Mineral vs Non-Mineral Sunscreen – Which Is Best?

Mineral and Non-mineral Sunscreen: Which Is Best? | The Enterprise World

Sunscreen has climbed to the top of most people’s skincare product list. It is the simplest and most convenient treatment to protect your skin against sun exposure and pollution. More seriously, it is also your skin’s best friend against conditions such as cancer and premature aging. 

Whatever your age and gender, it’s important to protect yourself against harmful UV rays that are radiated by the sun. It is especially important to wear sunscreen when you travel to places that experience bright sunshine. Make it an essential part of your travel kit and you can safely enjoy your “fun in the sun” holiday, and buy mineral sunscreen in Australia where it’s one of the must-have items in your travel kit at all times. 

What Is Sunscreen?

While you’re shopping for sunscreen, you may find it sold under different names such as sunblock or sun cream. It is a photoprotective product and is available in different formulations such as lotion, cream, spray, foam, gel, stick or powder. You will also find a range of products that may comprise mineral and non-mineral sunscreen or chemical UV protective ingredients, or even a combination of both known as “hybrid” sunscreen. 

Mineral and Non-mineral Sunscreen: Which Is Best? | The Enterprise World

Contrary to popular belief, sunscreen is not a modern invention. Many ancient civilizations and indigenous people used some form of sun protection. These were usually plant-based, or they were oils that were designed to protect the skin from the drying and burning effects of sun exposure. Some cultures promoted the use of mineral pastes such as zinc oxide, while others used products that combined insect-repellent plants along with sun protection botanicals. 

The main action of sunscreen is to prevent UV rays given out by the sun from reaching the skin. This helps to prevent certain types of skin cancer such as melanoma and squamous cell cancers, and also sunburn, pigmentation, blemishes, age spots, and excessive tanning. 

While purchasing sunscreen, you can check the product’s SPF (sun protection factor). It must be at least 30 which blocks up to 97% of UV rays. These rays are classified as UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. The best option is to purchase a broad-spectrum sunscreen that can block both UVA and UVB rays. UVC rays cannot pass the earth’s atmosphere, so you don’t have to worry about these. 

One of the concerns expressed by dermatologists regarding the regular use of sunscreen is that it may reduce the skin’s ability to absorb the “Sunshine Vitamin” or Vitamin D which is essential for bone and muscle strength

A well-regulated use of high-quality sunscreen is vital for skin health, and you can make it part of your regular self-care routine. 

Mineral and Non-mineral Sunscreen: What’s The Difference?

Mineral sunscreens are also known as “physical” sunscreens. The reason is that they contain mineral compounds such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in the form of tiny particles. These particles position themselves on the skin and physically prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin. These minerals don’t penetrate or absorb into the skin, instead, they reflect the UV rays back so that they don’t enter the skin barrier. 

Mineral and Non-mineral Sunscreen: Which Is Best? | The Enterprise World

They usually have a chalky-white appearance, and you may have seen many outdoor sports persons with this sunscreen on their faces. They have a thick texture but need to be reapplied after two or three hours. More recently, skin-tinted mineral sunscreens have become available in the market and can be used for a better appearance. 

Non-mineral or chemical sunscreens comprise ingredients that absorb UV rays and change their chemical structure to render them harmless. They contain chemical compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, cinoxate, octocrylene, and many other such ingredients. 

These chemicals have been tested for safety, toxicity, and allergies, but new studies show that some chemicals such as avobenzone tend to break down quickly and lose their effectiveness, allowing UV rays to penetrate. Other chemicals such as dioxybenzone and cinoxate may get absorbed into the skin over long use and could become endocrine disruptors. In some studies, certain chemical ingredients were found to be present in breast milk, plasma, and urine of long-term users. 

The main difference between mineral and non-mineral sunscreen products is that chemical sunscreens are not as long-lasting as mineral ones. They may also trigger allergies in sensitive skin. 

However, the advantage of non-mineral or chemical products is that they can be applied with other skin care products such as moisturizers or make-up. 

Selecting The Right Product

There are hundreds of mineral and non-mineral sunscreen brands available on the market, and it’s common to find a slew of new products launched prior to the summer vacations. There are sunscreens that purport to target those with sensitive skin, pregnant women, people recovering from chemotherapy, and more. Special products are available for kids and the elderly. Today, the buzzwords for any product are “organic” “botanical” or “natural,” but much of this is what environmentalists call “greenwashing.” Experts recommend that you forget about what’s written on the front of the packaging and focus exclusively on the back where the real information lies. 

Mineral and Non-mineral Sunscreen: Which Is Best? | The Enterprise World

Read the labels on your sunscreen product carefully. Purchase products that have an SPF rating of 30 or higher and always select broad-spectrum sunscreens. 

Once you’ve understood the difference between mineral and non-mineral sunscreen, it’s easier to select the product that best matches your preferences. If you plan to swim, an environmentally friendly product is best, especially if you plan to swim in natural surroundings such as the ocean or rivers. Many of the chemicals found in non-mineral sunscreen are harmful to marine life and coral reefs. 

Some ingredients that may not be listed as “active” can also be harmful. These include fragrances or other allergy-causing products. 

In the case of sunscreens, the less is more maxim is ideal. Protect your sunscreen by capping the lid tightly and storing it in a cool, dark place when not in use. When you’re outdoors, wrap it carefully in a thick towel and place it in the shade. 

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