You know sun protection is a must in your morning routine but the terms sunblock and sunscreen are used so interchangeably it can be hard to know the difference. Choosing sun protection can sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing but leave it to us to put your mind, and skin, at ease with our guide to mineral and chemical sunscreens.
How Does Mineral Sunscreen Work?
Mineral sunblock is any product that derives its sun protection from active mineral ingredients, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. When you hear the word ‘zinc’ you probably think of the thick coloured paste you slathered on your face in your younger days but zinc oxide is actually a gentler option for sensitive skin. It works by forming a physical barrier against ultraviolet radiation that reflects light rays away from the skin while also being soothing and healing.
You might spot it on the shelves as inorganic sunblock, mineral or physical SPF. It gets to action straight away because it doesn’t need to absorb to be effective, however this also means it’s likely to wash away so you’ll need to reapply more often, especially when sweating or swimming. You can easily apply it on top of other skincare products which makes it less irritating if you have sensitive skin, melasma, rosacea or eczema.
How Does Chemical Sunscreen Work?
Chemical sunscreen is any product that uses certain chemical compounds to protect against the sun. Octocrylene is a common chemical sunscreen ingredient that absorbs both UVA and UVB rays to provide broad spectrum protection to underlying skin cells while oxybenzone absorbs UVB radiation and helps the sunscreen spread more evenly on your skin so you’ve got better coverage.
Chemical sunscreens work like a sponge to absorb UVA and UVB rays before they reach your skin. Once the UV light is absorbed, the ingredients in the sunscreen create a chemical reaction that converts UV light to heat. Each time a UV ray causes this reaction a molecule of chemical sunscreen is destroyed, which is why you need to reapply as you’ll run out of chemical sunscreen molecules on your skin.
The key to a chemical sunscreen working is its absorption so it needs time to bind with the top layer of your skin which is why we recommend applying 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. It tends not to leave a white cast because it’s thinner and spreads more easily, making it perfect for oily or acne-prone skin.
Is Chemical Sunscreen Safe?
We love rumours as much as the next Gossip Girl but safety concerns around chemical sunscreens only exist because the ingredients are absorbed through the skin. Let’s look on the wild side here, water is actually a chemical but it’s something our bodies depend on for survival! It’s important to remember that any SPF products or sunscreens that have unsafe chemicals are banned from being produced.
Using a chemical sunscreen doesn’t increase any risk of UV damage to your complexion and there are far more proven health risks if you choose to skip sun protection, we’re talking permanent damage to your skin and deadly melanoma here.
How Do You Know If Sunscreen Is Chemical Or Mineral?
Sunscreen is highly regulated in Australia so to check if you’re purchasing chemical or mineral sun protection, flip to the back of the bottle and check the active ingredients. If you see either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, it’s a mineral-based sunscreen. It’s a chemical sunscreen if it lists other active ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate or octinoxate.
Does Sunscreen Expire?
Sunscreen usually does expire thanks to the active ingredients breaking down over time which might be seen in changes to the colour or consistency. While they aren’t harmful they won’t give you complete protection against UV radiation which can lead to an increased chance of sunburn, sun damage, brown spots and risk of skin cancer development. As a general rule, the lower the SPF rating, the riskier it is to use expired sunscreen.
If you buy sunscreen that doesn’t have an expiration date, write the date of purchase on the bottle and throw it away after three years. If you’re applying sun protection generously, a bottle shouldn’t last you that long anyway! To keep your sunscreen in good condition, try to keep it away from direct sunlight and avoid keeping it in hot places like your car.
Best Physical Sunscreens In Australia
No matter the weather, your skin needs daily SPF protection so choose Sun Skills clean skin-loving sunscreen range that’s made right here under the Australian sun.
This is where skincare meets sun care so you can be confidently protected using non-greasy sun protection that’s free from parabens, sulphates and nasties. Developed with nourishing formulas and natural ingredients that are chosen for their hydration and moisturisation, our sheer touch sunscreen dries with a natural finish that balances your skincare ritual, without being left with that white cast. Talk about being more than just a beach day essential!
Which Mineral Suncreen Is Best For Your Face?
If you’re looking for a mineral facial sunscreen, you can’t go past esmi’s Skin Shield Sunscreen SPF 30 for healthy, youthful skin. The vegan formula is non-greasy and lightweight meaning it’s perfect for all skin types, from acne-prone to sensitive. This sunscreen has additional ingredients, chosen for their anti-ageing benefits:
- Zinc Oxide for sun protection.
- Hyaluronic Acid for hydration.
- Carrot Root Oil for powerful anti-ageing antioxidants.
- Cucumber for soothing skin.
- Vitamin C and Green Tea for skin calming antioxidants