SPF (aka sun cream) is a bible product for most people who care about their skin.
Whether it’s factor 50 every day or topping up your factor 30 sun cream as often as possible when you’re out in the sun, sun cream is vital.
‘We must pay attention to protecting our skin all year around, but during the summer months the power of the sun is extreme,’ Susie Willis, founder of natural beauty brand Romilly Wilde.
‘It is not only about burning and tanning, but the long term damage, which is why it’s best to use a full spectrum SPF with your usual skincare routine.’
Not all sun creams are created equal, though, and there are some environmental and health-related benefits to ditching the more common chemical sun creams for organic, or mineral, products.
Dr Paul Banwell, who runs The Banwell Clinic, and is the previous head and founder of The Melanoma and Skin Cancer Unit (MASCU) in East Grinstead, tells us that, although he’d rather people use any sun cream than none at all, he often opts for mineral sun cream.
But what’s the difference?
What is the difference between mineral and chemical sun cream?
The difference between mineral and chemical sun cream is that chemical sun cream works by absorbing UV rays and changing them into heat before releasing that heat from the skin.
‘Mineral sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin to form a shield,’ Paul explains. ‘They scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin.’
The most noticeable difference is how they feel on the skin.
‘Mineral sunscreens leave a white cast on the skin, makes the SPF thick in consistency and can be hard to rub in,’ says Paul.
On the other hand, chemical sun creams are easier to rub in and often feel nicer on the skin.
Another key difference is that, while chemical sun cream takes 20 to 30 minutes to absorb into the skin, mineral sunscreens offer immediate protection.
However, mineral sun cream does need to be applied more frequently, especially if exercising or swimming as it can rub, sweat, or rinse off easily.
What are the benefits of mineral sun cream?
As well as offering immediate protection, mineral sun cream is free of potentially harmful chemicals and offers some extra benefits.
‘Also known as natural sunscreen, mineral sun cream is free of harmful chemicals, such as parabens and phthalates, and uses zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to block the sun’s rays,’ says Paul.
‘Other sunscreen uses chemicals such as oxybenzone, a known allergen, and avobenzone to absorb UV rays, which can be detected in the body at harmful levels.’
On top of this, mineral sun creams are generally good for sensitive skin and are less likely to aggravate skin conditions like eczema.
‘They are also better for the environment,’ adds Paul.
‘As they are made from minerals and without toxins, they biodegrade in the water so are safe for marine life.’
Expert-recommended mineral sun creams
Heliocare 360 Degrees Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF 50
Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen lotion
RATIONALE #3 The Tinted Serum SPF 50+