Tag: mineral sunscreen


Skin care I’m packing for a summer holiday.

Next week I am off Greece and Italy but NOT Iceland, for those who keep asking.

It will be warm but not violently hot, we will be swimming a lot, and I will eat tonnes of feta. All of this thrills me.

I used to pack 74329 cosmetics and toiletries for these trips;  there would be a bag of face skin care, one for body, one for hair, and one just of makeup. I would take a tong and my ghd, as well as several brushes. And there would STILL be space for one bikini and my passport – amazing!

These days I have streamlined it considerably, in large part due to my own skin care line being so dang perfectly useful (which is why I made it), and having a baby whose accoutrements soak up most of my packing space.

So here’s the skin care I’m taking because it’s:

A) useful information for those wishing to protect and look after their skin while travelling to warm climes,

B) pervy knowing what other people use,

C) a wonderful way to extoll the virtues of a well-curated toiletries bag, and

D) less stressful than actually packing them.


So! We have…

1 x Go-To Properly Clean cleanser cos it takes off all my makeup and sunblock real good. One full bottle will get me around 30 days.

Go-Properly-Clean-2995.jpg1 x SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF antioxidant serum to wear under sunblock each day to help prevent UV damage and premmo ageing. This anti-oxidant step (onto clean skin, first after cleansing) is important. We should all be doing this every day, in my opinion, holidaying or not.


1 x Aspect Pigment Punch pigment prohibiting serum to stop hyperpigmentation before it even really begins, rather than getting smashed by it and working on it doubly hard when I get home. (I will book a lactic peel for the week I get back all the same. I will go to Brooke at Me Skin and Body in South Yarra cos she knows her shit.)

1 x Invisible Zinc SPF 50+ water resistant physical sunscreen to wear on top of serums to thoroughly, physically protect my face and neck, even while swimming. I will make husband wear this every day also. Here are my thoughts on physical vs chemical sun protection.

1 x Go-To Very Useful Face Cream to wear at night because it’s lovely and hydrating and full of antioxidants to heal any UV damage I collected somehow through the day, and halt the free radical damage that occurs for up to 72 hours after sun damage, NOT that I would ever get any of course, cos I am a wild control freak about that and wear big hats to prove it.

1 x Go-To Exfoliating Swipeys… except I am just taking a little stack of them in a re-usable makeup jar for space saving. Being a thorough, chemical exfoliant, this will give my sunscreened skin a deep clean every few days, and you really want that, trust me.

2 x SK-II Facial Treatment masks as well as sample sachets of Elemis Fruit Active Rejuvenating Mask and Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Mask for a hydrating boost every five days or so. Full size tubes and jars of mask are way to big and space thievey for me.



I will buy my body sunscreen and body lotion and after sun (full of antioxidants like vitamin E at the least) stuff over there cos they’re way too heavy and space consuming to pack at this end.

Also, I bloody love an overseas pharmacy visit. Last time I was in Mykonos I found a bruise healing cream that, to be crude, defecated all over Hirudoid in terms of effectiveness.

No, I did not bruise myself dancing on tables, how dare you.

I was dancing on a podium obviously.


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Nanoparticles in sunscreen have been deemed harmless.

Which is good news because the sunscreen you use might have them and you’d obviously like to know you’re safe. Right?

Quick science lesson for those who were busy watching reruns of Big Bang Theory: nanoparticles are particles with one or more dimension less than 100nm … smaller than the average skin cell, essentially. Nanoparticles are (and have been for many years) used in sun care, particularly physical/mineral sun blockers containing zinc oxide because when nano-ised, those ingredients are clear, instead of opaque and milky and unappealing for consumers like you and me and Shezzy next door.

Nanoparticles have been under scrutiny for a while due to their wee size, and the fear they are able to penetrate our skin cells, and cause free radical damage to the DNA… which can lead to shitty things like, oh, you know, cancer.

Rational concerns.

But new research shows that zinc oxide nanoparticles are fine. Our immune system breaks down the particles before they enter the blood stream. Great work, immune system! Now be better regarding cold sores, please.

As an enormous and evangelical fan of zinc oxide-based physical/mineral sunscreens (which block the UV rays from your skin, and are a far better choice for those worried about hyperpigmentation) over chemical ones (which absorb the UV rays) I was delighted to learn this. While the CSIRO deemed nanoparticles safe a while back, there was still a school of thought that perhaps the nanoparticles were entering the cells. If they didn’t enter the cells, though, all was well. And now we know they don’t.

Which is great news. It’s real unfun finding out that something we use (daily, for many) could be causing havoc with our health. Particularly as someone who actively tells women to use zinc oxide products. Admittedly, I was never personally too concerned, nanoparticles have never been proven to be a health risk, and our TGA is extremely tough on cosmetics and particularly sun care, but you of course always want to make sure that something you love isn’t secretly stabbing you in the back/skin cells. Of course, for peace of mind, there should probably be transparency (scuse the pun) of ingredients and any nano-ing thereof on all labels, and I’m sure in time there will be.

Important Thing: Just because a product features zinc oxide, doesn’t mean it uses nanoparticles. And chemical (non zinc oxide) sunscreens use nanoparticles, too – the biggest clue is if a sunscreen is clear: that’s generally when nanos are in play.

Yes, the research is zinc oxide specific, (there are other particles on nano levels in sunscreen) but as with the argument about Vitamin D (essentially all of our slip slop slapping means we’re a nation that is chronically deficient in Vitamin D, and as someone who IS low in vitamin D, I now try to get about 10-15 mins of sun a day ) I think the risk of not wearing sun protection (skin cancer, prematurely aged skin etc) especially in this country where old lady Ozone dare not wander, far outweighs these concerns. I’m not alone.

Just on zinc oxide physical sun care products, here are some I love and use: (on top of my serums and moisturisers each morning): O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF 30+ (tinted) or Aspect Hydra Shield SPF 15 and DermaQuest DermaMinerals On The Go Finishing Powder (excellent for the handbag to take shine down and reboot your sun protection real quick.)




And one I don’t:


Not since about 1987 anyway.

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Why I’ve switched from chemical to physical sunscreen.

You can’t speak to any dermatologist or beauty editor without them mentioning (“becoming hysterical and evangelical”) about how important sun protection is.

I am not exempt. Use it daily! Take it all the way down to your boobs! Re-apply! Use enough to actually get the SPF worth! No, your makeup’s token SPF 12 is not enough to protect you! Don’t eat it! And so on.

One of my biggest rules has been to apply your sunscreen (chemical, broad spectrum) on clean skin, underneath all your other skin care and makeup.


Not because any of the sunscreens I used are ineffective or did me wrong, but I now use a physical sunscreen, and I apply it after my serum and face cream, and underneath my foundation or BB Cream.

This change came about after researching chemical Vs physical sun protection, and a wonderfully engaging chat with a very intelligent and knowledgable skin care expert I’ve enlisted to get rid of my pigmentation (more on that and her, soon).

And so, I now use broad spectrum physical sunscreen on my face/neck/chest every single day. To prevent burning. To stop sun damage. Premature ageing. And halt that bastard, pigmentation, in its tracks. Also, it allows me to bypass all of that re-application shit (unless I wet my face or sweat) that is so tricky with chemical sunscreens and wearing makeup. I will often use a BB cream or foundation with chemical sunscreens on top of this, that is to say, I am not making a stand against them, but for my primary sun protection on the face and chest? Physical sunscreen.

Of course, which sun protection you use is entirely up to you, it’s your face and your wallet and your skin. Here are some facts about chemical and physical sunscreens to help you make The Right Decision.


Especially since we live in the kind of ridiculous country that insists on having extreme UV. Also because without it we burn, and get skin cancer, and our immune system suffers and our beautiful skin becomes lined and spotted. Yes, we should get about 15 minutes (depending on the time of year/UV strength/your skin) of sun exposure per day for Vitamin D and general happiness, as many miserable Brits will attest. The best way to get it and not soil your lovely skin is to expose the arms, in my opinion.


(Or one of the many hybrids which utilise both, of course.)

Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing (or sometimes scattering) UV rays. Physical (or mineral) is when the UV is reflected off the skin, and doesn’t absorb into the skin at all.

Chemical sunscreen is far easier to find and use than physical, and is probably what you’re using currently.

– Chemical sunscreens must go directly onto clean skin, and take 20 minutes to work. They are reputed to be better at the UVA (ageing) protection, while physicals are better at UVB (burning) protection, but as long as you’re using broad spectrum, you’re covered. (Or, choose a hybrid with some chemical sunscreens and some zinc oxide.)

– They rely on chemicals like Octylcrylene, Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, OxyBenzone, and Homosalate and Helioplex to absorb or scatter the UV rays your skin is exposed to. There is growing concern that some of these chemical filters used can generate free radical damage (“bad”), and some are even thought to be endocrine disruptors, which means they’re messing with your hormones. I would avoid OxyBenzone personally.

– Also, and this is very important if you’re on a mission against pigmentation, WHICH I DEFINITELY AM, chemical sunscreens can actually trigger pigmentation. Fuckers!

– Because chemical sunscreens are resistant to sweat and water (unlike physical sunscreens) they are best for a day of swimming, or the beach or sweaty sportsy playing. But, since the sun can break down their effectiveness (some up to 90% in one hour!) you MUST re-apply often. If you’re wearing makeup and don’t want to remove to start again, use a clever mineral powder on top of your makeup, like DermaQuest DermaMinerals On-the-Go Finishing Powder SPF30.

Debate continues on the long-term safety of using chemical sunscreen. I personally have switched to physical because it’s stronger, more natural, and most crucially, is a better bodyguard against pigmentation. Ms. Sarah Wilson has written about her choice to ditch chemical sunscreen here for those interested.

And then there is physical or mineral sun protection, which relies on zinc oxide or/and titanium dioxide to physically block the UV from getting to the skin.

– You remember zinc from your childhood, right? Horrible, shitty stuff that had zero spread and was thick and unappealing on numerous levels, not to mention usually hot pink or green. But just like Miley Cyrus, zinc has come a long way. Modern versions use micronized zinc, which means they’re transparent and won’t make you look like a Geisha each time you apply. Some even more advanced sunblocks use nanoparticles, but I’d avoid those. Just til we know more.

– Physical sunscreens are unlikely to cause irritation, (think of them as the mineral makeup of sun care) which is why all of the organic sun care brands are physical. If they do make you break out, it’s likely the titanium dioxide, not the zinc oxide.

– Physical sunscreens go on TOP of all your other skin care, just before makeup. They start to work immediately and require no application, unless water or sweat or tears or a spray of Fanta interferes with your original application. You can layer physical on top of chemical (pretty amazing protection assured) by using mineral makeup or touch up powders like the one mentioned above.



For those who want glow: Invisible Zinc Tinted Daywear SPF 30 $27

The original and one of the best. I’m a loooooong time fan and have welcomed it back with loving, slightly freckled arms. Doubles as my tint/makeup. I like the dewy finish, but I’m a dry-skinned dame and can handle it. Others might like to set with powder.

For those who want dry-touch: BECCA Mineral Face and Body Sunscreen, $39

A great dry-touch version that looks and feels like a chemical sunscreen.

For those after a moisturiser and sun block: Aspect Hydra Shield SPF 15, $55.95

Doubles as a moisturiser, but I wear on top of my face cream for extra hydration. Lightweight and lovely.

For those who want a matte finish: Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Matte Finish $40

I’ve not tried as I despise a matte finish, but this gets excellent reviews from the organic and shiny communities.

For those who hate the feel of zinc, Cosmedix Reflect SPF 30, $72.60

Quite the superstar in the physical sunscreen world, being one of, if not the only spray versions. Created for post procedure, (so not hands were required) this is a cocktail of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and antioxidants.

Which do you use? Chemical or physical? Why?

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