Applying sunscreen before you leave the house is as essential as putting on your shoes. It can take as little as 15 minutes in the sun to damage unprotected skin. With UV exposure reportedly responsible for as much as 90% of visible signs of ageing, sunscreen is non-negotiable if you want to keep fine lines and wrinkles to a minimum, too.
Finding the right sunscreen for you is key to ensuring you’re properly protected from damaging UVA and UVB rays, and you’ll actually wear it. As there are two main types of sunscreens – chemical and mineral – we are here to break down their differences and introduce you to the best sunscreens for your skin type.
Chemical vs Mineral Sunscreen
The key difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens is how they work. They both shield your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays - but they do it in very different ways.
What is a Mineral Sunscreen?
Mineral sunscreens sit atop of your skin. It is also known as physical sunscreens as it forms a physical barrier that deflects the sun’s rays, preventing them from penetrating the skin. They are formulated with Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide – small particles that sit on the skin’s surface and reflect light, which are also considered to be reef-safe. This means they don’t impact marine line or cause coral bleaching, which ingredients such as Oxybenzone and Avobenzone have been linked to.
Mineral Sunscreen tend to be:
• Thick, white mineral formulas and can feel heavy on the skin
• Easily washed off with sweat or water, so will require regular reapplication
• Suitable for all type of skin
What is a Chemical Sunscreen?
While mineral sunscreens act like a shield, deflecting the sun’s rays, chemical sunscreens act more like a sponge that absorbs UV light. Once the light is absorbed into the skin, the chemicals in the sunscreen, such as Oxybenzone, Avobenzone and Octisalate, create a chemical reaction and turn the absorbed rays into heat, which is then released through the skin.
As chemical sunscreens tend to be:
• lightweight, non-comedogenic creams
• more transparent and easier to apply
• Best suited for non-sensitive skin, and oily and combination skin
If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, the active ingredients in most chemical sunscreens can be irritating.