Mineral sunscreens are made with physical UV blockers like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, and they've gotten a bad rap over the years because of the thick white residue they tend to leave behind. But as New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Barney Kenet explains, there are a few reasons why they should not be overlooked:
1. Mineral sunscreens are believed to cause less skin irritation for people with sensitive skin than other UV absorbing chemicals.
2. Their active ingredients are also considered to be safer alternatives to chemical sunscreens. A 2012 National Toxicology Program study showed that a type of vitamin A found in most chemical sunscreens "may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight."
3. Zinc oxide, a main ingredient in most mineral sunscreen, is also the only active sunscreen ingredient approved for use on children by the FDA.
While Kenet believes "there really is no perfect sunscreen," consistent use and reapplication every two hours will guard against harmful sun exposure. However, be cautious when trying out new formulas: Kenet points out that some people have allergic reactions to mineral sunscreen, so users should get into the habit of patch testing before applying all over.
"The safest 'sunscreen' is wearing protective clothing: rash guards, hats and long sleeve shirts," he added. "This is great for your skin and the environment."
If you're not sure where to start on your mineral sunscreen search, below are seven SPF products worth adding to your sun protection line-up: