Right out of the gate, I’ll say avoid combination sunscreens with moisturizer. I firmly believe that all-in-ones are dangerous. Let’s take the Coola Mineral Face Matte Tint Moisturizer SPF 30, it gives a little moisture, tint, antioxidants and SPF 30, everything you could want in one, right? No. Moisturizer is designed to lock in water, so after you apply it you should technically wait 10 minutes before applying your SPF. A mineral SPF reflects light and chemicals absorb light, so they need to do their job on the outside of your skin, not the inside. Furthermore, antioxidants are great, but they would probably break down quickly once exposed to light. So, don’t let those be a deciding factor.
When choosing the right sunscreen, you have three options: mineral, chemical, or both.
Mineral sunscreens are generally the safest, especially for those with sensitive skin. They contain ingredients that won’t break down and irritate your skin when exposed to sunlight. However, due to the high zinc content, your skin can have a whitish film that can be unattractive. Try the Cotz Sensitive SPF 40 it contains 20% zinc oxide, making it safe for irritation-prone skin.
Chemical sunscreens often go on sheer but can come with potential negative effects. As mentioned in my Breaking Down Sunscreen post, Avobenzone (a.k.a. Parsol 1789) by itself is unstable, however, when blended with compounds such as Homosalate, Octisalate and Octocrylene it becomes stable. I found Sun Bum 50 SPF is a perfect product to use with this technique.
A mixture of chemical and mineral SPF can be a great solution for those who want the protection of a chemical sunscreen without the ashy look of a high SPF mineral sunscreen.
When you want to avoid the ashy look, one of the tricks mentioned in my previous post, was to take a low-SPF mineral sunscreen and mix it together with a high-SPF chemical broad-spectrum sunscreen. This allows you to have a light, clear base coat with longer-lasting protection. It also helps you to use less of the chemical sunscreen. The reason for this is if you use a high-SPF mineral sunscreen the product will contain more of the white zinc which looks ghostly. This technique helps you have the high-SPF with a reduced ashy look.