This is where I should tell you which mineral sunscreens (that is, those using zinc oxide to protect against UV, rather than the modern, clearer variety using synthetic filters) are invisible on all skin tones, pale to deep. But I won’t, because I truly don’t believe one exists.
I hear recommendations given in all sincerity (and I’ve made some myself), but given what we now know about how much should be applied to the face (1.25ml, or around two full finger lengths), it’s true that even great mineral sunscreens, if used correctly, will show up to some degree.
Zinc oxide is essentially white pigment. The higher the concentration, or the more that’s applied, the whiter the cast it’ll at least initially throw on to skin. But if you’re committed to using mineral sunscreen – perhaps you have stingy eyes, or highly sensitive or melasma-prone skin – there are ways to improve the finish.
Some mineral SPFs are undoubtedly superior. Summer Fridays’ new ShadeDrops SPF 30 Mineral Milk (£36) is as elegant a physical sunscreen as I’ve seen. Its unusually fluid formula glides on, then beds in nicely for hours rather than sliding off in the heat. The light, squalane-rich formula will be enough on its own for many skins, but drier types will want a slick of moisturiser beneath.
Also outstanding are Flawless Daily Sunscreen SPF50 (£31 for 50ml, suitable for all types) by dermatologist Sam Bunting, and Supergoop’s Sheerscreen Suncreen SPF 30 (from £15 for 20ml and best suited to oily and combination skins). Both have been made with additional thought and care for more melanated tones and throw a much sheerer cast than most, even if the latter does smell oddly – and fleetingly – of old biscuits.
I’ve been playing with mineral SPFs recently and find they look noticeably better applied in thin layers (perhaps half a finger length at a time), allowing each a few moments to settle and sink in a little before adding the next. It’s important with any mineral sunscreen that you apply it 15 minutes before leaving the house – so make use of the time to get it right.
There are lots of mineral sunscreens with tints built in, but most miss the mark on deeper tones. It’s much more flattering to camouflage any ashiness by applying a veil of makeup over colourless sunscreen – perhaps one with yet more mineral SPF built in (like IT Cosmetics Travel Mini Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF50+, from £15 for 12ml) for a belt and
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Can you avoid leaving marks on your skin with mineral sunscreen?