Every time we step outside, our skin is exposed to harmful UVA and UVB rays. Even 10 minutes of daily sun exposure can, over time, lead to significant sun damage. Applying sunscreen is a simple step that keeps skin healthy and prevents health risks like skin cancer. It’s vital during summer when our exposure to the sun is the greatest. There has been recent debate around chemical sunscreens and the impact of ingredients oxybenzone and avobenzone on our overall health. While it is not known if these ingredients can affect our bodies long term, they do linger in the bloodstream after use. If you want to avoid using sunscreens containing these ingredients, one alternative is mineral sunscreen. For insight into how mineral sunscreens work and the ingredients to look out for, we spoke to Dr Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist surgeon. How do mineral sunscreens work? Mineral sunscreens (also called physical blockers) contain active mineral ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter UV rays. Chemical sunscreens penetrate deeper, converting UV rays into heat released from the skin. Mineral sunscreens are a great choice for people with sensitive, acne-prone and rosacea -affected skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30 or higher, and Engelman cautions that the product needs to be applied generously and in all areas exposed to the sun, or else UV light can still get between the molecules. A sun block primer: how best to protect yourself and your children What ingredients to look for when buying a mineral sunscreen If you’re looking to avoid chemical sunscreens and use a mineral one, make sure to read your labels. Here are the ingredients you should look for and the ones to avoid. Look for these: titanium dioxide, zinc dioxide Avoid these: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, avobenzone The best lightweight mineral sunscreens SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield SPF 32 The Essential Defense sunscreens are non-comedogenic , parabens-free, hypoallergenic, oil-free and fragrance-free. “Since they’re physical blockers (containing titanium dioxide and zinc), they’re good for people with sensitive skin or those recovering from skin procedures,” says Engelman. “Physical sunscreens work better for people with heat-activated skin (i.e., rosacea and redness) since they deflect the heat and energy from the sun. The tint also helps minimise and camouflage redness.” Best budget mineral sunscreen Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Liquid Face Sunscreen – SPF 50 If you’re looking for an affordable mineral option, Neutrogena has a range of sunscreens. The Sensitive Skin Liquid Face Sunscreen is a thin, lightweight formula that’s hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, oil-free and perfect for sensitive or rosacea-prone skin. It’s non-comedogenic, too, so it won’t cause breakouts and it feels weightless under make-up or even on its own. Best natural ingredient mineral sunscreen Farmacy Green Defense Mineral Sunscreen This mineral sunscreen uses a few unexpected ingredients to bolster sun protection – alongside titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, the formula includes marigold and black chokeberry extracts. These natural antioxidants guard skin against environmental pollutants and protect against smartphone, computer and tablet blue light . This formula is lightweight, not greasy and leaves no residue on your face. It goes on smooth, blends in nicely and is fragrance-free. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 This sunscreen is a favourite among dermatologists and beauty editors and is also our top pick for the best facial sunscreen you can buy. The brand’s Cell-Ox Shield technology – a combination of physical sun filters and antioxidants – provides broad-spectrum protection and further protects the skin from free radicals, which cause photo-ageing. You can choose from a lightly tinted or non-tinted version. While many sunscreens are thick, this lightweight formula feels more like a serum and almost melts into your skin. Best matte finish mineral sunscreen Supergoop! 100% Mineral Smooth and Poreless Matte Screen Supergoop!’s Smooth and Poreless Matte sunscreen can also act like a make-up primer. If you’re looking for a one-stop mineral sunscreen, one that can be the only thing you put on before leaving the house, this is a great option. It’s formulated with natural ingredients like mulberry root to brighten and even skin tone, as well as butterfly bush extract to protect against blue light. A matte finish ensures you won’t look greasy on hot, sweaty summer days. Best moisturising mineral sunscreen Naturally Serious Mineral Sun Defense Moisturiser SPF 30 This mineral sunscreen is a hydrating moisturiser as well as a physical sunscreen, featuring ingredients like argan oil, vitamin E and squalene that work to soften skin like a morning cream would. It also gives an antioxidant boost to skin, and the formula is lightly tinted – but the colour is made to seamlessly blend with any skin tone.