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The Difference Between Chemical and Mineral Sunscreens — and Why It Matters

The bottom line is that sun protection is an everyday necessity, and how you achieve it remains your call. “As long as the sunscreen offers SPF 30 or higher, broad-spectrum protection, and is water-resistant, it can be effective against UV damage,” Cayce says.

That being said, here are nine mineral, chemical, and hybrid sunscreens to get your search for your new favorite started.

Mineral

Emerage Cosmetics Fusion Shield SPF 30

Emerage Cosmetics Fusion Shield is a tinted mineral sunscreen formulated with 11 percent zinc oxide but applies with a deceptively smooth glide to the skin to provide coverage that leaves you feeling bare-faced. The cruelty-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free formula incorporates THD ascorbate, a stable form of vitamin C, as well as ingredients to soothe skin and promote collagen production.

Isdin Eryfotona Actinica SPF 50+

Isdin Eryfotona Actinica boasts an emollient texture that is unique among mineral sunscreens, and it incorporates enzymes to help mitigate existing sun damage — repairing and protecting simultaneously. The year-round favorite is also available in a tinted version.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield Flex SPF 50

Colorescience offers four flexible shades of tinted coverage that use encapsulated iron oxide pigments that release and adapt to your skin tone for inclusive coverage. They do so while protecting the complexion from UVA and UVB rays, pollution, blue light, and infrared radiation. Total Protection Face Shield Flex is free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, oils, dyes, and fragrance while delivering additional antioxidants and water resistance for up to 40 minutes.

Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 30

The zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and bevy of antioxidant-rich extracts in Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen yield tinted protection that is suitable for fair, light, medium, and deep skin tones. Frustrated by the tone discrepancies in the “clean” sunscreen market, the brand’s founder launched with the specific intention of creating inclusive mineral coverage for all complexions.

MD Solar Sciences Mineral Creme SPF 50

What stands out about the paraben-, phthalate-free, MD Solar Sciences Mineral Creme is how lightweight it is, leaving behind a matte finish. The dermatologist-developed, vegan sunscreen is non-comedogenic and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Plus, it’s infused with antioxidants to enhance protection via vitamin C, green tea, cranberry fruit, and pomegranate extract.

Odacité Sun Guardian Day Crème SPF 30

Odacité uses green tea, aloe, and calendula extract in its Sun Guardian Day Creme to soothe the skin, along with 22 percent zinc oxide and 2.3 percent titanium dioxide for broad-spectrum UV protection. The environmentally conscious brand uses non-nano zinc oxide in order to ensure that no potentially harmful particles seep into the waterways.

Hybrid

Sunday Riley Light Hearted Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

Combining a blend of mineral (zinc oxide) and chemical (octisalate, oxycrylene) UV filters, Sunday Riley Light Hearted Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen infuses anti-inflammatory turmeric extract and blue-light protection via plant-based lutein into the formula.

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

This hybrid formula is dermatologist-beloved, combining nine percent zinc oxide and 7.5 percent octinoxate for an elevated SPF with a lightweight consistency. The EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is also a great pick for acne-prone skin.

Chemical

SkinCeuticals Daily Brightening UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 30

If hyperpigmentation is a concern of yours, you will love SkinCeuticals Daily Brightening UV Defense Sunscreen. It combines UV protection with one percent tranexamic acid and two percent niacinamide to help inhibit the melanogenesis effect of UV rays on the skin. It also contains glycerin for an additional boost of hydration. 

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV SPF 30

While providing chemical SPF protection via avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene, La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV incorporates skin-barrier-supportive ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides, and prebiotic thermal water, making it more tolerable for sensitive skin.

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++

This 2019 Allure Best of Beauty Award winner comes in a gel formula that works like a primer. Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen’s chemical filters include avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene, alongside antioxidant vitamin C and blue-light-protective red algae.

Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

The vegan, cruelty-free Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 contains no synthetic fragrances, parabens, or oxybenzone. The chemical active of choice is homosalate, which is surrounded by moisturizing avocado, jojoba, and sunflower oils as well as carrot juice and cacao.

Jan Marini Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant SPF 33

This water-resistant chemical sunscreen is ideal for oily or breakout-prone skin. Jan Marini Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant’s combination of avobenzone, octinoxate, octyl salicylate, and oxybenzone goes on top of your moisturizer seamlessly. The line’s mineral sunscreen, Physical Protectant Broad Spectrum SPF 45, provides a tinted alternative.

Sonrei Sea Clearly Gel SPF 50

In addition to being a clear gel formula that works for all skin tones (including a translucent mineral gel, as well), Sonrei Sea Clearly Gel works vitamin C, ferulic acid, and vitamin E into the formula for added skin benefits. If you’d prefer a mineral blocker, they also created a mineral gel line, Clearly Zinq.


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