How to pick the perfect sunscreen for your skin type

February 15, 2024

By now, you’re probably well aware of how important adding a face moisturizer with SPF is to your skin health. But when it comes to finding the best sunscreen, you may wonder if one SPF is better than the other?

It’s a match-up for the ages: Mineral vs. chemical sunscreen. Is one active ingredient better than the other? How do they work? Most importantly, what is the difference? The skincare experts at Murad are here to answer all your questions about these two sunscreen categories so you can make the best decision for your skin type.

What is chemical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreens are dermatologist-approved, with active chemical ingredients like octinoxate and avobenzone.

How does chemical sunscreen work?

Chemical sunscreens are lightweight and non-chalky, making it a well-suited option for all skin tones. They absorb UV rays like a sponge, then convert them to heat to release them from your skin.

What is mineral sunscreen?

Now that you know what chemical sunscreens are and how they work, it’s important to discuss the other type: mineral sunscreens. Mineral sunscreen (also known as physical sunscreen) is naturally occurring active ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Mineral sunscreen is recommended for any skin type, including those with sensitive skin and acne-prone skin. It is made of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to provide ultimate protection against the sun.

How does mineral sunscreen work? While chemical sunscreen absorbs UV rays and convert them to heat, mineral sunscreens will work differently. Mineral sunscreen works by laying on the surface of the skin to deflect and scatter UVA rays and UVB rays away from your skin.

So, now you know the difference between the two, but you might be wondering if one is better than the other.

Mineral vs. chemical sunscreen: Is one active ingredient better than the other?

No. When used daily, consistently, and properly, all sunscreens help defend against UV rays that lead to sun damage. But when it comes to sustainability, mineral sunscreen is often the favorable choice.

Can I mix them? Absolutely! Mineral and chemical sunscreen ingredients can be used together.

What’s the difference in texture, color, and feel? Physical sunscreen is used to conjure up memories of surfers with chalk-white noses, while chemical sunscreens were favored for their blendability and wearability on any skin type and skin tone. Today’s advances in skincare ingredients and technology mean physical sunscreens are just as weightless and transparent as their chemical counterparts.

Should I choose a mineral-based sunscreen or a chemical? Remember, mineral sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen is not the biggest issue. The bigger question is, should I wear sunscreen every day? Bottom line is that sunscreen needs to be worn daily and consistently to shield against harmful sun exposure and blue light damage that can cause dark spots, wrinkles, skin cancer, and other sun damage. Luckily for you, our City Skin™ Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is 100% mineral sunscreen, that shields against digital blue light damage and other harmful UV rays.

How much sunscreen should I use? Whether choosing a mineral sunscreen or chemical sunscreen, the application is the same: a quarter-sized amount for your face, neck, and chest, and one ounce (the size of a shot glass) for your body. When it comes to the right order to apply skincare products, sunscreen is always the final and most important layer.

Ready to shop for SPF? Murad has a selection of mineral and chemical sun protection options with added skin benefits to suit your skin type. Experience our virtual skin analysis to reveal your 100% customized skincare products in under 5 minutes!

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Murad, and are for informational purposes only, even if the advice of physicians and medical practitioners are included. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered specific medical advice.  

About the Author

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Jacki Marzano is SoCal-based storyteller and head copywriter at Murad Skincare. She's shaped the voice of some of the most recognized beauty brands in the business, has a penchant for sharing homemade cookies, and believes SPF is the secret to getting carded well into your 40s.