Chemical vs Mineral Sunscreen

By Nicollette Samuels

As summer comes to an end, and you start to trade your sleeveless tops and sandals for cozy sweaters and ankle boots, remember to always keep your sunscreen close by all year round because no matter season, the sun’s powerful rays don’t disappear.

Sunscreen is a very essential part of one’s skincare regimen as it helps to protect the skin from UV rays that can enhance skin issues like hyperpigmentation, skin aging, sun burn, skin cancer, etc. While it may be surprising to think that the sun could cause all this damage during the fall and winter months, UVA rays are so strong that they can pass through clouds, windows, windshields, and even reflect off of snow!

Don’t have a favorite sunscreen in your skincare cabinet? Well, look no further for help on how to choose the best sunscreen for you. There are two main types of sunscreens, chemical and mineral, and they both have their pros and cons.

Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens or organic (carbon-based) sunscreens contain chemical UV filters such as avobenzone, octisalate, oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and octocrylene. They work like a sponge, absorbing the sun’s rays into the skin, creating a chemical reaction, turning the UV rays into heat, which is released by the skin. These sunscreens offer strong protection and they don’t usually leave a white cast, making it the preferred choice for skin of color. They are also more elegant to apply to the skin as they blend in smoothly like a moisturizer. This makes them the perfect candidate to wear under makeup. However, this particular type of sun protection can cause irritation to sensitive skin; and risks being absorbed into the skin and into the bloodstream. Research shows that there is no definitive answer on how this affects the body, but dermatologists still recommend using them because the risk is much lower than going without them. When using chemical sunscreens, it is suggested to wait 20 minutes before being exposed to the sun.


Paula’s Choice Resist Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 – $33

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 – $34

Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 – $15.99

La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 60 – $29.99

Mineral Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens or physical/inorganic sunscreens exclusively contain the ingredients zinc oxide, and/or titanium dioxide. These ingredients sit on the surface of the skin and create a protective barrier that physically prevents UV rays from being absorbed into the skin by reflecting them. When you think about sunscreens in the traditional sense, mineral sunscreens are probably what you are imagining. That thick, white, goopy paste, which leaves a white, blue, or purple cast and takes forever or never blends in. This fear has made sunscreens the bane of every person of color’s existence. However, time and technology have allowed for there to be a glimmer of hope for everyone to enjoy mineral sunscreens. In recent years the skincare and sunscreen industry has been striving and competing with each other to create a mineral sunscreen with minimal to no white cast, and is easy to blend. Zinc oxide is also the only single ingredient that effectively protects from both UVA and UVB rays.


CōTZ Flawless Complexion Tinted SPF 50 – $25

Live Tinted Hueguard SPF 30 – $32

Kinship Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 32 – $25

Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 – $33

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