Chemical vs. Mineral: The Great Sunscreen Debate
The question of chemical or mineral/physical sunscreen is on many people’s minds. Which option should you choose to protect yourself and your family? At OCEAN AUSTRALIA, we're all about mineral.
When you’re shopping for sunscreen, you’ll see that the vast majority of products available are chemical sunscreens. Chemical products contain a number of active chemical filters that are absorbed by your skin. These create a chemical reaction beneath your skin’s surface which filters out the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays by converting them to heat, which is then released through your skin.
- Usually lightweight, making it fairly easy to spread over skin. Doesn’t take too much rubbing in and is less likely to leave a white cast.
- Cheaper to buy than mineral sunscreen.
- Contains chemicals like oxybenzone and avobenzone that have been shown to harm coral reefs — this is why Hawaii is banning the sale of chemical sunscreen from 2021.
- These chemicals are also absorbed into the bloodstream in much higher quantities than previously thought, and research is underway into the impact this has on the body.
- Much more likely to irritate skin than mineral sunscreen because it contains more active ingredients that penetrate skin.
- Relies on multiple chemicals to protect from UVA and UVB rays because one chemical alone can’t protect against both.
- Needs 20 to 30 minutes to be absorbed by the skin before it offers protection.
Mineral sunscreens, sometimes called ‘physical’ sunscreens, use natural ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, to create a physical barrier on the surface of the skin. This means that, unlike with chemical sunscreens, harmful rays don’t penetrate the skin at all — they’re reflected away from skin on contact.
- Free from chemical filters and usually contains only one active ingredient, rather than a long list, making it reef friendly.
- Far less likely to irritate skin.
- Naturally broad spectrum, meaning it protects from UVA and UVB rays without relying on chemical compounds.
- Not absorbed into the skin.
- Is effective as soon as applied because it doesn’t need time to absorb.
- Costs a little more than chemical products.
- Because it creates a shield on top of skin, some mineral products can be hard to rub in. At OCEAN AUSTRALIA, we spent two years developing our formula with the most advanced technology and ingredients, meaning that our products are significantly easier to rub in (and less likely to leave a white cast) than other zinc-based products. Yay!