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Titanium and Zinc Dioxides: Ingredient Decoder

Ask any beauty editor for her one essential skincare tip, and she’ll tell you to wear SPF every day, come rain, snow, sleet, or the apocalypse. You’ve heard it all before but it bears repeating: UV radiation causes premature aging, and no one wants skin that looks like football leather. But what you might not know is the difference between chemical sunscreens and physical sunblocks. One absorbs UV radiation; the other deflects it. I opt for sunblocks because they have a reduced risk of irritation. Most are made out of a combo of two natural minerals: titanium dioxide and zinc dioxide. Together, these two ingredients form a protective coating on your skin. And unlike sunscreens, which can take up to twenty minutes to kick in, sunblocks start working right away. Click through to learn about my daily SPF ritual!

I’m a big mineral sunblock devotee, but the only downside is that the lotions can leave a white residue on your skin. The larger the particle size of the minerals, the more visible the effect. That said, there are a few great options out there that won’t leave a ghostly cast on your face. Two of my favorites are COOLA’s SPF 30 Matte Finish Tint, an organic formula with an added antioxidant boost, and MD Solar Sciences’ Ultra Mineral Screen Gel SPF 50, my current sunblock base of choice. Every morning, I smooth a healthy layer of the lotion onto any exposed skin and wait for it to sink in.

Next, I double up on the sun protection by sweeping colorescience pro’s sunforgettable® Mineral Sun Protection Powder Brush SPF 30 onto my face and neck. This sheer powder is the best of its category. I love how the handy brush dispenser makes it easy to get natural-looking coverage while blocking both UVA rays that cause aging and UVB rays that lead to sunburn. All it takes is a few swipes, and I’m set for the day. For me, applying sunblock in the mornings has become as instinctive as hitting the snooze button.

Say it with me now: I will never step outside unless I’m wearing SPF. 

—Mai 

Learn more about SPFs with our Sunscreen Cheat Sheet.

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