With that in mind, let’s learn more about what defines chemical SPF… “Chemical sunscreens are formulated with synthetic, or ‘organic,’ ingredients that work by absorbing the sun’s UV rays so your skin doesn’t,” explains our friend and NYC-based, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman. These ingredients (also known as chemical sunscreen “actives” when you’re reading your sunscreen label) get their job done by converting the sun’s rays into heat, and then releasing them from the skin.
Despite what you might have heard or read, there’s nothing inherently wrong with chemical sunscreens. They effectively protect your skin from the sun, and they also allow for major innovation, like weightless and even invisible formulas. (Our #1 bestseller, Unseen Sunscreen, is a chemical SPF!)
That being said, the reason why chemical SPF has gotten a bad reputation over the years is primarily because many of them contain oxybenzone, a chemical SPF active that has been voted the number one skin irritant by the American Academy of Dermatology — and one that is also considered a big aggressor to the coral reefs. Here at Supergoop!, we’ve never used oxybenzone in any of our formulas, and we were actually the first brand to launch an oxybenzone-free chemical SPF back in 2007.
OK, now let’s talk about mineral SPF, which can also be referred to as “physical” SPF: “Mineral SPF encompasses any sunscreen that contains 100 percent mineral actives,” says Jaliman. “These actives include zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or a combination of the two — and that’s it.” This type of sunscreen works by absorbing around 95 percent of the sun’s UV rays and reflecting back the rest.
These formulas have been known to be on the pastier side, but fortunately for us, they’ve come a long way over the years… Today, 100% mineral formulas like ours can be sophisticated, sheer and super blendable. (Check out Mineral Sheerscreen SPF 30 for a 100% mineral alternative to Unseen Sunscreen!)
To learn more about mineral SPF (and why “invisible” mineral SPF is a marketing ploy) you can read more about it here.