Mineral versus chemical sunscreen

Curious about the differences between mineral and chemical sunscreens? We have the answers you’re looking for! Both these types of sunscreens are safe for your skin, but each works a little bit differently to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. If you’re wondering about which filter works best with your skin type, we’ve compiled some handy information for you so that you can make the best decision possible for your skin’s health.

What is chemical sunscreen?

A chemical sunscreen, also known as organic sunscreen, is a category of sun protection filter that contains carbon-based organic compounds. These compounds absorb UV rays, similar to how a sponge soaks up water. The rays are then transformed into heat by a chemical reaction. The heat is released and diffused away so that it no longer poses a risk to the skin.

An essential quality to look for in an organic sunscreen is broad-spectrum protection. Some organic sunscreens claim to offer protection against UVB rays but fail to provide the same quality protection against UVA. This is definitely something to look out for, considering that UVA rays are what we’re exposed to 95% of the time. For your skin and your health, you need a sunscreen that can offer protection for both.

For a superior-quality organic sunscreen with high UVA and UVB protection, La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios range contains the number onetop dermatologist-recommended filtering system available in Canada, as it offers Mexoryl® XL and SX patented sun protection technology. It comes in multiple formats and textures to help you find your perfect formula. For everyday wear, try a weightless, anti-shine sunscreen formula that mattifies the skin and applies seamlessly, or choose an invisible, feather-light ultra-fluid lotion that layers beautifully over skincare or under makeup.

What is mineral sunscreen?

Mineral sunscreens, or mineral filters, provide excellent coverage against UV rays, with fantastic UVB protection and fair UVA protection. They contain active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide, which, unlike organic filters, function more like a reflector. Instead of absorbing the rays, mineral filters form a protective barrier on the skin’s surface and reflect the UV rays, scattering them in different directions. Though undeniably effective at blocking the sun, mineral sunscreens may allow for some UV rays to penetrate the skin, in particular UVA. But a sunscreen formula enriched with antioxidants (such as vitamin E) protects against free radicals produced by stray UVA rays. Because antioxidants neutralize free radical damage, they are an ideal ingredient in 100% mineral sunscreens.

The advantage of La Roche-Posay’s mineral filter technology is that it contains titanium dioxide and antioxidants, offering superb protection that gets absorbed seamlessly into the skin while blocking or neutralizing most UV rays.

Are both of these UV filters safe?

The short answer is yes. But if you’re unsure of which UV filter is right for you, it’s important to remember that all available UV filters are safe. This is because they are strictly regulated and undergo rigorous quality control by government bodies before entry into the market, a process that can take anywhere from five to 10 years. Beyond that, Health Canada regulations are stringent and categorize UV filters as a type of drug, which explains why there is a DIN (drug identification number) on our labelling.

The next generation of organic filters, including our proprietary Mexoryl technology, are excellent choices, especially for people with sensitive skin, as they provide ample UVA protection without any skin-aggravating triggers. Generally, any allergies to organic filters tend to be extremely rare. When someone’s skin reacts to the sun, it’s likely because their sunscreen lacks the necessary UVA protection, a phenomenon called PLE (polymorphous light eruption). PLE is often mistaken for being a “sunscreen allergy,” but it is usually because the applied sunscreen was ineffective against UVA rays.

Mineral filters again are incredibly safe but are sometimes thought to be an all-natural product. Although they contain natural minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, they are highly processed and therefore not entirely 100% natural; that doesn’t mean they won’t block out the sun’s rays capably, however. For sun protection and light coverage of imperfections, try La Roche-Posay’s tinted mineral sunscreen.

Look out for the UVA logo and DIN

When it comes time to decide what sunscreen to wear, know what to look for. If your skin is sensitive, the type of filter you choose won’t make a huge difference as both are safe. Instead, it’s about the level of both UVA and UVB protection in the sunscreen. When you’re seeking sun protection for the face, make sure to reach for a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, and most importantly, be sure to always prioritize a product with the UVA logo to ensure your skin is getting the UVB and UVA protection it deserves.

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