Physical Sunscreens also called Sunblock contain physical blockers, which come in two types: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—natural minerals ground down to fine powders. Zinc is well know to leave a white film on the skin. Modern processing techniques eliminate this at the SPF 30 level. Above 30 SPF you’ll continue to see a visible white film. A sunscreen with 30SPF is sufficient for everyday use. A day at the beach will require a higher level. The benefit of physical blockers is that they don’t decompose through sun exposure, so they theoretically have a longer life on your skin.
Physical blockers work by deflecting the sun and can be applied for immediate protection. They do not absorb into the systemic circulation as do chemical blocks. Many chemical blocks interfere with hormone homeostasis. Homeostasis of the endocrine system can be challenging enough without introducing outside challenges.
When looking for facial sunblocks, I recommend that my clients make sure to look at the ingredient lists. Active ingredients that have been proven safe and effective according to the Environmental Working Group include zinc, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, and mexoryl SX (for more information visit the EWG Skin Deep guide). Also of great importance in choosing a sunscreen is ensuring that it provides full spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
My favorite sunscreen is Image Prevention. You may enjoy a tinted moisturizing sunblock with an SPF 30 containing 6.0% zincoxide and 4.6% titanium dioxide or a clear hydrating moisturizer with 18% zinc oxide and an SPF of 30. Both of these products are broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection.
Another favorite sun screen is MyChelle Sun Shield SPF 28 – a non-toxic, reef-safe, full spectrum UVA/UVB solar defense. The active ingredients are zinc oxide (11.6%) and titanium dioxide (0.67%). I love this sunscreen for several reasons. First, it fulfills my requirements for a safe and effective sunblock having full spectrum UVA/UVB protection and having no chemical UV absorbers (such as oxybenzone and PABA). Second, it is easy to rub in leaving no white streaks. Third, it is affordable compared to many non-toxic sunscreens. MyChelle also makes a Daily Defense Cream SPF 17 which combines a moisturizing cream and sunblock for daily use.
We offer a 25% discount on all our Image and Mychelle products sold in the the office.