You've heard it a million times — and you'll hear it a million more — sunscreen is a year-round essential. There are two categories of sunscreen filters: physical — also known as mineral — and chemical. More and more dermatologists are urging patients to use physical blocks, namely zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. "This is due to a recent FDA study showing that chemical sunscreens are being absorbed into the bloodstream at alarming rates — way over the level deemed safe by the FDA," says dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, Dr. Dennis Gross. "One ingredient — oxybenzone — showed an absorption rate 188 times the safe level after one application."
Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, are not absorbed into the bloodstream and are thus often considered to be the better choice. Dr. Gross also points out that sunscreen is irreplaceable when it comes to protecting against skin cancer, and you should not stop using it every day, year-round. "If you have a sunscreen you love, there is no problem using the same one all year round. I recommend at least an SPF 30 for everyday use — even in the winter and even when inside as UVA/UVB rays can penetrate windows and damage skin."
Dr. Gross' top pick is his brand's Dark Spot Sun Defense SPF 50. "It only contains physical blocks and yet it's elegant without the white pasty look — a breakthrough in physical sunscreens; most people complain that physical SPFs leave a white cast, this one doesn't. It also has anti-aging ingredients and antioxidants to help prevent damage from UVA/UVB rays, protect against photo-aging and even skin's texture and tone."
Click through the slideshow to see more dermatologist-approved picks.
Image via Imaxtree
"This sunscreen delivers broad spectrum protection in a base enriched with colloidal oatmeal. Oat extract has been shown to soothe, hydrate and protect the skin, which is especially useful if you are dry or sensitive. Plus. we know that UV light can damage the skin barrier, making oat extract a useful ingredient in sunscreen." — Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, and the director of cosmetic & clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital
"This all natural sunscreen uses only zinc oxide as its UV blocker. Unlike most mineral sunscreens which leave a white film on the skin, this sunscreen rubs in fully and does not leave the skin feeling greasy or heavy." — Dr. Zeichner
"This fragrance free, all natural sunscreen protects the skin from the sun without any chemical filters. It has a non-greasy, lightweight formula and is easy to apply in a stick formula. It can be used for babies and for their parents as well. For optimal protection, stick sunscreens should be applied back and forth four passes on the skin then rubbed in." — Dr. Zeichner