Mineral vs Chemical - Sunscreen Showdown!

Posted by Jane Belcher on

More and more people are incorporating sunscreen and SPF products into their skincare routines.  

Now more than ever, sun protection is an important factor, especially for those who spend a lot of time under harmful UV rays, like surfers. The activity requires prolonged exposure because of the nature of the sport. Many of the most popular surfing sites are in tropical and sunny regions from Hawaii to Portugal to Australia and plenty in between. The beaches of the Philippines offer beautiful views and the ocean can have some of the best and most consistent movement. If you are a surfer or a beach bum who is looking for a way to protect your skin, sunscreens are readily available in the market. There are two kinds: chemical and mineral. Here are just a few of the differences between them:

1. Chemical sunscreens can harm the environment

Just by its name, you can already guess that this type of sunscreen is made up of different synthetic ingredients. When you put it on your body, some of it can wash off in the ocean when you take a dip. This means that the chemicals found in the sunscreen can harm organisms like corals, algae, and other sea creatures.

Mineral sunscreens don't harm coral reefs or other aquatic life

Oxybenzone, benzophenone, avobenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene are just some of the main culprits that contribute to this problem. If sustainability is also a concern for you, you should check first whether or not the sunscreen you are eyeing contains these ocean harming ingredients.

2. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the bloodstream more than mineral sunscreens

Aside from the possibility of the sunscreen being washed off in the ocean, it’s possible for it to also be absorbed in your bloodstream. Mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin forming a barrier as opposed to its chemical counterpart that is taken in by the skin acting more like a sponge. 

When your blood absorbs the chemical ingredients, it will pass through different organs that should not be exposed to them. Aside from the ones listed earlier, a study found that avobenzone and homosalate were found to be absorbed by the body after just one day of use. Hands up who wants lots of weird chemicals in their bloodstream!

3. Mineral sunscreens cause fewer adverse reactions

Most mineral sunscreens only rely on two active ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Because these are naturally occurring, they will cause fewer skin reactions as opposed to chemical ones. One way that sunscreens can negatively affect the body is by allergic reactions.

Chemicals like benzophenones, cinnamates, and dibenzoylmethanes are often triggers for allergies. It can manifest as itching, swelling, hives, or even bleeding. It can also cause dermatitis in more serious cases. Mineral sunscreens will lead to fewer reactions like these as the body is more averse to synthetic ingredients than natural ones.

Mineral sunscreen is best for our skin and the oceans

The main difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen is the composition. They are known to be both effective but may have different outcomes from person to person. Sun protection is really important, especially for those who spend any time under the sun, to prevent damage caused by UV rays.

Consider these factors when deciding what kind of sunscreen you choose to use for your next surf. 

Content prepared by Riana Jessica for settsurf.com

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