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Sunscreen 101: Full Comparison of Mineral SPF vs Chemical SPF

by Claudia Christin on Oct 06, 2022

We all want to spend our time under the sun. But unfortunately, the sun is not our skin’s best friend. It may wreak havoc on our skin leading to sunburn, hyperpigmentation and even skin cancer!


Worry not, we can make the best out of the sun and we are able to tackle the negative effect of prolonged sun exposure, by having sunscreen as a daily part of our skincare routine. Have you found your favorite sunscreen? Make sure to apply sunscreen that feels comfortable and you love to apply every single day.


Choosing a sunscreen can be a little tricky and we are here to help guide your decision. Not all sunscreens are created equal. In general, they are divided to two main types – Chemical and Mineral Sunscreen. Each type of sunscreen has its own pros and cons that you want to consider to choose from depending on your own preferences.

comparison-of-mineral-spf-chemical-spf.jpg

01. How Do They Work on the Skin?

Some of the most common myths that we hear often is that physical sunscreen fully reflects, while chemical sunscreen fully absorbs and works in entirely different ways. Truth is, they shared a lot in common in terms of how it protects our skin from UV rays.

Mineral: 95% of the UV rays are absorbed and turned into heat, while the rest 5%  is being reflected or scattered back.  

Chemical: The UV filters absorb the UV rays and convert them into heat, and release the heat from your skin.

02. Different Types of UV Filter

  • Mineral: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide
  • Chemical: Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Homosalate, Octinoxate, Tinosorb S, Uvinul A plus, E thylhexyl, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Butylene Glycol, and many more.

03. What Works Better for Me?

Aside from their filters, there are some fine distinctions between these two that may guide you on choosing which one better fits your skin and lifestyle. 

comparison-of-mineral-spf-chemical-spf.jpg

Mineral:

  1. More suitable (safer option) for sensitive skin, children, and pregnant women.

  2. Since zinc oxide is an astringent, it tends to dry out the skin (a little, depending on the type of formula)

  3. It works mostly by absorbing and reflecting some of the light 

  4. Downside: whitecast, not suitable for all skin-tone, often-times (not all) chalky texture

However, most recent mineral sunscreens are able to provide wide-broad spectrum protection while minimizing the whitecast. 

Chemical:

  1. Tendency to be more hydrating and blendable (easy to blend)

  2. Better sensorial experience that feels more comfortable on the skin

  3. Suitable for all skin colors as it has minimum to no whitecast

  4. Downside: might not be suitable for sensitive skin, prone to clog the pores, not the safest bet for children and pregnant woman

However, 'tinosorb S' which is often considered as chemical UV filter may leave a slight whitecast making it less suitable for some skin tone (depending on the formula)


Product Recommendations 


Mineral SPF


Chemical SPF

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