The recent rise in skincare has sparked a boom in new sunscreen formulas. Consumers have more choices than ever, but that can make it tough to find the right sunscreen for your needs, especially if you’re new to the world of sunscreen lingo. In this guide, we’ll explain everything that you need to know what mineral sunscreens are, how they are different from chemical sunscreens, and what health benefits mineral sunscreens offer.
What is mineral sunscreen?
Mineral sunscreen uses two specific filters, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These two ingredients form a physical barrier on your skin that blocks UV rays from penetrating your epidermis. Choosing mineral sunscreen over chemical sunscreen offers many potential health benefits, and mineral sunscreen is often safer for sensitive skin.
Mineral sunscreen vs. chemical sunscreen
The other main category of sunscreen is chemical sunscreen. The filters in chemical sunscreen still protect your skin from the sun, but in a different way. Instead of forming a physical barrier on the skin, they use a chemical reaction to convert UV rays into heat so they can’t damage your skin. Despite their popularity, chemical sunscreens can cause reactions in sensitive skin and also irritate your eyes. If you’d ever applied sunscreen and immediately felt like your face was burning, it was probably a chemical sunscreen.
You will also sometimes see hybrid sunscreens, which combine some mineral filters with chemical filters. While these were once rare, they are becoming more common lately. If you are specifically looking for a mineral only sunscreen, be sure to carefully read the ingredient label to confirm that the sunscreen doesn’t contain chemical filters as well.
Health benefits of mineral sunscreen
Using a mineral sunscreen offers three main health benefits: broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays, reduced risk of skin cancer, and safe use for sensitive skin.
Protection from UVA/UVB Rays
There are two types of UV rays that we need to worry about: Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength, while Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wavelength. In order to get complete protection from the sun, you need a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, which is called broad spectrum protection.
Not all chemical sunscreen filters protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Some only protect against UVA rays, still leaving your skin vulnerable to sun damage. This means you need to specifically look for a sunscreen that calls itself “broad spectrum” to ensure that you are getting adequate protection.
Fortunately, the mineral filters titanium dioxide and zinc oxide protect against both UVA and UVB rays, so any mineral sunscreen is naturally broad spectrum. When you choose a mineral sunscreen, you don’t have to worry about whether or not your skin is protected enough from the sun!
Reduced risk of skin cancer
Wearing sunscreen is one of the most effective things that you can do to prevent skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, regular daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by about 40 percent and lower your melanoma risk by 50 percent. Using a sunscreen with a higher SPF will decrease your risk of skin cancer even more than that. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every two hours when you are outside to ensure adequate protection!
In addition to wearing sunscreen, you should also follow other sun safety tips to reduce your risk of skin cancer even more. Wear hats, sunglasses, and UPF clothing to block the sun’s rays. Seek out shade whenever possible and try to avoid the sun when the rays are the strongest, between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.
Safer for sensitive skin
Mineral sunscreen is often recommended for sensitive skin, which is why it’s popular for babies and children as well as adults with reactive skin. Unfortunately, chemical sunscreen filters are a known irritant, which can make people’s eyes turn red and their face burn. Many chemical sunscreens also contain other potentially irritating ingredients, like fragrance and large amounts of drying alcohols.
Since most mineral sunscreens are formulated with sensitive skin in mind, they often lack these potentially irritating ingredients. If you have acne, eczema, rosacea, or another inflammatory skin condition, try using a mineral sunscreen if you haven’t already. Mineral sunscreen will protect your face from sun exposure (which will worsen inflammation) without aggravating your skin conditions.
Other Benefits of Mineral Sunscreen
While the health benefits of mineral sunscreens can’t be denied, that’s not the only reason to use a mineral sunscreen! Here are some other benefits of choosing a mineral sunscreen:
If you’re looking to simplify your skincare routine, the great news is that some mineral sunscreens can act as a moisturizer too! Depending on the formula, mineral sunscreen moisturizers can be very soothing and hydrating for your skin without being heavy and greasy. This is especially beneficial during the summer when you might not want both a moisturizer and a sunscreen sitting on your face during the day.
Chemical sunscreens typically have a glowy or even shiny finish. While people with dry skin might not mind this, people with oily skin usually don’t like the way this can make their skin look greasy. Thankfully, mineral sunscreen typically has a natural to matte finish, so it won’t make your face look more shiny than it is. It can also blur the appearance of pores and provide a smooth base for makeup and other cosmetic products.
We hope this answered all of your questions about using mineral sunscreen. Let us know your favorite mineral sunscreen moisturizer in the comments below!