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Is Your Mineral Sunscreen Really A Mineral Sunscreen?

by kelly / June, 19 2019 01:30

Photo of woman's hands - applying a skin care product to her hand

Not all mineral sunscreens are created equal. What we mean is that many mineral sunscreens marketed as mineral are not mineral only and do in fact contain chemical sunscreens in them. Yeah, we agree, it can be a little confusing and concerning if you want a mineral only product. But don’t worry we’re here to help you separate fact from marketing when it comes to your sunscreen purchases.

How Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreens Work

Mineral and chemical sunscreens are the two types of ultraviolet (UV) filters that help protect and prevent sunburn and sun damage. Mineral is also sometimes referred to as physical sunscreen or sunblock although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations require everything to be called “sunscreen” these days.

The basic difference between the two is:

  • Mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflect the sun’s UV rays
  • Chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin and absorb the sun’s UV rays

For a deeper dive on the difference between the two, check out our blog post: “How Sunscreens Work: Mineral vs. Chemical”.

Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen Ingredients

The next logical question is how can you tell what kind of sunscreen you’re using?

First off, all commercial sunscreens are considered over-the-counter drugs and regulated by the FDA. The FDA mandates that all commercial sunscreens include a Drug Facts panel on their product packaging. As part of the Drug Facts panel – commercial sunscreens must list their Active Ingredients and percentage of them used.

The Active Ingredient section is where your sunscreen’s UV filters are listed and where you can tell what type of sunscreen you are using. Some sunscreens are mineral only, some are chemical only, and some are both. To be sure, you have to check the Active Ingredients as many marketed as “mineral based”, “natural”, or something similar are actually a mix of chemical and mineral UV filters.

There are only two mineral sunscreen UV filters approved by the FDA: Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.

There are fifteen chemical sunscreen UV filters approved by the FDA: Aminobenzoic acid, Avobenzone, Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ecamsule, Ensulizole, Homosalate, Meradimate, Octocrylene, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone, Padimate O, Sulisobenzone, and Trolamine Salicylate.

Currently the FDA is investigating some of these chemical sunscreen ingredients. You can read our recap about it in our post: “US FDA Investigates Chemical Sunscreen Ingredients”.

How to Buy A Mineral ONLY Sunscreen

So if you want to make sure you are a buying a mineral ONLY sunscreen – check the Active Ingredient section of your sunscreen’s Drug Facts panel. If you see anything other than Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide listed there – then your sunscreen is not mineral only.

Many sunscreens marketed as mineral also contain chemical UV filters. Unfortunately you can’t just trust the marketing or advertising of the product. Always check your sunscreen’s Drug Facts panel if you want to know the truth about your product.

Block Island Organics is Mineral ONLY

At Block Island Organics we want to simplify the skin care process and reduce the skin care marketing clutter.

All of our sunscreens are mineral ONLY – the UV filter we use in our sunscreens is Zinc Oxide. You’ll find Zinc Oxide listed in our sunscreen Drug Facts panels and listed on our sunscreen product pages. We don’t hide any ingredients from you.

Most importantly we hope that this post was helpful and makes buying your next sunscreen (we hope it’s from us Smile) clearer and easier.

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