Chemical vs. Mineral Sun Creams – Which Should You Use?
By Jessica, August 1, 2011
Did you know there was a difference between chemical and mineral sun creams? Or even that the two different kinds exist? We all know the dangers of inadequate protection from the sun, but unfortunately it isn’t as simple as slapping on an SPF and going about your day. There are a number of key distinguishing factors between the two types of sun cream available, from how they protect the skin to how they affect the skin. Here is how to decide which is best for you.
Chemical Sun Creams
Chemical sun creams contain ingredients which are absorbed into the skin and, as the name suggests, provide a chemical barrier to the sun. The chemicals in question absorb UV rays from the sun so your skin doesn’t. Concerns have been raised as to what happens when the chemicals are absorbed by the body, and various studies into the matter have come up with differing conclusions. The result is that many chemical sun creams now contain a mineral element too, and mineral-only options are becoming increasingly available.
Mineral Sun Creams
Mineral sun cream provides a physical barrier to the sun by sitting at the skin’s surface and deflecting UV rays. A common misconception with mineral sun creams is that they are chemical-free – this isn’t entirely true as the mineral pigments used are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are technically chemicals. The key difference is that these chemicals are not absorbed, meaning they are generally less irritating to the skin and, some argue, more effective in protecting it.
Choosing the Right One for You
In use, the type you will be most suited to depends on your personal preferences and skin type. Sensitive skins often suffer flare ups, rashes or eye irritation with the use of chemical sun creams, and clogged pores are more common with this type. However they do tend to absorb better than mineral creams and don’t rub off as easily.
Mineral sun creams cause less sensitivity and are less inclined to block pores than chemical types. They do, however, have a thicker consistency and can leave a chalky white film on the skin. The good news is that this problem is being tackled and newer, more pleasant to use formulations are now available – see our top mineral sun creams for more.
When choosing either type, it is essential to look out for an SPF of 15 at the very least – and this is just for overcast days in Ireland. If heading away on holidays or enjoying our brief Irish summer, a much higher SPF is recommended. Also, ensure that both UVA and UVB protection is included. UVB is the ray responsible for burning skin, while UVA contributes to premature ageing, but the important fact to remember is that they both cause skin cancer.