As a beauty journalist, I am well-versed in the difficulties that come with formulating zinc oxide-based sunscreen products. Zinc oxide is by and large a metal that presents as a dense white powder, meaning it’s not really compatible with the silky, lightweight emulsions we like to see in our skincare. But on the other hand, zinc oxide-based SPF products (categorically referred to as physical or more correctly, inorganic sunscreens) come with their numerous benefits: soothing, anti-inflammatory, better suited to congested, acne-prone skin….

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve come a very long way from the sticky white zinc sticks of our youth. There are many beautiful, physical sun protective products available on the market. But until now, I’ve never tried one quite so advanced as the latest offering from Australian skincare brand Rationale.

It’s called #3 The Tinted Serum SPF50+ and it’s a hydrating, serum-like sunscreen with a wonderfully luminous tint. It feels impudent to sum it up in 500-ish words, because the truth is that founder Richard Parker has been working on this product for upward of 10 years (not to mention thousands of samples). But as of now, Parker and his team of research formulators have achieved the impossible through what they call “Zinc Fusion,” where each microscopic zinc oxide particle has been manipulated to not only feel better, but protect the skin from visible light and infrared, all without diminishing that signature Rationale luminosity. And to do all of this while maintaining a high SPF of 50+ is incredible, and something very few (if any) skincare brands have managed to do.

But true to form, that’s not all. There are also skin-identical lipids and amino acids to keep your barrier strong, plus a peptide complex to prevent exacerbated melanin formation (i.e. the thing responsible for pigmentation). Overall, it’s an incredibly comprehensive product that will protect you from all the damaging, inflammatory effects of the environment; fitting, given the Rationale brand is built on the pillar of sun protection for optimal skin health – and rightly so, seeing as the sun attributes to 80% of all facial aging.

And last but not least, there’s the texture: radiant, supremely lightweight and with just the right amount of glow. It’s tinted, but the tint is more of a luminosity, so it works across differing skin tones. And none of the thick, matte, chalky, ghosty feelings typically associated with zinc oxide-based sunscreens.

If you’re using the existing Rationale product line, use this as your final step in the morning. If your skin is normal to combination, I think it’s fine on its own, but dryer skin types might prefer a moisturizer or cream underneath. It’s wonderfully radiant, so I’ve been skipping foundation, but if you do want to layer makeup on top, you’ll have a beautiful, fresh base to work with.

So while Rationale product launches are few and far between, the Tinted Serum SPF50+ just further proves that patience is a virtue (and evidently, the key to good skin).

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#3 The Tinted Serum SPF50+, AUD $172. shop now

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