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Mineral vs Chemical Sunscreen: Is Mineral Superior?


Mineral vs Chemical Sunscreen: Is Mineral Superior?

  1. Mineral sunscreen
  2. Chemical sunscreen
  3. The benefits of mineral sunscreen

We are constantly told to apply sunscreen on a daily basis. However, with the abundance of sunscreen options on the market, it can be hard to make a concrete decision once you've got the shelf full glaring in front of you. Let's narrow down our options: based on the UV-filtering ingredients found in the formulation, a sun-protection product can be a mineral sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen—and there are several reasons to choose one over the other. But first, let’s review the basics.

A. Mineral sunscreen

Before moving forward, let's establish a baseline of knowledge: what is mineral sunscreen? Also known as "physical sunscreen", this type of sun protection relies heavily on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect the skin against damage caused by UVA and UVB rays (especially when used with other sun-protection measures). These physical sunscreen filters work by creating a barrier on the skin’s surface that helps reflect the sun’s rays away from the skin, and they are ideal for both daily use as well as intense or prolonged sun exposure because they offer broad spectrum protection against both UV rays.

B. Chemical sunscreen

As the name implies, chemical sunscreens contain synthetic ingredients that penetrate the uppermost layers of the skin to absorb UVA and UVB rays before they can cause sunburn or other damage to the skin. Chemical-based UV filters include oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene. These sunscreen ingredients also provide effective broad spectrum protection against both uv rays. Because the ingredients are chemicals, it can at times cause mild irritations and reactions in invididuals with sensitive skin. In recent years, there has been concern about the effects these filters may have on humans through systemic absorption, and on damaging coral reefs. It is important to note that these studies are not fully proven, and more research is needed before conclusive statements can be made.

3. The benefits of mineral sunscreen

Now that we have our baseline knowledge, is mineral sunscreen better? Due to the fact that mineral sunscreen creates a reflective barrier that sits on top of the skin to reflect UV rays, there is no risk of it penetrating the skin or entering the bloodstream, unlike chemical sunscreen—and physical sunscreen has several other benefits:

  • Mineral-based sunscreens are suitable for sensitive skin types
  • Physical sunscreen is more convenient, as it can be applied immediately before sun exposure instead of 15 minutes before heading outside
  • Mineral sunscreens are also recommended after professional, office-based treatments and procedures because they can be applied immediately afterwards without irritation to help shield compromised skin from UV rays that can prevent optimal healing
  • Physical sunscreen filters can be used safely when swimming in the ocean without the fear of causing further harm to coral reefs

Skincare science in the world of physical sunscreen formulations has advanced greatly in recent years, and well formulated products can leave all skin tones with a sheer or tinted finish rather than the thick, white cast associated with mineral sunscreens of the past. These advancements have faciliated the mainstream, everyday use of sun protection. We can safely assume that mineral sunscreen offers more benefits to skin than chemical sunscreen does.

SkinCeuticals offers a variety of the best mineral sunscreen options for safe and effective broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Our collection of physical sun-protection products includes formulations to meet the needs of various skin types and preferences.

Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen: This lightweight tinted formula is the best sunscreen for face, providing 100%-mineral protection for all skin types, helps boost the skin’s resilience to environmental stress, and helps promote radiance and even-looking appearance in all skin tones.

Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen: Ideal for oily and acne-prone skin as well as those who prefer a long-lasting matte finish, this tinted physical sunscreen has a mousse-like texture that helps smooth skin texture and minimize the appearance of pores.

Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen: Offering ultra-sheer mineral sunscreen protection and a weightless matte finish that is suitable for all skin types (including sensitive), this fluid spreads easily, dries quickly, and leaves no residue behind.

Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen: This eye cream with SPF is formulated specifically for delicate skin and provides broad spectrum mineral sunscreen protection that won’t migrate into the eyes. Featuring a universal tint that enhances skin tone, it also works well as a primer for eye makeup.


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