Is Mineral Sunscreen Best?

As we head into the summer months and, hopefully, can enjoy ample time outdoors, sunscreen becomes an important topic. Regardless of the value of sunlight to support the natural production of vitamin D, UV rays must be taken in small doses, preferably early in the morning and only for a few minutes. Beyond that, we must cover the skin in some way to prevent skin cancer from developing. Two types of sunscreens exist, chemical and mineral. If you are even aware of these choices, you may wonder which sunscreen you should choose for your skin and your family’s.

Chemical sunscreens had been the popular choice for many years. The reason was that mineral sunscreens, made with zinc oxide, left a visible white coating on the skin. Chemical sunscreens are light and smoother because they do not set up a barrier on the skin. These sunscreens allow light to penetrate the epidermis and then transform light to heat so it disperses without causing sunburn. In recent years, we’ve seen a new generation of physical, mineral sunscreens be born. Here, we discuss some of their benefits.

  1. Mineral sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection against UV light. UVB rays are those that are known to cause damage in the superficial layers of the skin. These are the rays that lead to sunburns. UVA radiation is the wavelength of light that can travel through clouds and class to reach the skin. The absorption of UVA light leads to premature aging and sunspots. UVA and UVB light can be blocked by zinc oxide and titanium oxide, the ingredients common to mineral sunscreens.
  2. Mineral sunscreen may be ideal for sensitive skin. People with sensitive skin or with conditions like eczema are particularly prone to redness and itching in the summer months due to heat and the saltiness of sweat. The chemicals in many sunscreens have been shown to irritate the skin by causing contact dermatitis when ingredients are absorbed beneath the epidermis.
  3. Mineral sunscreen offers immediate protection. If you’ve ever read the usage directions on a chemical sunscreen, you may have noticed that guidelines state to apply sunscreen 30 or so minutes before going into the sun. This is because it takes time for the chemicals in the sunscreen to absorb and become activated. Physical sunscreen is a barrier so, as soon as it is applied, you can go into the sun.

Protecting the skin against the effects of UV sunlight is to protect the skin against skin cancer. The American Society for Mohs surgery supports doctors, Mohs technicians, and patients by offering up-to-date information about how to care for the skin and how to manage a skin cancer diagnosis. For more information on membership with our society or to locate a Mohs surgeon, contact us at (800) 616-2767.

Posted in: Skin Care

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American Society for Mohs Surgery
6475 East Pacific Coast Highway, Box 700
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