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Sunscreens are divided into two separate categories and are classified as either mineral or chemical sunscreens. The difference between these two sunscreens all comes down to the ingredients and the way they work to protect the skin. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between these two types in order for you to make an informed decision:

MINERAL SUNSCREENS use minerals – zinc oxide or/and titanium oxide - as UV filter(s) that sit on top of the skin to create an invisible shield-like barrier on the skin’s surface that physically prevents UV rays from penetrating the skin.


CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS use different synthetic filters that work together to absorb UV rays and keep them trapped on the surface of the skin, preventing the UV rays from penetrating the deeper layers of the skin.

The FDA in 2019 noted that only 2 of the 16 active ingredients used in sunscreens – zinc oxide + titanium oxide – are “generally recognized as safe and effective”. Studies have found that some chemical filters can enter the bloodstream and it is unknown whether there are any harmful health effects and further studies are suggested.

Active ingredients commonly found in chemical sunscreens (oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate) are under scrutiny and researchers are concerned about:


  • The bioavailability of these UV filters due to their absorption into the bloodstream

  • The role they might play in disrupting hormones and allergic skin reactions

  • The negative effect they have on coral reefs and marine life.



Act as a shield that  reflects UVA + UVB rays from your skin

Ingredients are  not absorbed into the skin

Ingredients do not break down in sunlight and are photostable.

Immediate protection on application

Gentle on the skin, including people with sensitive


Absorb UVA + UVB rays and deactivates it by converting it into heat, then releases the heat from the skin


Ingredients are absorbed into the skin and may  enter the bloodstream

Chemical ingredients break down in sunlight and are not photostable

A waiting period of 20-30 minutes after application. Sunscreen ingredients are absorbed into the skin and may cause irritation

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