Chemical and Mineral Sunscreens: A Quick Guide

Chemical and Mineral Sunscreens: A Quick Guide

When it comes to protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, choosing the right sunscreen is a very individual choice. Different factors are important for each person. At Solmates we strive to be sunscreen-agnostic because we have always wanted for the Solmates applicator to fit into your existing daily routine. 

We have also worked hard on evolving our applicator and its design to work with as many sunscreens as possible - both chemical and mineral - even though consistency often varies quite widely across the spectrum. 

You may already be very loyal to the type of sunscreen you use or you may be trying to figure out what one works best for you. There is often confusion around the two main types of sunscreens—chemical and mineral— so we have created a little breakdown to make sense of the differences between them and which might be best suited for your skin type and lifestyle.

The key difference is how they protect you from UV rays. Simply put, chemical sunscreen absorbs the rays, whereas physical sunscreen reflects them.

Mineral sunscreens, also known as physical sunscreens, use natural minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to create a physical barrier on the skin. These minerals reflect and scatter UV rays, preventing them from penetrating the skin.

Chemical sunscreens contain non-physical active ingredients. These compounds absorb UV rays and convert them into heat, which is then released from the skin. This process prevents the UV rays from penetrating deeper into the skin and causing damage.


Did you know: you can see a list of sunscreens we have tested with our applicators here? If you can’t find yours on the list please let us know and we can make sure we test it! (Our friends at WotNot Naturals loves their sunscreen in the applicator that they now also sell our Solmates alongside their sunscreen on their website!)


Choosing the Right Sunscreen for You

Both chemical and mineral sunscreens offer effective protection against UV radiation, but they differ in their ingredients, how they work, and their potential impacts on skin and the environment.  The main difference between the two sunscreen types is that mineral formulas sit on the skin and block rays at the surface, while chemical formulas absorb rays like a sponge. 

Skin Type Considerations

  • Sensitive skin: Mineral sunscreens are generally better tolerated by sensitive skin types due to their non-irritating ingredients.
  • Oily or acne-prone skin: Look for non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) and lightweight formulas in both chemical and mineral sunscreens.
  • Dry skin: Choose sunscreens with added moisturisers to prevent dryness and flaking.

Lifestyle and Preferences

  • Daily use: A lightweight chemical sunscreen might be more comfortable for everyday wear and under makeup.
  • Outdoor activities: For extended sun exposure, a water-resistant formula is essential. Both types offer water-resistant options, but check the label for specific details.
  • Environmental concerns: If you're concerned about the impact on marine life, make sure you opt for reef-safe mineral sunscreens without harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Understanding these differences can help you make an informed choice that aligns with your skin's needs and your lifestyle. But remember, the best sunscreen is the one you will use consistently! So, find a product you like and make it a daily habit to protect that beautiful skin of yours.

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