Chemical or Mineral Sunscreens?

Before choosing a sunscreen, there are a few things to consider - the most debated whether to use mineral or chemical sunscreen.

Both are equally protective, but be aware that there are a few chemical ingredients that are not safe and should be avoided. But this does not mean you should avoid chemical sunscreens because there are some great ones with safe ingredients. Once you know the facts, it should be all about preference.

What is a mineral sunscreen?

There are two mineral sunscreen ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These minerals work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter UVA and UVB rays away from the skin. It is often referred to as a physical blocker. Mineral sunscreens are effective the moment they are applied.

When considering mineral sunscreens, they must be “non-nano” in size to be considered reef-safe. If they are below 100 nanometers, the creams can be ingested and destructive to coral reef. 

What is a chemical sunscreen?

There are over 30 chemical sunscreen ingredients. These chemicals work by absorbing the UV rays and converting them into heat through a chemical reaction, and then releasing the heat from the body. But need 20 or 30 minutes to bind to skin to be effective.

The sunscreen ingredient we recommend avoiding is the synthetic chemical oxybenzone. Oxybenzone has been found to be an endocrine disruptor which can affect the nervous system and linked to cancer in some laboratory studies. It has also been found to be toxic to corals, algae, sea urchins, fish and mammals.  A single drop of this compound in more than 4 million gallons of water is enough to endanger organisms.