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Mineral sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen, what should I use?

If you maintain a natural skin care regime the likelihood is that you will want to avoid chemical sunscreens andWhat is the difference between mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. A look at the differences and the ingredients choose a mineral based sun block instead.

Knowing which type of sunscreen can become confusing. What are the differences between chemical and mineral sunscreen and which is better for your skin? Let’s look at mineral sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen and which ingredients you may or may not want in your sunscreen.


When should I use sunscreen?

UV rays are still present even on a grey cloudy day. Slapping on the sunscreen only when the sun comes out could, in the long term, be a costly mistake. Sun protection can easily be incorporated into your all year round natural skin care regime by opting for chemical-free products.

No matter how good your current anti-ageing skin care regime is, protecting your skin from irreversible ageing sun damage is something that should be a priority. It is also something that you’ll be thankful for in years to come.

Mineral sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen – The differences

When it comes to sun protection there are two choices, mineral based, or chemical based. Mineral sun protection products block the rays by bouncing the light off the skin, whereas chemical products change the light into heat which then gets safely absorbed into the top layer of the skin.

The ingredients found in mineral based sun block will include titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. These ingredients act as a block deflecting and scattering the UV light. Meaning that the rays are not absorbed into the skin, almost like hundreds of shields dispersing the light away from the skin.

Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide

Titanium dioxide protects against UVB rays and short UVA rays, whereas zinc oxide protects against UVB rays and both short and longer UVA rays.

The addition of antioxidants, such as green tea, vitamin C and vitamin E are also beneficial in mineral sun blocks. Antioxidants fight the free radicals which cause premature ageing brought on by external factors such as UV rays.

The UVA rays are responsible for anti-aging whilst the UVB rays cause the sunburn.

Sunscreen and the environment

Natural skin care is not only about being mindful of the ingredients that you put on your skin it is also about being mindful of the environment too. True mineral sun blocks will be environmentally friendly, biodegradable and safe for marine life.

Can I make my own sunscreen?

Let me be straight, I am no expert in sunscreen formulation, this is a science in itself.  I would also never recommend anyone make their own sunscreen, despite the amount of recipes out there on the internet. Even if you used natural ingredients and followed someone’s exact recipe, there is no way of knowing the SPF. This would need a form of A look at the ingredients found in mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreenexpensive testing to know for sure which to be honest I don’t think that is worth doing for the sake of DIY.  Sunscreen is something that should be shop bought and not homemade.

What ingredients should I look out for?

If you are concerned about the products, then use this ingredient guide rather than going down the DIY route. Even if the sunscreen states it is natural it may still be worth checking over the ingredients. It is difficult not to fall into the trap and I struggle with this too, especially when in a rush. In fact, I was going to recommend a mineral based product that ticked all my boxes, but unfortunately hidden within the natural ingredients was a chemical based one. So this one won’t be on my recommended list!

How do mineral sunscreens work compared to chemical ones?

In a nutshell mineral based sunscreens bounce the light off the skin by blocking it, this means that the UV light is deflected rather than absorbed into the skin. Due to the nature of sun blocks and the fact that they form a protective layer for the skin, you may find when you start using them that they are not as absorbing as chemical sunscreens.

Chemical sunscreens change the rays into heat which then safely get absorbed into the skin. They are more absorbent than mineral sun protection products.

Mineral sunscreen recommendations

I have not tried any of the following products nor am I affiliated to any of them, however I will certainly be trying them out over the next few months and will let you know my findings. The reason I have selected these products is purely based on the ingredients present and what I would happily use on myself.

Neals Yard Wild Rose Moisturising SPF  50ml £25.00

This is a moisturising sunscreen using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide

Kiehls Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Mineral Suncreen 50ml £35.00

A sunscreen for acne and sensitive skin types using titanium dioxide and vitamin E (an antioxidant)

Green People SPF30 Sun Lotion 200ml £22.00

Ideal for sensitive skin types and those prone to prickly heat. Contains titanium dioxide, aloe vera and green tea (an antioxidant)

Odylique Natural Sun Screen SPF 30 100ml £25.00

Ideal for sensitive skin and the whole family. Contains zinc oxide

Badger Sunscreen SPF 30

Unscented sunscreen containing zinc oxide

What happens if I don’t wear sunscreen?

You will be exposing your skin to both the UV rays, leaving you with long term skin damage and sun burn.

The UVB rays, which burn our skin, also damage the dermis layer of the skin leading to the risk of skin cancers such as melanoma.

The UVA rays cause premature ageing and affect the skin at a deeper level than the UVB rays. They break down the collagen, and hinder your skin’s ability to produce new collagen. Once the collagen has been destroyed skin will lose its elasticity and wrinkles will form.

Whichever sunscreen you choose, just make sure you wear it every day!






3 Responses

  1. Great post! I’ve been living in sunny southern California for the past 4 years and it’s starting to take a toll on my skin 🙁 I really need to be more consistent with wearing sunscreen but I hate putting chemicals on my face. I haven’t tried any mineral sunscreens yet, but I’ve been meaning to do it for awhile now. I’ve heard good things about Badger.

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