Here’s some link love for MssJackson …
Mssjackson asks…Does zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in products give sunprotection the same way?
The Right Brain responds:
Yes, MJ, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have the same mode of action: They are both minerals and they both physically scatter the rays of the sun to prevent sunburn.
How is sunblock different than sunscreen?
These minerals are generally referred to as sunblocks which describes the mode of action of blocking the sun’s rays. Compare that with the alternative which are typically referred to as “chemical sunscreens.” (Note: To be accurate, ALL these ingredients are chemicals. And sun “block” versus sun “screen” is not strictly a technical term either. But this is how the market refers to these ingredients so we’ll follow that convention for today’s post.)
Sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and changing them into a different wavelength of light that is not harmful to skin. Because sunscreens are chemically reactive, they can cause skin irritation especially at higher concentrations. This is why you see so many concerns raised about chemical sunscreens and photosensitivity. Oxybenzone, octyl salicylate, and octyl methoxycinnamate are examples of UV absorbers.
Pro and con
If both types of ingredients provide the same benefit yet chemical sunscreens have potential irritation concerns, why doesn’t eveeryone just use mineral sunblock? Until fairly recently the reason was that sunblocks were not very aesthetically pleasing to use. Because of their large particle size, these ingredients always left a white film on the skin. (Think of the noses of the life guards at your local pool.) In the last several years, mineral sunblocks with smaller particle sizes have been developed to reduce this whitening effect. However, concerns have also been raised that micronized titanium oxide can penetrate the skin and cause other health issues. The products that we have right now are not perfect, but they’re better than risking skin cancer by wearing nothing.
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