It is a common misconception that sunscreen should only be used in the summer months to protect from harmful UV rays. However, the sun can be just as powerful and detrimental in colder months as well.
Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in the United States and can severely impact your face and head. The sun can cause intense damage that may require treatments like chemical peels or photofacials to reduce sunspots’ appearance and discoloration.
With all of the news swirling about harmful additives and ingredients in sunscreens recently, it can be challenging to find the best sunscreen to protect your face. Luckily, there are many resources available to learn more about what goes into your sunscreen before you use it.
First, let’s understand the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens. Then, we can break down the ingredients that will work hardest at protecting your skin.
Whether using a physical or chemical sunscreen, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) always recommends using an SPF15 or higher, broad-spectrum sunscreen. Beyond that, the choice is yours and should be dependent on the characteristics of your skin (i.e., oily, dry, red, acne-prone, sensitive, etc.).
Physical sunscreens, also known as inorganic or mineral sunscreens, are going to be your best bet when looking for safe and protective ingredients. These types of sunscreens contain the only two FDA-approved inorganic ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
While originally scientists believed that physical or inorganic sunscreen would form a protective coating on the skin to reflect and scatter harmful rays, recent studies have proven that these ingredients actually absorb and eliminate up to 95% of UV rays instead.
The downside of physical sunscreens is that they leave behind a white, sticky film on the top of the skin. For people with darker complexions, this can be a deterrent from using the product. Additionally, while marketed as “natural” due to the presence of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, physical sunscreens still contain other added chemicals.
The alternative to physical sunscreens is chemical sunscreens, which contain all other chemical substances besides titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Unlike physical sunscreen, this type of lotion rubs directly into the skin and does not leave behind any white residue. Chemical sunscreens protect you by converting UV rays into harmless dissipating heat.
Unfortunately, many chemical sunscreens can contain potentially harmful added ingredients, so before you hit the beach, take a peek at the back of your sunscreen labels to make sure you’re protecting the skin on your beautiful face as best as possible.
Protecting your face and skin from harmful UV rays should be a top priority all year round. You know the qualities of your skin the best. The skin on your face can be dry, red, oily, discolored, dark, acne-prone, sensitive, or anything else in between.
So, while it’s important to know what chemical additives in sunscreen are harmful, ultimately, choosing a safe and effective sunscreen that is right for your type of skin is up to preference. Talk with your dermatologist or a skin care specialist to better understand the needs of your skin and face so you can continue to protect yourself all year long.