Chemical or Mineral Sunscreen – Which One Should You Use?

Confused between chemical or mineral sunscreen? While focusing on skin protection, you know the most important step – sunscreen! We have shared the importance of sunscreen in skin care in our previous blog. However, This time we are here to discuss the difference between – and the best sunscreen for your face, whether it is chemical or physical.

One of the best yet easiest methods to protect the skin’s health and appearance is by wearing sunscreen regularly and religiously. Picking a sunscreen involves some criteria like its formulation and SPF. For day-to-day use, a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 works alright but, if you spend time outdoors, opt for a product with 60 or greater SPF.

Usually, some people avoid applying as much product as they should. In such a case, a higher SPF helps compensate for the reduced application. Moreover, you don’t need to be worried about what SPF is best for your face.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

The two types of sunscreen are chemical and mineral sunscreen. But, how would you know which one is the most effective and best sunscreen for your face?

There are many factors like chemicals in sunscreen, its SPF, and its brand that help you choose the right fit for yourself. Although the answer is not simple we are going to discuss the main differences between mineral or chemical sunscreen so that we may help you make an informed decision. This blog is definitely going to help the right fit for you!

Mineral Sunscreen

Before getting to know if you choose physical sunscreen or not, let’s see what is mineral sunscreen.

Also called mineral sunscreens, physical sunscreens sit on the top of the skin instead of absorbing into it. They are called physical barriers because they reflect Ultraviolet radiation by creating a barrier on the surface of the skin. This way, physical sunscreens prevent skin damage and sunburns. However, there are only two FDA-approved ingredients of physical sunscreen – titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

But, should you choose physical sunscreen? Here are some of the benefits and risks of physical sunscreen:


  • A natural broad spectrum – protects against UVA and UVB radiation
  • No wait time to take effect. It starts protecting the skin as soon as it is applied.
  • It lasts longer than chemical sunscreen when no physical activities are involved.
  • Better for sensitive skin types because it is less likely to cause a stinging sensation or irritation.
  • By deflecting heat given off by the sun, it proves better for people with heat-activated skin.
  • It is less likely to clog pores and is suitable for acne-prone skin.


  • Needs frequent reapplication because it can easily rinse off with physical activity.
  • May be incompatible with darker skin tones since it may leave a white cast on the skin.
  • It is thicker than chemical sunscreen and requires more effort to rub in.
  • The occlusive film may result in increased perspiration during physical activities.
  • Needs to be applied accurately and generously to give full protection against sun rays.

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreen ingredients do absorb into the skin. They absorb the UV radiation of the sun striking through your skin, convert them to heat, and release them from your skin. This way, they can’t cause sunburn or damage your skin.

There are currently 12 FDA-approved ingredients including avobenzone, oxybenzone, and others used in chemical sunscreens. The majority of these chemical sunscreen ingredients have been used for more than 20 years and are proven to be the best sunscreen ingredients. Hence no evidence proves that any of these 20 FDA-approved ingredients are unsafe or harmful thereby ensuring the safety of chemical sunscreen.

But still, is chemical sunscreen bad? Here are the pros and cons of chemical sunscreens:


  • Easy spreadability on the skin makes it more wearable
  • Spreads uniformly to avoid the risk of gaps between the sunscreen molecules
  • Easier to add other skincare ingredients like antioxidants, enzymes, and peptides for additional skin-protecting benefits


  • An increase in internal skin temperature can exacerbate discoloration and dark spots, and increase the risk of flushing for redness-prone skin.
  • Takes 10-15 minutes after application to become effective
  • The combination of multiple ingredients to achieve broad-spectrum protection can increase the chances of irritation; especially for dehydrated skin.
  • Does not stand as long as physical sunscreen during direct exposure to UV light, meaning more frequent reapplication is needed.
  • Not necessarily, but depending on the formula, it can clog pores.

Which One Works for You? Mineral v/s Chemical Sunscreen

In the debate of choosing chemical or mineral sunscreens, both of them will do a great job as long as they cover a broad spectrum and you apply them generously. The best sunscreens – whether physical sunscreen or chemical, for the face or body, are the ones that feel the most comfortable on your skin. This way, you’ll be more likely to wear and reapply it as directed.

Here’s what you need according to your specific skin type:

  • Oily skin: a lightweight sunscreen
  • Redness-prone skin: a sunscreen that does not cause irritation or excess redness
  • Clogged pores: sunscreens that do not include pore-clogging ingredients
  • Deeper skin tone: the one that does not leave a white cast

With these factors and choices in mind, pick the best sunscreen for your face and body.

The Bottom Line

This was all about chemical or mineral sunscreens. Chemical sunscreen ingredients include avobenzone, octocrylene, oxybenzone, and others. On the other hand, mineral (or physical) sunscreens use either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Mineral sunscreens work by creating a layer on the skin, however, chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin, absorbs sunrays, converts them into heat, and releases it from the skin.

If you have sensitive skin that frequently reacts to products, mineral sunscreen might prove to be a better choice for you. But, chemical sunscreen requires less frequent reapplication and does not leave a white cast on the skin.

Altogether, it’s completely a personal choice as to which type of sunscreen you should wear. Pick the right fit for yourself and walk confidently beating the UV radiation of the sun.

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