Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen

August 10, 2022

Girl putting sunscreen on her face

There’s no question about it: you need sunscreen (and you need it every single day). The only question now is which one?

Whether you live for being under the sun or your friends refer to you as the vampire of the group, you need to incorporate sunscreen into your skincare routine. 

Sunscreen is essential to your skin’s health, regardless of skin type; here’s why. 

Sunscreen: The Basics

Sunscreen protects you from the harmful effects of the sun’s harsh rays. We all know the dangers of too much sun exposure; ultraviolet radiation can cause sunburn and lead to skin cancer. 

You might be hesitant to apply sunscreen to your face, especially after finishing a skincare routine. Keep in mind its protection is crucial to your skin health, making it mandatory 365 days a year. Yes, even in the wintertime, 

Just like any other form of skincare, sunscreen has a lot that goes into it; ingredients are everything. Sunscreen is also a form of skincare with an enormous responsibility; it’s not just cosmetic but protective!

In your search for the perfect SPF, the florence team wants to give you a basic checklist of sunscreen must-haves.

Girl holding up a bottle of sunscreen

What You Should Look For in Your Sunscreen


What To Look For: SPF 15 or higher (Preferably 30 SPF)

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays, the kind of radiation that causes sunburn, damages skin, and can contribute to skin cancer. ​​Experts agree that an SPF factor of 15 is the minimum needed to prevent skin damage from UVB. 

SPF won’t tell you how much time you can spend in the sun, but it will tell you the amount of sunburn protection provided by your sunscreen. We all have different skin, so not all sunscreens will serve everyone equally; for example, people with fair skin are likely to absorb more solar energy than people with darker skin, no matter the conditions.

You can use SPF to compare the level of sunburn protection provided by different sunscreens. For example, know that SPF 30 is more protective than SPF 8 sunscreens.


What To Look For: Broad Spectrum

There are three types of UV rays produced by the sun: UVA, UVB, and UVC rays

UVC rays have the shortest wavelength and are absorbed by the ozone layer before reaching Earth, meaning we don’t have to worry about protecting against them. UVB and UVA rays, however, do penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere and can reach our skin.

Until recently, scientists didn’t fully understand the dangers of UVA radiation, so sunscreens weren’t expected to guard against it. As researchers gained more knowledge about the harm that UVA rays can cause, sunscreen manufacturers began to incorporate ingredients that protected against them. Companies used the term “broad spectrum” to describe a sunscreen that protected against both UVA and UVB rays.

Today, you can be confident in a sunscreen’s ability to protect you from UVA and UVB rays if you see “broad spectrum” on the label. Show your skin the love it deserves by keeping it safe. Take an extra second to look for those two special words before making your next sunscreen purchase.


What To Look For: Mineral UV Filter

The last, but certainly not least, thing you should look for on your sunscreen’s label are signs of a mineral-based formula. The debate here is mineral sunscreen vs. chemical sunscreen. Both kinds of formulas work to protect your skin, but they work in different ways.

Let’s roll through their key differences to show why mineral sunscreens are at the top of your list. 

Mineral vs Chemical Sunscreen infographic by Florence by Mills

What Is Chemical Sunscreen?

When people talk about sunscreen, they’re typically referring to chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens are sunscreens made with chemical SPF ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, and octisalate. 

These chemical ingredients work like skin-saving sponges, absorbing damaging ultraviolet radiation before it can reach your skin. 

What’s the Lowdown on Chemical Sunscreens?

Chemical sunscreens account for the majority of sunscreens available in the United States, probably because of their practicality. Chemical sunscreens quickly absorb and dry with an invisible finish, making them ideal for daily wear, even for those with darker skin tones.

While chemical sunscreens are super popular and boast several practical benefits, they’re not perfect for everyone. Some chemical sunscreens don’t pass the vibe check and can be irritating, especially for our besties with sensitive or acne-prone skin.

What you put on your skin should be completely helpful and nourishing. We all need protection from the sun’s harmful rays, but you should never settle for a sunscreen that doesn’t work for you. Don’t worry bestie; there are alternatives to widespread chemical sunscreens.

What Is Mineral Sunscreen?

Like chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens are made to protect you from damaging UV rays, but they work a little differently. Rather than filtering rays, mineral sunscreens physically block ultraviolet radiation with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. 

Sometimes mineral sunscreens are referred to as physical sunscreen or sunblock. Though just as effective as chemical sunscreens, mineral SPF only accounts for a small fraction of the sunscreens on the market.

The Benefits Of Mineral Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreen is a great alternative to chemical sunscreen as it’s known for being very gentle. Mineral sunscreen is an ideal option for those with sensitive skin (it’s even the SPF used in most baby sunscreens).

Mineral sunscreen isn’t just great for sensitive skin types; it’s also a more friendly option for our planet. The active ingredients in mineral sunscreen are generally believed to be more environmentally friendly than chemical SPF, particularly for our aquatic friends and ecosystems. 

As we take care of ourselves, we can also take care of our planet by adopting a more sustainable beauty routine with mineral sunscreens. Apply mineral sunscreen to your face and body as the last step in your daily skincare routine for lasting sun protection.

Not all sunscreens are made equal and when it comes to chemical vs. mineral sunscreen, we have our preferences.

Sun-Kissed, Not Sun-Kicked

Person putting sunscreen in the palm of their hand

Remember this simple checklist, and the sun won’t squash your vibe on your next day of outdoor fun! 

  • SPF: 15 or higher
  • Protection: Broad spectrum
  • Formula: Mineral UV Filter

With these three things in mind, your next sunscreen will do its best to protect your skin and keep you feeling your best.

We put so much effort into keeping our skin healthy and shiny; we don’t want it all to go to waste by accidentally choosing a subpar sunscreen. To cover our besties’ faces, we designed florence Sunny Skies Facial Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen to do it all.

We wanted to create care for our friends both on land and underwater; that’s why we use a mineral formula that protects you from all rays. Always look for skin-safe and reef-safe sunscreen brands to be your healthiest self.

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