Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen: What’s the Difference?

“There are two kinds of sunscreens – chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens only go so far into the UV spectrum. Physical sunscreens are creating a physical barrier to the sun with Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide,” says Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Mona Foad, MD.

You may be under the impression that all sunscreens are created equal and therefore good for you. They shield the skin from harmful UV rays, so how could they be unhealthy? The majority of sunscreens on the market are made with chemical active ingredients (look for “benzones” in the ingredient list). What does this mean? Chemical sunscreen ingredients absorb into the skin to provide sun protection. This can cause skin irritation, and in some cases even skin damage and may potentially have a hormonal impact.

mineral vs chemical sunscreen

Chemical vs mineral sunscreen

Chemical sunscreen ingredients (non-physical) penetrate the skin and absorb UV radiation through their chemical bonds. They slowly break down and release heat as a by-product of their chemical interaction with ultraviolet light. This heat energy then dissipates through and away from the skin. Additionally, chemical sunscreens have been implicated in possible endocrine disruption and can cause irritation to the skin, especially for those with sensitive skin,” says Chemist, John Garruto.
“Some people may have a reaction to chemical sunscreen. What I like about Colorescience is that it’s all mineral. Patients who are acne-prone or have sensitive skin will benefit from this product,” says Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Marina Peredo, MD.


At Colorescience, we only use pure mineral sunscreen ingredients Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide in our products. The minerals sit on top of the skin, creating a physical barrier. This ensures non-irritating, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

 mineral sunscreen water test

Powder sits on top of water

As you can see through our water test in the image above, our mineral powder sits on top of water. If you place your finger into the water and then pull it out, you’ll find that your finger is still dry! This test reflects the fact that our pure minerals are hydrophobic and won’t penetrate your skin.

“The better choice is physical sunscreen ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide (used in all Colorescience sun protection products). They reflect UV and do not have a heat reaction associated with their use, so they are a better option in that regard. Physical sunscreens do not penetrate the skin but instead act like tiny mirrors to reflect back ultraviolet rays. Since they do not penetrate, physical sunscreens do not cause irritation to the skin,” says Chemist, John Garruto.

Brush-on sunscreen is not messy

Now that you know the difference, which ingredients would you prefer? We offer physical sun protection in a variety of forms, including our Sunforgettable® Brush-on Sunscreen™ SPF 50, an InStyle Best of Beauty winner and the #1 sunscreen brush in the industry. In addition, we include these same sun protection ingredients in our treatments, primers, foundations and lip enhancers. We’re committed to protecting your skin and enhancing your natural beauty without compromising your health.


    Price: (0 Lasting Beauty Points)


    Sold Out