Which is better – zinc or titanium oxide? Can you recommend any formulas for me?
It is a little-known fact that zinc oxide is better than titanium oxide. This is because UVA and UVB rays are separated into longer UVA (UV-aging) and shorter UVB (UV-burning), and zinc oxide blocks a significantly longer portion of UVA rays. (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2005)
To micronize or not to micronize?
The best sunscreens with zinc oxide have the ingredient micronized. Some scientists argue that micronized is bad because small oxides can get into your skin and cause oxidation, yet the vast majority argue that the benefit of a micronized zinc oxide in preventing UV-induced oxidation is greater than the risk of oxide-induced oxidation. What’s more, very precise studies [with electron microscopy] have shown only very minimal levels of micronized oxides penetrate the uppermost layer of the skin (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2007).
Besides, let’s face it – many men and women still tan to look better. The cosmetic advantage afforded by micronizing oxides is magnificent – no telltale white streaks, fast absorption, easy make-up application afterwards.
What are the best sunscreens with zinc and titanium oxide?
Now, the best sunscreens with micronized zinc oxide, in my opinion, are Mychelle Sun Screen SPF 28 ($35.68, Amazon.com) and NIA 24 Sun Damage Prevention 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($27.78, Amazon.com). Note that the NIA 24 sunscreen contains nicotinamide, a derivative of vitamin B3, which will make your skin red, irritated, and inflamed for 2-3 days. (!) So why use it? Your skin will appear clearer, firmer, and smoother – all the benefits of vitamin B3 – once your skin gets used to it. It’s a sunscreen and a skin-refining treatment in one.
If you would prefer something that is a little more gentle, a bit more high-end, and trusted with a household name, Clarins UV Plus Day Screen High Protection SPF 40 ($53.00, Amazon.com) features a really high concentration of titanium oxide. While I like zinc oxide better, this formula is superb – light and absorbs really fast, plus I’ve never known anyone who has gotten burned while using it!
Are zinc and titanium oxide better than chemical sunscreens?
The short answer is no. Some skin experts like zinc and titanium oxides better than all of the other sunscreens (i.e., oxybenzone, avobenzone) because zinc and titanium oxides form a topical layer that prevents UV light from hitting the skin. Think of it as a physical barrier, hence oxides are “physical” sunscreens.
On the other hand, the rest are “chemical sunscreens” that allow your skin to absorb UV light but very quickly dissipate it as a different form of energy, like small quantities of heat or non-damaging light. Some dermatologists use both chemical and physical sunscreens for extra protection, making sure to apply the chemical sunscreens first.
Hope this helps!