The truth behind powder sunscreens

By Arushi Sakhuja  
Sunscreens are a trans-seasonal beauty staple, while some may believe skipping sunscreen on gloomy is an option, let us tell you that’s not a wise choice. Fact is sunscreen is a non-negotiable part of your beauty regimen, be it a creamy formula, powder or gel-based. A few new formulations that have been gaining popularity include gel-based sunscreens and lightweight serums. These formulations often provide a cooling effect and can be suitable for oily or acne-prone skin. Additionally, sunscreens with hybrid formulas, such as tinted moisturizers with SPF or sunscreen-infused primers, are also becoming more popular as they combine sun protection with other skincare benefits.
Sunscreen lotions can be a menace give their greasy feeling, the subsequent breakouts, and that lingering smell all day. With sunscreen formulas evolving beyond the original white cream colour, it’s easier than ever to wear SPF every single day – especially thanks to the emergence of tinted sunscreens. One such development is powder sunscreen which makes it easier to re-apply sunscreen throughout the day. Everyone from beauty enthusiasts to dermatologists to non-greasy-sunscreen advocates are all about it. Imagine applying a mattifying powder that evens skin tone, covers blemishes, and blocks harmful UV rays, now that’s a dream, isn’t it?
powder sunscreens r
Photo Courtesy: Pexels
But does a powder provide the same protection as slathering on your favorite lotion sunscreen? Because powdered sunscreen bridges skincare and makeup, some have raised questions about whether the SPF integrated in the product is enough to use as a primary sun protection method every day. How exactly do you use powder sunscreen, and is it as effective? We asked the experts how we should be working this new option into our skin-care routines. Ahead, dermatologists Dr. Geetika Mittal Gupta, Aesthetic physician and founder of ISAAC Luxe and Dr Kiran Sethi, Skincare expert, author and Founder Isya, share everything you need to know about using, applying, and re-applying SPF with powder sunscreen.
What are powder sunscreens? 
Powder-based sunscreens mimic the powder-setting products that stay on the skin for a long time, hence making it easy to use and suitable for summer. Keeping the oily, greasiness at bay, these are especially convenient for reapplying over makeup during the day. As the name suggests, powder sunscreens are a type of sunscreen that comes in a powdered form, says Dr Kiran. “They typically contain active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays. The powder is finely milled, allowing it to be easily applied to the skin. To enhance the effectiveness of powder sunscreens, some formulations may also include additional ingredients like antioxidants or anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help to neutralize free radicals generated by UV radiation and reduce the risk of inflammation or other skin damage caused by sun exposure.” While it has the texture of loose setting powder, it also offers effective protection from UV rays. The powder creates a physical block over the top of your skin, shielding it from UV rays by not allowing them to penetrate through.
powder sunscreens r
Photo Courtesy: Pexels
In essence powder sunscreens are extremely lightweight, so they’re especially good in the summer months because they can mattify the skin, are easy to use over makeup, for reapplication, and aren’t heavy like a cream or lotion. But on the downside, Dr Geetika cautions us by saying, ” As they are difficult to apply correctly, it is hard to get enough on your skin for sufficient sun protection.” Why you may ask, she explains, “You can’t get an even application of powder sunscreen because powder application is erratic, the powder is really light and it disperses unevenly across your skin. It’s simply not possible to get perfect powder sunscreen coverage to achieve the SPF 20, 30 or 50 that’s labeled on the product.”
So the question remains how does powder sunscreen differ from creamy and stick sunscreens formula? Is powder sunscreen as effective as a stick or cream sunscreen?
Powder sunscreen vs other formulas  
If greasy,creamy formulas aren’t an option for you, then there is a way to protect your skin that doesn’t involve any of the above: powder sunscreens. Powder sunscreens have gained popularity due to their convenience, lightweight texture, and ability to absorb excess oil. They’re easy to glide on and essentially fuss-free. The cherry on top? They can even be applied over makeup. But in contrast to other formulations, you might be a little sceptical at first wondering if the powder just sits on top of your skin instead of absorbing into it, how does it not just wipe off the minute you walk outside or touch your face? To tell us more about the formulation Dr Geetika shared, ” Cream sunscreens are emulsions of oil and water. Emulsions have an easy-to-spread texture that makes it less likely you’ll miss spots during application. Applying and reapplying this quantity will ensure you reap the sun protection factor (SPF) shown on the sunscreen bottle. Powder sunscreens are a portable, convenient option for reapplying sunscreen to the face and scalp. Their formulas contain the mineral sunscreens titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in powder form.”
Dr. Kiran Sethi
Dr. Kiran Sethi
Adding further, Dr Kiran says, “Powder sunscreen differs from cream and stick sunscreens in terms of its formulation. Cream sunscreens typically contain a higher concentration of moisturizing ingredients, making them suitable for dry or normal skin types. Stick sunscreens are solid formulations that are convenient for on-the-go applications. On the other hand, powder sunscreens have a lightweight and sheer texture, making them ideal for people who prefer a more natural or matte finish. They are often recommended for oily or acne-prone skin types as they can help absorb excess oil and minimize shine. Powder sunscreens are also easy to reapply throughout the day without the need to touch the face or disturb makeup.” But on the flip side, powder sunscreens may not provide as much coverage as cream or stick sunscreens, especially if not applied generously, says Dr Kiran. Given the convenience and ease of use, many people are fans of SPF powders because they make sunscreen protection so easy. Having said that are they effective enough?
How effective are powder sunscreens? 
And while sunscreen comes in lotions, sprays, sticks and gels, you might be wondering if powder sunscreen is just as powerful at protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. Effective sun protection has always been an important keyword in skincare. Therefore, it is only right to as how effective is this beauty innovation. The answer isn’t a clear-cut yes or no, rather the lines are blurred. Powder sunscreens are effective, but not when you use them as your primary sunscreen. In terms of efficacy, traditional creams and lotions tend to have the best coverage. To effectively use powder sunscreen, it should be used as a touch-up method every two hours after first applying a traditional, liquid sunscreen ” Use a powder sunscreen as a second layer of protection on top of a liquid broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen,” affirms Dr Geetika. This is because UV skin sun protection depends on putting enough product on and you cannot tell how much powder is dispensed from a powder sunscreen applicator she adds further. It is very difficult to ensure even application or appropriate thickness with powder sunscreens. Because of the small particles found in powder sunscreen, ensuring that every bit of your face is adequately covered is sometimes easier said than done, which is why these tend to work better as a touch-up to your existing sunscreen regimen.
Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta
Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta
In spite of the words of caution, there is a silver lining. For Dr Kiran, “Powder sunscreen can be effective in providing sun protection, but its effectiveness may depend on factors such as the amount applied and the coverage achieved. Powder sunscreens with sufficient amounts of active ingredients, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, can offer comparable protection to cream or stick sunscreens.” But the effectiveness boils down to the right usage. To apply powder sunscreen it’s best to tap or brush it onto clean, dry skin. Be sure to use a brush or a sponge applicator specifically designed for powder application and apply the product all over. To conclude the argument Dr Geetika stated, “Powder sunscreen is not suitable for initial application, so they would not be as effective as cream and stick formulas as they both give full coverage.” While powder sunscreens do not give you the same level of protection that traditional sunscreen does, it does tout some benefits. It can be used over makeup, give your skin a matte finish and it can be applied on the go.
powder sunscreens r
Photo Courtesy: Pexels
Coming to the skin type that powder sunscreens work for the best, all reasons point towards oily skin. Powder sunscreens are generally recommended for oily or acne-prone skin types due to their ability to absorb excess oil and provide a matte finish. However, they can be used by individuals with other skin types as well, depending on their preferences and desired finish. But As powder dries skin and rub off your skin, It is not recommended for dry, sensitive and skin-containing inflammatory conditions.
Powder sunscreens are favourable for many reasons, but not as effective as traditional formulaes. Dr Kiran believes that the most effective sunscreen is one that provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for sunscreens labelled with “broad-spectrum” and with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Ultimately, the choice of sunscreen formulation depends on individual preferences, skin type, and specific needs. In tandem with Dr Kiran’s comment Dr Geetik says, “The most reliable form of sunscreen is likely liquid. It’s easiest to measure how much you’re using, so you can achieve the advertised amount of SPF protection. Powder sunscreen can’t be measured, so it’s not as reliable.” Hence it’s safe to reach the conclusion that powder sunscreens are convenient options for touch-ups but shouldn’t replace your traditional sunscreen.
 You may also like: 
Prada’s new makeup and skincare range brings together beauty and tech
All the latest beauty launches