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Mineral vs chemical sunscreen: what’s best for redheads?

Mineral vs chemical sunscreen: what’s best for redheads?

Being protected from the sun is rule #1 for redheads with pale skin. We know all too well the pains of spending time in the sun (or even under cloud cover!) and being caught short. Sunscreen is an investment for gingers. And for any investment, it’s important to really know what you’re buying.

But with sooo many sunscreen options out there, the choice can be overwhelming. Which brand should I buy? What SPF should it be? Should I use a lotion or spray? What about UVA and UVB, what’s that all about?

And did you know that sunscreens also come in mineral and chemical forms? Yet another thing to consider when navigating the sunscreen aisle.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re trying to choose between chemical and mineral sunscreens…

What are mineral sunscreens?

It’s important to know the pros and cons of mineral sunscreens. These products work as a physical barrier, sitting as an extra layer between your skin and the sunlight, reflecting the rays off.

They use naturally occurring active ingredients to protect your skin from the sun. These ingredients are generally zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. In fact, you may also see these products labelled as ‘natural’ or ‘physical’ sunscreen.


If you have sensitive skin, or would like to use sunscreen on a baby or child, mineral sunscreen is largely considered to be friendlier for delicate skin types.


As mentioned, mineral sunscreens sit on top of your skin, rather than being totally absorbed into it, so you will likely see some residue of the product on your skin after rubbing it in.

You also have to be more wary of how frequently you are reapplying. Mineral sunscreens are much easier to rub off your skin, such as when you’re putting on or taking off clothing, so be mindful of making sure your skin is covered with plenty of product.

Ultrasun Mineral Body SPF 30

What are chemical sunscreens?

Chemical sunscreens protect your skin in a different way to mineral sunscreens. The formula of chemical sunscreens is absorbed more fully into the top layers of your skin. They work by scattering and deflecting the UV rays, converting them into heat and essentially disarming them from causing harm.


When applying to your skin, chemical sunscreen is much more likely to feel more easily absorbed, rather than leaving any residue.


If you have sensitive skin, there may be some ingredients in chemical sunscreen that you might react to. For reference, these can include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

It is also recommended to apply chemical sunscreen 15 minutes before exposing yourself to the sun, so you need to plan ahead slightly!

La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+

Depending on whether you have sensitive skin, or would prefer a sunscreen that fully absorbs into your skin, there’s no clear overall winner between mineral and chemical sunscreens. But whichever you choose, always remember to wear a high SPF factor, anything from SPF 30 and up!

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