Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, so it’s important to be educated about sunscreens.

It can be a confusing area, due to the potentially harmful chemicals in many or the oily texture of most natural options. A few years ago I got Melasma (overproduction of melanin resulting in facial pigmentation).

Sun exposure to Melasma is like candy to kids – it makes it a bit crazy, so needless to say it became a priority to find an effective, non-oily, natural facial sunscreen.

The two main types of sunscreens

Physical i.e. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide – these create a barrier on your skin that reflects the UV light.  The downside is that they are often greasy and can leave a white cast on the skin from the minerals.

Chemical i.e. Avobenzone – these absorb the UV rays before they damage your skin, but tend to be more targeted at UVB rays.  They typically rub into the skin easily without a residue, however some chemical ingredients are known to cause hormonal disruption, nervous system concerns and allergy triggers. Some sunscreens are a combination of both, to theoretically provide a wider coverage by reflecting and absorbing.

Why I Prefer Zinc Oxide

Zinc Oxide is considered to provide the broadest protection to both UVA and UVB rays, even when compared to chemical sunscreens and it’s also non-comedogenic (i.e. won’t block your pores) and has antimicrobial properties.

What about Nano-Particles?

To minimise the “chalkiness” of Zinc Oxide based sunscreens, the particle size was reduced, making it less visible. The debate around nano-particles is whether they are small enough to penetrate the skin and the associated issues, but there still doesn’t seem to be conclusive evidence around this (check Cancer Council’s website for more info).

I’m a “better to be safe than sorry” girl, so I use a micronised, non-nano option, being slightly larger than nano, but still fairly invisible. Kosmea Moisturising Lotion SPF30 is my favourite, as it also has a matte finish, making it perfect for normal to combination skin.

Other protection measures you can take

There are also dietary changes you can make to increase your body’s natural protection to the sun – e.g. eating carrots and coconut oil and as always the best sun protection is to cover up with a hat and clothing and try to limit your exposure to the sun.

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Kylie Gerrard is a Scarborough-based wellness coach and the owner of the online store HealthFuel.

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