Hi Nicki,I love your blog. I read every new post. You’ve done lots of articles on good inorganic sunscreens that contain antioxidants and are a good pair with Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. but since those articles are getting older, I’ve noticed that a lot of the products are no longer made or their ingredient lists have changed. If you could recommend an inorganic sunscreen (ideally with both zinc and titanium dioxide) with strong antioxidants, that would be so helpful! Thank you!-L
You’re absolutely right when you say that a lot of my old favorite sunscreens from 5-6 years ago have been discontinued. That’s because skin care has largely changed from catering to science-minded, anti-aging consumers to more natural-thinking, ingredient-conscious consumers. Formulations have gotten simpler, with fewer ingredients — even if that sometimes means less benefits for your skin.
With that said, here are the best mineral, or physical, sunscreens. (For the record, I prefer physical sunscreens like zinc or titanium oxide over chemical sunscreens, because physical sunscreens help to prevent UV rays from hitting the skin altogether, whereas chemical sunscreens allow UV rays to hit the skin, but transform them into non-UV forms of energy, like heat, upon arrival.) I’ve found I get far less inflammation and sunspots when I use physical blocks like zinc or titanium oxide, personally.
Best for the Ultra Diligent: PETER THOMAS ROTH Instant Mineral SPF 45
This convenient powder-brush sunscreen contains a whopping 40.35% sunscreen, when you combine the titanium dioxide and the zinc oxide. It also has a nice oil-absorbing effect when reapplied frequently during the hot summer days. Adding to its anti-aging potential are vitamin C (as ascorbyl palmitate) and vitamin E.
Personally, I use this, but I use it over vitamin CE serum and sunscreen as a touch-up throughout the day, particularly when I’m in the sun.
Ingredients in PETER THOMAS ROTH Instant Mineral SPF 45
-Titanium Dioxide 20.75% and Zinc Oxide 19.60%: Physical sunscreens.
-Vitamins C and E: Provide antioxidant benefits.Silica, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Water, Butylene Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Potassium Sorbate, Tetrasodium EDTA.
Best Antioxidant Lotion for Most Skin Types: EltaMD UV Elements Sunscreen SPF 44
A lot of modern antioxidant-rich sunscreen lotions contain niacinamide, which I don’t like to use in conjunction with vitamin C serums, since niacinamide + vitamin C produces hydrogen peroxide (see here for more).
That said, EltaMD UV Elements Sunscreen SPF 44 is one of the only antioxidant-rich lotions I’ve found that doesn’t contain niacinamide. Instead, it has vitamin C (again as ascorbyl palmitate) and vitamin E. It’s also lightweight, functions well cosmetically (i.e., no white cast), and provides a fair amount of hydration for normal, slightly dry, or slightly oily skin types. In short, I like it.
Ingredients in EltaMD UV Elements Sunscreen SPF 44: Active Ingredients: 10.0% Zinc oxide, 5.5% Titanium dioxide Inactive ingredients: Purified Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Sodium Chloride, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Alumina, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, Iron Oxides.
Best Antioxidant Sunscreen for Dry Skin Types: Sun Bum Signature SPF 30 Sunscreen
If you have dry to very dry skin, you’re usually going to need more than your standard zinc oxide or titanium oxide-based sunscreen as a moisturizer, mainly because these formulas can be drying. Thankfully, there are formulations like Sun Bum Signature SPF 30 Sunscreen, with a slew of hydrators like beeswax, glycerin, sunflower oil, and oleic acid (yep, the same fatty acid in olive oil).
Ingredients in Sun Bum Signature SPF 30 Sunscreen: Octinoxate 7.50%, Octocrylene 7.50%, Zinc Oxide 8.00%, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Arachidyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Beeswax, Behenyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Lecithin, Methylisothiazolinone, Oleic Acid, Panthenol, Phenoxyethanol, Phospholipids, Polyester-8, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sorbitan Oleate, Sorbitol,Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Trimethylpentanediol/Adipic Acid Copolymer Water, Xanthan Gum
Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 50
After becoming a mom four months ago, I find myself picking up more and more products as it’s convenient (i.e., at Target or the grocery store, rather than, say, Sephora at the local mall like I used to). With that said, Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 50 is a very solid sunscreen for the price.
The antioxidant here is feverfew extract. It possesses strong free radical scavenging activity, which can combat aging, and it’s been used to treat inflammatory ailments inside and outside the body. It’s been used to treat arthritis and bronchitis as well as prevent migraines. Most exciting, though, is research from the Journal of Dermatological Science that shows that purified feverfew extract can induce DNA repair in damaged skin cells. This can potentially help skin fend off all manner of environmental aggressors.
My only issue with Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 50 is that I have to use it with foundation afterwards. It leaves a pretty thick white cast. I will say, though, that it’s not always a bad thing to “have” to put on makeup these days!
Ingredients in Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 50
Zinc oxide 21.6% (sunscreen).
Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Styrene/acrylates Copolymer, Octyldodecyl Citrate Crosspolymer, Phenyl Trimethicone, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Glycerin, Ethyl Methicone, Cetyl Dimethicone, Silica, Chrysanthemum Parthenium (Feverfew) Flower/leaf/stem Juice, Glyceryl Behenate, Phenethyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetyl Dimethicone/bis-vinyldimethicone Crosspolymer, Acrylates/dimethicone Copolymer, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.
Hope this helps!
All the best,