REAL TALK

The Kit - - THEKIT.CA -

Min­eral and chem­i­cal sun­screen fil­ters are more sim­i­lar than they are dif­fer­ent, says Dr. Jen­nifer Beecker, an Ot­tawa-based der­ma­tol­o­gist and the na­tional chair of the Cana­dian Der­ma­tol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion’s sun aware­ness pro­gram. “There’s been a lot of talk about po­ten­tial con­cerns with or­ganic or chem­i­cal fil­ters that’s mostly been overblown in my opin­ion.” That said, Beecker of­ten rec­om­mends min­eral sun­screens to peo­ple with sen­si­tive skin and for kids. “I think they’re a nice al­ter­na­tive for peo­ple who are look­ing for some­thing that doesn’t have a chem­i­cal fil­ter. They have a nice ef­fi­cacy—they cover both UVA and UVB and of­ten, they’re quite cos­met­i­cally el­e­gant.” We asked her to an­swer our burn­ing sun­screen ques­tions.

Are min­eral sun­screens bet­ter for sen­si­tive skin? The phys­i­cal struc­ture of ti­ta­nium diox­ide and zinc ox­ide makes them in­ert by na­ture (trans­la­tion: They’re not re­ac­tive and they play nice with other in­gre­di­ents). “They tend to be a lit­tle bit more gen­tle on the skin,” says Beecker. That’s why you’ll of­ten find zinc in eczema or di­a­per-rash balms.

Are min­eral sun­screens less likely to clog pores? Not nec­es­sar­ily, but if you find that chem­i­cal sun­screens make you break out, a min­eral for­mula might suit you bet­ter. A high-SPF chem­i­cal sun­screen may con­tain a large amount of dif­fer­ent fil­ters, which could be heav­ier on the skin and clog the pores.

Are min­era l sun­screens with nanopar­ti­cles safe? Nan­otech­nol­ogy is used to cre­ate ex­tremely small frag­ments of zinc ox­ide and ti­ta­nium diox­ide for use in sun­screens. Stud­ies have shown there’s no dan­ger of these nanopar­ti­cles ab­sorb­ing into the skin in sig­nif­i­cant amounts. But Beecker points out that there is un­cer­tainty about how nanopar­ti­cles af­fect the en­vi­ron­ment in the long-term.

Do min­eral sun­screens need to be ap­plied as of­ten as chem­i­cal sun­screens? “It’s the same,” says Beecker. Min­eral sun­screens are in­her­ently photo-sta­ble, mean­ing they won’t break down un­der sun­light and heat, whereas chem­i­cal fil­ters are un­sta­ble on their own but can be sta­bi­lized by be­ing com­bined with other in­gre­di­ents. “Most peo­ple, if they put on [any] sun­screen prop­erly, shouldn’t need to re- ap­ply un­less they’re sweat­ing or swim­ming or tow­elling off.”

Do min­era l sun­screens sta r t work­ing as soon as you ap­ply them? Tech­ni­cally, yes. How­ever, the la­bels on both min­eral and chem­i­cal sun­screens will cau­tion you to wait at least 15 min­utes af­ter ap­ply­ing if you’re go­ing in the water, a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure (and a le­gal re­quire­ment) to make sure it doesn’t wash off if you de­cide to take a dip.

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