7 physical mineral sunscreens to try this summer
Feeling a little on the out when it comes to physical/mineral sunscreen? Think mineral means thick, white and nasty? Don’t even know what physical sunscreen is? Then you’ve clicked on the right article! We’re here to share – in the most easily digestible way possible – the need-to-knows on physical/mineral sunscreen and a few worth trying this summer.
Give it to us straight. What’s the difference between a physical and chemical sunscreen?
A physical/mineral typically contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide which reflect and scatter UV radiation. Essentially, it’s like Wonder Woman’s shield is covering your face and body and all that UV radiation is just pinging right off, rather than entering the skin. A chemical sunscreen on the other hand, absorbs UV rays before they enter the skin, breaks them down and converts them to heat energy. This is the most common form of sunscreen and contains ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Because a physical/mineral sunscreen blocks UV rays, it should be applied as the last step in your skincare routine – after your moisturiser but before you apply your makeup. A chemical sunscreen should be applied to clean skin before you apply any other skincare. This helps to maximise the absorption of UV rays. If you suffer from pigmentation, a physical sunscreen is a better option for you as chemical sunscreens can actually trigger heat-induced pigmentation. Likewise, if you suffer from sensitivity, a physical/mineral sunscreen is less likely to cause a reaction in your skin.
“If you are someone who has any concerns over pigment or discolouration, has any laser, Ipl or advanced peel treatments, I would always strongly recommend a physical block. Mostly because there is no stand down time and the risk of hyper pigmentation in minimised,” says Marianna Glucina, director of About Face.
“With a physical sunscreen, you are protected from the time you apply it. A chemical block takes around half an hour to work, so you need to apply it at least 30 minutes before any sun exposure and reapply it 30 minutes before its effectiveness will wear off.”
Feel on the skin
Traditionally, physical/mineral sunscreens have received a bad rap for being thick, hard to rub in and for leaving a white residue on the skin. Technology and formulations have come a long way in the past few years and it’s now possible to get a physical sunscreen that doesn’t leave a thick film on the skin (we’ve listed some below!) Chemical sunscreens have the advantage of absorbing more easily into the skin, with some even being undetectable touch-wise after application. So a chemical is the preferred choice for some when applying sunscreen over the whole body, simply because of the way it feels.
As a side note, the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate which are common in chemical sunscreens have been found to be one of the causes of coral bleaching and genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms. Earlier in 2018, Hawaii became the first US state to pass a bill banning the sale of any sunscreens that contain these chemicals. Many people are now choosing a physical sunscreen over a chemical for this reason, as well as the desire to reduce the number of chemicals they're absorbing into their skin through topical formulations. Physical sunscreens are also much less likely to cause irritation in people who suffer from sensitive skin.
Physical/mineral sunscreens worth investing in
Here are a few of our favourites physical/mineral sunscreens and a few fun facts about them to help you decide which is best for you. Remember to always look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Go-To Zincredible Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Daily Moisturiser, $45
Smells like: Bergamot and essential oil deliciousness.
Feels like: Slightly white on initial application but rubs into skin like a dream. No greasy feel once it’s on.
Good for: Everyday wear on the face, neck and chest when only getting short bursts of sun exposure.
Water resistance: If you’re planning on going swimming, leave this guy at home and opt for a sunscreen with a higher SPF.
Stand-out ingredients: Zinc oxide, shea butter, sunflower oil, vitamin E and coenzyme Q10.
Essone Natural Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Summer Coconut & Jojoba, $55
Smells like: Shea butter with a slight hint of coconut.
Feels like: Super moisturising, if not a little bit greasy. Rub between your hands first to help the spreadability.
Good for: Your little ones! This is the perfect sunscreen for delicate young skin or anyone with skin sensitivities.
Water resistance: Reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
Stand-out ingredients: Ecocert zinc oxide, shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, beeswax, vitamin E.
Natural Instinct Invisible Natural Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $29.95
Smells like: Nothing! This has a totally non-offensive scent.
Feels like: Rubs in very easily and feels super light – leaving no white pay-off.
Good for: Applying to your whole body for a day at the beach. There’s also a kids’ version which has a visible white protective layer so you know exactly where you’ve applied it.
Water resistance: Reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
Stand-out ingredients: Zinc oxide, shea butter, grapeseed oil, rosehip oil, vitamin E, cucumber extract.
Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $44
Smells like: Nothing!
Feels like: Nothing! This is a very finely milled powder, similar to any translucent powder that you’d normally apply over makeup.
Good for: Reapplying sun protection to your face throughout the day without a sticky residue.
Water resistance: Reapply every two hours and after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating.
Stand-out ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, camomile flower, green tea extract, jojoba oil.
Coola Sport Mineral Sunscreen Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $45
Smells like: Summer! This has delicious hints of pineapple and coconut.
Feels like: The stick glides easily over skin and rubs in without white residue. Leaves skin feeling moisturised, but not sticky or greasy.
Good for: Reapplying to skin throughout the day as a touch-up. You’re better to apply a thicker layer of lotion as your first line of defence, then use this every couple of hours as it fits easily into your handbag and won’t leak.
Water resistance: Reapply every two hours and after 40 minutes of swimming or sweating.
Stand-out ingredients: Zinc oxide, organic beeswax, organic shea butter, organic avocado oil, organic jojoba seed oil.
Elta MD Skincare UV Elements Broad Spectrum SPF 44 Tinted, $68 (head into your local About Face salon to purchase)
Smells like: This is completely fragrance free.
Feels like: Absorbs into the skin in seconds leaving no greasy feel whatsoever. Because it's a tinted formulation, it can be worn in place of your tinted moisturiser or as a base under your makeup.
Good for: Applying immediately after a facial procedure such as microdermabrasion, peels, IPL or laser as it's light and the sun protection kicks in immediately and provides a light coverage to help minimise the appearance of slight redness.
Water resistance: Reapply every two hours or after 40 minutes of swimming or sweating.
Stand-out ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, hyaluronic acid.
Simple As That Natural Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $35
Smells like: A classic sunscreen scent, but in a very light, inoffensive way.
Feels like: Not too thick, this product rubs easily into skin without leaving white residue. The non-greasy formula feels dry-to-touch after a minute or so.
Good for: This is great for adults and kids alike who want physical protection without any stickiness. The easy-squeeze tube is easily transportable to the beach and small enough to fit in a big handbag, too. Probably not the best choice for a full day at the beach as it does require regular reapplication, but great for periods of minimal sun exposure.
Water resistance: Reapply every one to two hours and after swimming or sweating.
Stand-out ingredients: Zinc oxide, raspberry seed oil, green tea, rosehip oil.
What are you favourite physical/mineral sunscreens? We'd love you to tell us below!
Main image: Go-To Skincare