To summarize readers' recent questions on the issue of sunscreen, the following gauntlet has been thrown: find us a mineral sunscreen that doesn't leave a chalky residue, won't irritate my very sensitive skin and actually works. Surely that can't be too much to ask. In fact, it's a pretty tall order. Most mineral sunscreens give you that not-so-attractive Phantom of the Opera sheen. And, while they avoid the stigma of chemical sunscreens, they pack in as many other kinds of chemicals (preservatives and so on) as they possibly can without being labeled toxic waste.

Still, there is nothing like a futile quest to occupy a cloudy Sunday. After a little research, I submit for consideration Skyn Iceland's The Antidote Mineral Sunscreen SPF 18. I have always assumed that 'skyn' was a silly spelling of skin that was thought to look somehow Icelandic. Anyway, it turns out to be Icelandic for 'senses'. So having got passed that particular prejudice, I took a closer look at The Antidote and I'm rather impressed.

The sunscreen actives are titanium dioxide (6.30%) and zinc oxide (2.00%), but it purports to be transparent on application. What I really like about it is that it has lots of things that can repair and improve the skin (although they don't come cheap at $55). These include antioxidant plankton extract, moisturizing squalane and sodium hyaluronate, willow bark for exfoliating and cell-building (it is a good astringent and helpful for acne sufferers) and cranberry seed. A couple of more rarely seen botanicals include rubus chamaemorus seed (cloudberry), which is rich in vitamin C, and buddleja davidi, a rather scruffy shrub that is found growing along railway lines in England.

Unfortunately, there are a few things that I prefer to avoid such as aluminum hydroxide and preservatives including phenoxyethanol (an irritant at best) and tetrasodium EDTA (a pollutant).

Ingredients in Skyn Iceland

Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Titanium Dioxide (6.3%), Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Angelica Archangelica Root Water, Zinc Oxide (2%), Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Isostearic Acid, Sodium Myristoyl Sarcosinate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Menthone Glycerin Acetal, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Hexyl Laurate, Polysorbate 60, Squalane, Sodium Chloride, Sodium PCA, Menthol, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Lecithin, Plankton Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Potassium Sorbate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Parfum (fragrance), Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Perfluorodecalin, Benzethonium Chloride, Buddleja Davidii Extract, Propylene Glycol, Simondsia Chinensis, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Flower/Leaf Extract, PEG-75 Shea Butter Glycerides, Lilial, Glycosphingolipids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool, Rubus Chamaemorus Seed Extract, Lyral.