How to Choose a Daily Sunscreen for Pigmentation & Melasma
The skincare industry has experienced a recent boom in growth with a projected revenue of nearly $200 billion in the next 5 years. Widespread social media use coupled with an influx of new brands and products have ignited the industry.
One notable byproduct of the surge in skincare dialogue is the spotlight it shines on sunscreen use. Wearing sunscreen is a quick and easy preventative health care step to take in your skincare regimen. For those with skin concerns like hyperpigmentation or melasma, specific sunscreens work better than others.
If you're someone with pigmentation or melasma concerns, this article will walk through how to choose the right sunscreen that best fits your needs. But first...
What is Melasma?
Melasma is one of many different types of hyperpigmentation, along with age spots, sunspots, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can occur as a result of an excess amount of melanin production.
Generally speaking, an increase in sun exposure leads to an increase in skin pigmentation. However, other risk factors can include things like birth control, trauma to the skin, or family history.
One of the best ways to treat or prevent melasma is to get into the habit of utilizing sunscreen. Sunscreen is one of the best ways to treat hyperpigmentation, but not all sunscreens are suitable for all skincare concerns. Let's explore a few different sunscreen options.
The Skin and UV Rays
The words melasma and hyperpigmentation may sound intimidating, but treatment for these sorts of skin concerns above may simply come down to using the right sunscreen type.
Damage from overexposure to UV rays causes pigment-producing skin cells to become overly active. This results in certain skin spots becoming darker than others. Which is where sunscreen comes in. The SPF present in sunscreen blocks the UV rays that are the cause of damage to the skin, thus protecting any skin problems from worsening.
While UV rays are damaging, visible light is equally so. Visible light comes from the sun, but it also comes from the things we use every day like computer screens and lightbulbs. One of the differences between UV rays and visible light is that visible light penetrates deeper into the skin, thus exacerbating skin conditions like melasma.
Now, when it comes to blocking all forms of light, not all sunscreens are made equal. There are two types of sunscreens: mineral and chemical. Each has its own mechanics for protecting the skin from damaging UV rays.
Let's take a look at each to see which may be the best option for you and your skin.
Mineral sunscreens contain one or two active SPF ingredients that prevent the penetration of UV rays into the skin: zinc oxide and or titanium dioxide. They sit on the surface of the skin and provide physical protection from UV rays.
Mineral sunscreens work a little bit like a disco ball, meaning the sunscreen deflects and scatters UV rays away from the skin like small mirrors. This type of sunscreen works at a surface level and sits on top of the skin. Some positives to using mineral sunscreen:
- Blocks both UVA and UVB rays
- Immediately effective upon application
- Won't clog your pores
What i love about the mineral sunscreens that contain Zinc Oxide is that not only do they help to protect you from the sun but Zinc oxide is also know to increase wound healing & reepithelialisation which is great for any skin type that experiences inflammation or redness.
While mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin like a physical barrier, chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin and sit deep into the layers. Rather than deflecting and bouncing UV rays off the skin, chemical sunscreens absorb the sun's rays, converting them into heat. Upon which, the heat is then released from the skin.
Chemical sunscreens provide ample protection with a minimal amount of product needed. It spreads easily across the skin and generally applies without the signature white cast that comes from mineral sunscreens.
Some of the chemical spf actives can create irritation and inflammation in the skin which can be a trigger to post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. For the purpose of treating and preventing melasma and hyperpigmentation we recommend sticking to a Mineral sunscreen with the least amount of potential irritants as possible.
Sunscreen for Melasma
So, which sunscreen is best for melasma and hyperpigmentation treatment? Your first step is to ensure you're using sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30.
After that, your best bet may be to use a tinted sunscreen. Tinted sunscreens help protect from the sun's rays as well as visible, artificial light. This is important because visible light has the ability to exacerbate conditions like melasma.
The best sunscreen option for melasma and hyperpigmentation skins is a Mineral sunscreen with iron oxides (tinted) and the least amount of potential irritants as possible.
Tinted sunscreens contain iron oxides with added pigments to reflect away damaging visible light. The added pigments combined with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB filters help protect your skin at all levels.
This ingredient gets added to sunscreens and helps increase the efficacy of protection for your skin. UVA and visible light rays are particularly damaging for those with melasma or similar skin concerns. Iron oxide reduces the transmission of such rays onto the skin.
Iron oxide is a powerhouse ingredient as it is effective at absorbing all forms of light wavelengths, thus protecting the skin more effectively.
Make It a Habit
Remember, there are basic steps you can take every day to help your melasma. Melasma is induced by UV rays and the presence of visible light. Therefore, choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from all forms is your best bet. In addition, choose a sunscreen with proper SPF.
If you're someone who struggles to remember to use your sunscreen every day, be sure to choose a sunscreen that you love. If you've got a sunscreen that leaves your skin feeling fresh and glowy, you'll be more likely to continue using it. It will become easier to make it a habit, and in time, will help your melasma or pigmentation issues.
As an aside, sunscreen is safe to use every day during pregnancy. If you're looking at specific types of sunscreen for pregnancy melasma, it is best to use a mineral sunscreen to avoid any blockers getting absorbed into the skin.
We All Scream for Sunscreen
When it comes to your skin, you want complete protection. If you deal with certain skin conditions like melasma, protection from the sun and visible light rays become even more crucial.
From tinted anti-pigmentation sunscreens to heat-absorbing mineral sunscreens, it is important to apply it daily. At Sunny Skin, we have a wide range of products dedicated to keeping your skin healthy. Feel free to browse through any of our sunscreens here today!