For those of us who have hyperpigmentation such as melasma or blackheads from scars and pimples, sunlight is the enemy. It can make the discoloration deeper and harder to get rid of. While using SPF is generally essential for managing hyperpigmentation, Elizabeth Kream, MD, a Chicago-based dermatologist, says it is especially helpful to look for mineral sunscreens that contain iron oxide.
“If you are prone to hyperpigmentation, and especially for people with colored skin, use a natural sunscreen, especially one with iron oxide,” says Dr. Kream, who is currently in her third year at the University of Illinois. Chicago. “Choose a natural sunscreen with a shade. The shade usually means that there is also the active ingredient iron oxide and this ingredient also provides protection from visible light in addition to protection from ultraviolet radiation. Visible light is what we see – it is what goes through windows and is a known aggravator of melasma and photoaging ”.
A 2020 study, which examined the effectiveness of iron oxide sunscreens on colored skin, confirms that these formulas should be the top choice for those with hyperpigmentation. He found that iron oxide-containing formulations “significantly protect against staining caused by visible light compared to untreated skin or sunscreen SPF 50+ in Fitzpatrick IV individuals” or people with darker skin tones. In addition, “these results underscore that formulas containing iron oxide in base form have dual functions and can provide additional benefits to patients’ daily routines, covering up existing pigmentation and preventing the development of pigmentation caused by sun exposure.” extending protection beyond the UV spectrum “.
Another study from 2021 found that iron oxide sunscreens “provide enhanced protection against blue light, especially when combined with zinc oxide”, which means they add another level of protection against photoaging.
In general, mineral sunscreens are a better choice than the corresponding chemicals for anyone experiencing melasma or blackheads, because chemical formulas can cause unintentional hyperpigmentation. “The mechanism of action of chemical sunscreens is that they absorb sunlight and convert it into heat. These particles are then stimulated and when they return to their unstimulated basic state, they will release heat to our skin and heat is a known stimulant of molasses.” “Unlike chemical sunscreens, natural sunscreens do not absorb ultraviolet radiation and dissipate heat, but simply reflect ultraviolet radiation,” says Dr. Kream.
Although iron oxide is a mineral inhibitor, it is not often used as a stand-alone sunscreen such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. So while you will probably see one (or both) of these as active ingredients, iron oxides are often mentioned in the Inactive Ingredients section.
Once you get your sunscreen, make sure you apply two fingers to your face and neck every two hours for optimal protection. Buy three of our favorite iron oxide sunscreens below.
3 best iron oxide sunscreens for hyperpigmentation
EltaMD UV Elements Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 – $ 39.00
This colored mineral sunscreen is made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection along with iron oxide for visible light protection. It is also rich in antioxidants to fight free radicals that cause skin aging and contains hyaluronic acid to extinguish and replenish dry skin.
SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 – $ 36.00
This SPF 50 sunscreen uses zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and iron oxide to protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation and visible light, while artemia salina, a plankton extract, helps to strengthen the skin’s natural defenses and resistance to stress caused by ultraviolet radiation and heat.
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