You probably have heard about the importance of wearing sunscreen, both during a day out in the sun and even for everyday use. But do you know all the differences between different sunscreens? With options for SPF and even the method of protecting your skin differing among many types of sunscreen, it’s helpful to know what’s safe, effective, and the best bet for your budget.
How Does Sunscreen Work?
Sunscreen protects your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that are constantly being emitted by the sun. There are two main types of UV light: UV-A and UV-B rays. UV-A rays are slightly longer wavelengths than UV-B rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin, leading to degradation in overall skin health and causing premature aging signs such as wrinkles, age spots, and poor skin elasticity. UV-B rays, on the other hand, contribute to tanning and, with too much unprotected exposure, sunburn.
A good sunscreen, whether chemical or mineral, prevents these rays from penetrating your skin by creating a protective layer that either reflects or absorbs the energy before it reaches your skin.
What is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It’s actually a mathematical formula for describing how “strong” a sunscreen is. The SPF of a particular sunscreen tells you how much longer your skin would take to redden when using the sunscreen vs. not wearing it at all. So, for example, an SPF 30 sunscreen takes 30 times longer to receive a sunburn than if you didn’t wear it.
What is a Chemical Sunscreen?
Chemical sunscreens contain active ingredients that are known to absorb UV light and convert it into heat energy that easily dissipates from your skin. While chemical sunscreens abound and are easy to apply, there are a few downsides.
First, not every chemical agent used in these sunscreens is guaranteed not to have associations with risks and side effects. Second, many people with sensitive skin experience irritation and discomfort due to the fact that the chemicals sink into the skin in order to be effective. For these reasons and others, a chemical sunscreen isn’t right for everyone, but can be highly effective for others.
What is a Mineral Sunscreen?
A mineral sunscreen takes a different approach than chemical sunscreens, by physically reflecting the UV rays away from the skin using either titanium oxide or zinc oxide. This provides an alternative to people who may be wary of or unable to use chemical sunscreens. The drawback to most mineral sunscreens is that they are thick and sometimes visible, leaving a white film of the active ingredients on the skin and serving to make acne-prone skin more susceptible to breakouts. Mineral sunscreens are also not recommended when you’re going to be active, sweating, or in the water, as rinsing off the surface layer of sunscreen will eliminate its protective properties.
Mineral sunscreens formulated with zinc oxide are broad-spectrum, meaning they protect against all wavelengths of UV light. Others may not be, so make sure to find a high-quality mineral sunscreen that’s broad spectrum for the best protection.
Which is Better, Mineral or Chemical Sunscreen?
The bottom line is that mineral sunscreens are typically more effective and less likely to produce negative side effects or adverse reactions. However, there is a place for chemical sunscreens, especially in those who may be allergic to the active ingredients in mineral sunscreen. Try a few different formulas to see which you prefer, for both medical and aesthetic reasons.
Our Recommended Sunscreens
Epicuren Discovery offers a full range of professional-grade skincare products, including both mineral and chemical sunscreens. For those wanting a silky cream that delivers rich Brazilian Propolis, and UV protection to your skin, our X-Treme Cream Propolis Sunscreen has an SPF of 45+ and Vitamin C to further protect against aging caused by free radicals. Or for people worried about the appearance of your skin after applying sunscreen, try our Zinc Oxide Perfecting Sunscreen that won’t leave unsightly streaks or films.
If you’re active when you’re outside and are worried about sweat or water resistance, our 80-minute waterproof Active Sport broad-spectrum sunscreen is the perfect choice for you.
Professional Sun Care by Epicuren Discovery
Keeping your skin youthful and radiant relies heavily on using the right products to keep it safe from the many damaging environmental factors you encounter on a daily basis, not least of which are harmful UV rays. Experience the benefits of our professional-grade formulas by browsing our Sun Care products or by taking our Skin Quiz to find the products that are best for your unique skin type.