun's harmful UVA/UVB rays. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and the number beside it indicates how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. So ideally, with SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen. If you know your sunscreen's concentration of active ingredients, you can estimate its SPF number on your own. For example, let's say you have a formula with 20% zinc oxide, since every one percent of zinc oxide gives you 1.6 SPF units, that works out to SPF 32—which is an ideal level of protection.
While there are other methods of avoiding sun exposure such as wearing UV protective clothing, wearing head gear (hat, visor etc..) and UV protective sunglasses, using a sunscreen with a safe UVA filter like zinc oxide is ideal.
UVA & UVB
The difference between these two ultraviolet sun rays are as follows;
-UVA (the aging rays) are the main trigger for skin cancers and photo-aging.
-UVB (the burning rays) are the main trigger for sunburn.
Most sunscreens on the market do a good job of filtering out the UVB rays that cause burns, but are inadequate against the more damaging UVA rays. This is especially troubling because UVA accounts for 94% of the UV light that reaches our skin! All but one typed of mineral sunscreen provides extensive protection against UVA, that is zinc oxide. Since it has such great coverage, non-nano zinc oxide alone can be the sole active ingredient in your formula.