INGREDIENT DEEP DIVE
“But trust me on the sunscreen” are not only famous words from Baz Lhurmann’s most famous song, Everyone is Free to Wear Sunscreen but probably continuous and sage advice from most any dermatologist. Sunscreen not only helps keep age spots and wrinkles at bay, most importantly it is a deterrent to skin cancer.
So it’s not a question of should you or shouldn’t you use sunscreen—the real question is, what kind of sunscreen exactly since you ideally use it on the daily. Though there are a myriad of sunscreen ingredients, they normally fall into two categories: chemical sunscreens vs. physical or mineral sunscreens.
Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreens
The main difference between the two categories lies in its name. Physical sunscreens (the two most famous ones are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide) physically block the sun’s rays while chemical sunscreens get absorbed by your skin, which transform it into heat and releases it.
In terms of range, both are able to protect against UVA and UVB rays (depending on the ingredient and combination). For example, Zinc Oxide protects from both UVA and UVB rays while Titanium Dioxide gives minimal UVA protection but good coverage against UVB rays.
Chemical sunscreens (top 14 ingredients are Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ensulizole, Homosalate, Meradimate, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Padimate , Sulisobenzone, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Para-aminobenzoic acid, Trolamine salicylate), which are more common in the market do offer as wide in terms of protection and are also easier to work with, product-wise. They leave no white residue, are less sticky, and easier to apply (though there is a 20-minute wait period after application).
On the downside, the FDA is currently reviewing if any of the 14 mentioned are Generally Regarded as Safe and Effective (GRASE). Currently, both physical sunscreen ingredients are recognized GRASE. There have also been studies showing hormone disruption with the aforementioned chemical ingredients especially since their nature means absorption on a cellular level. Some US states and other countries have also banned chemical sunscreen use at sea because they’ve also been known to damage corals.
Let’s get physical: Why we chose physical over chemical
It’s for these reasons, Habitude decided to get physical—physical sunscreens, that is. Since our brand has its core values in respecting our environment and working with the best that nature has to offer (respectfully and sustainably), we went with the literal natural choice.
For us in Habitude, we zeroed in on crafting a moisture and sun protection stick using 20% Zinc Oxide in our Go-Getter Moisture + Sun Stick. We love Titanium Dioxide, too, but it initially leaves a white cast and we want our sticks to be as inclusive as possible in terms of skin tone. Also, we want it to be the grab-apply-and-go kind of thing.
These physical sunscreens are also known as mineral sunscreens because they are natural mineral compounds—their names, actually, being a dead giveaway. Because these are natural minerals, they are recognized to be safer to use and are not toxic to the sea and the corals. They are also immediately effective. Meaning, no typical 20-minute waiting period before heading out and going about your day (fun fact: it’s why we baptized it the Go-Getter). You do have to reapply often as it is a physical barrier and can easily be sweated and rubbed off (also why we worked hard to give it a light uplifting scent and great texture, so swiping it on habitually is fun).
At the end of the day—or rather at the start of it—wearing sunscreen is what matters and we choose the sunscreen that fits our habits and attitudes.