If one thing is for certain, it’s that sunscreen should be an essential part of your skincare routine. Why? Because 90% (yes, it really is that high) of skin aging comes from UV ray exposure. Which means no matter how good your skincare routine is, without a sunscreen, you won’t be able to fend off signs of skin aging and cell damage that lead to fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation. But even beyond skin aging, not wearing sunscreen significantly increases your risk of developing skin cancer.
So while the debate between whether you should or shouldn’t wear sunscreen is simple, there’s also the choice between chemical and mineral UV filters. Which one should you pick, and why? We’ve detailed it all below.
Without a sunscreen, you won’t be able to fend off signs of aging and cell damage that lead to fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation.
When shopping for a sunscreen, you want to look for one that’s broad-spectrum and has an SPF value of at least 30. The broad-spectrum protection is ultra-important because that means the sunscreen protects you from UVA rays associated with skin aging and UVB rays associated with skin burning. This is one of the easier pieces of information to find on a sunscreen since it should be labeled right on the front side.
Mineral vs Chemical Sunscreen
There are two types of sunscreens that protect skin from UVA and UVB rays: mineral and chemical. Mineral sunscreens are those that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to bounce sunlight away from the skin, preventing your skin from absorbing its rays. This is why mineral sunscreens are also referred to as physical sunscreens, as the mineral pigments act as a physical barrier of protection. It should also be noted that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only two active SPF ingredients on the market deemed safe and effective by the FDA.
Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, absorb the sun’s rays by creating a chemical reaction that turns the UV rays into heat. Chemical sunscreen ingredients include avobenzone, oxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene.
Why You Should Stick with Mineral Sunscreen Filters
It’s true that chemical filters are widely used in sunscreen formulations, mainly because they tend to be lighter weight, easier to formulate, sink in quickly to the skin, and don’t leave behind a pesky white cast. There are some caveats, though.
Chemical filters—particularly oxybenzone—have been shown to be endocrine disruptors. Which can be detrimental in everyday products like sunscreens because they mimic the hormones our body naturally makes, interfering with areas like our reproductive system. Several studies link these chemical UV filters to fertility issues in men, thanks to the filters’ ability to mimic the hormone progesterone.
The FDA confirmed chemical filters’ ability to pass through the skin and our body’s ability to absorb them, which is why it’s recommended that pregnant women and children stick to mineral sunscreen filters. And the research is just getting started. Chemical filters such as oxybenzone and octinoxate have also been shown to leak into our water sources, contributing to huge environmental issues like coral reef bleaching.
Luckily, the sunscreens we share on Jengi are 100% mineral-based and free of other harmful ingredients like phthalates and parabens—so you can make sunscreen decisions that take care of your skin, body, and planet.