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Understanding the Different Types of Sunscreen

I constantly hear experts suggest the need to look for the ingredients titanium and zinc oxide in a #sunscreen. Instead of getting frustrated, I thought a simple explanation would be helpful.  The FDA requires sunscreens pass tests for the designation of Broad Spectrum.

Read more: The 3 Worst Reasons Not to Wear Sunscreen

I have discussed this earlier and you can read about it here FDA Regulation Means an Even Playing Field. Broad Spectrum means it protects the skin from Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays which ages the skin and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays which burns the skin.  Both types of rays cause wrinkles and some can cause cancer and go through glass so it's important to understand what the two major options are for coverage - to protect you for both health and beauty reasons ....

Physical vs chemical is a common misnomer....All sunscreens are chemicals. 

Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide are chemicals.  These are inorganic compounds that are opaque solids put in a cream but they are still chemicals.  Both of these act by blocking and dispersing light (hence the term physical). The disadvantage of these is they can leave a white residue.  The newer formulations have broken up the molecules so the product is lighter feeling.  However the FDA is evaluating whether these little molecules, also referred to as nano-particles, can be absorbed through the skin and into the blood - "crossing the blood brain barrier".

Avobenzone, Octinoxate and Octisalate (found in Scalisi Skincare) are organic compounds that absorb UV light to provide protection.  These do not go on opaque i.e. leave a white residue and as such there is no need to break up the molecules - the molecules are large and sit right on top of the skin so there are no nano-particles.

Read more: 9 Sun Protection Tips You Need to Know Right Now

The difference between how organic and inorganic compounds work is simple - one blocks and one absorbs the UV rays.  What is most important to know is that an SPF 30 Zinc Oxide product has the same level of UV protection as an SPF 30 Avobenzone product.  Finally,  the American Academy of Dermatology recommends you use SPF 30 every day.

The only reason why one means of protection may be better than the other is if an individual has an allergy to one of these ingredients.

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