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MD Solar Sciences Mineral Screen SPF40


Silky smooth, no chalky residue and effective protection


A bevy of silicones
April 15, 2011 Reviewed by Marta 9 Comments
Passes sun, sweat and water test, plus plays nice with makeup

There are trade offs in life – whether you sacrifice space for location when you rent an apartment in Manhattan, or when choosing a mineral sunscreen. Natural or mineral sunscreens use titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide and the advantage is that (although there are issues with titanium dioxide) they are less potentially harmful than chemical sunscreens. The trade off is that their chalky texture and color means that you exchange sun kissed for prison pallor.  MD Solar Sciences has done its best to mitigate the Caspar effect with its Mineral Screen (now upgraded to SPF 50 and $36 in the shop). But, as in life, there is another trade off.

MD Solar Sciences uses a mix of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to achieve a broad spectrum SPF40. So far, so safe and effective. MD Solar Sciences has been equally motivated to produce a product that is cosmetically acceptable. In its own words, Mineral Screen has an “elegant cosmesis”. I am wearing it right now (the sun finally came out in NYC today) and can testify to it being super silky and light. It rubs in without much effort to become completely clear, is not at all greasy and it plays nice with makeup.

It achieves its elegant cosmesis (which has to be my favorite phrase of the week) with the help of silicone. Rather a lot of silicone. In fact, MD Solar Sciences Mineral Screen is silicone and not much else (apart from the sunscreen actives).  With so much silicone, it was time to revisit this ingredient and see if I should be wary about using this sunscreen.

Going back to a detailed post I did on silicones a while back, I was pleased to see that they are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction (the molecules are too big to penetrate the skin). The toxicity of silicones is a controversial issue, but mostly concerns are confined to the silicones that are implanted in the body. So if my sunscreen’s silicones molecules are too big to penetrate the skin, perhaps I should have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, that isn’t completely true and at best this is a gray area as far as scientific research goes. It seems that topical silicones have been shown to be toxic in animal tests but, at least according to Dow Corning (who manufacturers them), are safe if allowed to evaporate.

The other thing about silicones is that they help some ingredients penetrate the skin more effectively. Tests have been done, for example, on silicones with hydrocortisone. I don’t really want the titanium dioxide here absorbed my skin as it is a photosynthesizer and can lead to increased production of free radicals.

I have been using Mineral Screen on and off for over a week and it hasn’t caused me to breakout or suffer blocked pores. If you can get over the silicone, this is a product for someone who wants something more cosmetically acceptable than a mineral sunscreen goes heavy on the chalky zinc stuff. I’ll keep it and use it for days when I need to wear makeup and am feeling too vain for chalky residue. But the rest of the time, I’ll probably go for something more natural and risk my husband absently rubbing in the white streak on my forehead. Like I said, trade offs.

Active ingredients: titanium dioxide 7.7%, zinc oxide 3.8%

Ingredients: cyclopentasiloxane, caprylyl methicone, dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethicone vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethiconol, dimethicone, C30-45 olefin, phenyl methicone, stearoxytrimethysilane, polyglyceryl 3, polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, aluminum hydroxide, stearic acid, triethoxysilylethyl polydimethysiloxxethyl hexyl dimethicone

  • June 28, 2011

    by Marta

    Just an update that I am still using this MD solar Sciences sunscreen, but it has begun to separate out making it quite difficult to use.

  • May 15, 2011

    by Marta

    That would be great, Sunday. It's a really interesting line that I feel slightly conflicted about and so it would be great to get more opinions. Looking forward!

  • May 15, 2011

    by Sunday

    Hi Marta we took MD Solar Sciences SPF 50+ GEL to a baseball game last week...I liked it as did my Mother & Brother in law, his 2 young boys and my Hubby. I'll write my review for you!

  • May 15, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Judgy,
    Noel's comments are in many places on this website and have not been removed. Several of them are on a post called How To Prevent Wrinkles. By the way, I notice that you have the exact same IP address as Noel's - perhaps you could just ask him "in person" and he can confirm that his comments are there for all to see.

  • May 15, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Noel, I don't think you will have a white cast at all. This is perhaps the most cosmetically viable mineral sunscreen that I have come across. I gave some other MD Solar products to VIPs to test, so we should hear back on other products in the range soon.

  • May 14, 2011

    by Judgy

    For some strange reason, all the comments that Noel has posted have either been removed or is not being shown. I feel that if a reader doesn't agree with Marta, they shouldn't be banned from posting comments.....this is wrong...

  • May 14, 2011

    by Noel

    Awesome article Marta! First the analogy of apartments here in Manhattan to articulate the tradeoff of location and space is pure genius! Only those of us who live here TRULY know about this trade off!

    As I have stated in my previous comments I'm a true believe in physical sunblocks but sadly out of the dozens I have tried, I have not found one that doesn't give me a ghostly white cast since I am olive toned. You totally sold me on this product!!! I will buy this regardless if it gives me a white cast or not. Do you think the cast will be very noticeable on olive skin????

  • May 13, 2011

    by Jenna

    Thanks Martha! I love your reviews and tips. I also really like the MD SolarSciences line of mineral sunscreens. I noticed they sell sun-protective clothes on their site too...which is going on my shopping list for my kid's summer clothing :)

  • April 15, 2011

    by Emily

    Marta, thanks for the continuing TIA focus on this area--you have really been ahead of the curve. I happened to pick up the new [May] issue of Vogue yesterday and the Beauty column is on SPF--UVB vs UVA, physical vs chemical, sunblock vs sunscreen, etc.--and it made me realize what a great job TIA has done on this over the past couple of years. Incidentally, the article plugs Rodan + Fields, which I've never tried. It also mentions that a very long-awaited FDA report on sun protection is due out in early 2012, which should be interesting. Now that spring seems to be here this is all very timely! Thanks.

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