The world of mineral sunscreens — which rely on physical ingredients (typically minerals ground up into powders) to reflect and shield UV rays — has become much more crowded over the last few years. Beyond simply protecting skin from sunburns and skin cancer, these formulas, also known as physical sunscreens, have a whole bunch of other potential benefits: In general, mineral sunscreens may be less likely to cause irritation and breakouts, can help to prevent dark spots and other premature signs of aging, and pose fewer concerns about safety for both humans and the environment when compared with traditional chemical sunscreens.
One common mineral sunscreen ingredient is iron oxide, which is favored by Dr. Adeline Kikam, a board certified dermatologist based in Texas who specializes in skin health for people of color. She recently told Fashionista: "Iron oxide also has the added benefit of protecting against visible light which early studies have linked to persistent hyperpigmentation, especially in darker skin tones."
Zinc oxide — another ingredient often found in mineral sunscreens — has been shown to soothe inflammation and prevent irritation and acne, while titanium dioxide (another physical blocker, sometimes used in conjunction with zinc oxide) is regarded as an ideal sunscreen ingredient for those prone to redness. Since mineral sunscreens physically block out light, they've also been been shown to offer more protection against blue light from devices than chemical-based sunscreens, making them useful for those of us whose lifestyle includes ample screen time (so, everyone?).
When it comes to what else to look for in a reliable sunscreen formula, the first place to start is with choosing one that offers an SPF of 30 or more. "Sunscreens with low SPF values don't provide adequate protection against UVA rays, which penetrate deep into your skin and are responsible for premature aging and the development of skin cancers," Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told Fashionista in a previous interview. "Starting off with a higher SPF to begin with is like a safety net and ensures that you'll get the highest level of protection for the longest period of time."
With all of the above expert advice in mind, we rounded up 14 sunscreen formulas — including mattifying and tinted face options, as well as body lotions and mists — you'll want to wear every single day. Because, here's the important thing: That's exactly how often we should all be wearing sunscreen. (Reapplying every two hours is also key!) Click through the gallery below to shop for your skin's new BFF.
Editor's Note: This story contains reporting by Ruby Buddemeyer which originally appeared on Fashionista in 2017.
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