Types of Sunscreen

Mineral Sunscreen vs. Chemical Sunscreen: Which Type of Sunscreen To Use?

Throughout the years, more and more people have recognized the importance of sunscreen and how it helps protect the skin from damaging rays from the sun. Wearing sunscreen has many benefits, as it can prevent fine lines, wrinkles, signs of premature ageing, and skin cancer due to overexposure to the sun. However, it leaves many confused when deciding which is the best sunscreen for the face. Mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen are the two main types of sunscreens for the face. In this blog, we will cover these two types of sunscreens in depth so that you can make an educated decision on the best sunscreen cream for the face.

What are the two types of sunscreen?

What are the two types of sunscreen?

The two main types of sunscreen are mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. Both effectively protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays, but they have different ingredients and can be used differently. When choosing a sunscreen, it's essential to tell the main difference between the two. Mineral sunscreens are more suitable for sensitive or acne-prone skin but can leave a whitish residue for darker skin tones like Indian skin. On the other hand, Chemical sunscreens are lighter, clearer and more enjoyable to wear.

Key Differences between Mineral and Chemical Sunscreen include:

Mineral Sunscreen

Chemical Sunscreen

Sits on top of the skin

Chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin

Reflects UVA and UVB rays

Convert UV rays into heat 

Works immediately when applied

Is thin and ideal for everyday use 

Can wear off the skin easily

Allows for skincare ingredients to be added easily

Mineral sunscreen

Mineral sunscreen

Mineral sunscreens use ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to deflect or reflect UV rays. These minerals sit on top of your skin rather than absorbing into it. They have active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium oxide and form a physical barrier that reflects the light away from the skin. The most popular mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They don't penetrate the skin, so they provide broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays without the chemicals in some chemical sunscreens.

Pros of using mineral sunscreen

Pros of using mineral sunscreen

Mineral sunscreens are usually labelled "mineral" or "physical" on the bottle. They may also be called "natural" or "chemical-free" because they don't contain chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octisalate found in most chemical sunscreens. If you have sensitive skin and acne prone skin, mineral sunscreen is the right choice for you and will help improve your skin’s texture and appearance. 

The benefits of using a physical or mineral sunscreen include:

  • Provides broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays
  • Protects against harmful rays all day long without causing irritation
  • It doesn't cause coral bleaching like chemical screens

 Cons of using mineral sunscreen

Cons of using mineral sunscreen

Because mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin instead of absorbing it, they're often considered safer than chemical ones because they don't penetrate as deeply into your body. However, the formulations tend to be thicker, leaving a white cast on deeper skin tones. They also wear off quickly and have difficulty blending into the skin. However, these concerns are being addressed in new-age formulations that offer matte and tinted versions of physical sunscreen that have less white cast and give an even toned and smoother skin appearance. 

Ideal situations for using mineral sunscreen

Ideal situations for using mineral sunscreen

Mineral sunscreen, often known as physical sunscreen, is made up of active minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These sunscreens function by forming a physical barrier on the skin that reflects and scatters UV radiation away from the skin. Here are several scenarios where mineral sunscreen is ideal:

  • Use daily: Mineral sunscreen is appropriate for all skin types, but it is especially recommended for those with reactive or sensitive skin. In comparison to chemical sunscreens, it is gentler and less likely to irritate.

  • Sensitive Skin: Mineral sunscreens' non-irritating and calming qualities may help people with sensitive skin, including those with rosacea or eczema.

  • Children: Due to their typically more sensitive skin and the less irritating nature of the physical barrier that minerals provide, children are frequently advised to wear mineral sunscreens.

  • Post-Procedure Skin: The skin is especially sensitive following some skin procedures, such as chemical peels or laser treatments. Mineral sunscreens have the potential to be kinder to the skin while still providing protection.

  • Outdoor Activities: Compared to some chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens tend to be more water-resistant and provide broad-spectrum protection, making them ideal for protecting skin during outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and sports.

  • Reef-Friendly: Mineral sunscreens are a better option for swimming in oceans or areas close to coral reefs because they typically do not contain certain chemicals that can damage coral reefs. As a result, they are frequently regarded as environmentally friendly sunscreens. 

  • Pregnancy: Because mineral sunscreens have fewer chemicals that could harm an unborn child's developing body, some women choose to use them on their unborn children.

  • For All Skin Tone: Mineral sunscreens are more appropriate for a wider range of skin tones because they typically leave less of a white cast than older formulations.

Though mineral sunscreens have many advantages, always remember that for maximum protection against damaging UV rays, use them correctly and reapply as recommended on the label.

Understanding the active ingredients in mineral sunscreen

Understanding the active ingredients in mineral sunscreen

Mineral sunscreens contain active components that physically reflect or block UV radiation. The two main active ingredients in mineral sunscreens are:

  • Zinc Oxide: This mineral provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB radiation protection. It works by creating a protective barrier on the surface of the skin that reflects and scatters UV radiation away from the skin. Zinc oxide can help prevent sunburn and skin damage.

  • Titanium Dioxide: Titanium dioxide, like zinc oxide, provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. It functions by creating a physical barrier on the skin that reflects UV radiation. Titanium dioxide is frequently used in sunscreen compositions alongside zinc oxide.

When compared to certain chemical sunscreen components, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are both considered mild and less likely to cause skin irritation or allergies. They are especially beneficial for people who have sensitive skin or are prone to skin diseases such as eczema or rosacea. Mineral sunscreen formulas have progressed, resulting in more cosmetically appealing solutions that address concerns about leaving a visible white cast on the skin. Nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are frequently utilised to make these sunscreens more transparent upon application while offering adequate UV protection.

The SPF (Sun Protection Factor), broad-spectrum coverage, water resistance, and other skin-nourishing ingredients included in the formulation are all important considerations when selecting a mineral sunscreen. Furthermore, it is essential to adhere to the manufacturer's application and reapplication guidelines to guarantee adequate defence against the sun's damaging rays.

Chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens are made from chemicals called organic compounds, which absorb the UV rays before they reach your skin. These include ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone and octocrylene. Chemical sunscreens are available in lotions and sprays as well as cream forms. 

Pros of using chemical sunscreen

Pros of using chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays before they reach the skin's surface by reacting with them. It absorbs the sun's rays, turns them into heat, and then releases them through the skin. They are popular as they are lighter and more sheer than mineral sunscreens and don't feel sticky or greasy. As they don't leave a visible layer on the skin, they can be applied to a broader range of skin tones. 

Cons of using chemical sunscreen

Cons of using chemical sunscreen

The active ingredients used in chemical sunscreens, like oxybenzone and benzophenone, have been shown to have adverse impacts on the environment. They can also irritate the skin of those with sensitive skin and acne-prone skin types. 

How chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin

How chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin

Chemical sunscreens are not the same as mineral sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens, rather than producing a physical barrier on the skin's surface, contain organic substances that are absorbed into the skin and operate by absorbing UV radiation before they can cause damage. When exposed to UV radiation, the active chemicals in chemical sunscreens, such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and others, undergo a chemical reaction. The heat that is produced by these molecules when UV photons are absorbed is subsequently released by the skin.

These chemical compounds produce a thin coating on the skin and are absorbed into the higher layers of the skin (stratum corneum) after application. They become activated after being absorbed and form a protective barrier within the skin, absorbing and neutralising UV radiation before it can permeate deeper layers of the skin and cause damage. While chemical sunscreens are excellent at blocking UV rays, some people are concerned about the potential absorption of these chemicals into the body and their consequences on hormone disruption. However, research in this area is ongoing, and regulatory organisations are continuing to assess the safety of these sunscreen chemicals. Applying the recommended amount of sunscreen and reapplying it as directed is crucial for its effectiveness, regardless of whether it's a chemical or mineral sunscreen. Additionally, following the manufacturer's instructions and using sunscreen in conjunction with other sun-protective measures (like seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding peak sun hours) can further enhance sun protection.

Chemical sunscreen and long-term skin health

Chemical sunscreen and long-term skin health

There is continuous investigation and debate regarding the use of chemical sunscreens and their effects on the long-term health of the skin. Chemical sunscreens efficiently absorb and neutralise UV radiation, but some people are worried about what might happen to their skin and the environment if they are used too often. The following things to think about about chemical sunscreens and long-term skin health:

  1. Skin Sensitivity and Allergies: Certain chemical sunscreen ingredients may cause skin sensitivity or allergic reactions in some people. In sensitive individuals, ingredients such as oxybenzone or avobenzone may cause irritation or allergic reactions.

  2. Hormone Disruption: The potential for certain chemical sunscreen ingredients, such as oxybenzone, to disrupt hormones is still being debated and researched. Some research suggests that these compounds may mimic hormones and interfere with the endocrine system; however, the extent and significance of this effect in real-world scenarios is still being investigated.

  3. Environmental Impact: When certain chemical sunscreen ingredients are washed into oceans and bodies of water, they have been linked to negative effects on marine life and coral reefs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, for example, have been linked to coral bleaching and can harm aquatic ecosystems.

  4. Sun Protection Efficacy: When used correctly and reapplied as directed, chemical sunscreens provide effective UV ray protection. However, some chemical sunscreen ingredients may degrade when exposed to sunlight, necessitating more frequent reapplication. 

  5. Regulatory Inquiry: Regulatory bodies are constantly assessing the safety and efficacy of sunscreen ingredients. Some nations or areas have prohibited or restricted the use of specific chemical sunscreen ingredients because they are known to have negative environmental effects.

Manufacturers are investigating new sunscreen formulations that include various UV-filtering ingredients or technologies to address these concerns and offer alternatives. Additionally, for people with sensitive skin or those who want to stay away from specific chemical ingredients, mineral sunscreens—physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—are thought to be safer options.

What is the best sunscreen for face?

What is the best sunscreen for face?

There are a few things to consider when choosing sunscreen. While mineral sunscreens are more trusted, chemical sunscreens are lighter and can be used for everyday use. It is more important to consider your skin type when choosing sunscreen. Whether you want sunscreen for dry skin or sunscreen for oily skin, always speak to your dermatologist before trying out a new sunscreen. At Clinikally, you can book a video consultation with the best dermatologists in India at your chosen time slot from the convenience of your home. You can book your consultation to get expert advice or tips, clear doubts, and get personalized treatment plans for skin and hair.

Choosing the right SPF for your face

Choosing the right SPF for your face

Several factors influence the right SPF (Sun Protection Factor) for your face, including your skin type, how much time you spend outside, and how much sun exposure you anticipate. Consider the following guidelines when choosing an SPF for your face:

  1. Understand SPF Levels: SPF indicates the level of protection against UVB radiation. Higher SPF values offer better protection. Dermatologists normally prescribe a minimum of SPF 30 for daily use. SPF 30 blocks approximately 97% of UVB radiation, whereas SPF 50 blocks approximately 98%. Because no sunscreen provides complete protection, reapplication and other protective measures are essential.

  2. Consider Your Skin Type: If you have fair or sensitive skin that burns easily, or if you have a history of skin cancer, you might consider a higher SPF. SPF 30 may be sufficient for daily use for people with darker skin tones or less sun sensitivity.

  3. Daily Use vs. Outdoor Activities: SPF 30 in your moisturiser or makeup may be sufficient for daily wear when you are mostly indoors and exposed to little sunlight. Consider a higher SPF (e.g., SPF 50 or higher) and reapply sunscreen every two hours when spending extended time outdoors or participating in outdoor activities, especially if you are sweating or swimming.

  4. Sunscreen Ingredients and Formulation: Choose a sunscreen designed specifically for the face to avoid clogging pores and causing breakouts. For oily or acne-prone skin, non-comedogenic or oil-free options are available. Look for sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Some facial sunscreens contain additional skincare ingredients that are beneficial to the skin, such as antioxidants or moisturisers.

  5. Consistency and Application: Regardless of the SPF level chosen, consistent and proper application is critical. Apply sunscreen liberally to all exposed areas of the face 15-30 minutes before exposure to the sun. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or sooner if you are swimming, sweating, or wiping your face with a towel.

  6. Consult a Dermatologist: If you have specific skin concerns or conditions, or if you are not sure which SPF level is best for your skin type, a dermatologist can provide personalised recommendations.

Aside from sunscreen, extra precautions such as wearing hats, sunglasses, and seeking shade during peak sun hours can help protect your face from the sun's harmful rays. Choosing sunscreen based on your skin type and anticipated sun exposure will help ensure effective face protection.

Water-resistant vs. regular sunscreen for facial use

Water-resistant vs. regular sunscreen for facial use

Several factors influence your choice between water-resistant and regular sunscreen for facial use, including your planned activities, exposure to water or sweat, and skin type. Here are some things to think about to help you decide: 

  • Water-Resistant Sunscreen: They are ideal for activities that involve water, sweating, or high humidity because they are engineered to last longer when exposed to water or sweat. Water-resistant sunscreens often keep their SPF level for 40 minutes or 80 minutes, depending on the label. After these durations or after towel drying, reapplication is required. Suitable for people who participate in water sports, swimming, or other strenuous physical activity.

  • Regular Sunscreen: Regular sunscreens may be more comfortable for daily usage and may contain formulas tailored specifically for facial use. They may soak more easily into the skin and leave a less greasy or heavy feeling on the face. Cosmetically more elegant, frequently formulated for everyday usage under makeup or as part of a skincare routine. Consider the following factors when deciding between water-resistant and regular sunscreen for facial use: Daily activities, outdoor activities, and skin sensitivity.

Regardless of the type of sunscreen used, it is critical to apply the recommended amount liberally to all exposed areas of the face and reapply as directed for effective sun protection. If you have specific skin concerns or are unsure about which type of sunscreen is best for you, consulting a dermatologist can provide personalised advice.

Get ultimate sun protection for your skin!

Get ultimate sun protection for your skin!

When choosing the best sunscreens for the face, pay more attention in finding a broad-spectrum sunscreen that's SPF 30 or higher. If you have sensitive skin, dry skin or want a super-lightweight formula, then mineral sunscreens may be the way to go. Chemical sunscreens are your best bet if you want something more affordable and easy to apply. Whichever sunscreen you go for, you must use it consistently, as sunscreen is the most effective way to reduce your risk of sun-related skin damage. 

The importance of broad-spectrum protection

The importance of broad-spectrum protection

Broad-spectrum protection refers to a product's or system's ability to provide defence or coverage against a diverse set of components or dangers. This notion is used in a variety of sectors, including medicine, technology, and environmental science. Here are some instances where broad-spectrum protection is especially important:

  • Sunscreen and Skin Care: Broad-spectrum protection is critical in sunscreen and skincare products for protecting the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can cause premature ageing of the skin, while UVB rays cause sunburn. A broad-spectrum sunscreen helps prevent skin damage and lowers the risk of skin cancer.

  • Antibiotics and Medications: broad-spectrum antibiotics in medicine are meant to target a large range of bacteria, as opposed to narrow-spectrum antibiotics that target specific species. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are useful when the origin of an infection is unknown or when dealing with various bacterial strains.

  • Vaccines: Broad-spectrum vaccines are intended to immunise against a wide range of linked diseases. The influenza vaccine, for example, targets several strains of the flu virus, protecting multiple types.

  • Computer Security: Broad-spectrum protection in cybersecurity means guarding against a wide range of cyber threats, such as viruses, malware, ransomware, and phishing assaults. To protect the safety and integrity of digital systems, comprehensive security solutions are required.

  • Environmental Conservation: Environmental science relies on broad-spectrum protection to solve a variety of ecological challenges. Conservation initiatives that take into account several species, ecosystems, and environmental conditions lead to a more comprehensive and successful approach to protecting biodiversity and ecosystem health.

  • Immune System Response: By recognising and defending against a wide range of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungus, the human immune system provides broad-spectrum protection. The diversity of the immune response is critical to general health.

  • Financial Security: Diversification is a type of broad-spectrum protection in the financial sector. Investors can minimise risk and improve portfolio resilience by diversifying their investments across asset classes, industries, and geographic locations.

  • Data Protection: Broad-spectrum protection in data security entails preserving information against a variety of risks, such as hacking, data breaches, and unauthorised access. Strong cybersecurity procedures are required to protect sensitive data's confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Sunscreen and sensitive skin: finding a gentle formula

Sunscreen and sensitive skin: finding a gentle formula

The chemicals and composition of a sunscreen for sensitive skin must be carefully considered. Many sunscreens contain chemicals or scents that cause allergic reactions in those with sensitive skin. Here are some guidelines for selecting a mild sunscreen formula:

  1. Look for Physical Sunscreens: Active ingredients in physical or mineral sunscreens include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These minerals sit on the surface of the skin and reflect UV rays. They are generally well tolerated by sensitive skin and are less likely to irritate when compared to chemical sunscreens.

  2. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Check the ingredient list and avoid sunscreens that contain harsh chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate. These chemicals have the potential to irritate sensitive skin. 

  3. Fragrance-Free Formulas: Fragrances are a common cause of irritation in people with sensitive skin. Choose a sunscreen that is marked as "fragrance-free" or "scent-free" to reduce the possibility of irritation.

  4. Sunscreens labelled "hypoallergenic": Look for sunscreens labelled "hypoallergenic," as these are designed to reduce the risk of allergic reactions. However, it is important to note that the term "hypoallergenic" is not regulated, so checking the ingredient list is still essential.

  5. Oil-Free and Non-Comedogenic: If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, look for an oil-free and non-comedogenic sunscreen. These formulations have a lower chance of clogging pores or causing breakouts.

  6. Dermatologist-Tested: Dermatologist-tested products may be a better option for sensitive skin. Sunscreens that have been dermatologist-tested have been evaluated to ensure that they are suitable for a variety of skin types, including sensitive skin.

  7. SPF and Broad-Spectrum Protection: Check that the sunscreen has both broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and an acceptable Sun Protection Factor (SPF). People with delicate skin should avoid both forms of UV radiation.

  8. Patch Test: Before applying sunscreen to your entire face or body, perform a patch test. Apply a small amount of the product to a small area of your skin and wait 24 hours to see if you have any adverse reactions.

  9. Water-Resistant Formulas: Choose a water-resistant formula if you intend to be in the water or sweat a lot. However, remember to reapply after swimming or excessive sweating.

  10. See a Dermatologist: You should think about seeing a dermatologist if you have any particular skin issues or conditions. Based on your skin type and any current skin conditions, they can offer tailored recommendations.

In the end, experimenting may be necessary to determine the best sunscreen for sensitive skin. Consider how your skin feels and select a sunscreen that offers the required protection without aggravating or bothering it.

1 comment

Sri Lalitha

Sri Lalitha

I have dry sensitive pigmented skin and dark spots which sunscreen is best for me

I have dry sensitive pigmented skin and dark spots which sunscreen is best for me

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