Mineral Sunscreen: What Is It, and How Does It Work?

By now, you know it’s important to consistently apply—and reapply—a high-performance sunscreen prior to any sun exposure. This will help to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays and safeguard against skin cancer. But finding just the right sun protection can be daunting, particularly when it comes to choosing between mineral and non-mineral sunscreens. What’s the difference, and which one is better for your skin? 

Here, we break it down to help you understand the benefits of using mineral-based sunscreens.

What Is Mineral Sunscreen?

Mineral sunscreens use active ingredients, such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, to form a protective barrier on the skin’s surface. Once applied, these minerals can shield the skin from harmful amounts of UVA and UVB exposure by both reflecting and absorbing the sun’s rays. 

Mineral sunscreen is sometimes referred to as a “physical” sunscreen because of the way it sits on the outer surface of the skin to protect against ultraviolet radiation. In contrast, traditional non-mineral sunscreens absorb into the outermost layer of the skin. They use synthetic active ingredients to work as a “sponge” of sorts, filtering out the sun’s most damaging rays. 

What’s In Mineral Sunscreen?

Speaking for our own products at Panama Jack, our mineral sunscreens contain:

  • Non-nano mineral active ingredients including Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide
  • No chemical or synthetic actives
  • Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection
  • Skin-hydrating moisturizers

Panama Jack Mineral Sunscreens are also:

  • Vegan
  • Fragrance Free
  • Cruelty Free
  • Non-Comedogenic
  • Water Resistant (80 minutes)

What’s Not In Mineral Sunscreen?

When it comes to our mineral sunscreens, you won’t find any of these ingredients:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Avobenzone
  • Homosalate
  • Octisalate
  • Sulfates
  • Phthalates
  • Alcohol
  • Retinyl Palmitate
  • Parabens
  • PABA
  • Dyes

Which Is Better—Mineral or Non-Mineral Sunscreen?

While mineral and non-mineral sunscreens use different active ingredients and work differently to mitigate the effects of the sun’s UV rays, both types of sun protection are safe, easy to apply, and can provide Broad Spectrum protection for your skin. As long as you’re applying and reapplying as recommended, you really can’t go wrong with either type of sunscreen. It’s up to you!

Isn’t Mineral Sunscreen Thick and Cakey?

Once upon a time, the earliest formulations of mineral sunscreens hit the market featuring a thick, white consistency that was tough to apply, and that ultimately left a residue or “cast” on the skin. This is because mineral sunscreens are “physical” in nature, forming a literal (and initially, visible) protective barrier on the skin. While these early formulas worked as intended, the texture and cast left much to be desired. 

Thankfully, mineral sunscreens have come a long way today! If Zinc Oxide still conjures images of white, pasty sunscreen streaks on the skin, picture this: a mineral sunscreen formula with a lovely sheer finish, that goes on clear, feels lightweight, and leaves your skin feeling hydrated and refreshed. It’s real, and it’s finally here.

Are Mineral Sunscreens Safe?

We work hard to ensure that all of our products are safe, not only for our customers but for the natural environment around us. In fact, our products adhere to the highest health and safety regulations put forth by the Food and Drug Administration, and all of our sunscreen lotions and sprays adhere to Hawaii Act 104, which prohibits the sale of any sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate, due to potentially damaging effects on coral and marine ecosystems. 

Is Mineral Sunscreen for Everyone?

Ultimately, the choice between using mineral and non-mineral sunscreen comes down to personal preference, and at Panama Jack we’ve worked hard to create sun care options For All Sunkind®. That's why our mineral formulas have been developed to work across all skin types and skin tones, and for those with sensitive skin, who may not tolerate traditional sunscreen well.

If you’ve ever experienced a rash or other skin irritation, such as photoallergic contact dermatitis, while using traditional sunscreen, you may want to opt for a mineral sunscreen. Additionally, those who suffer from chronic acne and eczema often turn to mineral sunscreens, as they are considered gentler and less irritating for these skin types, even when used as a face sunscreen. 

How Do You Use Mineral Sunscreen?

Applying sunscreen can vary depending on the format. For continuous sprays, be sure to shake the can before applying. And whether you’re using a spray or a lotion, mineral formulas with a “sheer finish” like ours require a bit more rubbing in. This not only ensures that you’ve covered all exposed skin, but will give you the residue-free finish you’re looking for, along with mineral sun protection you can trust.

Ready for a more natural approach to fun in the sun? Add our Mineral Sunscreen Sprays and Lotions in SPF 30 and SPF 50 to your cart today, and stay tuned for the release of our new Mineral Sunscreen Lotions.