Avene Mineral Light Mattifying Sunscreen Lotion Spf 50+
Avene

Mineral Light Mattifying Sunscreen Lotion Spf 50+

100% mineral UVA/UVB sunscreen specifically formulated for oily, acne-prone skin. Provides oil-free hydration and powerful antioxidant protection in a lightweight, mattifying formula. Enhanced with the oil-controlling and soothing ingredients found in the Avène collections for acne-prone skin.
Uploaded by: limonotte on 06/07/2018

Ingredients overview

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (5.5%)
what‑it‑does sunscreen
A physical/inorganic sunscreen with pretty broad spectrum (UVB and UVA II, less good at UVA I) protection and good stability. Might leave some whitish tint on the skin, though. [more]
,
Zinc Oxide (8%)
what‑it‑does sunscreen
A physical/inorganic sunscreen with the broadest spectrum (UVB and UVA II, less good at UVA I) protection available today. It also has good stability and also works as a skin protectant, anti-irritant. Might leave some whitish tint on the skin, though. [more]
Inactive Ingredients: Water
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate
what‑it‑does emollient | antimicrobial/antibacterial
An often used emollient with a light and silky feel. It's very mild to both skin and eyes and spreads nicely and easily. It's often used in sunscreens as it's also an excellent solvent for sunscreen agents. 
,
Butyloctyl Salicylate
what‑it‑does solvent
Multi-functional helper ingredient in sunscreens. It can solubilize and stabilize commonly used UV-filters and has a cosmetically elegant, emollient skin feel. [more]
,
Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
,
Silica
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | abrasive/scrub
A white powdery thing that can mattify the skin and thicken up cosmetic products. [more]
,
Styrene Acrylates Copolymer
A film-forming polymer (big molecule from repeated subunits) to create water-resistant sunscreen formulas.  [more]
,
Isostearyl Isostearate
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 1 4
An emollient ester that gives excellent slip and luxurious softness on skin. [more]
, [more]
Isononyl Isononanoate
what‑it‑does emollient
An emollient ester with a rich and creamy but non-greasy skin feel. [more]
,
Polyester-7
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
,
Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate
what‑it‑does emollient
A clear, odorless, very light emollient ester that helps to achieve light textures. It has great spreadability, a good slip, and a silky skin feel. [more]
,
Dicaprylyl Carbonate
what‑it‑does emollient
A clear, colorless, almost odorless oil that spreads nicely and easily and gives a velvet dry skin feel. It is good friends with sunscreen agents and helps to solubilize them.
,
Steareth-100
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | surfactant/cleansing
,
Phenoxyethanol
what‑it‑does preservative
Pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and can be used up to 1% worldwide. [more]
,
Sorbitan Isostearate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
irritancy, com. 0 2
A handy helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix nicely together.
,
Polyglyceryl-3 Distearate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
,
P-Anisic Acid
what‑it‑does preservative
Though the official function of P-Anisic Acid is masking (meaning that it helps to mask not so nice smells in the product), according to manufacturer info it is rather used as a preservative. [more]
,
Glyceryl Laurate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A glycerin and lauric acid derived multi-functional ingredient that works as a co-emulsifier (helps water and oil to mix together next to other emulsifiers), emollient (makes skin nice and smooth) and anti-microbial agent (preservative booster).  [more]
,
Capryloyl Glycine
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
,
Steareth-2
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Polyacrylamide
A film-forming polymer (a large molecule composed of many repeated subunits) that comes to the formula usually as part of an emulsifier, thickener trio. [more]
,
Arachidyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
,
C13-14 Isoparaffin
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
A petroleum-derived emollient and thickener. It often comes to the formula as part of an emulsifier, thickener trio. [more]
,
Sorbitol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
It's a sweet tasting sugar substitute that helps your skin to hold onto water when used in cosmetic products. It also helps to thicken up products and give them a bit more slip.  [more]
,
Behenyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
A fatty alcohol (the non-drying type) that is used to increase the viscosity of the formula and stabilize emulsions. [more]
,
Zinc Gluconate
what‑it‑does anti-acne | soothing
A zinc salt known for its soothing and wound healing properties as well as for its anti-acne properties.  [more]
,
Tocopherol
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 2 2
Pure Vitamin E. Great antioxidant that gives significant photoprotection against UVB rays. Works in synergy with Vitamin C. [more]
,
Isostearic Acid
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
A liquid fatty acid with great odour, thermal and oxidation stability. It's great for the stabilization of pigments and mineral particles in oils and solvents. [more]
,
Polyhydroxystearic Acid
what‑it‑does emulsifying
A dispersing agent that's used in inorganic (titanium dioxide/zinc oxide based) sunscreens or in make-up products to help to distribute the pigments nicely and evenly on the skin. [more]
,
Alumina
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A multi-functional helper ingredient that's used mainly as a pigment carrier helping pigments in mineral sunscreens and color cosmetics to flow freely and evenly and not to clump. [more]
,
Methicone
what‑it‑does emollient
Bearing a close relationship to the famous Dimethicone, Methicone is the slightly trimmed down version missing the methyl (-CH3)  groups on one side of the silicone chain. [more]
,
Ethylhexylglycerin
what‑it‑does preservative
It can boost the effectiveness of phenoxyethanol (and other preservatives) and as an added bonus it feels nice on the skin too. [more]
,
Sarcosine, Disodium Edta
what‑it‑does chelating
Super common little helper ingredient that helps products to remain nice and stable for a longer time. It does so by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes. [more]
,
Arachidyl Glucoside
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Mannan, Xanthan Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A super commonly used thickener and emulsion stabilizer. [more]
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
,
Laureth-7
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A not-very-interesting helper ingredient that is used as an emulsifier and/or surfactant. Comes from a coconut oil derived fatty alcohol, lauryl alcohol. [more]
,
Lecithin
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
It's quite the multi-tasker: an emollient and water-binding ingredient but also an emulsifier and can be used for stabilization purposes. It's also often used to create liposomes.  [more]
,
Iron Oxide
what‑it‑does colorant
Iron Oxide - a super common colorant with the color red. 
,
Oleic Acid
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A common fatty acid that can be found in lots of plant oils. Its name, "oleic", means derived from olive oil, a plant oil rich in oleic acid, but avocado, macadamia and marula oils, just to name a few, are also oleic rich.Its chemical structure is monounsaturated, meaning it has one double bond (cis-9) that makes it less kinky than polyunsaturated fatty acids with multiple [more]
[less]
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS:TITANIUM DIOXIDE (5.5%), ZINC OXIDE (8%). INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: WATER, C12-15 ALKYL BENZOATE, BUTYLOCTYL SALICYLATE, GLYCERIN, SILICA, STYRENE ACRYLATES COPOLYMER, ISOSTEARYL ISOSTERATE, ISONONYL ISONONANOATE, POLYESTER-7, NEOPENTYL GLYCOL DIHEPTANOATE, DICAPRYLYL CARBONATE, STEARETH-100, PHENOXYETHANOL, SORBITAN ISOSTEARATE, POLYGLYCERYL-3 DISTEARATE, P-ANISIC ACID, GLYCERYL LAURATE, CAPRYLOL GLYCINE, STEARETH-2, POLYACTYLAMIDE, ARACHIDYL ALCOHOL, C13-14 ISOPARAFFIN, SORBITOL, BEHENYL ALCOHOL, ZINC GLUCONATE, TOCOPHERYL, ISOSTEATIC ACID, POLYHYDROXYSTEARIC ACID, ALUMINA, METHICONE, ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN, SARCOSINE, DISODIUM EDTA, ARACHIDYL GLUCOSIDE, MANNAN, XANTHAN GUM, CINNAMOMUM ZEYLANICUM BARK EXTRACT, LAURETH-7, LECITHIN, IRON OXIDE, OLEIC ACID.

Highlights

Key Ingredients

Anti-acne: Zinc Gluconate
what‑it‑does anti-acne | soothing
A zinc salt known for its soothing and wound healing properties as well as for its anti-acne properties.  [more]
Antioxidant: Tocopherol
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 2 2
Pure Vitamin E. Great antioxidant that gives significant photoprotection against UVB rays. Works in synergy with Vitamin C. [more]
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
Skin-identical ingredient: Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
Soothing: Zinc Gluconate
what‑it‑does anti-acne | soothing
A zinc salt known for its soothing and wound healing properties as well as for its anti-acne properties.  [more]
Sunscreen: Titanium Dioxide (5.5%)
what‑it‑does sunscreen
A physical/inorganic sunscreen with pretty broad spectrum (UVB and UVA II, less good at UVA I) protection and good stability. Might leave some whitish tint on the skin, though. [more]
,
Zinc Oxide (8%)
what‑it‑does sunscreen
A physical/inorganic sunscreen with the broadest spectrum (UVB and UVA II, less good at UVA I) protection available today. It also has good stability and also works as a skin protectant, anti-irritant. Might leave some whitish tint on the skin, though. [more]

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Abrasive/scrub: Silica
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | abrasive/scrub
A white powdery thing that can mattify the skin and thicken up cosmetic products. [more]
Antimicrobial/antibacterial: C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate
what‑it‑does emollient | antimicrobial/antibacterial
An often used emollient with a light and silky feel. It's very mild to both skin and eyes and spreads nicely and easily. It's often used in sunscreens as it's also an excellent solvent for sunscreen agents. 
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
Chelating: Disodium Edta
what‑it‑does chelating
Super common little helper ingredient that helps products to remain nice and stable for a longer time. It does so by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes. [more]
Colorant: Iron Oxide
what‑it‑does colorant
Iron Oxide - a super common colorant with the color red. 
Emollient: C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate
what‑it‑does emollient | antimicrobial/antibacterial
An often used emollient with a light and silky feel. It's very mild to both skin and eyes and spreads nicely and easily. It's often used in sunscreens as it's also an excellent solvent for sunscreen agents. 
,
Isostearyl Isostearate
what‑it‑does emollient
irritancy, com. 1 4
An emollient ester that gives excellent slip and luxurious softness on skin. [more]
,
Isononyl Isononanoate
what‑it‑does emollient
An emollient ester with a rich and creamy but non-greasy skin feel. [more]
,
Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate
what‑it‑does emollient
A clear, odorless, very light emollient ester that helps to achieve light textures. It has great spreadability, a good slip, and a silky skin feel. [more]
,
Dicaprylyl Carbonate
what‑it‑does emollient
A clear, colorless, almost odorless oil that spreads nicely and easily and gives a velvet dry skin feel. It is good friends with sunscreen agents and helps to solubilize them.
,
Glyceryl Laurate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A glycerin and lauric acid derived multi-functional ingredient that works as a co-emulsifier (helps water and oil to mix together next to other emulsifiers), emollient (makes skin nice and smooth) and anti-microbial agent (preservative booster).  [more]
,
Arachidyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
,
C13-14 Isoparaffin
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
A petroleum-derived emollient and thickener. It often comes to the formula as part of an emulsifier, thickener trio. [more]
,
Behenyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
A fatty alcohol (the non-drying type) that is used to increase the viscosity of the formula and stabilize emulsions. [more]
,
Methicone
what‑it‑does emollient
Bearing a close relationship to the famous Dimethicone, Methicone is the slightly trimmed down version missing the methyl (-CH3)  groups on one side of the silicone chain. [more]
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
,
Lecithin
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
It's quite the multi-tasker: an emollient and water-binding ingredient but also an emulsifier and can be used for stabilization purposes. It's also often used to create liposomes.  [more]
,
Oleic Acid
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A common fatty acid that can be found in lots of plant oils. Its name, "oleic", means derived from olive oil, a plant oil rich in oleic acid, but avocado, macadamia and marula oils, just to name a few, are also oleic rich.Its chemical structure is monounsaturated, meaning it has one double bond (cis-9) that makes it less kinky than polyunsaturated fatty acids with multiple [more]
Emulsifying: Sorbitan Isostearate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
irritancy, com. 0 2
A handy helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix nicely together.
,
Polyglyceryl-3 Distearate
what‑it‑does emulsifying
,
Glyceryl Laurate
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A glycerin and lauric acid derived multi-functional ingredient that works as a co-emulsifier (helps water and oil to mix together next to other emulsifiers), emollient (makes skin nice and smooth) and anti-microbial agent (preservative booster).  [more]
,
Steareth-2
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Isostearic Acid
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
A liquid fatty acid with great odour, thermal and oxidation stability. It's great for the stabilization of pigments and mineral particles in oils and solvents. [more]
,
Polyhydroxystearic Acid
what‑it‑does emulsifying
A dispersing agent that's used in inorganic (titanium dioxide/zinc oxide based) sunscreens or in make-up products to help to distribute the pigments nicely and evenly on the skin. [more]
,
Arachidyl Glucoside
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Laureth-7
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A not-very-interesting helper ingredient that is used as an emulsifier and/or surfactant. Comes from a coconut oil derived fatty alcohol, lauryl alcohol. [more]
,
Lecithin
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
It's quite the multi-tasker: an emollient and water-binding ingredient but also an emulsifier and can be used for stabilization purposes. It's also often used to create liposomes.  [more]
,
Oleic Acid
what‑it‑does emollient | emulsifying
A common fatty acid that can be found in lots of plant oils. Its name, "oleic", means derived from olive oil, a plant oil rich in oleic acid, but avocado, macadamia and marula oils, just to name a few, are also oleic rich.Its chemical structure is monounsaturated, meaning it has one double bond (cis-9) that makes it less kinky than polyunsaturated fatty acids with multiple [more]
Moisturizer/humectant: Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
,
Sorbitol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant
It's a sweet tasting sugar substitute that helps your skin to hold onto water when used in cosmetic products. It also helps to thicken up products and give them a bit more slip.  [more]
,
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract
what‑it‑does antioxidant | antimicrobial/antibacterial | emollient | moisturizer/humectant | perfuming
Preservative: Phenoxyethanol
what‑it‑does preservative
Pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and can be used up to 1% worldwide. [more]
,
P-Anisic Acid
what‑it‑does preservative
Though the official function of P-Anisic Acid is masking (meaning that it helps to mask not so nice smells in the product), according to manufacturer info it is rather used as a preservative. [more]
,
Ethylhexylglycerin
what‑it‑does preservative
It can boost the effectiveness of phenoxyethanol (and other preservatives) and as an added bonus it feels nice on the skin too. [more]
Solvent: Water
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Butyloctyl Salicylate
what‑it‑does solvent
Multi-functional helper ingredient in sunscreens. It can solubilize and stabilize commonly used UV-filters and has a cosmetically elegant, emollient skin feel. [more]
Surfactant/cleansing: Steareth-100
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | surfactant/cleansing
,
Capryloyl Glycine
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing
,
Steareth-2
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Isostearic Acid
what‑it‑does surfactant/cleansing | emulsifying
A liquid fatty acid with great odour, thermal and oxidation stability. It's great for the stabilization of pigments and mineral particles in oils and solvents. [more]
,
Arachidyl Glucoside
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
,
Laureth-7
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
A not-very-interesting helper ingredient that is used as an emulsifier and/or surfactant. Comes from a coconut oil derived fatty alcohol, lauryl alcohol. [more]
Viscosity controlling: Silica
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | abrasive/scrub
A white powdery thing that can mattify the skin and thicken up cosmetic products. [more]
,
Polyester-7
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
,
Steareth-100
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling | surfactant/cleansing
,
Arachidyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
,
C13-14 Isoparaffin
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
A petroleum-derived emollient and thickener. It often comes to the formula as part of an emulsifier, thickener trio. [more]
,
Behenyl Alcohol
what‑it‑does emollient | viscosity controlling
A fatty alcohol (the non-drying type) that is used to increase the viscosity of the formula and stabilize emulsions. [more]
,
Alumina
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A multi-functional helper ingredient that's used mainly as a pigment carrier helping pigments in mineral sunscreens and color cosmetics to flow freely and evenly and not to clump. [more]
,
Xanthan Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A super commonly used thickener and emulsion stabilizer. [more]

Skim through

Ingredient name what-it-does irr., com. ID-Rating
Titanium Dioxide (5.5%) sunscreen goodie
Zinc Oxide (8%) sunscreen goodie
Water solvent
C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate emollient, antimicrobial/​antibacterial
Butyloctyl Salicylate solvent
Glycerin skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant 0, 0 goodie
Silica viscosity controlling, abrasive/​scrub
Styrene Acrylates Copolymer
Isostearyl Isostearate emollient 1, 4
Isononyl Isononanoate emollient
Polyester-7 viscosity controlling
Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate emollient
Dicaprylyl Carbonate emollient
Steareth-100 viscosity controlling, surfactant/​cleansing
Phenoxyethanol preservative
Sorbitan Isostearate emulsifying 0, 2
Polyglyceryl-3 Distearate emulsifying
P-Anisic Acid preservative
Glyceryl Laurate emollient, emulsifying
Capryloyl Glycine surfactant/​cleansing
Steareth-2 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Polyacrylamide
Arachidyl Alcohol emollient, viscosity controlling
C13-14 Isoparaffin emollient, viscosity controlling
Sorbitol moisturizer/​humectant
Behenyl Alcohol emollient, viscosity controlling
Zinc Gluconate anti-acne, soothing goodie
Tocopherol antioxidant 2, 2 superstar
Isostearic Acid surfactant/​cleansing, emulsifying
Polyhydroxystearic Acid emulsifying
Alumina viscosity controlling
Methicone emollient
Ethylhexylglycerin preservative
Sarcosine
Disodium Edta chelating
Arachidyl Glucoside emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Mannan
Xanthan Gum viscosity controlling
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract antioxidant, antimicrobial/​antibacterial, emollient, moisturizer/​humectant, perfuming
Laureth-7 emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Lecithin emollient, emulsifying goodie
Iron Oxide colorant
Oleic Acid emollient, emulsifying

Ingredients explained

What-it-does: sunscreen

Titanium Dioxide is one of the two members of the elite sunscreen group called physical sunscreens (or inorganic sunscreens if you’re a science geek and want to be precise).

Traditionally, UV-filters are categorized as either chemical or physical. The big difference is supposed to be that chemical agents absorb UV-light while physical agents reflect it like a bunch of mini umbrellas on top of the skin. While this categorization is easy and logical it turns out it's not true. A recent, 2016 study shows that inorganic sunscreens work mostly by absorption, just like chemical filters, and only a little bit by reflection (they do reflect the light in the visible spectrum, but mostly absorb in the UV spectrum).

Expand to read more

Anyway, it doesn't matter if it reflects or absorbs, Titanium Dioxide is a pretty awesome sunscreen agent for two main reasons: it gives a nice broad spectrum coverage and it's highly stable. Its protection is very good between 290 - 350 nm (UVB and UVA II range), and less good at 350-400 nm (UVA I) range. Regular sized Titanium Dioxide also has a great safety profile, it's non-irritating and is pretty much free from any health concerns (like estrogenic effect worries with some chemical filters).

The disadvantage of Titanium Dioxide is that it's not cosmetically elegant, meaning it's a white, "unspreadable" mess. Sunscreens containing Titanium Dioxide are often hard to spread on the skin and they leave a disturbing whitish tint. The cosmetic industry is, of course, really trying to solve this problem and the best solution so far is using nanoparticles. The itsy-bitsy Nano-sized particles improve both spreadability and reduce the whitish tint a lot, but unfortunately, it also introduces new health concerns. 

The main concern with nanoparticles is that they are so tiny that they are absorbed into the skin more than we want them (ideally sunscreen should remain on the surface of the skin). Once absorbed they might form unwanted complexes with proteins and they might promote the formation of evil free radicals. But do not panic, these are concerns under investigation. A 2009 review article about the safety of nanoparticles summarizes this, "to date, in-vivo and in-vitro studies have not demonstrated percutaneous penetration of nanosized particles in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sunscreens". The English translation is, so far it looks like sunscreens with nanoparticles do stay on the surface of the skin where they should be.  

All in all, Titanium Dioxide is a famous sunscreen agent and for good reason, it gives broad spectrum UV protection (best at UVB and UVA II), it's highly stable, and it has a good safety profile. It's definitely one of the best UV-filter agents we have today, especially in the US where new-generation Tinosorb filters are not (yet) approved. 

Zinc Oxide (8%) - goodie
What-it-does: sunscreen

When it comes to sunscreen agents, Zinc Oxide is pretty much in a league of its own. It's a physical (or inorganic) sunscreen that has a lot in common with fellow inorganic sunscreen Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) but a couple of things make it superior even to TiO2.

If physical sunscreens don't tell you anything, go ahead and read about the basics here. Most of what we wrote about Titanium Dioxide is also true for Zinc Oxide so we will focus here on the differences. 

Expand to read more

The first main difference is that while TiO2 gives a nice broad spectrum protection, Zinc Oxide has an even nicer and even broader spectrum protection. It protects against UVB, UVA II, and UVA I almost uniformly, and is considered to be the broadest range sunscreen available today

It's also highly stable and non-irritating. So much so that Zinc Oxide also counts as a skin protectant and anti-irritant. It's also often used to treat skin irritations such as diaper rash.

As for the disadvantages, Zinc Oxide is also not cosmetically elegant. It leaves a disturbing whitish tint on the skin, although, according to a 2000 research paper by Dr. Pinnell, it's slightly less white than TiO2. Still, it's white and disturbing enough to use Zinc Oxide nanoparticles more and more often. 

We wrote more about nanoparticles and the concerns around them here, but the gist is that if nanoparticles were absorbed into the skin that would be a reason for legitimate health concerns. But luckily, so far research shows that sunscreen nanoparticles are not absorbed but remain on the surface of the skin or in the uppermost (dead) layer of the skin. This seems to be true even if the skin is damaged, for example, sunburnt. 

All in all, if you've found a Zinc Oxide sunscreen that you are happy to use every single day, that's fantastic and we suggest you stick with it. It's definitely one of the best, or probably even the best option out there for sun protection available worldwide. 

Also-called: Aqua | What-it-does: solvent

Good old water, aka H2O. The most common skincare ingredient of all. You can usually find it right in the very first spot of the ingredient list, meaning it’s the biggest thing out of all the stuff that makes up the product. 

It’s mainly a solvent for ingredients that do not like to dissolve in oils but rather in water. 

Expand to read more

Once inside the skin, it hydrates, but not from the outside - putting pure water on the skin (hello long baths!) is drying. 

One more thing: the water used in cosmetics is purified and deionized (it means that almost all of the mineral ions inside it is removed). Like this, the products can stay more stable over time. 

An often used emollient with a light and silky feel. It's very mild to both skin and eyes and spreads nicely and easily. It's often used in sunscreens as it's also an excellent solvent for sunscreen agents. 

What-it-does: solvent

A nice, multi-functional helper ingredient that's especially useful in sunscreens. It can solubilize some commonly used UV-filters like Oxybenzone or Avobenzone and it can also help to increase the SPF rating of sunscreens. It's also cosmetically elegant, has excellent spreadability and a pleasant, moisturizing skin feel. Oh, and according to Wikipedia, it even helps to stabilize famously unstable UVA-filter, Avobenzonee.

Glycerin - goodie
Also-called: Glycerol | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0
  • A natural moisturizer that’s also in our skin
  • Super common, used for more than 50 years
  • Not only a simple moisturizer but plays an important role in keeping the stuff between our skin cells healthy
  • High-glycerin moisturizers are awesome for treating severely dry skin
Read all the geeky details about Glycerin here >>

A white powdery thing that's the major component of glass and sand. In cosmetics, it’s often in products that are supposed to keep your skin matte as it has great oil-absorbing abilities. It’s also used as a helper ingredient to thicken up products or suspend insoluble particles. 

A film-forming polymer (big molecule from repeated subunits) to create water-resistant sunscreen formulas. It also improves the SPF value of sunscreen formulas (approx. 11-18% boost in SPF per 1% Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer). 

What-it-does: emollient | Irritancy: 1 | Comedogenicity: 4

An emollient ester (oily liquid from Isostearyl Alcohol + Isostearic Acid) that gives excellent slip, lubricity and luxurious softness on skin. It's also popular in makeup products to disperse pigments nicely and evenly. 

What-it-does: emollient

An emollient ester with a rich and creamy but non-greasy skin feel. It makes skin supple and protects dry skin. 

What-it-does: viscosity controlling

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: emollient

A clear, odorless, very light emollient ester that helps to achieve light textures. It has great spreadability, a good slip, and a silky skin feel.  It's ideal to solubilize sunscreen agents and fragrances. It's also touted as a volatile (evaporates from the skin rather than absorbs into it) silicone alternative, especially to replace Cyclomethicone mixes.

What-it-does: emollient

A clear, colorless, almost odorless oil that spreads nicely and easily and gives a velvet dry skin feel. It is good friends with sunscreen agents and helps to solubilize them. Also, it makes sunscreens feel lighter and spread easier. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: preservative

It’s pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, but even more importantly, it’s not a feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason paraben.

It’s not something new: it was introduced around 1950 and today it can be used up to 1% worldwide. It can be found in nature - in green tea - but the version used in cosmetics is synthetic. 

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Other than having a good safety profile and being quite gentle to the skin it has some other advantages too. It can be used in many types of formulations as it has great thermal stability (can be heated up to 85°C) and works on a wide range of pH levels (ph 3-10). 

It’s often used together with ethylhexylglycerin as it nicely improves the preservative activity of phenoxyethanol.

What-it-does: emulsifying | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 2

A handy helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix nicely together.  

What-it-does: emulsifying

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: preservative

Though the official function of P-Anisic Acid is masking (meaning that it helps to mask not so nice smells in the product), according to manufacturer info it is rather used as a preservative. It is a skin friendly organic acid that works against fungi

What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

A glycerin and lauric acid derived multi-functional ingredient that works as a co-emulsifier (helps water and oil to mix together next to other emulsifiers), emollient (makes skin nice and smooth) and anti-microbial agent (preservative booster). 

What-it-does: surfactant/cleansing

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

It's a film-forming polymer (a large molecule composed of many repeated subunits) that comes to the formula usually as part of an emulsifier, thickener trio (with C13-14 Isoparaffin and Laureth-7). This trio is an easy-to-use liquid that helps to create nice, non-tacky gel formulas

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

It's a petroleum derived emollient and thickener. It often comes to the formula as part of an emulsifier, thickener trio (with Polyacrylamide and Laureth-7). This trio is an easy-to-use liquid that helps to create nice, non-tacky gel formulas. 

What-it-does: moisturizer/humectant

It's a sweet tasting sugar substitute that helps your skin to hold onto water when used in cosmetic products. It also helps to thicken up products and give them a bit more slip. 

A fatty alcohol (the non-drying type) that is used to increase the viscosity of the formula and it also helps the oily and the watery parts to stay nicely mixed together (called emulsion stabilizing). 

Zinc Gluconate - goodie
What-it-does: anti-acne, soothing

If you are fighting acne and have looked into oral supplements, chances are that zinc gluconate sounds familiar to you. It is a zinc salt that has research proving it to be effective against inflammatory acne, though not quite as effective as the antibiotic minocycline (31.2% vs. 63.4% success rate). However, zinc supplements are easily available, have little-to-no side effects, so supplementing them with a 30mg per day dose can still be a good idea.

As for smearing zinc gluconate all over your face, it is also not a bad idea. Zinc has multiple magic abilities: it is antibacterial (including evil, acne-causing P. acnes) and sebum-regulating (5α-reductase inhibitor), great for acne-prone skin types. It also stimulates antioxidant enzyme systems (mainly superoxide dismutase) and has nice wound healing abilities acting mainly in the first, proliferation phase. So great for skin types in need of healing and soothing.

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What about the gluconate part? It is there to promote the absorption and bioavailability of zinc and also plays a role in cellular regeneration (involved in the synthesis of ribose sugars, structural components of DNA and RNA).

Tocopherol - superstar
Also-called: Vitamin E | What-it-does: antioxidant | Irritancy: 2 | Comedogenicity: 2
  • Primary fat-soluble antioxidant in our skin
  • Significant photoprotection against UVB rays
  • Vit C + Vit E work in synergy and provide great photoprotection
  • Has emollient properties
  • Easy to formulate, stable and relatively inexpensive
Read all the geeky details about Tocopherol here >>

A liquid fatty acid created from oleic acid. It's claimed to have great odour, thermal and oxidation stability and is great for  the stabilization of pigments and mineral particles in oils and solvents. It's quite popular in foundations.

What-it-does: emulsifying

A so-called dispersant or dispersing agent that's used in inorganic (titanium dioxide/zinc oxide based) sunscreens or in make-up products to help to distribute the pigments nicely and evenly on the skin. It's also claimed to increase the UV absorption of the sunscreen formula as well as to reduce the annoying white cast left behind by inorganic sunscreens.

Also-called: Aluminum Oxide, Al2O3 | What-it-does: viscosity controlling, absorbent/mattifier

A multi-functional helper ingredient that's used mainly as a pigment carrier.  The pigment can be an inorganic sunscreen (such as titanium dioxide) or a colorant that is blended with alumina platelets and then often coated with some kind of silicone (such as triethoxycaprylylsilane). This special treatment enables pigments to be evenly dispersed in the formula and to be spread out easily and evenly upon application. It is super useful both for mineral sunscreens as well as for makeup products. 

Other than that, alumina can also be used as an absorbent (sometimes combined with the mattifying powder called polymethylsilsesquioxane), a viscosity controlling or an opacifying (reduces the transparency of the formula) agent.

What-it-does: emollient

Bearing a close relationship to the famous Dimethicone, Methicone is the slightly trimmed down version missing the methyl (-CH3)  groups on one side of the silicone chain. Like most silicones, it has nice emollient properties and improves the spreadability of products.

But Methicone's main thing in practice is not being an emollient but a silicone fluid for hydrophobization treatment of powders, i.e. making solid powders (mineral filters & color pigments) very water resistant and easily spreadable. Methicone does this by absorbing traces of water from the surface of pigments that is very useful for mineral sunscreens and makeup products. 

What-it-does: preservative

If you have spotted ethylhexylglycerin on the ingredient list, most probably you will see there also the current IT-preservative, phenoxyethanol. They are good friends because ethylhexylglycerin can boost the effectiveness of phenoxyethanol (and other preservatives) and as an added bonus it feels nice on the skin too.

Also, it's an effective deodorant and a medium spreading emollient

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: chelating

Super common little helper ingredient that helps products to remain nice and stable for a longer time. It does so by neutralizing the metal ions in the formula (that usually get into there from water) that would otherwise cause some not so nice changes.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

It's one of the most commonly used thickeners and emulsion stabilizers. If the product is too runny, a little of xanthan gum will make it more gel-like.  Used alone, it can make the formula sticky so it is usually combined with other thickeners and so-called rheology modifiers (helper ingredients that adjust the flow and thus the feel of the formula). 

Btw, Xanthan gum is all natural, a chain of sugar molecules (polysaccharide) produced from individual sugar molecules (glucose and sucrose) via fermentation. It’s approved by Ecocert and also used in the food industry (E415). 

A not-very-interesting helper ingredient that is used as an emulsifier and/or surfactant. Comes from a coconut oil derived fatty alcohol, lauryl alcohol.

Lecithin - goodie
What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

A very common ingredient that can be found in all cell membranes. In cosmetics it's quite the multi-tasker: it's an emollient and water-binding ingredient but it's also an emulsifier and can be used for stabilization purposes. It's also often used to create liposomes

Also-called: Iron Oxide Red | What-it-does: colorant

CI 77491 or Iron Oxide is a super common colorant  with the color red. 

Also-called: Omega-9 fatty acid | What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying

A common fatty acid that can be found in lots of plant oils. Its name, "oleic", means derived from olive oil, a plant oil rich in oleic acid, but avocado, macadamia and marula oils, just to name a few, are also oleic rich.

Its chemical structure is monounsaturated, meaning it has one double bond (cis-9) that makes it less kinky than polyunsaturated fatty acids with multiple double bonds. Less kinkiness means that oleic acid and OA-rich oils are a bit thicker and heavier than their LA-rich siblings.

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Maybe this thickness is the reason that Oleic acid is considered comedogenic, and if you have acne-prone skin avoid OA-rich plant oils, and choose linoleic acid-rich versions instead.

The thickness of OA also means that OA-rich oils are considered more nourishing and moisturizing than their LA-rich counterparts, and are generally considered to be more suitable for dry, mature skin types. 

As for oleic acid in its free form (and by free we mean that it is not bound up in a triglyceride structure like it is in oils), it mostly serves as an emulsifier or emulsion stabilizer in small amounts in regular cosmetic products. It is also quite well researched and is used in the pharmaceutical industry as a penetration enhancer

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