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How effective and safe is powder sunscreen?

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There are many powder sunscreens on the market, tailored to those who wear makeup throughout the day or those who have skin allergies or sensitivities. But how good is powdered sunscreen at protecting you? Let’s take a look at powder sunscreen’s effectiveness, safety and alternatives.

Many people choose to use powder sunscreen to help combat oily skin or to wear over their makeup. Many of these products are available in high SPF options. However, in the United States the US Food and Drug Administration has restricted the marketing of any non-prescription sunscreen products in powder form. For the FDA, the jury is still out on this type of product. Why? There can be two main concerns with the use of powder sunscreen[i].

The first issue with using powder sunscreen is that users may accidentally inhale some of the product as it is applied to the skini. Many sunscreens include titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as their protective agent, and in a liquid form these nanoparticles cannot pass easily into the body[ii]. The concern is that with a finely ground sunscreen product, some particles could make their way into the lungs – a situation not ideal in any case.

The second risk of powder sunscreen is that of coveragei. By applying the product only to the face, people may be failing to cover their ears, hairline, neck and elsewhere on the body and therefore exposing their skin to harmful UV rays. Additionally, if the product is only lightly applied, it is possible that its full SPF protection might not be provided.

How do I find the best powder sunscreen for my face and body?

Cancer Council Australia recommends using a broad spectrum and water resistant sunscreen of SPF30+ or above[iii]. If you’re planning to swim or will be active in the sun, it’s a particularly good idea to choose a water resistant option and reapply it regularly. If you’re searching for the best sunscreen for oily skin, there are plenty of lightweight lotions and milks available. If you’re looking specifically for mineral makeup sun protection, this can also be found in liquid and cream forms.

If you do use powder sunscreen, remember to apply it in a well-ventilated area, avoid breathing it in and ensure that the product is evenly applied to all exposed skin. As with any sunscreen, choose a broad-spectrum option that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation and a high SPF such as SPF50+.

As well as applying sunscreen before you venture out, it’s important to have your skin checked regularly for any skin cancer symptoms. To book an appointment in your area, free call SunDoctors Skin Cancer Clinics on 13SKIN (13 75 46) today.


[i] https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/the-new-rules-for-sunscreen/

[ii] Therapeutic Goods Administration scientific review report. “Literature review on the safety of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens”. (Australian Government Department of Health, 2017).

[iii] http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/preventing-skin-cancer/

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