Mineral Sunscreen: How To Skip The Sunburn And The Endocrine Disruption

If burning eyes, stinging sensations, and skin irritation are symptoms that perfectly describe your experience with sunscreen, it might be time to make the switch.

By Simone Sydel2 min read
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Shutterstock/Olena Serzhanova

According to board-certified dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama, a whopping 25% of people develop sensitivities and allergic reactions from using sunscreens that are too harsh for their skin. This can be particularly common in those using chemical sunscreens, a popular skincare product that has been steadily taking the world by storm due to its lightweight consistency, zero white cast, and ability to blend into nothing, making it a perfect makeup base.

However, you certainly don't need to suffer discomfort to protect your skin from the sun. And with our list of mineral-based sunscreens fueled by anti-inflammatory zinc and soothing UV filters, you can forget about sunburns, pigmentary issues, and even more worrisome skin cancer risks. Better yet, our favorite options won't leave your complexion looking greasy or ashy, so you can look your best while confidently protecting your skin from the sun's rays.

Why Should You Use a Mineral Instead Of a Chemical Sunscreen?

While both sunscreen options have their benefits and drawbacks, there are a few reasons why you should switch to a mineral based sunscreen. For one, mineral sunscreens offer better sun protection due to containing components that create a physical barrier between your skin and the damaging effects of UV rays. On the other hand, chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays and convert them into heat, which is why they can cause skin irritations and trigger symptoms such as redness, rashes, and sensitivity.

Additionally, mineral sunscreens have better lasting power as they stick to the skin and are not as easy to wash off or dissolve with sweat, making them the ideal option for physical activities outdoors, including swimming, and everyday wear. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, rank poorly on the scale of lasting power as, due to their lightweight consistency, they tend to break down faster when mixed with sweat and oil and require frequent reapplication, which can be inconvenient and costly.

But What Exactly Are Mineral Sunscreens Made Of?

Typically, mineral sunscreens are made with two key ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals work together to create a physical barrier on the skin, reflecting and scattering the UV rays away from the skin's surface and preventing them from damaging the skin cells and causing concerns such as hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, and skin cancer. Zinc oxide is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which is why mineral sunscreens are less likely to cause skin irritations compared to their chemical counterpart.

On the other hand, chemical sunscreens, due to containing filters such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and avobenzone, have been shown to have harmful effects on marine life and coral reefs when tested, with some studies suggesting the chemicals in these types of sunscreens can impair the growth and photosynthesis of green algae, induce bleaching and DNA damage of coral, and cause defects in aquatic species including mussels, sea urchins, fish, and even dolphins. Hawaii banned chemical sunscreen to protect their coral reefs and marine life in 2018.

Oxybenzone, which is commonly described as the most worrisome component in chemical sunscreens, has also been proven to have negative effects on human health through multiple studies, particularly with prolonged or high exposure. Some of the negative effects of oxybenzone on humans may include skin irritation, hormone disruption, and increased risk of endometriosis and breast cancer in women due to its ability to bind to the estrogen receptors in the body, leading to changes in gene expression and cellular activity and disrupting the normal functioning of the endocrine system.

Some studies have shown that octinoxate and avobenzone can remain in the bloodstream through prolonged exposure and lead to allergic reactions as well as changes in the metabolic system, which affect thyroid hormone production and lead to changes in androgen and progesterone activity.

The verdict is clear – mineral sunscreen is the obvious choice. With that said, here are some excellent options to upgrade your summer beauty routine ASAP.

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