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The Best Sunblocks With Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide

Updated on April 22, 2011
A sunburn hurts in the moment. It also ages your skin and increases your chances of developing skin cancer later in life.
A sunburn hurts in the moment. It also ages your skin and increases your chances of developing skin cancer later in life.

Know The Ingredients Found in Top Quality Sunblocks

Some of the best advice I ever heard from a dermatologist concerned how to find the best, most effective sun protection sunblocks. It's not all about SPF, she said, though SPF matters and you should always use sunblocks with SPFs above 15. Nor is it just about liberally and continually reapplying sunscreen throughout the day, though that is of course also important.

No, the key thing you should always look for to be sure that you are buying the absolute best, most effective sunblocks to protect against sun damage are a product's active ingredients. Always look for sun creams with a combination of both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Many sunblocks have one of these ingredients — either zinc or titanium dioxide. On its own, zinc of titanium dioxide is easy to find because both work to protect skin from sun damage. It is far harder to find sunblocks with both of these active ingredients, and it is even harder to do so at a reasonable price point. But it is possible.

One easy enough and good place to look for these über-sunblocks is a local surf shop. Surfers, who spend their days in salt water under beating suns, well understand the need for good sun protection and sunblocks that seriously fight skincancer. Too, any Australian brand of sun protection cream is apt to have both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in it, since the Australians, with their hole in the ozone layer, have also learned the hard way that they must be vigilant with sun protection and take the risk of skin cancer very seriously.

May absolute favorite of any sunscreen that I have ever used is made by Solar Protection Formula. This lotion can be tinted or non — I like the tinted as it feels and acts like a wonderful, high-quality foundation that evens out my skin tones — and best of all it rubs in easily and has a wonderful matte feel that is non-greasy. The thing is, it's hard to find (mostly sold by dermatologists) and it is VERY expensive — around $60 a tube. This is not for most people, including me most of the time, but there are plenty of other options out there!

Common Sense Tips to Using Sunblock

Of course, you also need to use any sunscreen properly for it to work as it is supposed to. Common sense? Yes. Yet you’d be surprised how many people fail in this critical aspect of adequately protecting themselves from the sun. They buy good products, slather it on in the morning and call it day. While convenient, it sadly doesn’t work that way.

  • Apply at least 20 minutes before going into the sun.
  • Reapply sunblock regularly, especially when swimming or sweating. This means carrying it around with you.
  • Always wear sunblock. Use a daily face moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher.
  • Don't forget to apply sunblock to the back of your hands, your ears, the back of your neck. These areas are often missed!
  • Avoid the sun during its peak hours between 10 AM and 2 PM.
  • If you are outside during the sunniest part of the day, stick to the shade as much as possible.
  • If you will be in direct sun for an extended period of time, consider clothing with added SPF protection.

The Real Risks of Skin Cancer

Half of all cancer cases in the United States are skin cancer. Think about that: Half.

Skin cancer is caused by abnormal skin cells growing too fast. Most of these skin cancer cases are basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma and are unlikely to kill you, so long as you catch them early. (I myself have had several basal cell cancers removed.) Warning signs for these and other skin cancers are dark, irregular moles that change shape, scaly patches of skin, skin sores and other changes in skin or skin abnormalities.

But there are ober 68,000 new cases or melanoma— the most serious and potentially deadly form of skin cancer — every year in the U.S.

Caught early, even melanoma is easily treated and cured. The important thing is to be vigilant, and to know if you are at heightened risk for skin cancer.

Risk factors include:

  • Genetics, a family history of any form of skin cancer
  • Fair skin
  • A history of severe sunburns as a child
  • Skin with lots of moles and freckles

If you are at increased risk for skin cancer, it is a good idea to see a well-respected dermatologist once a year for a body check. My dermatologist takes polaroid pictures of my back to be able to monitor any changes to moles and skin that may take place where I can't see it. Since I have been treated for several instances of basal cell carcinoma, I now visit my dermatologist twice a year — a best practice and a wise precaution.


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    • smalltownlady profile image

      smalltownlady 5 years ago from North Carolina

      What a wonderfully informative hub!

      I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my face just last month, so skin profection is a subject near and dear to my heart. I wrote a hub entitled Skin I'm In about the surgery.

      Thank you for publishing this hub!

    • s.carver profile image

      s.carver 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Gracenotes, I was a teenager in the 80s, and I made all the same mistakes about not wearing sunscreen, or enough sunscreen. I guess I simply couldn't imagine the reality of wrinkles back then! Or understand that the choices I made then really would have later consequences. Like you, I now am religious about sunscreen, hats in the sun, etc. On a Mexico beach vacation last year, I didn't get even the slightest tan!

      As for finding a good sunblock, I really recommend the Tizo product from Solar Protection, if you can find a source near you. It is so light and non-greasy, I can't imagine it would clog your pores or be anything but good for your skin. It's expensive, but good value, it works so well!

      Good luck!

    • gracenotes profile image

      gracenotes 6 years ago from North Texas

      This is a good hub. I always wear sunscreen, but I've also become aware of the need for a hat when working outdoors during those critical times. The scalp must be protected, too!

      I've had difficulty lately in obtaining my favorite sunscreen. So it looks like I'm going to have to investigate other sources. And I have to be really picky since I still have acne.

      My sister and I didn't think about sunscreen much as teenagers -- however, we did use a product that was a matte liquid foundation, and years later, my sister met the developer of that product, which contained a sunscreen. I'm glad to hear, in retrospect, that we were using a makeup that was better than average, at least for the 1960's.