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What’s in Your Sunscreen?

What’s in Your Sunscreen?

There is no product more integral to the health of our skin than sunscreen. And yet, with all its ability to protect our complexions from premature aging and our skin cells from developing life-threatening cancers, sunscreen remains one of the least understood and under-utilized skincare products on the market.

Skin Nutrients: Gourmet vs. Fast Food

As with everything in life, the quality and efficacy of sunscreen products ranges wildly. Many people associate the value of a sunscreen with how well it prevents sunburns, while failing to appreciate the manner in which the role of sunscreen expands far beyond superficial benefits.

Sunscreen prevents burning in the same way soap gets dirt off the skin, moisturizers relieve itching, and food satiates hunger. While these things perform their most basic functions without much variation in result (fast food will cure you of your hunger just as well a home-cooked and nutrient-dense meal) there are countless factors associated with the things we choose to put in and on our bodies that significantly affect our overall health.

Our skin is an organ. It takes in nutrients, it reacts to the world around us, and it changes, sometimes irreversibly, when it encounters outside stimulation. As such a vital component of our bodies, our skin must maintain a healthy topical diet of skincare products rich in active ingredients designed to support all the actions our skin takes on a daily basis to keep us safe.

UV Protect and UV Protect Matte by Lumen

Lumen offers two sunscreen options: UV Protect and UV Protect Matte. Both products are mineral-based, chemical-free, reef-safe, and provide SPF40 broad-spectrum coverage from both UVA and UVB radiation. In addition to preventing sun burning (associated with UVB rays), our UV Protect sunscreens also shield the skin from UVA: a task not associated with many over-the-counter products. While UVB rays are blocked relatively easily (which is why clothing, windshields, and cheap sunscreens prevent burning), UVA rays penetrate much deeper into the skin and are not so easily avoided. Additionally, UVA rays are much more dangerous to our skin—resulting in premature aging, wrinkles, discoloration, and certain forms of cancers.

Minerals Make all the Difference

We’re all familiar with the portrayal of the 70’s and 80’s era beach dad, lounging in his reclining chair with a large glob of white lotion smeared over the bridge of his nose. The white in the lotion comes from the addition of zinc; and despite its appearance, that comical smear did a terrific job of protecting the skin from sun damage.

Thankfully, skincare formulations have come a long way in the past few decades. However, mineral-based sunscreens (also known as chemical-free or physical sunscreens) remain at the top of the list when it comes to offering the full range of sun protection.

Many mineral-based sunscreens have a tendency to be heavier and thicker to apply. For this reason, some people prefer not to use them, favoring more sheer alternatives that contain chemical filters like oxybenzone, avobenzone, helioplex, and octinoxate (which give sunscreen that nostalgic sunscreen odor and also provide a more lightweight application.)

The problem with chemical sunscreens is that they absorb the sun's rays rather than reflecting them, resulting in chemical bonds slowly breaking down and releasing heat into the skin. This can be problematic for patients who are treating certain skin conditions, such as melasma or rosacea, where an increase of heat in the skin can exacerbate their condition. 

UV Protect and UV Protect Matte are entirely chemical-free and include a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to highly reflect and scatter all forms of UV radiation. The addition of iron oxides provides these sunscreens with their signature tint to help blend with your natural skin tone. The main difference between these products is that UV Protect contains an additional moisturizing agent, which provides a dewy, hydrating appearance particularly suited to sensitive, dry, and post-procedure skin; while UV Protect Matte offers a mattifying finish.

Additionally, Lumen’s sunscreens do not contain a preservative system because there is no water in the formulas. This is notable, as you should be wearing sunscreen daily and preservative systems kill cells indiscriminately. The absence of a preservative system provides a healthier alternative to sun protection. There are also multiple antioxidants within these two sunscreens to help absorb any UV radiation that may sneak through your application. 


The presence of iron oxides lends a natural tint to UV Protect and UV Protect Matte, but also provides highly effective UV and visible light protection (including blue light). The tint from the iron oxides also masks some imperfections and helps to even out your complexion. 

Purchase your first Lumen sunscreen today by visiting our online shop.

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