Protecting your skin from the harmful effects of sun exposure is important in staying healthy and maintaining a youthful appearance. That’s why we always suggest the use of sun protection when you’re venturing outside – even for short durations. This is especially important for those who are using lightening products.
Fortunately, most moisturizers and even makeups include some level of sun protection. But understanding what’s in your chosen product, moisturizer, makeup, sunscreen, or sun block can be helpful.
What is a sunscreen ingredient?
There are two types of sun protection widely available. Physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens work by actually scattering, blocking, or absorbing UVA and/or UVB light. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing ultraviolet light to varying degrees. The downside of chemical options is they’re not immediately effective, taking 20-30 minutes until they offer protection. Further, chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin….and can cause allergic reactions.
Physical Sunscreen Ingredients:
Titanium dioxide offers protection from UVB and short UVA radiation but not long wave UVA which is known to cause sun damage and aging in humans. Derived from the highly reflective chalky, white mineral, titanium, it’s non-irritating, non-comedogenic, and for cosmetic use micronized by forming many small micro particles allowing your own skin tone to show.
Zinc oxide offers broad-spectrum protection (UVB and most of UVA). Listed at the top of the FDA monograph as effective sun protection it is arguably considered the best broad spectrum protection available. Zinc oxide is also known for its mild antimicrobial and wound healing properties.
Chemical Sunscreen Ingredients
Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA): PABA protects against UVB but not UVA. It was discovered to have harmful health effects and so its use is highly discouraged.
Avobenzone: Extensive UVA and limited UVB.
Cinoxate: Extensive UVB and limited UVA.
Dioxybenzone: Extensive UVB and considerable UVA.
Ecamsule (aka Mexoryl SX): Extensive UVA and limited UVB.
HomosalatE: Minimal UVA and extensive UVB.
Menthyl Anthranilate: Considerable UVA and extensive UVB.
Octocrylene: Limited UVA and extensive UVB.
Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC): Limited UVA and extensive UVB.
Octyl Salicylate: Minimal UVA and extensive UVB.
Oxybenzone: Considerable UVA and extensive UVB.
Padimate O: Minimal UVA and extensive UVB.
Phenylbenzimidazole: Minimal UVA and extensive UVB.
Sulisobenzone: Considerable UVA and extensive UVB.
Tinosorb: UVA and UVB.
Trolamine Salicylate: Minimal UVA and extensive UVB.
Newer sunscreens are beginning to incorporate nanotechnology. Nano-sized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide particles are included in the formulations. The smaller sized particles do not have leave the white coating on the skin but offer the same protection as their normal applications.