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In case you didn’t know, there are two main types of sunscreen formulas: chemical and mineral (also known as physical). Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays and convert them into heat before they cause damage to the skin, while mineral sunscreens protect the skin by creating a barrier that helps block the UV rays. Neither chemical nor physical SPF is inherently better, but each has its own set of pros and cons.
Chemical sunscreens tend to feel better on the skin — they have a thinner, runnier consistency that blends in more easily. One con, however, is that for those with sensitive skin, the heat can sometimes cause redness and irritation. Mineral sunscreen on the other hand, some believe, is gentler on sensitive skin. The downside with mineral sunscreens is that they tend to have thicker, tougher-to-blend consistency that is notorious for leaving an unflattering chalky white cast on the skin.
Even though I have sensitive and acne-prone skin, I’ve long opted for chemical sunscreens simply because I so prefer their finish — my Purito Centella Unscented Sunscreen makes my skin look supple and dewy, and creates a perfect canvas for makeup. But after a recent eczema flare-up on my cheeks, I wondered if it might be a good time to try and find a mineral SPF that would be gentler on my hot, inflamed skin.
I haven’t had the best luck with mineral SPF in the past. There’s a ghoulish photo of me on the internet, taken shortly after I packed on Neutrogena’s Sheer Zinc at the beach a few years ago, that I wish could be taken down. But after doing some recent window shopping on my phone, I came across a company called Unsun Cosmetics — a cosmetic line that offers lightweight mineral sunscreen that “looks good on the skin.” It was also, I noticed, founded by none other than Frank Ocean’s mother Katonya Breaux. After seeing Allure’s “Best of Beauty” stamp of approval on the home page and reading tons of positive reviews (and one particularly convincing one that claimed the SPF gave the skin a “jaw dropping dewy glow”), I was sold.
Purito’s Centella Unscented SPF will always be dear to my heart, but if I’m being completely honest, I’ve worn Unsun Cosmetics sunscreen everyday since it arrived. The SPF comes in two shades (“light/medium” and “medium/dark”) and did not give me that chalky, Casper-y cast that other mineral sunscreens tend to. The consistency of the sunscreen is admittedly a bit thicker than what I’m used to — you need to spend some time massaging it in so that it spreads evenly — but when it’s all absorbed, it truly gives one of the most hydrating and illuminating just-left-the-spa glows I’ve ever seen. That’s thanks to the formula, which incorporates smoothing and nourishing ingredients like vitamin E, vitamin C, olive oil, aloe vera, and lactic acid. It’s especially ideal for drier skin types — the antioxidant- and emollient-rich ingredients very effectively quench and moisturize, and actually smoothed out some of my existing dry patches. After days of using this over an eczema flare-up, my eczema didn’t get worse which, as any sufferer will tell you, is all you can really ask for during bad episodes.
These days, I’ve been using Unsun’s mineral SPF in lieu of my Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer – the dewy, glowy effect it has on my skin is just that good. And knowing that I don’t have to worry about irritating my easy-to-irritate complexion while I protect it from the (battering) sun is a huge weight off.
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