Can an invisible mineral sunscreen exist? By nature, mineral SPF is made up of tiny white powders…and you just can’t make them invisible. In today’s chemistry lesson, we’ll tell you more.
Invisible mineral sunscreen simply doesn’t exist.
If you’re passionate about 100% mineral SPF, then you probably know that many formulas leave behind a not-so-fun white cast, and here’s why… By definition, mineral actives — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — are white powders, making them impossible to go on clear. That being said, there are ways to make them better, and we’re all about that, so read on to find out more….
How to reduce the white tint from mineral sunscreens…
Now that you know that there’s no such thing as a completely invisible mineral SPF, we’ll give you a bit more insight into how you can work with a lab to lessen their chalky white cast.
One way to do it is by tinting them, which is what we’ve done with Matte Screen, CC Cream, Zincscreen and now Bright-Eyed. There are two types of tints: ones like in Matte Screen, Zincscreen and Bright-Eyed which really aren’t tints that stay on the skin but just allow the whiteness to blend in better, especially on medium to darker skin tones, and the other is a true “coverage” tint, like in the CC Cream where the tint not just covers the white cast, but leaves color on the complexion — a two for one!
Another way to reduce cast is to make the particles smaller and smaller so when they are spread on the skin they are harder to see. When they are below 100 nanometers, they are called nano-particles, which have been deemed safe and effective by the FDA. We use them sometimes when it helps with the formulation, but we avoid them in anything that will be sprayed or used around reefs.
One thing to keep in mind is that no matter how small they become, they are still little white particles so — especially if you have a darker skin tone — you may still see some level of cast. We’ll be always pushing to see if we can do better, but we feel it’s always good to know what you are getting into at the best detail possible.
Some other good things to keep in mind…
First, if you’re using a mineral product that is labeled “invisible zinc,” then chances are strong it’s actually a hybrid formula that uses both chemical and mineral actives, or it’s just mis-marketed altogether and the word “invisible” is just code for something along the lines of “lightweight.”
And another friendly PSA: If your mineral product is coming out clear, then that means that the actives have separated, so you should shake it well and try again. Or quite frankly, probably throw the entire thing away since the product is likely not formulated properly or you got a bad batch. You simply won’t be getting any sun protection with a 100% mineral sunscreen that appears to be clear — you’ll only be getting the rest of the formula since those little white guys have sunk to the bottom!
“OK, so which product is right for me?”
Great question! If you’re looking for a totally invisible formula for your skin tone, then a non-mineral SPF like Unseen or Glow Stick might be best for you. Formulas like these that don’t use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide can be truly invisible for that very reason. Chemical sunscreens allow for this type of major innovation when it comes to texture, and all of ours also contain clean ingredients to boot. In fact, we’ve never formulated with oxybenzone, parabens, synthetic fragrances or 100+ other ingredients that can be irritating or harmful to skin.
And if 100% mineral SPF is the highest priority for you in your everyday skincare routine, then stick with Zincscreen or Matte Screenor Play Mineral Lotion if you are looking for higher SPF and water resistance.
+Questions or comments about mineral SPF? Leave them below!