In terms of anti-aging products available on the market, sunscreens are by far the most effective and affordable treatment – yet they still remain overlooked. Without incorporating sunscreen into your daily skincare routine you are fighting a losing battle. But what about protection from visible light? Well, that’s where mineral sunscreens with antioxidants come in!
Sunscreens protect against ultraviolet (UV) radiation and the associated DNA-damaging effects of free radicals. In addition, sunscreens prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin caused by overexposure to UV radiation. In fact, overexposure to UV radiation is the number one contributing factor to premature skin aging.
Premature Aging Vs Natural Aging
Premature skin aging is different from the natural chronological skin aging process. As we naturally age, we lose some of the fat padding in our faces which results in fine lines and thinning skin but naturally aged skin tends to remain smooth and unblemished.
Prematurely aged skin, however, is characterized by deeper wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and dry and leathery skin. This is due to the break down of collagen and elastin mentioned earlier.
Preventing Premature Aging
A large amount of research has demonstrated that sunscreen can prevent this premature aging process.
For example, one study had patients apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily for four years and compared the effects to a control group who were instructed to practice their usual sunscreen habits. After the four-year study period, the patients who applied a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily appeared younger than the control group. In fact, even more impressively, there were no detectable signs of skin aging during this period .
So, if sunscreen is so effective on its own, what’s the point of mineral sunscreens with antioxidants?
What’s The Point Of Mineral Sunscreens With Antioxidants?
Well, there are two main reasons that mineral sunscreens with antioxidants are better than conventional sunscreen:
- No sunscreen can protect skin from 100% of UV radiation. (SPF30 protects against 97% of UVB rays, while SPF50 protects against 98% of UVB rays). The additional protection offered by any sunscreen above SPF50 is minimal – this is why sunscreens cannot be advertised as anything more than SPF 50+ in Europe. The common misconception is that SPF 60 would offer double the protection of SPF 30, however, this is not the case. The only benefit is that higher SPFs usually have higher UVA protection due to the PPD method that recommends a UVA:UVB ratio of 1:3 (aka. a SPF30 sunscreen should have a PPD rating of 10).
- While UV radiation is the most damaging source of solar radiation, it accounts for only about 3-7% of total solar radiation. Solar radiation consists of mainly 53% infrared radiation (780-5000nm), 39-44% visible light (400-780nm), and 3-7% UV radiation (290-400nm).
This is where mineral sunscreens with antioxidants come in.
Skin Damage Caused By Visible Light
Firstly, mineral sunscreen ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are better at protecting the skin from visible light than chemical sunscreens due to the fact that they reflect and scatter light. However, even very thick mineral sunscreens (increasing the thickness increases their ability to reflect light from the skin) are unable to offer adequate protection against visible light unless they also contain iron oxide and/or antioxidants .
Blue light is generally the most damaging wavelength of visible light due to the fact that photons in this wavelength have higher energy. Excessive exposure to blue light can lead to skin cell abnormalities as well as cell death .
Visible light can lead to the production of DNA-damaging free radicals in a similar way to UV radiation. In fact, in one study, visible light accounted for 33% of free radical production in solar irradiated skin. This was in comparison to 67% of free radical production that was attributed to UV radiation .
Basically, visible light can cause half the amount of free radical production as UV exposure.
How To Protect Skin From Visible Light
Antioxidants protect against visible light in the same way that they protect against infrared and UV radiation – by neutralizing DNA-damaging free radicals.
In fact, the addition of antioxidants to sunscreen can reduce free radical production from visible light by up to 78%. Furthermore, antioxidants on their own, without sunscreen, can reduce the number of free radicals produces in a similar way .
Some antioxidants that have been scientifically proven to protect against free radical production from solar radiation include; Vitamin C, Vitamin E, (particularly Vitamin C&E in combination), and EGCG (the major polyphenol in green tea).
So, now we know why mineral sunscreens with antioxidants are important, what are the best mineral sunscreens with antioxidants?
The Best Mineral Sunscreens With Antioxidants
Paula’s Choice HYDRALIGHT Shine-Free Mineral Complex SPF 30
Paula’s Choice offers up a light-weight, non-greasy, shine-free mineral sunscreen with antioxidants that dries with a soft matte finish. It makes an excellent primer for normal, oily, and combination skin types while also hydrating skin. Formulated with powerful antioxidants including chamomile flower, algae, and green tea, it can help protect against free radical damage. In addition to green teas antioxidant effects, it also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a great antioxidant for acne prone skin as well as rosacea.
Replenix Sheer Physical Sunscreen Cream SPF 50+
Another mineral sunscreen with antioxidants that harnesses the powerful effects of green tea polyphenols to reduce free radical damage. This sunscreen is chemical-free, alcohol-free, fragrance-free, oil-free, and non-comedogenic. It’s perfect for all skin types and offers a fast absorbing, ultra-sheer weightless coverage with no white cast. As well as green tea polyphenols, this sunscreen also contains resveratrol, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, emblica, and CoQ10 – making it an antioxidant powerhouse of a product! One downside, however, is that is only available in a small tube.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
La Roche-Posay offers up their mineral sunscreen with antioxidants that’s formulated with Cell-Ox Shield technology – their terminology for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with antioxidants. Vitamins C & E are present in this sunscreen to protect skin against DNA-damaging free radicals. It’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes, non-comedogenic, oil free, paraben free, fragrance-free, and allergy tested. Suitable for all skin types, especially sensitive skin, it provides a light-weight, non-greasy, soft finish. This sunscreen is widely recommended by dermatologists.
MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen
This hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic mineral sunscreen with antioxidants has the added benefit of iron oxides. This means it offers additional protection against visible light damage. Furthermore, while most sunscreens containing iron oxide are tinted due to the natural reddish hue of iron oxide, this one isn’t! It’s light-weight, silky-smooth, and blends in a way that can help blur fine lines and wrinkles. This sunscreen is water resistant up to 80 minutes and contains vitamin C, green tea, and fruit extracts.
Derma E Antioxidant Natural Sunscreen SPF 30
This mineral sunscreen with antioxidants is 100% vegan as well as hypoallergenic, non-irritating, fragrance-free and paraben free. It is non-comedogenic and absorbs quickly to leave a sheer light-weight finish. Antioxidant protection is offered in the form of vitamin C, green tea, provitamin B5, and vitamin E. Suitable for all skin types.
SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield SPF 35
A sheer light-weight mineral sunscreen with antioxidants that absorbs and blends well. It offers up antioxidant protection in the form of green tea and caffeine. It’s also available with a tint courtesy of visible light-protecting iron oxides for those who like a bit of coverage from their sunscreen.
Neostrata Sheer physical protection SPF 50
Jam-packed full of antioxidants, this mineral sunscreen with iron oxide is suitable for all skin types. Its light-weight, lightly tinted, and leaves the skin looking airbrushed. However, the universal tint may be a bit too dark for fairer skin tones. Formulated with vitamin E, lactobionic acid, and EGCG (the potent antioxidant in green tea) it can neutralize free radicals and help preserve healthy DNA.
Colorescience Tint du Soleil SPF 30 UV Protective Foundation
Finally, how about a mineral sunscreen with antioxidants that is also a foundation? That’s what Colorescience offer up with their broad-spectrum foundation. Perfect for those who prefer a quick and easy routine in the morning, this product can replace your sunscreen, foundation, and moisturizer! That’s because, as well as antioxidants, it also contains peptides, ceramides, and milk lipids to help hydrate skin and improve the skin’s moisture barrier. It works for both sensitive and acne-prone skin and provides sheer buildable coverage.
Learn more about Colorescience sunscreens here.
So, with plenty of awesome options to chose from, are you going to incorporate a mineral sunscreen with antioxidants into your daily routine?
- Hughes, M., Williams, G., Baker, P., Green, A. (2013). ‘Sunscreen and Prevention of Skin Aging: A Randomized Trial’, Annals of Internal Medicine, 158 (11), 781-790
- Kaye, E., Levin, J., Blank, I. et al. (1991). ‘Efficiency of opaque photoprotective agents in the visible light range’, Ach Dermatol, 127(3), 351-355.
- Bennet, D., Viswanath, B., Kim, S. & An, J. (2017). ‘An ultra-sensitive biophysical risk assessment on light effect on skin cells’, Oncotarget, 8(29), 47861-4785.
- Haywood, R. (2006) Relevance of sunscreen application method, visible light and sunlight intensity to free-radical protection: A study of ex vivo human skin. Photochem. Photobiol. 82, 1123– 1131.
- Liebel, F., Kaur, S., Ruvolo, E., Kollias, N. & Southall, M. (2012). ‘Irradiation of skin with visible light induced reactive oxygen species and matrix degrading enzymes’, J Invest Dermatol., 132(7), 1901-1907.
Laura is a skincare addict and sunscreen enthusiast with more than 10 years of experience working in healthcare and over 5 years of experience working as a nurse. She has experience in plastic and reconstructive surgery, dermatology, and aesthetics and has received training in laser treatments. Laura is currently working in healthcare education and writes for ScienceBecomesHer in her spare time. Read More.