Chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen are two different types of sunscreens that offer protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. They work in different ways and contain different active ingredients.
Key differences between mineral and chemical sunscreens:
|Also known as physical sunscreen, mineral sunscreens use natural minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as their active ingredients. These minerals sit on the skin's surface and form a physical barrier that reflects and scatters UV rays away from the skin.
|Chemical sunscreens contain organic (carbon-based) compounds such as avobenzone, octocrylene, and oxybenzone. These chemicals work by absorbing UV rays and then converting them into energy, usually in the form of heat, which is released from the skin.
|How They Work:
They reflect UV rays away from the skin, so the protection is immediate once applied to the skin (acting as a physical barrier).
|Chemical sunscreens need to be absorbed into the skin to become effective. They require approximately 15 to 30 minutes to be absorbed into the skin and start protecting. During this time, it's essential to wait before sun exposure to ensure adequate protection.
|Sunscreen Reactions with the Skin:
|Generally, mineral sunscreens are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions because they don't get absorbed into the skin. They are considered gentle and suitable for sensitive skin types.
|Some chemical sunscreens have been known to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals, especially those with sensitive skin. The absorption of these chemicals into the skin may lead to a higher chance of skin irritation for some people.
|Sunscreen Appearance on the Skin:
|When applied, mineral sunscreens can sometimes leave a white cast on the skin due to physical particles. However, newer formulations have improved the appearance of white cast on the skin.
|Chemical sunscreens are generally more transparent when applied, leaving little to no white cast on the skin.
|Zinc oxide & titanium dioxide, the active ingredients in mineral sunscreens, are typically considered reef-safe and have a lower impact on the marine ecosystem compared to some chemical sunscreen ingredients.
|Certain chemical sunscreen ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been linked to coral bleaching and can negatively affect marine life when washed off into the ocean. Some locations have started banning the use of these chemicals in sunscreens to protect coral reefs.