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

Types of Sunscreen

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?

wear 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

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

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. 

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

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

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. 

What is the best sunscreen for face?

best sunscreen cream 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.

Get ultimate sun protection for your skin!

chemical sunscreen vs mineral sunscreen

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. 


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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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