Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen: What You Need To Know To Protect Your Family
Not all sunscreen is created equal. If you’ve heard talk about mineral sunscreen but aren’t quite sure what to make of it, we’d like to help you understand the difference between it and chemical sunscreen.
That way, you’ll be in-the-know and ready to make informed decisions to protect your family from the damaging rays of the sun. Let’s start with why choosing a good sunscreen matters in the first place.
Why The Right Sunscreen Matters
You might be sitting there asking yourself, “What’s the big deal anyway? Isn’t sunscreen all the same?” It’s not!
While an important first step is simply wearing sunscreen, choosing the right sunscreen is crucial. The sunscreen you lather on your skin can end up in two places: your bloodstream and the ocean water.
Let us explain.
Sunscreen And Your Body
You might think that your skin is an impenetrable barrier. Nothing gets past your skin! Right? Wrong.
While our skin does a pretty good job of protecting our bodies, it doesn’t keep everything out. What you put on your skin (in this case, sunscreen) can end up in your bloodstream.
Certain chemicals and nano-sized particles (in regular English: super-tiny particles) can seep through your skin and into your bloodstream. That means they find their way to every corner of your body, potentially causing problems.
Regardless of whether a substance makes it into your bloodstream, the other reason that sunscreen matters for your body is that some sunscreens can be irritating, especially if you tend to have sensitive skin.
Sunscreen And The Ocean
Sometimes we don’t stop to think about the effect that our actions have on the earth, especially when it comes to something as seemingly harmless as sunscreen.
The truth is the sunscreen on our skin washes off while we splash in the ocean. And it turns out that it’s actually having a not-so-great effect on the coral reefs and sea creatures we love.
The right sunscreen matters because it really can affect your body and your health as well as the health of ocean dwellers.
That being said, let’s talk about the two types of sunscreens (chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen) so you can see the pros and cons of each.
What Is Chemical Sunscreen?
Chemical sunscreens are made of just that: chemicals. Let’s take a look.
Active ingredients are the ingredients in a sunscreen that protect you from the sun. The inactive ingredients are the additional ingredients that make sunscreen moisturizing or make it smell good.
So what are the active, sun-fighting ingredients in chemical sunscreen?
Oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, avobenzone, homosalate, and octocrylene are some of them. All of these are chemicals cooked up in a lab.
How Chemical Sunscreen Works
How do those active ingredients keep you from getting sunburnt? Chemical sunscreen protects your skin by absorbing the UVA and UVB rays so they don’t get to your skin.
For this reason, chemical sunscreen is sometimes referred to as a “chemical block,” since that’s what it does: it chemically blocks the sun.
Practically, you know the drill with chemical sunscreen. You rub (or spray) it onto your skin around 30 minutes before you head outside. That gives it time to soak into your skin and be ready to effectively block the sun.
What are some other things you need to know about chemical sunscreen?
One of the nice things about it is that it goes on clear, so you can’t even tell you’re wearing it! But this isn’t unique to chemical sunscreens since some mineral sunscreens — like our Clear Zinc Sunscreen — also go on clear.
The dark side of the ingredients in chemical sunscreen is that they can damage your body as well as the coral reefs.
Oxybenzone — one of the most common active ingredients — is a hormone disruptor, and it contributes to coral reef bleaching when it’s washed off in the ocean. Not to mention it can irritate your skin.
What Is Mineral Sunscreen?
Just like with chemical sunscreen, it’s easy to know what mineral sunscreen is made of because it’s right there in its name: minerals.
There are only two active ingredients used in mineral sunscreens: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Some mineral sunscreens only contain one, while others contain both.
The interesting thing about these two ingredients is that they are currently the only two active ingredients (for both chemical and mineral sunscreens) that are “proposed to be safe and effective for sunscreen use” according to the FDA.
All the others are either a no-go or are still under investigation as to their safety and efficacy.
One other thing to keep in mind? The potential danger of nano-sized particles, which we mentioned earlier.
While there’s not enough data to prove that nano-sized particles penetrate the skin and make their way into the bloodstream, here at Babo Botanicals, we don’t think it’s worth the risk. Plus, nano-sized particles are so small that they can be ingested by coral reefs.
For both of those reasons, we recommend mineral sunscreen made with non-nano particles. We’re happy to say that all of our sunscreens boast a “Non-Nano” label, making things simple for you!
How Mineral Sunscreen Works
Mineral sunscreen sits on the surface of your skin (without finding its way into your bloodstream) to scatter, absorb, and reflect the sun’s harmful rays.
What about applying mineral sunscreen? While it’s still a good idea to sunscreen-up 15 minutes before going outside, mineral sunscreen does provide immediate protection.
Typically, one of the big complaints about mineral sunscreens is that it leaves your skin white when you put it on. That’s a legitimate concern!
The good news is that, like we mentioned earlier, some mineral sunscreens (Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, for example) go on clear!
A couple of other characteristics that make mineral sunscreen stand out is that the active mineral ingredients are non-irritating for sensitive skin and get better ratings with the EWG (Environmental Working Group).
Plus, you can find mineral sunscreens that are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.
Finally, zinc oxide is the best of the two mineral sunscreen active ingredients because it is truly a broad-spectrum blocker, meaning it protects you and your family from UVA and UVB rays.
Titanium dioxide does a good job keeping UVB rays out, but it’s not as effective when it comes to UVA rays.
Pros And Cons Of Chemical And Mineral Sunscreen
If you’re struggling to make a decision between the two, sometimes it helps to make a pros and cons list. Here’s ours!
Pros Of Chemical Sunscreen
- Quick and easy to apply
- Generally doesn’t leave a white film on the skin after application
Cons of Chemical Sunscreen
- The long list of ingredients required to create UVA and UVB protection may cause skin irritation in some people, particularly those with sensitive skin
- The chemicals in chemical sunscreen can clog your pores and increase breakouts if your skin is acne-prone
- You’ll have to wait up to half an hour after applying it for the sunscreen to become effective
- Chemicals from the product may enter your bloodstream
- These chemicals can affect coral reefs
Pros of Mineral Sunscreen
- Since there are only two active ingredients used to create mineral sunscreen, this makes it ideal for people with sensitive skin — and the whole family
- The gentle nature of the sunscreen is safe for babies and pregnant women
- There is no waiting period required for the sunscreen to be effective; as soon as you apply it to your skin, you’re instantly protected from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays
- It won’t get absorbed into your bloodstream
- If you’ll be swimming in the ocean, the minerals won’t affect the coral reefs
Cons of Mineral Sunscreen
- Many mineral sunscreens on the market tend to be thicker and leave a white film on your skin. (Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen is light, clear, and leaves no white film, so you don’t have to worry about that!)
- You’ll need to apply it more frequently than chemical sunscreen
There are so many harmful ingredients that can be found in skincare products that it has never been more important to take good care of your skin! And this means being careful of the products you use on it.
From the above comparisons, we hope you see that mineral sunscreen was created to protect you from harmful UV rays while also being gentle on your skin and the environment.
Mineral Sunscreen Tips
For those of us here at Babo Botanicals, there’s no question: mineral sunscreen is our favorite, hands down!
We like the idea of high-quality, effective sun protection that also keeps our bodies and the coral reefs healthy and happy.
If you’ve decided to go this route as well, here are a few tips and reminders.
1) Choose Clear Zinc Sunscreen
Choosing to use mineral sunscreen doesn’t automatically mean you have to sacrifice your looks.
Try Babo Botanicals’s Clear Zinc Sunscreen. It goes on clear and is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free for those of you with sensitive skin. That’s a win all around!
2) Check Your Daily Sunscreen
If it contains harmful chemicals, consider tossing it and opting instead for our Daily Sheer Tinted Facial Mineral Sunscreen.
3) Reapply Every Two Hours
Just like with chemical sunscreen, with mineral sunscreen, you’ll need to reapply every couple of hours, especially if you’ve been in and out of the water.
For easy reapplication and 80 minutes of water and sweat resistance, use Babo Botanicals’s Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen.
4) Don’t Forget Your Lips
Don’t leave any body part left behind when it comes to sun protection! That includes the tops of your feet and ears, those hard-to-reach spots, and, of course, your lips.
Protect and pamper your lips with our SPF Lip Tint Conditioner SPF 15. Don it daily for smooth, soft lips!
Taking Care Of Your Skin In The Sun
There’s a reason why so many products offer sun protection. Although we love some Vitamin D, getting too much of it can really damage your skin!
While outside, it’s important to take good care of your skin and prevent getting sunburnt. Above, we mentioned how and why you should use sunscreen.
But what are some other ways you can enjoy your time outside without harming your skin? Take a look at our ideas below!
1) Remember Your Protective Clothing
The first step in protecting yourself from the harmful rays of the sun is using mineral sunscreen. The second step is wearing protective clothing.
Consider wearing pants and long-sleeved tops to ensure that your arms and legs are protected.
When it’s hot outside, the last thing most people want to do is think about anything long-sleeved. However, exposing your skin to the sun for extended periods of time will do more harm than good.
So, opt for clothes made from moisture-wicking fabrics. What is this?
Well, some materials make you feel hot and sweaty because they’re either heavy or stick to your skin. Moisture-wicking fabrics pull your sweat away from your skin and, in turn, help to keep you cool and moving comfortably throughout your day.
That said, your arms and legs aren’t the only things that need protection. You’ll also want to ensure that you keep your skin safe by choosing the right hat!
When people go outside, they often opt for a cap to cover their eyes and face.
But this leaves your ears and neck area exposed. To play it safe, choose a wide-brimmed hat to ensure that you get maximum protection.
Sunglasses are also an essential part of protective gear! They help keep your eyes shielded from UV light, which can harm your eyelids, lenses, cornea, and retina.
While getting quality sunglasses might mean paying a little extra, think of it as a worthy investment to help keep your eyes healthier for longer.
2) Limit Your Time In The Sun
We know that the sun is our best source of Vitamin D. But we also know that too much of it can damage skin cells, peel our skin, and so much more!
So, what can we do? Just forget about Vitamin D?
Well, not quite. You see, there are many benefits to Vitamin D. It helps us develop strong bones; it helps our bodies fight off many harmful diseases; and it helps reduce depression, to name a few.
And getting too little of it can lead to many serious conditions, like osteoporosis, muscle weakness, and hair loss.
Since avoiding the sun isn’t an option, the next best thing is to get some sunshine only during certain times of the day.
The sun is very dangerous between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when it’s at its hottest.
If you’re looking forward to heading out, plan any outdoor activities for either early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This will help to ensure that you don’t put your skin at risk.
Also, some areas are naturally hotter than others. To help you know when it’s the best time to go outside, use the UV Index Scale app from EPA, which was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
This app is easy to install and will help you see how intense the sun in your area is so you can know when it’s best to stay indoors and when it’s safe to be outdoors.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency, you can also opt for a supplement and add vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, egg yolks, and mushrooms to your diet.
3) Drink Lots Of Water
While the next one on our list is expected, you’d be surprised to learn how many people actually overlook this simple tip!
If drinking water while outside is something you often forget to do, here’s why it’s important to change this behavior ASAP.
Our bodies prefer to function within a certain temperature range. If the weather gets too hot, our bodies will try to help us cool off and let excess heat out. That’s why if you stay in the sun or in hot temperatures for a while, you’ll probably start to sweat.
While sweating is OK, the problem is if you sweat too much, you run the risk of getting dehydrated. And when you lose too much water from your system, this can lead to dangerous health complications.
Drinking water is the simplest way to replace the fluids you lose while sweating.
So, remember to drink plenty of liquids, especially water. And if you’re traveling with little ones, don’t forget to keep them hydrated as well!
4) Keep Your Little Ones Safe
If your baby is under six months of age, it’s best to avoid the sun as much as possible by keeping them shaded and dressing them in protective clothing. This is because their skin is too sensitive to handle the harmful UV rays.
If they’re older, then you can let them enjoy a little more time in the direct sunlight. But you’ll still need to opt for shade when possible and keep their skin protected with the right clothes.
It’s also essential to use baby-safe sunscreen on their face, like our Fragrance Free SPF 50 Baby Face Mineral Sunscreen Stick, on any exposed areas. This sunscreen is formulated for sensitive skin and contains more than 70% organic ingredients, so it’s safe for your little one!
For their arms, legs, and other exposed areas, try our (just as safe and gentle!) Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50.
Enjoy The Sun!
Everybody loves summer — it’s generally brighter for longer, you get to enjoy picnics with your loved ones, and heading to a nearby beach or pool is the icing on the cake!
While some time in the sun can be a great outing for you or the whole family, it can, unfortunately, also affect your skin.
That’s why we recommend mineral sunscreen! It helps keep you protected from the sun without putting your skin or the coral reefs in any danger.
In addition to sunscreen, keep the whole family safe by implementing the above tips. While it might take some time to get used to these changes, remember the benefits this will have for your skin and overall health!
Stock up on Babo Botanicals’s mineral sunscreens so you’ll never be caught without sun protection. Then get out there and have a blast!