Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen

Have you ever wondered the differences between a mineral vs. chemical sunscreen? We have you covered. In this BLOG we will go over the differences and ingredients on these two types of sunscreen.

So what is the main difference between the two?

The main difference between chemical & mineral SPF is their ingredient lists.

Chemical sunscreens have ingredients that are toxic & may potentially cause health problems while mineral sunscreens are non-toxic and use two natural minerals—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—as active ingredients. These minerals simply sit on top of your skin and protect it by reflecting away UV rays without causing any health concerns for you and your family.

To better understand the differences between the two, let us take a deep dive into both sunscreens. 

Chemical Sunscreens:

This sunscreen has active ingredients that are non-natural, chemical compounds. Here are a few examples of chemical ingredients commonly found in a chemical sunscreen:

    • Oxybenzone
    • Avobenzone
    • Octinoxate
    • Homosalate
    • Octisalate
    • Octocrylene


  • The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s UV rays and through a chemical reaction, the sunscreen dissipates the UV rays. Your skin becomes protected because the UV rays never actually hit your body. However, before these chemicals can offer any UV protection, your skin has to absorb them. This can lead to health issues, irritation and inflammatory skin conditions, especially if you have any immune health condition or have sensitive skin.

    Also it has been shown in medical studies that trace amounts of the chemicals found in chemical sunscreens can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, they can filter into other bodily fluids, such as breastmilk making them unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. 

Pros Of Chemical Sunscreen

  • Doesn’t leave residue on the skin.
  • Less is needed to protect your skin.
  • Spreads easily onto the skin.

Cons Of Chemical Sunscreen

  • Increases your chance of having a reaction from the chemicals and might cause irritation.
  • Takes 20 to 30 minutes to absorb into your skin for it to work prior to sun exposure.
  • Needs to be re-applied constantly.


Mineral Sunscreens:

A mineral sunscreen is a SPF that uses natural non-toxic minerals as its active ingredients. The minerals most often used are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Sometime only one of these ingredients is used, others both are used together. 

Mineral sunscreens work very differently than chemical sunscreens. As we mention previously, chemical sunscreens penetrate your skin in order to offer protection by dissipating UV rays, yet mineral sunscreens simply lay on top of your skin and reflect UV rays away from it. 

Mineral sunscreens are also called physical sunscreens because they provide a physical barrier between your skin and the UV rays. These minerals act as millions of microscopic mirrors that rest on the surface of your skin, bouncing away harmful UV rays.

Pros Of Mineral Sunscreen

  • Non Toxic safe and effective ingredients
  • Ideal for babies, pregnant & breastfeeding mothers and those with sensitive skin.
  • Offers immediate protection | No waiting period needed prior to sun exposure.
  • Offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays
  • Lasts longer in direct UV light and needs to be re-applied less. 

Cons Of Mineral Sunscreen

    • May feel heavy on your skin at first until used to.
    • May take longer to blend into the skin.
    • Can rub off, sweat off, and rinse off easier if wet.


After reading a bit more about the differences between both sunscreens, you can probably see the benefits of choosing a mineral sunscreen over a chemical one.

Poet's Garden Alchemist will be launching 3 different mineral SPFs 30+ soon! One without any color and two tinted SPFs for those who want a light sheer coverage throughout the day without the need for makeup. Our SPFs will be fully mineral, vegan, cruelty free and reef safe. Choosing a reef safe SPF is important to save our Corals Reefs.

*Coral reefs ecosystems worldwide are under great pressure from global and environmental stressors such as climate change, overfishing and water-pollution. More recently, scientists in Hawaii detected an insidious killer on the reef: sunscreen pollution. 97% of sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that are toxic to coral reefs, even at small concentrations. The sunscreens that harm the Coral Reefs are mainly chemical sunscreens composed of the chemical ingredients shared above. The solution to this threat is simple: make the switch to reef-safe sunscreens, which would be a mineral base sunscreen. 

Check our web store periodically to see our new SPF launch coming soon. 

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Virginia Guarddon, Founder