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Chemical vs Mineral Sunscreen: Which SPF Protection Is Best for Your Skin?

Writer and expert3 months ago
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Whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, sunscreen is an essential part of your daily skincare routine. Beyond protecting against sunburn, it’s a simple way to slow visible signs of aging (like hyperpigmentation) and a crucial step to help prevent skin cancer, which impacts 1 in 5 Americans by the age of 70.

With so many options to choose from, though, it’s hard to narrow down what SPF is best for you and your skin type. But we’re here to help you, starting with breaking down the two primary types you can choose from: chemical and mineral sunscreen — along with why more and more people have been opting for the mineral options.

The Difference Between Chemical & Mineral Sunscreen

Put simply, chemical sunscreens are made of active ingredients (chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone and octinoxate) that get absorbed into the top layer of your skin upon application, thus working to protect the skin by absorbing the sun’s UVA and UVB rays into your skin. Alternatively, the common ingredients in mineral sunscreens include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which sit on top of the skin. This provides a physical barrier of protection, hence why you may also hear them referred to as physical sunscreens. This physical layer works by reflecting the sun’s UV rays away from your skin.

Which Is Better? The Pros & Cons of Each

The most-used sunblock type has primarily been chemical for decades because it has typically been more easily accessible thanks to more options at varying price points. It was also the preferred choice because it was known to leave less white cast on the skin and to be more water and sweat resistant.

But over the last few years, consumers have been reaching for its mineral counterparts at increasing rates, allowing more mineral sunscreens to take the spotlight. This is largely in part because of the ongoing research around its negative impact on marine life. Chemicals commonly found in said sunscreens, including octinoxate and oxybenzone, have been discovered to kill coral reefs, impair photosynthesis in green algae, decrease fertility in fish, accumulate in dolphins’ tissues and more. Plus, they are not easy on sensitive skin, which can lead to irritation. Thus, formulators have spent more time perfecting mineral sunscreens to help improve their technology and delivery system, so they leave less white cast, which makes them more appealing to consumers.

That’s why we use mineral-based SPF in all Perricone MD SPF products: they’re less likely to cause irritation to the skin, they provide reliable and safe protection against UV rays and such ingredients, like zinc and titanium oxide, are less harmful to the environment. Our latest Cold Plasma Plus+ Daily Defense Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 35 (link) is no exception to this rule. Formulated with minerals found deep within the earth that are ground into ultra-fine powders, this weightless, multi-tasking sunscreen acts as a mirror to deflect aging UVA and burning UVB rays from the skin. Meanwhile, copper tripeptide and Vitamin C Ester work together to visibly reduce fine lines, wrinkles, uneven texture, uneven tone, dullness, redness and enlarged pores to help visibly reduce any existing damage and prevent any future damage, all while providing broad spectrum protection. Bonus: it’s fast-absorbing and doesn’t leave a white cast.

Of course, while we’re partial to mineral-based protection, wearing any sunscreen is better than not wearing any at all. So choose the one that’s right for you, your skin type and your to-dos for the day is what’s most important. Oh, and don’t forget to reapply no matter which option you go with.

Writer and expert
View perriconemd's profile