What is the difference between a mineral sunscreen and a chemical sunscreen

Applying Sunscreen on the beach

What is the difference between a mineral sunscreen and a chemical sunscreen?

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it is important to be informed before making a choice of what you put onto your skin.

A chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin while a mineral sunscreen bonds to the surface of your skin. However one needs to consider what happens when sunscreen gets absorbed into the skin and into the bloodstream. 

Many individuals may use chemical sunscreens without experiencing any adverse effects, however, here are concerns that have been raised.

1.Skin Irritation and Allergic Reactions: Some people may be sensitive or allergic to certain chemical sunscreen ingredients, such as oxybenzone or avobenzone. This can lead to skin irritation, redness, itching, or allergic dermatitis. It’s recommended to perform a patch test or consult with a dermatologist if you have a history of skin sensitivity.

2. Endocrine Disruption: Some studies suggest that certain chemical sunscreen ingredients, including oxybenzone, octinoxate, and others, may have the potential to disrupt hormone function in the body.

3. Environmental Impact: Certain chemical sunscreen ingredients have been found to have negative impacts on coral reefs and marine ecosystems when they wash off into the water. These chemicals can contribute to coral bleaching and harm marine life. To mitigate this impact, some regions have banned or restricted the use of these chemicals in sunscreens, opting for mineral-based alternatives.

4. Absorption into the Body: Chemical sunscreens are designed to be absorbed into the top layers of the skin, where they work by converting UV radiation into heat. However, some studies have detected the presence of these chemicals in blood and urine samples after sunscreen application. Long-term health effects of this absorption are still being studied.


Chemical sunscreens and mineral sunscreens are two different types of sunscreens that provide protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. They differ in terms of their active ingredients, how they work, and their potential effects on the skin. Here’s a breakdown of the differences

Active Ingredients:

Chemical Sunscreens: These sunscreens contain organic compounds such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octinoxate, and others. These chemicals work by absorbing UV radiation and converting it into heat, which is then released from the skin.

Mineral Sunscreens: Also known as physical sunscreens or sunblocks, these sunscreens contain inorganic minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These minerals create a physical barrier on the skin that reflects and scatters UV radiation away from the skin.

Mechanism of Action:

Chemical Sunscreens: When applied to the skin, chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the top layer of the skin and work by converting UV rays into less harmful forms of energy, such as heat. They require some time to be absorbed and become effective.

Mineral Sunscreens: Mineral sunscreens work as soon as they are applied to the skin. They sit on the surface of the skin and create a physical barrier that reflects and scatters UV rays, preventing them from reaching the deeper layers of the skin.

Broad-Spectrum Protection:

Chemical Sunscreens: Many chemical sunscreens offer broad-spectrum protection, which means they can protect against both UVA and UVB rays. However, the effectiveness and coverage of this protection may vary depending on the specific chemical ingredients.

Mineral Sunscreens: Mineral sunscreens generally provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. The minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are effective in blocking both types of UV rays.

Skin Sensitivity:

Chemical Sunscreens: Some people may experience skin sensitivity or allergic reactions to certain chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone. It is important to check the ingredient list and choose a sunscreen that suits your skin type.

Mineral Sunscreens: Mineral sunscreens are generally considered to be gentle and less likely to cause skin irritation. They are often recommended for individuals with sensitive skin or those prone to allergies.

Environmental Impact:

Chemical Sunscreens: Certain chemical sunscreen ingredients have been found to have negative effects on coral reefs and marine life when washed off into the water. These chemicals are now banned in some regions to protect marine ecosystems.

Mineral Sunscreens: Mineral sunscreens are considered to be reef-safe as they do not contain the harmful chemicals mentioned above. They are a preferred option for those concerned about their impact on the environment.

For more information about Ocean Freedoms range of mineral sunscreens click here: https://oceanfreedom.com/shop/




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