What's The Difference Between Mineral Based v.s. Non-Mineral Based Sunscreen?

What's The Difference Between Mineral Based v.s. Non-Mineral Based Sunscreen?

[4 minute read]


The sun is a beautiful thing! It relaxes our mood, helps our bodies naturally produce vitamin D and improves our immune system. However, it's also important to make sure our bodies are regularly protected from the suns ultraviolet (UV) rays in order to keep our bodies happy and healthy.


In this article we are particularly going to discover what 'mineral based' and 'non-mineral based' sunscreen options are and the key differences between the two, to help you determine which is the best choice for you and your body. 




How do both sunscreens protect us from the sun?



The primary purpose of any sunscreen whether 'mineral based' or 'non-mineral based' is to protect the skin from the suns harmful and damaging ultra-violet (UV) rays. This form of protection will reduce the risk of sunburn on the skins surface, but arguably more importantly, will stop UV rays penetrating into deep layers of the skin and causing deep skin tissue damage that can, with longterm exposure effects, increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

[You can learn more about what the suns UV rays are, and how they affect your body by clicking here]




Is one type of option better at protecting our skin from ultraviolet rays than the other?


Both 'mineral based' and 'non-mineral based' options provide the same, if not very similar ultra violet protection to protect against UV/A and UV/B rays. So you're probably wondering what exactly separates the two options if they give around the same type of sun protection, right? 


Well, the main difference between the two options is the choice of ingredients used, to provide the protection from the suns UV rays. While all sunscreens are regulated by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) or FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and approved to be purchased, the ingredients in which they are made with can all be different. This is where we get the term's 'mineral based' and 'non-mineral based' - a way for people to categorise the different forms of ingredients in sunscreens.


Basically to sum it up, not one option is 'better' sun protection than the other - it just comes down to what you prefer to use on your skin based on the ingredients.




What you need to know about 'Mineral Based' sunscreens


To put it simply, mineral based sunscreens use 'physical' blocking active ingredients - like 'Zinc Oxide' or 'Titanium Dioxide' - that sit on top of the skin like a barrier and reflect the suns rays off of the skin. It is kind of like a mirror on your skin, sending the UV rays bouncing back. That's exactly what these ingredients are designed to do, and is what makes mineral based sunscreens so unique.


Mineral based sunscreens have become very popular due to their 'natural' approach to sunscreens by limiting the use of synthetic ingredients. They've also been heavily promoted due to their active ingredients having minimal impact on the environment (especially to reef ecosystems in the oceans).


Reasons why you might like to choose mineral based options:

- The active ingredients predominately sit on top of the skin rather than absorbing directly into it

- It's believed to be a more natural form of sunscreen




What you need to know about 'Non-Mineral Based' sunscreens


Non-mineral based sunscreens (also known as 'synthetic') sunscreens use chemical UV filters - like oxybenzone, octocrylene, homoslate, avobenzone - that absorb the suns UV rays, and work by converting the UV rays into heat and then releasing the heat throughout the body.


While these sunscreens have been on the market for quite some time, more and more research is being conducted on them to find the long-term usage effects that some of these chemicals have on the skin and environment. In 2018, Hawaii officially passed legislation to ban marketing and over the counter sales of sunscreens with ingredients 'oxybenzone' and 'octocrylene' due to the presumed negative effects it was having on the reef ecosystem.


Reasons why you might like to choose non-mineral based options:

- Won't leave a visible white layer on top of your skin 

- Often is a slightly cheaper price than other options

- Easier to find in stores




Whatever you choose, just protect your skin


No matter whether you choose 'mineral based' or 'non-mineral based' sunscreens to be the best option for you, they are both vital in keeping your skin and body safe from sunburn, and more importantly skin cancer. Remember to do yourself a favour and look after you skin (cause you've got only one to last you a lifetime).





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