The topic of sunscreen has in recent years become a hot topic for debate. With so many different types of sunscreen, educate yourself on the ingredients and know the difference.
Mineral sunscreens use physical filters such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Mineral sunscreens protect your skin from the sun by sitting on top of the skin, deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays.
Mineral sunscreens remain on the skins surface giving instant protection upon application. Zinc oxide is photo stable, which means the sunscreen will not loose its effectiveness an hour after it is applied. Because it is not absorbed into the skin they tend to leave a white cast or streaks after application and they are a bit thicker than their chemical counterparts. Zinc Oxide is safe, can be used on sensitive skin and is the main ingredient in diaper rash creams. Zinc Oxide protects against the entire spectrum of UVA and UVB rays and unlike chemicals they don’t break down or become unstable because they do not absorb the suns rays.
Zinc Oxide is considered reef safe as Zinc is a powdered mineral which will settle to the bottom of the ocean like silt.
Non Mineral or Chemical sunscreens use chemical UV filters and work by absorbing the sun’s rays therefore soaking into your skin and into your bloodstream. Once chemical sunscreens are applied you must wait 20-30 minutes from application for them to be effective. Chemical sunscreens tend to be lighter, easier to apply and generally do not leave a white caste on the skin. Once chemical sunscreens come in contact with UV rays they begin to break down thus the need to reapply regularly. The chemicals have also been knows to become phototoxic and cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Studies have shown that Oxybenzone is toxic to the reproductive system, has been detected in mother’s breast milk and linked to endometriosis. The US Center for Disease Control found that 97% of Americans have this chemical in their blood and should not be used on babies or children as it may disrupt their developing systems. In a 2008 study Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Butylparaben and 4-MBC were also found to completely bleach coral at low concentrations, posing environmental problems for the coral reefs.
The main ingredients of concern are: