Selecting the right sunscreen can often feel like reading a foreign language. You may have seen many sources suggesting the use of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide sunscreens — but what makes those ingredients so crucial to sun protection?
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two naturally occurring minerals. They are considered broad spectrum as their ability to block the sun's UVA and UVB radiation from being absorbed into your skin. They're commonly found in physical (or mineral) sunscreens.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun come in three different wavelengths: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. UV-A and UV-B rays are the most dangerous, as UV-C, fortunately, is stopped by the earth’s atmosphere before it ever makes it down to our skin.
It’s essential that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection against both UV-A radiation and UV-B radiation to protect your skin from both photo-aging and sun damage. In this case, zinc oxide and titanium oxide sunscreens are the best recommendation to prevent the damage.
While many sunscreens block both UV-A and UV-B rays, they fall into two separate categories: chemical sunscreen and physical/mineral sunscreen. Zinc oxide sunscreens and titanium dioxide sunscreens fall into the latter category.
The difference between these two types of sunscreen is quite clear, check out the explanation below:
Countless dermatologists recommend physical sunscreen over chemical. The various benefits of natural mineral sunscreen, such as sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are shown below:
In conclusion, zinc oxide sunscreens have a slight edge over titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is effective at blocking UV-B and short-wave UV-A rays, but it is less effective than zinc dioxide at blocking long UV-A rays. Zinc oxide's ability to block various types of rays makes it one of the most effective sun protection products on the market at preventing sun damage.
However, zinc oxide often is combined with additional UV-B blockers to provide the most complete broad-spectrum sunscreen. As zinc oxide sunscreens offer slightly better coverage across the sun's UV spectrum, it is recommended to begin with this ingredient.