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Selecting the right sunscreen can often feel like reading a foreign language. You may have heard dermatologists, family, or friends singing the praises of sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—but what makes those ingredients so crucial to sun protection?
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two naturally occurring minerals that sit on top of your skin to create a barrier and reflect the sun’s powerful UVA and UVB rays. These minerals are the primary active ingredients in physical sunscreen, also known as mineral sunscreen. On the other hand, chemically-based sunscreen can contain multiple ingredients, many of which are currently being researched further by the Federal and Drug Administration (FDA) because of their effects when absorbed into your skin.
If you’re feeling stumped by natural mineral sun care, fear not! We’re here to demystify these important ingredients. Read on for everything you need to know about zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreen.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreen is also known as mineral or physical sunscreen. These types of sunscreens use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the main active ingredients, as opposed to chemical sunblock that contains a variety of chemical-based ingredients. When used in sunscreen, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide protection against damaging UVA and UVB rays.
We’ll go into greater detail about these two naturally occurring ingredients individually later in this guide.
Yes, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safe to use on your skin. In fact, the FDA recognizes them as GRASE, which is an acronym for “generally recognized as safe and effective.” Ingredients that are not considered GRASE or require further research include:
Knowing what types of ingredients you’re using on your body is essential to your overall health.
So, how does natural sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work? In this section, we’ll explain how all of the components of sunblock with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide keep your skin safe from the sun.
First thing’s first: a quick explanation of UVA and UVB rays.
UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun come in three different wavelengths: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA and UVB rays are the most dangerous, as UVC, fortunately, is stopped by the earth’s atmosphere before it ever makes it down to your skin.
It’s essential that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection against both UVA radiation and UVB radiation to protect your skin from both photoaging and sun damage. As the chart below indicates, zinc oxide and titanium oxide are the only all-natural ingredients that fit the bill.
While many sunscreens block both UVA and UVB rays, they fall into two separate categories: chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen (often known as mineral sunscreen). Zinc oxide sunscreens and titanium dioxide sunscreens fall into the latter category. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between these two types of sunscreen:
Countless dermatologists recommend physical sunscreen over chemical. Dr. Lawrence Desjarlais lists the various benefits of natural mineral sunscreen, such as sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Bottom line? No matter your age, what your skin type is, or any particular skin condition you might be dealing with, physical sunscreen is almost always a better choice—and dermatologists agree.
If you’re looking into purchasing a physical sunscreen, you’ve likely heard of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—these are the only FDA-approved physical UV filters for sun protection.
While there has been some hesitation regarding absorption of these compounds through skin, these concerns are unwarranted. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation: "Current research indicates that fears about absorption are unwarranted… The evidence that sunscreens are safe and effective is overwhelming."
Deciding which natural mineral is best for your skin depends on a number of factors, including skin tone, skin sensitivity, and planned usage.
Zinc oxide is derived from zinc, a naturally reflective material. Here are some of the benefits of this physical sunscreen ingredient:
Titanium dioxide is derived from—you guessed it—titanium. It’s a natural mineral that is used in sunscreen and cosmetics to whiten, thicken, and lubricate, all while offering protection against the sun.
While it doesn’t provide as much protection from long-wave UVA rays, titanium dioxide is extremely effective at blocking short-wave UVA and UVB, making it a great choice for casual daily sun exposure.
When used individually in sunscreen, both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are extremely effective at shielding your skin from the sun. However, it’s important to keep in mind that titanium dioxide is more successful at combating short-wave UVA and UVB rays than long-wave rays. Zinc oxide provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection, while the inclusion of titanium dioxide ensures the formula is lightweight and adept at minimizing excess oil.
So, it’s a good idea to have both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in your sunscreen to reap the benefits of both minerals and enjoy maximum sun safety.
If you’re looking for a sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, Colorescience’s wide selection of physical sunscreens features both of these minerals as active ingredients.
Physical sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can be a great sun protection solution for individuals dealing with a wide array of skin conditions. If you struggle with any of the following skin problems or concerns, keep the following suggestions in mind:
Because zinc oxide is both non comedogenic (non-pore clogging) and antimicrobial, it is a good choice for those with redness and rosacea due to highly sensitive skin. So, you don’t have to worry about irritation when applying sunscreen to your face if it has natural ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Not only is it gentle, but its antimicrobial properties can help wounds or other skin damage in the event that you do get burnt.
If you’re looking to fight excessive redness, our Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield is a hydrating, antioxidant-rich formula with 12% zinc oxide. It also contains Vital ET, Vitamin B3, and a chamomile oil derivative called Bisabolol, all known for their calming properties.
Looking to prevent wrinkles and further damage to already sun-damaged skin? Perhaps you want to take preventive measures to keep your skin soft, smooth, and youthful for as long as possible.
If so, zinc oxide is your go-to sunscreen ingredient. It provides protection against the broadest range of ultraviolet rays, including short and long UVA rays and all UVB rays. Our Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield is a must for complete protection. Its blend of zinc oxide and other specialty ingredients provides a barrier against UV rays, pollution, blue (HEV) light, and helps minimize damage caused by infrared radiation.
If your skin is prone to unwanted acne and blemishes, titanium dioxide is a great sunscreen solution for acne prone skin. Because it is scaled down into much smaller nanoparticles than zinc oxide, it’s lighter weight and doesn’t clog pores.
If you find that pure zinc oxide formulas are too heavy for your skin, then Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield is the perfect solution. It contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, giving you the best of both worlds.
While we can’t speak for other zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens, we make our sunscreen solution as easy to apply as possible, from a simple-to-use brush-formula that can be applied and reapplied over your makeup throughout the day to an ultra-hydrating stick sunscreen for outdoor activities. Take a look at a few of our most popular mineral sunscreen options:
With Colorescience, you’ll benefit from a radiant complexion combined with the ultimate physical sunscreen protection, and that’s something we can all get behind.
There are several types of sunscreens available that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Every sunscreen formula is different, so it’s important to carefully look at what they can provide your skin. That said, here are a few recommendations to look for when choosing a sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide:
Sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provides several benefits that go beyond optimal sun protection. Besides shielding your skin from UVA and UVB rays, the ingredients in natural mineral sunscreen are regarded as safe to use by the FDA and won’t be absorbed into the skin.
Colorescience offers ultimate sun protection with products that combine the power of zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Simple to apply and easy to use, our line of sun protection products can help you achieve a flawless, radiant finish, while offering the strong sun protection your skin deserves. Use our product finder to find the right physical sunscreen for your skin type today.
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