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Wait a minute ... sunscreen is supposed to protect your face, not cause breakouts or irritation! Apparently, your face didn’t get that memo because it appears red and irritated after you apply your sunscreen. As with skincare products, you can be more sensitive to certain ingredients in sunscreen than others. Physical sunblock ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide tend to be less irritating than their chemical sunscreen counterparts.
What’s a Block?
There are two types of sun protectants: sunscreens and sunblocks. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide fall into the sunblock category because they sit atop your skin and literally keep the sun’s rays from reaching your skin. Think of them as your own personal bodyguard against the sun. They differ from sunscreens that contain ingredients such as benzones and cinnamates because they absorb into the skin and break down all the parts from the sun’s rays that could be harmful to you.
Since sunblocks that contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide aren’t absorbed into your skin, they tend to be less irritating than sunscreens. They are considered non-allergenic, which means they should not cause skin sensitivity or irritation that can sometimes result from chemical sunscreens. If you have sensitive skin or rosacea, your dermatologist will likely recommend sunblocks to you over sunscreens for this very reason.
Hold That Thought
Just because titanium dioxide and zinc oxide aren’t absorbed into your skin doesn’t mean they are perfect in every way for your skin. If you remember old pictures of lifeguards who used to have the white stuff on their noses, that’s an older type of titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. Since they don’t rub into your skin, sometimes they can make you look a little chalky because the white portion of the sunblock doesn’t rub in all that well. While it might not break your face out, it can make you feel a little icky, as if something heavy is on your face.
Don’t Leave Home Without It
The best sunscreen for you is the one you will use -- and the one that’s not going to make you break out. Although titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sunscreens can make you slightly ghostly, they’ll do the more important job of keeping your skin safe from the sun’s damaging rays. That’s why you shouldn’t walk out the door without your sunscreen on.