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What is the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen?

There are two main types of sunscreen, “physical” (also called “mineral”) and “chemical” formulas. They both contain active ingredients approved by the FDA. Here are the key differences between the two:

Physical sunscreens:

  • Contain active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
  • The active ingredients act like a shield to reflect the sun’s rays before the rays get absorbed into the skin.
  • Tend to be better tolerated by people with sensitive skin

Chemical sunscreens:

  • Contain active ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate
  • The active ingredients absorb the sun’s rays into the top layer of the skin and then dissipate the rays as heat.
  • Tend to rub more easily into the skin without leaving a white residue on the skin
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