A newbie’s guide to…chemical vs. mineral sunscreens

I take sun protection very seriously. Every day, without fail, I put sunscreen on my face, neck and chest. I amp up my sunscreen application during the spring, summer and whenever I’m out in the snow.

I’d like to say it’s because I’m health conscious, but it’s mostly because I want to stave off wrinkles and age spots.

In my quest to find my perfect sunscreen, I’ve done some research on different types and want to share that knowledge.

Before heading straight to my sunscreen reviews, here is a quick primer on the topic.

What’s the difference?

Putting it really simply: chemical sunscreens absorb ultraviolet (UV) rays; mineral sunscreens protect the skin by sitting atop and bouncing UV rays away from the skin.

Chemical sunscreen: at a glance

AMtoPM chemical sunscreen.jpeg

There are lots of chemicals that can go into chemical sunscreen. Some of which are Octisalate, Mexoryl XL, Mexoryl SX, Octocrylene and Avobenzone.

Chemical sunscreens tend to be a bit runny. And they definitely sting when they get into your eyes. From personal experience, save for one bad batch of sunscreen, chemical sunscreens have never left my skin looking all white and ghostly.

Mineral sunscreen: at a glance

AMtoPM mineral sunscreen.jpeg

There are two minerals that make up mineral sunscreen: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. An important advantage mineral sunscreen has over chemical sunscreen is immediate efficacy. Once you put it on, you’re protected. No more waiting half an hour before venturing out!

On the other hand, for anyone with darker skin or a tan, watch out! Mineral sunscreens can leave your skin with a ghostly pallor. Make sure to rub it in real nice, if you don’t want to look like a ghost.

Again, drawing from personal experience, I can say walking around like Casper is not my idea of a fun time.

Bottom line

Whichever type of sunscreen you do use, it’ll be 100 per cent better than going without sunscreen. Application is important; apply every couple of hours and whenever your skin turns red or feels itchy. Extremities need love, too – don’t forget the backs of hands, tops of feet, ears, the back of your neck and your nose.


Nature Republic UV lock sun liquid
L’Oréal Ombrelle Face SPF 45
L’Oréal Ombrelle SPF 60
Missha safe block SPF 25 (kids)


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