chemical vs. mineral sunscreen

The sun is out and we have plenty of opportunities to tan at the beach, enjoy a week away traveling, and to have some fun in the sun after work. Of course, we hope you are applying your SPF daily — whether lounging outside or inside — but is critical for your skin’s health when enjoying time outside during these summer months.


When it comes to sunscreen, the beauty industry is continuously evolving. Companies are recognizing that consumers are taking the time to research what’s actually inside of their products, and having cheap chemical-based products that end up causing us more issues in the long run won’t always cut it anymore. Conscious consumers are opting for more natural options than ever before, but before we dive too far in, we want to focus on providing you with the necessary information to allow you to make the best decisions for you and your families.

So, What’s The Debate?

We all know how to apply sunscreen, but do we know what sunscreen does to protect the skin? Yes, there is SPF and UVA and UVB light protection, but how does it work? The answer is both simple and…complex. First, the application process is different between chemical and mineral sunscreens.  

Chemical Sunscreen 

Think of chemical sunscreen as a sponge. It soaks into your skin and absorbs the UV light and works as a direct SPF. Sounds great, right? The concern for many, though, is the absorption of these various chemicals directly into the body. Rightfully so, as there have been many not-so-great findings in various haircare and skincare products. So, it is important that we are being aware of what we are putting into our body in order to protect it.  

Chemical sunscreens can be slightly confusing. The FDA has some extremely tight restrictions on sunscreen products. So much so, that sunscreen sold nationally among the European regions are not even approved here in the United States. Yes, regulations are good, but there is still a great deal of concern about the type of products being used.  

In traditional FDA approved chemical sunscreens, there are a combined 16 active chemical ingredients that are commonly found in all sunscreens, no matter the brand. Of these 16 chemicals, two are considered to be safe, effective, and non-harmful. 12 of these 16 ingredients, the FDA is currently seeking further testing to verify its’ safety and efficiency. The final two are considered unsafe.  

Even though there has not been any known extreme or permanent damage caused by chemical sunscreens, the chemical ingredients alone are enough to make a lot of consumers uncomfortable.  

Mineral Sunscreen

Also known as physical sunscreen, mineral sunscreen sits on top of your skin and works as a protecting agent between the sun and your skin. By providing that added layer, it allows for the sun to have a harder time reaching & harming your skin. The drawback for mineral sunscreen is that since it sits on top of your skin, it will have to be reapplied often for full protection. Mineral sunscreen usually gets washed off with water or sweat since it does not completely soak into your skin.  

Mineral based sunscreens have increased in popularity within the last year because of the safety it provides against the sun, and the protection to your skin health and overall body as well.  

Mineral sunscreens very seldomly soak into the skin, but the times where your skin does absorb some ingredients, there is no known concern or worry associated because of the natural ingredients.


What Are My Options?

With so many options to consider, shopping for the right sunscreen for your and your family can be overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to be! To break it down: chemical based sunscreens can be found anywhere. You can find them at any retailer or drugstore around. True mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, are a little bit harder to find — but are worth the search. 

It is important to know that a lot of companies claim to use all-natural or organic formulas in their products that prove to be inaccurate. This claim often promotes an “all-natural product” to utilize eye-catching wording, but only having some naturally-derived ingredients mixed in with their primarily chemical-based ingredients. So technically are they lying? No. Are they telling you the whole truth? Also no. Is it legal to claim this? Yes, but that’s a blog for different day. That is why research is key for when you are shopping for any products that work directly on or in your body.  

Products We Recommend

We chatted with our knowledgable team of Neroli estheticians to help break down our top sunscreen recommendations for you to help make your shopping a breeze! Our favorites:

Ultra UV Protective Daily Mineral Defense SPF 50+ 

One of the best mineral based sunscreens out there, the Daily Mineral Defense from Ultraceuticals is guaranteed to keep your skin shielded from harmful UVA and UVB rays. To provide SPF support is simply not enough when dealing with the sun. If you do not see the words “broad spectrum” on your sunscreen, it is best to just keep on walking. Safety and skin health should be your primary concern whether you are in direct sunlight, or working at the office (yes — even sun coming through your windows affects your skin!). Sun rays can lead directly to aging skin and underlying skin damages that you may not even know exist.  

Combining ingredients like Zinc Oxide 12% and Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) will help with not only continued hydration (provided by Vitamin B3) but also works to prevent sunburn through consistent application and added preemptive measures.  

The Ultra UV Protective Daily Mineral Defense is best used in the morning on a fresh and clean face, 20 minutes prior to going into the sun, and reapplied every 2 hours on dry skin. 

Aveda Daily Light Guard

The top selling Daily Light Guard from Aveda offers broad spectrum protection with non-chemical 100% mineral-derived UVA/UBV sunscreen technology. This product stands out in the crowd by also providing plant-derived pollution defense. Aveda is an eco-focused company, so offering this type of protection in a vegan and cruelty-free manner makes this product unbeatable. 

The lightweight formula is created using an anti-oxidant blend with added ginger extracts which is a natural defense against free radical damage. With ingredients such as these, you don’t have to worry about that overused coconut-sunscreen smell, and can enjoy a botanical aroma while applying. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are the two active ingredients shielding your skin from harmful rays, but it is also important to take note that this product works as an SPF 30, opposed to the heavy-hitting SPF 50+ Ultraceuticals offers.

Daily Light Guard is best used in the morning as your final step in your a.m. skincare routine and reapplied every 2 hours on dry skin. Because of it’s non-greasy, lightweight formula, you can also apply this product after applying your makeup without worry. 

It’s Shopping Time!

Now, the decision of what sunscreen to choose is completely yours. We want to make sure that you are doing what is best for you and your skin by providing you with information that will help you in your decision-making process. As always, here at Neroli Salon and Spa, our licensed professionals and Aveda Advisors are skilled in providing you additional information as well as answer any further questions you may have.  

If you are looking to book an appointment, you can book online, via your Neroli App, or call us for a personalized booking service at (414)-227-2888.Comment your thoughts below and let us know if you love these two sunscreens using #NeroliSalonSpa on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Tik Tok! Blog written by Neroli’s Blog Writer, Hannah