woman at the beach wearing sunhat, sunscreen on face

You want a sunscreen that works for you in every way possible, from how it protects your skin and how it wears to how easily it fits into your daily routine. Your two main choices are mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. The right sunscreen for you will be the one you wear the most depending on your skin type, skin tone and formula preferences. But no matter which one you choose, make sure your sunscreen fits these sun-safety requirements:
● SPF 30 or higher
● Broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays
● Water resistant

Now, let’s take a closer look at the key differences between mineral and chemical sunscreen so you can make the best decision for your skin:

Mineral sunscreen blocks ultraviolet (UV) rays, chemical sunscreen absorbs.

The main difference between these sunscreens is their active ingredients, or UV filters. Mineral sunscreens contain — you guessed it — naturally occurring minerals: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These UV filters create a physical barrier on the surface of skin, reflecting and scattering UV rays before they can penetrate. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, are made with organic compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone. These UV filters are partially absorbed into the skin before converting UV rays into heat and then releasing them back into the environment.

Mineral sunscreen works immediately, chemical sunscreen takes time.

Think of mineral sunscreens acting like a shield, sitting on top of your skin fending off the sun’s harmful rays immediately after application. A huge upside to this is you don’t need to wait before it’s safe to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. With a chemical sunscreen, there is a waiting period, typically between 15 and 20 minutes. This is because it takes time for the sunscreen to absorb into your skin and become activated for full protection.

Mineral sunscreen can be thick and creamy, chemical sunscreen is lightweight and clear.

While mineral formulations have evolved to become easier to apply and spread onto skin, there is still a chance your mineral sunscreen could leave a white cast behind if not blended in fully. This is not an issue for chemical sunscreens which are thinner and spread on sheer. In this instance, darker skin tones may prefer a chemical sunscreen over a mineral one for ease of application and wear.

Mineral sunscreen is safe for sensitive skin, chemical sunscreen may cause irritation.

The FDA recently found that only two sunscreen ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are generally recognized as safe and effective. Not only are mineral sunscreens gentle and non-irritating enough for sensitive skin types, but also for young children. They are also less likely to clog pores, making them ideal for acne-prone skin. Chemical sunscreens, however, can trigger irritation for people with sensitive skin due to the multiple ingredients combined to achieve broad-spectrum protection. Acne-prone skin types should steer clear of any chemical sunscreens that are comedogenic, as they contain pore-clogging ingredients.

Still need help deciding which is best for you? The skin care experts at AlluraDerm can help you find the ideal sunscreen for your skin’s needs. Learn more about our selection of medical-grade sunscreens by calling (505) 821-9630 or request a consultation online today.