Benefits of Mineral Based Sunscreens Vs. Chemical Based Sunscreens

Summer is in full swing, and that means sunscreen is a must to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. But with so many sunscreen options on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.

The DermNP team is here to help! In this article, we’re sharing the benefits of mineral-based sunscreens vs chemical-based sunscreens.

1. The history of sunscreen

When it comes to sunscreen, most people think of it as a fairly recent invention. However, the history of sunscreen actually dates back thousands of years, when various civilizations concocted mixtures of olive oils, rice bran, and various plant materials, depending on the region.

While many of these lotions, butters or salves may have provided some protection against the sun, they were likely more effective at moisturizing the skin than blocking out harmful UV rays.

As people began to realize the dangers of too much sun exposure, sunscreen formulations became more sophisticated. First, primarily as physical barriers between the sun’s rays and skin, sunscreen products started to evolve into specific formulations which blocked UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays, By the late 1950’s, the “Coppertone Girl” branding was taking hold and people sought tanning “benefits” while avoiding the complications of sunburn.

As with most products in the health and beauty industry, sunscreen formulations have come a long way since the early days. And while there are now many sunscreen options on the market, more evidence than ever before is available to show that wearing sunscreen is so much more than just a way to prevent sunburn. Sunscreen is critical for protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

Not only does sunscreen help prevent sunburn, but it also reduces your risk of skin cancer, premature aging, and other harmful effects of sun exposure.

2. The difference between mineral-based and chemical-based sunscreens

Dermatology professionals have long been advocating for the use of sunscreen to protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. But with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right product.

One important distinction is between mineral-based and chemical-based sunscreens.

Mineral-based sunscreens use active ingredients like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide to physically block UV rays, while chemical-based sunscreens use ingredients such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Avobenzone, and Homosalate convert the UV light into heat, which is then released from the body.

3. Benefits and Drawbacks of Mineral-Based Sunscreen

There are many benefits to using a mineral-based sunscreen.

For one, mineral-based sunscreens are less likely to cause skin irritation than chemical-based sunscreens. They are also effective immediately upon application and provide broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Additionally, mineral-based sunscreens are more stable in sunlight than chemical-based sunscreens and are less likely to degrade, making them more effective at protecting your skin.

And, their protection begins immediately upon application.

Mineral-based sunscreens do have some drawbacks.

They can be more difficult to apply than chemical-based sunscreens and often leave a white cast on the skin. Also, since they tend to be thicker, some people feel they are too heavy.

4. The Benefits and Drawbacks of Chemical-Based Sunscreen

Chemical-based sunscreens tend to go on more smoothly than their mineral-based counterparts and are less likely to leave a white cast on the skin.

They are also typically lighter in texture, making them more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Chemical-based sunscreens contain active ingredients that interact with UV rays to convert them into heat, which is then released from the skin. While this process is effective at protecting the skin from UV damage, it can also cause irritation, dryness, and other side effects.

If you are a person with sensitive skin, you may want to avoid chemical-based sunscreens.

Additionally, chemical-based sunscreens require more time to absorb into the skin. They can also be more likely to cause eye irritation than mineral-based sunscreens.

Chemical sunscreens are often less durable than their physical counterparts and may need to be reapplied more frequently. 

5. How to choose the right sunscreen for you

Ultimately, the best sunscreen is one that will be used consistently and as directed. Dermatology professionals typically recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

When choosing between a mineral-based sunscreen and a chemical-based sunscreen, it is important to consider your own preferences and needs.

Do you have sensitive skin? If so, you may want to choose a mineral-based sunscreen.

Do you prefer a lighter sunscreen that is easier to apply? If so, you may want to choose a chemical-based sunscreen.

The most important thing is to find a sunscreen that you will use consistently and as directed. This is the best way to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

As a Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner, The Derm NP is available to answer skin care questions you may have. For example, if you have acne, or sensitive skin, we are available to consult with you on sunscreen options that may most meet your needs. Or, maybe you are looking for options to offer the best anti-aging benefits for your skin. For just $37 for a telehealth visit, you can rest assured that you are getting sunscreen advice from an expert without breaking the bank.

6. Sunscreen tips for summer

Summer is for fun, and we encourage you to enjoy all that the season has to offer. But it’s also important to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

Here are a few sunscreen tips to help you enjoy summer while keeping your skin safe:

  • Apply sunscreen generously and often. sunscreen should be applied every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating.
  • Always choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, however if you plan to be outside for a long time, consider donning sun protective clothing.  Learn more about UPF recommendations here.
  • Look for a sunscreen containing the label “broad spectrum” to ensure protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Be sure to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, including the face.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen for your lips! Use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen.
  • Wear sun protective clothing.
  • Seek shade when the sun is at its strongest, typically between 10am and 4pm.
  • Avoid tanning beds. There is no such thing as a “safe” tan, and the risks associated with tanning far outweigh any benefits.
  • Check your skin regularly for changes, and consult with a dermatologist if you notice anything unusual. (While The Derm NP consults on many skin conditions, we do not evaluate moles or pigmented lesions via virtual visits, and instead, recommend you see a dermatologist in person)
  • Don’t forget to have fun!

We wish you a very fun and safe summer!

Image credit: 

Envato Elements / stokkete

Disclaimer: The information contained here was not written by a medical doctor and is intended for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for medical advice.

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