Melanin, which is mostly overlooked in sunscreen science, may be the key to creating protective, nourishing sunscreens. How so? UV rays that damage the skin also activate melanin production, resulting in uneven skin tone, sunspots, and even skin cancer. However, melanin is also your body’s built-in UV protection.
“Modern science is uncovering the molecular benefits of botanicals that effectively treat the melanin pathway and provide robust defense against sun damage,” says Tanuj Nakra, MD, FACS, of TOC Eye and Face in Austin, Texas. He is also cofounder of AVYA Skincare, a product line that addresses the health of the skin’s melanin cycle.
For better skin health, choose sunscreens with nourishing botanicals plus zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for UV protection. These minerals don’t irritate skin like chemical sunscreens—oxybenzone and octinoxate—can. Mineral sunscreens sit on the skin to reflect UV rays, while chemical sunscreens must be absorbed to work.
“Chemical sunscreens rapidly deactivate with sunlight exposure,” says Nakra. “In contrast, physical sunscreens do not deactivate. The two major ways to protect skin from the sun are to apply a full-spectrum, non-chemical sunscreen, and to incorporate molecular antioxidants to reverse ongoing damage.”
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1. Have more fun in the sun.
With Australian Gold Botanical Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Lotion Sunscreen. It provides non-chemical UVA/UVB protection with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for a powder-like, non-greasy finish. Antioxidant-rich eucalyptus leaf, red algae, and kakadu plum extracts defend skin’s cellular health. It’s water-resistant for 80 minutes.
2. Soften skin and protect from UV rays.
With DeVita Natural Skin Care Solar Body Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen. This all-in-one sunscreen and body moisturizer is packed with micronized zinc oxide and skin-smoothing aloe, green tea leaf extract, shea butter, olive oil, and hyaluronic acid. Fragrance-free and fast-absorbing for sensitive skin.
3. Soothe and protect sensitive skin.
With Paula’s Choice Skincare CALM Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer for Normal to Oily Skin. Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and healing antioxidants in this lightweight sunscreen diminish redness while moisturizing and preventing sun damage. The non-greasy lotion is gentle enough for skin with rosacea.
4. Reapply on the go.
With MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Protection Sun Shield Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 50. This tinted zinc oxide sunscreen provides powerful UV protection for your face, while antiaging avocado, jojoba, and vitamin E oils moisturize skin. It glides on smoothly with just enough color to enhance any skin tone—and it won’t sweat off
5. Keep delicate skin safe from the sun.
With Alba Botanica Baby Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50+. This hypoallergenic, pediatrician-tested zinc oxide sunscreen is not just for babies. Aloe, coconut oil, shea butter, orange peel oil, and chamomile extract gently soothe sensitive skin and provide water-resistant UV defense for 80 minutes.