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Curious about the benefits of mineral sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen, and more importantly, is mineral sunscreen is better chemical?
At first, I dismissed the big debate about chemical vs mineral sunscreen as just another passing trend. But my curiosity was piqued and I decided to do some research into the differences between mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen.
My main aim was to learn more about mineral sunscreen ingredients and to get the answers to these three questions:
– Is mineral sunscreen physical or chemical?
– Why is mineral sunscreen better than chemical sunscreen for the skin?
– Is mineral sunscreen reef safe?
Here’s what I found about the benefits of mineral sunscreen and the many reasons why it is better.
What Is Mineral Sunscreen Vs Chemical Sunscreen?
Mineral sunscreen is a type of sun protection that utilizes natural minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to shield the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. It is also known as physical sunscreen as it creates a physical barrier on the skin’s surface that reflects and scatters UV rays away from the skin.
This is different from chemical sunscreens that work by absorbing UV radiation and transforming it into heat.
The physical barrier mechanism makes mineral sunscreens effective immediately upon application. Additionally, they are more environmentally friendly as they are less likely to contain harmful chemicals and are non-toxic to marine life.
In early 2019, the FDA proposed a new rule updating regulatory requirements for sunscreens in the US. One of the proposals stated that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, both ingredients in mineral sunscreen, were generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE). On the other hand, PABA and trolamine salicylate, two ingredients in chemical sunscreen are not GRASE for use in sunscreens due to safety issues.
How Does Mineral Sunscreen Work?
Mineral sunscreen works by creating a physical barrier on the skin’s surface that reflects all UV rays away from the skin.
UV rays are composed of UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays are associated with premature aging and skin damage, while UVB rays cause sunburn.
When applied to the skin, mineral sunscreen sits on top of the skin and forms a protective layer. The active mineral ingredients – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – act as tiny mirrors, reflecting all UV radiation away from the skin.
This physical barrier offers a comprehensive defense against both UVA and UVB rays, reducing the risk of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer.
This answers my first question – ‘Is mineral sunscreen physical or chemical?’ Mineral sunscreen is physical.
Benefits of Mineral Sunscreen
Mineral sunscreen offers several advantages over its chemical counterparts.
Broad-Spectrum Protection From Harmful UV Rays
One of the most notable benefits of mineral sunscreen is its ability to provide broad-spectrum protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the key active ingredients in mineral sunscreens. They act as physical blockers, reflecting and scattering both UVA and UVB rays, ensuring comprehensive sun protection.
Both minerals have been extensively tested and proven to provide broad-spectrum protection.
Moreover, they are photo-stable, meaning they do not degrade when exposed to sunlight, ensuring long-lasting sun protection.
This answers my second question ‘Why is mineral sunscreen better than chemical sunscreen for the skin?’
Gentle and Non-Irritating
Mineral sunscreens are generally gentle on the skin, making them suitable for all skin types, including babies and individuals with sensitive skin or those prone to allergies. Chemical sunscreens may pose a higher risk of skin irritation and can sometimes cause stinging or burning sensations.
Unlike chemical sunscreens that require time to absorb into the skin, mineral sunscreen provides instant protection upon application. This is especially beneficial when you need immediate sun protection.
Unlike chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens are considered more environmentally friendly. Some of the sunscreen we wear gets washed off in the water when we swim.
The synthetic ingredients in chemical sunscreens can harm marine life and bleach coral reefs when washed off into the water.
Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, are non-toxic to aquatic ecosystems, making them a safer choice for the environment in general and for marine life in particular.
This answers my third question – ‘Is mineral sunscreen reef safe?’ The answer is yes and this was a deal-breaker for me.
As an ardent scuba diver, I’ve always been mesmerized by the brilliantly colored coral reefs lying hidden on the ocean floor. Seeing recent photographs of white, dull coral reels that have been bleached from sunscreen left me feeling utterly dismayed.
Switching over to mineral sunscreen is the very least I could do to protect this fragile marine ecosystem.
Difference Between Chemical And Mineral Sunscreens
Understanding the differences between mineral and chemical sunscreens can help you make an informed decision when choosing between the two.
Speed of action: Mineral sunscreen is effective immediately upon application. Chemical sunscreens require around 20 minutes to become effective after application because the ingredients need time to get absorbed into the skin.
Compatibility: Mineral sunscreens are suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. They can be used by adults, children, and infants over six months old. They are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions compared to chemical sunscreens.
Environmental friendliness: Mineral sunscreens are hands down the more environmentally friendly alternative. They do not release harmful chemicals into water bodies, and their production involves fewer harmful processes.
How to Choose the Right Mineral Sunscreen
Selecting the right mineral sunscreen involves considering a few key factors.
SPF Level and Broad-Spectrum Protection
Select a mineral sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher for adequate protection. What Is SPF: Guide To Sun Protection
Ensure that it is labeled as broad-spectrum to protect against both UVA and UVB rays to reduce the risk of sunburn and skin damage.
Sunscreen Ingredients to Look For
When choosing a mineral sunscreen, opt for products that contain high-quality and non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Non-nano particles are larger and are less likely to be absorbed into the skin, minimizing any potential health concerns.
Texture and Formulation
Consider your skin type and preferences when choosing the texture and formulation of mineral sunscreen. Options include creams, lotions, gels, sprays, or tinted variations.
Best Mineral Sunscreens To Choose From
How to Use Mineral Sunscreen
To ensure optimal protection, follow these application and usage tips:
Apply mineral sunscreen generously to all exposed areas of the skin before sun exposure. Make sure to cover the face, neck, arms, legs, and any other exposed body parts.
Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating. This ensures continuous protection throughout the day.
Pay attention to commonly overlooked areas, such as the ears, back of the neck, and tops of the feet. These areas don’t get exposed to the sun as much as other parts of the body and hence are more susceptible to sunburn.
Don’t forget to protect your lips with a mineral-based lip balm containing SPF.
Get more summer skincare tips to keep your skin adequately protected from the sun.
How To Remove Mineral Sunscreen
Learning how to remove mineral sunscreen the right way is essential for maintaining healthy skin.
Because of its unique formulation, mineral sunscreen stays on your skin, forming a physical barrier against the sun’s UV rays. Leaving sunscreen residue on your face and skin can result in clogged pores, breakouts, and dull-looking skin.
Here’s a step-by-step on how to remove mineral sunscreen properly to ensure that your skin remains clean, healthy and radiant.
1. Start by splashing your face with warm water. The warm water helps to open up your pores, making it easier for the cleanser to penetrate and remove the sunscreen residue effectively.
2. Gently massage cleanser onto your face using circular motions and focusing on areas where you applied sunscreen. Look for cleansers oil-based or non-comedogenic cleaners that are less likely to clog your pores. Avoid harsh soaps or cleansers that contain alcohol, as they can strip your skin of its natural oils and cause dryness.
3. Rinse off the oil cleanser with warm water and follow up with a gentle water-based cleanser to remove any remaining impurities.
4. Scrub your face gently using a mild exfoliating product or a soft washcloth to remove dead skin cells and any remaining sunscreen residue. Be careful not to
5. After exfoliating, rinse your face thoroughly with lukewarm water to remove any remaining cleanser or scrub particles. Pat your face dry with a clean towel.
It’s essential to follow up with a suitable skincare routine after removing sunscreen and exfoliating. Apply a gentle toner to rebalance your skin’s pH levels, followed by a lightweight moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated and nourished.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Mineral Sunscreen Leave a White Cast?
One common concern is that mineral sunscreen can leave a white cast on the skin. However, modern mineral sunscreens have improved formulations that blend more easily and leave minimal or no visible residue.
Does Mineral Sunscreen Clog Pores?
Mineral sunscreen is generally non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t clog pores. However, it’s essential to choose a mineral sunscreen that suits your skin type and is labeled as non-comedogenic if you have particularly acne-prone skin.
Can I use mineral sunscreen on oily skin?
Yes, mineral sunscreen can be used on oily skin. Look for lightweight formulations or sunscreens specifically designed for oily or acne-prone skin.
Is mineral sunscreen safe for children?
Yes, mineral sunscreen is safe for children. It is often recommended for children and babies due to its gentle nature and reduced risk of skin irritation.
Does Mineral Sunscreen expire?
According to the Director of Dermatology at The Cleveland Clinic, sunscreen has a shelf life of about three years, as long as you store it in a cool, dry area. The active ingredients in mineral sunscreen break down quickly when stored in a hot, humid area. To be on the safe side, always check the expiry date on the tube or bottle before application.
Can mineral sunscreen be used for outdoor sports?
Absolutely! Mineral sunscreen is an excellent choice for outdoor sports. Look for water-resistant formulas to ensure it stays on during sweating or water activities.
Can I use mineral sunscreen under makeup?
Yes, mineral sunscreen can be used under makeup. Look for a mineral sunscreen with a lightweight, non-greasy formula that won’t interfere with the application or appearance of makeup.
Can I use regular soap to remove mineral sunscreen?
Using regular soap may not effectively remove mineral sunscreen as it is formulated to be water-resistant. It is best to use a gentle cleanser specifically designed for sunscreen removal.
Do I need to use sunscreen in winter?
Yes, you should use sunscreen in winter. Here’s what the research shows about using sunscreen in winter.
Mineral sunscreen offers numerous benefits, including broad-spectrum protection, suitability for sensitive skin, and eco-friendliness.
By understanding how mineral sunscreen works, selecting the right product, and following proper application techniques, you can enjoy the sun safely while minimizing the risk of skin damage.
Take your skin protection further with these simplified sun protection guidelines, which include 12 easily-doable sun-safety tips.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.