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Mineral vs Non-Mineral Sunscreen

Do you know the difference between mineral sunscreen and non-mineral sunscreen? There are many factors that go into the type of sunscreen you buy, including what type of skin you have. You and your family's skin are important, so find out how to choose between these two types of sunblock below!

What is a Chemical Sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreens are composed of several ingredients. These include chemicals that absorb the UV rays, chemicals that scatter or reflect the UV rays, and physical blockers to block out some of the light waves. The majority of chemical sunscreen ingredients found in most products today do not present significant health concerns for humans if used as directed. 

However, one common ingredient oxybenzone, which is both a UVA and UVB absorber, can cause allergic reactions in some people and there are studies that show it may disrupt our hormones by mimicking estrogen. 

Other ingredients of concern that find their way into chemical sunscreens include Benzene, a contaminant defined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as a carcinogen —and parabens, which are preservatives that may disrupt hormone function and have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues

Another con to chemical-based sunscreens is that they do not filter HEV Light. Since we are more exposed than ever before to this band of light because of our devices (especially these days!), we need to include this care in our everyday routines.

What is a Mineral Sunscreen? 

Mineral sunscreens are composed of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These ingredients block out the UV rays by reflecting, scattering and absorbing them before they reach your skin. They do not penetrate into the skin like chemical sunscreen ingredients, and 100% mineral sunscreens like Project Sunscreen's roll-on sunscreens are considered a healthier alternative for your skin than the ingredients found in chemical mineral sun protection products.

The Benefits of Mineral Sunscreens

There are many pros to using mineral sunscreens over non-mineral options. These include:

  • Minimal risk of allergies and sensitivities, especially for those who are prone to these reactions. They are more gentle on sensitive skin than many chemical absorbers like oxybenzone or octinoxate. 
  • Mineral options are less likely to disturb your hormones, as there is no evidence that zinc oxide or titanium cause the same problems oxybenzone does. 
  • Easier application on children's skin because it is not absorbed into the bloodstream like chemical ingredients can be (which is why most pediatricians recommend mineral sunscreen for children). Also, if applied properly, mineral sunscreens offer a higher SPF rating, which is very important to sensitive chubby cheeks!
  • Longer lasting than chemical-based sunscreens, which can wear off more quickly due to their water-resistant qualities (upwards of 80 minutes). The ingredients are less likely to be absorbed into your skin (this means you can apply once or twice a day, rather than every few hours like chemical sunscreens), meaning safe and effective sun protection without needing to be absorbed into your body. 
  • They are generally a better choice for your skin. Our co-founder, Dr. Ashley Magovern, puts it this way, “Not only do the mineral properties protect our skin from the sun, but they’re also moisturizing, gentler, and good for the health of the skin. The ingredients naturally found in zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work to strengthen the skin barrier and to combat the damage and inflammation we get from the sun.”
  • Mineral sunscreens act as a reflective barrier on the skin and are more efficient – naturally and more immediately by providing the broadest range of UVA and UVB protection. They contain antioxidants that work to protect us from HEV (High Energy Visible) Light, or “Blue Light.” While this kind of light doesn't cause a burn, as the sun can, HEV Light can be just as harmful as UVA/UVB light (although more studies need to be done) and penetrate deep into the skin, breaking down the skin’s properties. This can lead to sunspots, melasma, and premature aging. 
  • They're also better for the environment than chemical sunscreens since they don't wash off as easily into the water supply. All of the products at Project Sunscreen are reef-friendly and don't contain Oxybenzone or Octinoxate, which are strongly linked to coral bleaching in reefs.

The #1 Prevailing Myth about Mineral Sunscreens

One myth about mineral sunscreen is that it creates a white cast on the skin— or that it’s thick and goopy and doesn't rub in easily. You will always see a sheen on the skin where Project Sunscreen is applied—so you know you’re protected! 

We recommend these three easy steps to make sure you’re covered:

  1. Shake the bottle – Our active ingredients are naturally occurring minerals and need a good shake to properly blend into the rest of the formula before application.
  2. Roll it on – 60 seconds or less to apply!
  3. Rub it in - Depending on your skin tone, it might take a little more massaging into the skin. If a white or chalky layer is still noticeable, keep rubbing to better distribute it.

Make the Switch to Mineral for Safer Sunning

We get asked a lot why we use mineral-based ingredients in Project Sunscreen. While there are many reasons (as you can see), the short answer is that it is just better for you, for your children and for the environment. 

Project Sunscreen with SPF 50 is formulated from 100% active mineral ingredients, including naturally derived zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Together, these ingredients protect from the sun’s harsh rays. 

Project Sunscreen is Lightweight, so it Rubs in Clean

One last tip! To ensure proper protection, and (even more!) ease-of-use, mineral sunscreen rubs into properly hydrated– not wet - skin more easily. This also helps avoid the dreaded “white cast” that can sometimes be caused by the naturally derived minerals. Keep your skin moisturized daily and your sunscreen will be easier to apply. Once applied, Project Sunscreen will keep hydrating your skin while protecting it from the harsh rays of the sun. 


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