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Why Does Mineral Sunscreen Leave A White Cast?

Mineral sunscreen comes with its share of woes, amidst its huge bag of benefits! One such woe is the white cast - a pale residue that makes one look chalky and unnatural, caused due to the presence of mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  

In this blog, we will discuss the science behind why a mineral based sunscreen leaves a white cast and some pro tips on how it can be avoided.

What is a White Cast?

White cast refers to a visible, chalky residue or layer left on the skin’s surface after applying sunscreen. It is particularly more noticeable in individuals with darker skin tones. This effect is more common with a mineral based sunscreen that is formulated with active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide than a chemical based suncreen.

What is a Mineral Sunscreen and Why Does it Leave a White Cast?

Mineral sunscreen, also known as physical sunscreen, is a type of sunscreen that is made up of active mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that create a protective barrier on the skin's surface. Unlike a chemical sunscreen that absorbs UV rays and releases them in the form of heat, the active ingredients in a mineral based sunscreen work by reflecting and scattering UV rays, preventing them from penetrating the skin and causing damage.

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the key ingredients in a mineral sunscreen are naturally white in color. These particles remain on the skin’s surface forming a physical shield against UV rays, thus resulting in a white cast. 

To address this issue, many modern mineral sunscreens incorporate nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Nanoparticles have significantly smaller particle sizes, making them less visible on the skin. However, even with the use of nanoparticles, the white cast can persist.

How to Avoid the White Cast?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to prevent or minimise the appearance of white cast:

  • Apply moisturiser first
    Begin with a hydrating moisturiser before applying your mineral sunscreen. Well-moisturised skin provides a smoother base, making it easy to blend the sunscreen into the skin. Applying sunscreen directly on dry skin makes it harder to blend and can look patchy.

  • Use a Tinted Sunscreen
    Tinted sunscreen can be a game-changer, providing effective sun protection without the unwanted white cast. Adding pigments or tints to the sunscreen helps offset the whiteness of the minerals and blend more seamlessly with various skin tones. Tinted mineral sunscreen is a popular choice for individuals with darker skin tones who often find it challenging to find a sunscreen with no white cast. To learn more about tinted sunscreens read our blog Tinted Sunscreen Unveiled: Everything You Need to Know

  • Sandiva’s One & Done Tinted Sunblock is a broad spectrum SPF 35+, PA++++ mineral sunscreen with no white cast. It comes in 4 different tints that blend in perfectly with most Indian skin tones.

  • Don't Go Overboard with the Sunscreen
    Too much of anything isn’t good and this goes for sunscreen too! Use the recommended amount of sunscreen, typically a coin-sized dollop for the face, to ensure adequate coverage without an overly thick layer that may give a chalky appearance.

  • Use a Patting Motion for Application
    Rather than rubbing the sunscreen vigorously, opt for a gentle patting or pressing motion during application. This technique helps the sunscreen adhere evenly to the skin without disturbing the moisturiser underneath or creating streaks that may intensify the white cast.

  • Wait for the Sunscreen to Do Its Job
    Allow the sunscreen sufficient time to settle and fully absorb into the skin before judging how it looks. Mineral sunscreens need a few minutes to blend and get absorbed into the skin and the white cast may diminish once the product has fully dried.

    In conclusion, while the white cast in a mineral sunscreen can be a drawback, advancements in formulation and the availability of tinted options have made these sunscreens more accessible to a wider range of skin tones. Understanding the science behind this phenomenon empowers users to make informed choices when selecting sun protection, striking a balance between effective UV defence and a natural, comfortable appearance on the skin. 
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