We know that chemical sunscreen is bad, and mineral sunscreen is good. But not all mineral sunscreens are equal. Today, we explore the actual minerals that power mineral sunscreen – Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide – and compare them, so you can make an educated choice this summer.
1. Mineral Sunscreen (a review)
Mineral sunscreen is made of natural compounds that sit on the surface of the skin and deflect sunlight, acting like tiny mirrors. This is in contrast to chemical sunscreen, which is made of chemicals which absorb into the body and translate UV rays into heat, which is then dispersed from skin.
2. The Broad Spectrum Challenge
UV rays from the sun come in three different wavelengths: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. UV-C radiation is blocked by Earth’s atmosphere before it makes it down to our skin, so we only have to worry about UV-A and UV-B.
- UV-A: these rays deeply penetrate the skin, reaching below the dermis—the skin’s thick outer layer. UV-A radiation is the primary cause of skin aging and wrinkles.
- UV-B: these are shorter wavelength than UV-A rays and char the surface layers of our skin. UV-B radiation can lead to sunburns and, over time, cause skin cancers such as melanoma.
Effective sunscreen must defend against both UV-A and UV-B radiation. This is called “broad-spectrum” protection.
3. Zinc vs. Titanium
The two active ingredients used in mineral sunscreens are Zinc Oxide (ZnO) and Titanium Dioxide (TnO2).
Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are both effective at blocking UV-B radiation, but fare differently with UV-A radiation. Titanium dioxide is less effective than Zinc Oxide at blocking UV-A rays.
Therefore, only Zinc Oxide offers truly broad-spectrum sun protection.
4. Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Is Better
Zinc Oxide sunscreens provide better broad spectrum coverage than titanium dioxide sunscreens, making them safer picks for you and your family.
Zinc Oxide is also the ONLY sunscreen active ingredient that’s been FDA approved for use on babies under 6 months of age – illustrating just how safe it is for the most sensitive skin on the planet!
This summer, make the safe choice and look for Zinc Oxide on the ingredient panel of any sunscreen you're considering. At Koa, we only use Zinc Oxide in our face sunscreen and body sunscreen!