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Chemical vs. Mineral Sunscreen: which is best?

4th Oct 2019

Overexposure to the sun and UV rays can be harmful to the skin in many ways. The most severe risks include sunburn and skin cancer, but it also can cause premature skin ageing. Most of us are well aware of these risks and use sunscreen when we're on holiday. Whilst we tend to be especially careful in the hot summer months, putting on sunscreen doesn't immediately sprint to mind when it starts getting grey and miserable outside.

There are clear benefits to using sunscreen all year round as we still require UV protection even in winter and we equally need protection against pollution and environmental damage which sunscreen provides. 

Choosing a sunscreen can be daunting, with many different chemical and mineral sunscreens available to buy. Understanding the differences between the two can be difficult, but the key differences are:
- The ingredients found in them;
- The way they behave on the skin.

Chemical sunscreens are made of non-natural chemical compounds, meaning ingredients are synthetic, made in a laboratory. Research has found that certain compounds commonly found in chemical sunscreens can negatively impact health and our ecosystems. Some of the compounds found to affect health are: Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, Padimate O.
Chemical sunscreens are absorbed by the skin and seep into the bloodstream. A study lead by Margret Schlumpf from University of Zurich has found traces of sunscreen chemicals in breast milk.

Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, are made with natural compounds, typically Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (which don't sound natural, but they are found naturally occurring!). 
The way mineral filters work is they sit on the surface of the skin and diffract light, reflecting UV rays away. Often people use the terminology 'physical sunscreen' to describe mineral sunscreens, as they function as a physical barrier between the skin and UV rays. 
Mineral sunscreens are considered to be safe and they should be the obvious choice in particular for children and during pregnancy. 

If you are looking for an all year round facial mineral sunscreen we can recommend Nuori Mineral Defence SPF 30. We tested it and use this sunscreen ourselves for daily city life. It feels lightweight on the skin and provides important antioxidant protection. 

For the lucky ones going away on holiday or having the pleasure to be enjoying the great outdoors We would  recommend you to use Seventy One Percent sunscreens. They specialise in toxin free, ocean friendly Suncare, packed full of high quality plant based ingredients.