The moment when you suddenly realize you're an adult can come amid a seemingly random activity — depositing money in your newly-formed 401k, making dinner that consists of something other than almond milk and cereal, leading your first department meeting at work. For us, though, that moment came when we finally mastered the fine art of applying sunscreen.
Finding your perfect SPF number and knowing exactly when you need to reapply, and how often, made us feel like we had become true, responsible grown-ups. Now, we can spend a weekend by the pool and not have to deal with the judgy looks of our coworkers on Monday when they catch sight of our lobster skin! But, along with that newfound diligence and lack of sunburns came something troubling: zits.
According to dermatologist Jennifer M. Segal, MD, two things can cause sunscreen-related breakouts: occlusion of the pores by comedogenic materials, or a sensitivity reaction to chemical UV-blocking agents. Basically, the mineral sunscreens can sit on top of the skin and gunk up your pores, while the chemical ones can irritate the skin.
Yep, hell hath no fury like acne-prone skin after a thick coating of zinc oxide. Your pores look at SPF like you might look at a big vat of Crisco: You can't seriously be considering putting that on, right? It's a cruel cosmic joke of damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Apply sunscreen and wait for the pimples to start cropping up, or ditch it and risk melanoma and wrinkles. The choice on that one is pretty clear for us — so we had resigned ourselves to a summer full of blemishes.
Until now. Thanks to some forward-thinking developments in formulations, all of this is starting to change. "Traditionally, mineral blocks have been very thick, but newer micronized formulations of zinc and titanium dioxide are smooth, cosmetically elegant, and very light," says Dr. Segal. Hallelujah.
Ahead, we've rounded up tried-and-tested mineral and chemical (for those of you allergic or unable to get on the mineral-SPF train) sunscreens that we've spent the last month slathering on our faces and bodies.
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