We love our relaxing beach days, but sometimes the preparation can seem overwhelming, especially when it comes to picking out a sunscreen that’s right for our family. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, so it’s very important to encourage our families to wear sunscreen every day. When you head to the sunscreen aisle, it’s also important to know which sunscreens offer safe UV-protective ingredients and which ones may actually be harming your health.
Here’s the low-down on chemical vs. mineral sunscreens:
- Chemical sunscreens’ active ingredients differ from that of mineral sunscreens. They use a combination of two to six of these chemical ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Oxybenzone has a hazard score of 8 out of 10 according to the Environmental Working Group because of its skin penetration, hormone disruption and allergy problems, so it should be avoided when picking out a sunscreen.
- Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and titanium oxide as its active ingredients. Zinc oxide delivers the best UVA and UVB protection. Mineral sunscreens also use more naturally-derived ingredients, which are gentler than chemicals. However, the EWG advises against using titanium dioxide in powder or spray form, as it’s linked to toxicity when inhaled.
- The way they interact with the sun’s rays is different. Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays. They then dissipate the heat back off the skin using a chemical reaction. Mineral sunscreens reflect the sun’s rays like a mirror to protect the skin.
- Mineral sunscreens can take longer to rub in. Sometimes, mineral sunscreens and can leave a white film and may take a longer time to rub in. Because the active ingredients in mineral sunscreens don’t break down as quickly in the sun, they offer better protection for a longer period of time.
- With both types of sunscreens, it’s important to look for the “Broad Spectrum” label. This means that they offer UVA and UVB protection. UVB rays cause sunburn and non-melanoma skin cancers, but UVA rays can actually be more harmful.
You can quickly check the safety rating of any sunscreen while shopping on the EWG’s app by simply scanning the barcode. Our MD Moms moisturizing sunscreen lotion is a broad spectrum SPF 30 with non-chemical active ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Its hypoallergenic formula is perfect for infants, children or even adults!
With any sunscreen you choose, always remember to apply liberally at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply at least every two hours, or after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating. Happy beachin’!