3 Reasons You Need to Switch to Mineral Sunscreen Now

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Thought all sunscreens were made equal? Think again. Mineral sunscreens are your best line of defence against sun damage, premature aging and skin cancer—and the new formulations are better than ever.

The benefits of mineral sunscreen

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 8,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in 2020, and 1,300 will die from the condition. Since ultraviolet radiation is the biggest cause of melanoma, the use of sunscreen to filter UV rays has become a daily necessity, not unlike brushing your teeth or eating your veggies, says Victoria-based dermatologist Dr. Mark Lupin.

But what kind of sunscreen should you use? Conventional chemical sunscreens used to be top dog in the sun-care market because they were lighter, smoother and absorbed right into the skin. All that has changed with the next generation of mineral sunscreen (sometimes referred to as “physical sunscreen”), which “reflects rather than absorbs ultraviolet radiation,” says Dr. Lupin. With new and improved formulas, both niche and mass-market skin-care brands are jumping on the mineral sunscreen bandwagon. Here are some of your best bets, along with six compelling reasons why it’s time to give mineral sunscreen a shot.

Mineral sunscreen provides protection against the full spectrum of ultraviolet radiation.

Chemical sunscreens contain filters that protect against UVB radiation, the type of wavelength that damages the superficial layers of the skin and causes sunburns. Luckily, mineral sunscreens with both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide protect against UVA as well, which is the wavelength that penetrates clouds and glass and causes significant photo-aging in the form of wrinkles and sun spots. When picking up a bottle of mineral sunscreen, look for the words “full spectrum” or “broad spectrum.” This label means that the product screens both UVB and UVA radiation. Make sure you choose a minimum of SPF 30.

Product pick: Not only does Elizabeth Arden’s Prevage City Smart Lotion contain micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, but it also has an Anti-Pollution Complex that uses antioxidants to improve signs of aging and prevent future damage. Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Lotion, $88, Hudson’s Bay. 

Mineral sunscreen is less likely to irritate sensitive skin.

Mineral sunscreens are generally well-tolerated by sensitive skin because their ingredients aren’t absorbed into the skin itself. Instead, the physical filters in mineral sunscreens sit on the surface of the skin and act as a screen that deflects UV radiation. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, can cause photo-allergic contact dermatitis because their ingredients penetrate the epidermis.

Product pick: Neutrogena’s Sheer Zinc lotion has Purescreen Technology that is formulated to be gentle on sensitive skin. The lotion is also hypoallergenic and avoids irritants such as fragrance, parabens, phthalates and dyes. Sheer Zinc Face Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 Face Lotion, $17, Neutrogena.