A lot of the time a lot of people think the higher the SPF, the better the sunscreen but what about the ingredients a sunscreen is made up of? Brands that are more “natural” or mineral based are generally considered less harmful however can they be as strong as chemical sunscreens? What is the difference between the two anyways?
What’s the difference?
The most basic difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen is what it does with UV rays. Mineral sunscreen physically blocks/reflects the rays, chemical sunscreens absorbs and dissipates the rays.
There are also two different types of UV rays; UVB (this is what gives you sunburns) and UVA, which penetrates deeper. Because chemical sunscreens absorb the rays, UVA can reach those deeper layers of your skin still and cause all the skin issues that aren’t evident immediately, but potentially detrimental in the long run. Mineral sunscreens protect you from UVB and UVA!
Wait… so are chemical sunscreens bad?
Let me preface this by saying that I would argue that a chemical sunscreen is always better than no sunscreen at all. And truth be told a lot of sunscreens that advertise as mineral are actually a blend of mineral and chemical. That being said, in doing research for this post my only real conclusion is that everything gives you cancer.
Chemical sunscreens are effective because they absorb the sun’s UV rays through a chemical reaction that absorbs and dissipate the ryas so your skin is protected because the UV rays never actually hit your body. Because it has active ingredients can seep into your bloodstream it can fuck up some of your hormone levels. It is believed by some that it can increase your risk of endometriosis and decrease sperm count in men.
Alright… so mineral sunscreen?
I opted for a combination of different types of sunscreen depending on how much sun I’ll be exposed to, however whenever possible I do try and make an effort to opt for mineral.
Mineral sunscreens uses minerals (such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) to combat the sun but don’t mistake this as natural! Although these ingredients are naturally occurring they can also be created synthetically. Because it sits on top of your skin and reflects UV rays away from your body it can sometimes be called a physical sunscreen because there is actually a barrier created. Super science-based, I know. I’ve always been an ingredients nerd and love talking about the “why” behind why something works.
Another thing to consider is that because mineral sunscreen sits on top of your skin it can leave a bit of residue and some result in a bit of a white cast.