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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Which Sunscreen Is Right For You: Chemical or Mineral?

Which Sunscreen Is Right For You: Chemical or Mineral? 

It is summer and time for people to really ramp up the use of sunscreen. Not that you shouldn't be using sunscreen everyday anyway. But what kind of sunscreen should you be using? There are two kinds available: chemical and mineral. The main difference between the two is that chemical sunscreens absorb sunlight and mineral sunscreens reflect sunlight from the body. Here I will discuss chemical and mineral sunscreens so you can make the decision as to which one is right for you. It is very important to wear sunscreen during the summer, actually use it everyday of the year. As long as the sun's rays are shining you are being exposed to UV radiation and therefore can develop skin cancer. UV stands for ultraviolet radiation and are the rays the sun gives off. 

What you need to consider when you choose a sunscreen is whether or not it protects against UVA or UVB rays. The difference between the two is significant. Both cause significant sun damage to the skin. However, UVA rays cause dark spots, premature aging (photo aging) and UVA can even penetrate glass and cause damage to the skin. UVB rays cause sunburn and skin cancer. They actually damage the DNA of the skin cells and change them, thus causing the cancerous cells to form. The easiest way to remember is UVA=aging. UVB=burn. 

Skin cancer is a huge problem and 1 in 5 will get it in their lifetime. I am only 50 years old and have already had skin cancer twice now. At age 40 and 48. I had two basal cell carcinomas. One small one on my nose and a larger one on my arm. I was lucky I caught them early. Because I am very, very fair I am at the highest risk for skin cancer. I make sure to wear sunscreen daily, even in the house. 

You need to make sure your sunscreen is broad spectrum. It must protect against both UVA and UVB rays. This way your sunscreen is protecting your skin against aging and cancer. And it should be at least a SPF30 or higher. 

Chemical sunscreens are the kind that contain ingredients like avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate, oxybenzone and octocrylene. Avobenzone is not broad spectrum. Neither is homosalate. Oxybenzone is predominately broad spectrum, as is  octocrylene. There are other chemical ingredients but these are the ones that are used the most often. Oxybenzone is not used as much these days because it has been deemed not "reef safe". It causes coral bleaching and disrupts coral reproduction. Sales of oxybezone sunscreen have been banned in Hawaii. As I mentioned above, chemical sunscreens absorb the sun's rays but that makes no difference in how they function and interact on the body. 

Mineral sunscreens contain the ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Although they used to be thick and heavy, the molecules have been modified and are now much smaller. It is much easier to wear mineral sunscreens than it used to be, The molecules are not large and thick as they once were, leaving the skin thick and white. They now come in better formulas that do not leave any trace on the skin at all. Mineral sunscreens are naturally broad spectrum and often come in higher SPF levels. While these do have a distinctive texture and are still somewhat thicker than chemical sunscreens, they do tend to feel a little bit more greasy than regular sunscreen. 

So the question remains, which one is right for you? It depends on if you have an allergy to chemical sunscreens or not. If you are, by all means choose the mineral over nothing. They really have changed! Next, choose by skin type. If you have oily skin or combination skin, choose a chemical sunscreen. These work well with oilier skin types. If you have drier skin or normal skin, chose a mineral one, these work well with drier skins and especially sensitive skins. 

Brands that I really like are Supergoop, Neutrogena, Aveeno and Banana Boat. All of these brands make both chemical and mineral sunscreens. Some of them even make tinted sunscreen that you can wear instead of foundation. I implore you to wear sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days, Even during the winter, Trust me, as someone who is 50 years old I have massive sun damage due to not wearing sunscreen and due to sun burns from when I was younger. Once the damage is done there is nothing you can do to reverse it. Sun damage (photo aging) causes broken capillaries and hyperpigmentation. Whereas sun burn causes skin cancer. Tanning causes photo aging too, It is a source of UVA radiation. There is not any good sun exposure. 

In conclusion I would like to say that chemical and mineral sunscreens are a matter of choice, they are very important. Choose according to the texture you want and whether or not you want something heavier or light on your skin. Make sure it is a broad spectrum coverage sunscreen. They can be had at any price, from $8-$45. The quality is not dependent on price. 

Until Next Time~

Marie Papachatzis

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