A lady squeezing sun cream onto her hand, whilst sitting on a beach.

What is mineral sunscreen?

We all know how important it is to wear sun cream – scientists believe that 80% of visible ageing is caused by sun damage1 . Still, few know that not all sun creams are created equal.

In this article, we’ll explain how mineral sun cream differs from conventional sun cream. We’ll go on to advise you of its benefits, and warn of any side effects.

What is mineral sun cream?

Mineral sun creams form a physical barrier to protect skin from UVA/UVB rays. In contrast, chemical sun creams – the most common kind – chemically engineer a barrier to protect against UVAs and UVBs.

Mineral sun creams should only contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; the only ingredient’s the United States’ Food and Drug Administration consider safe and effective2.

They help protect the skin by absorbing UV light and transforming it into heat, while simultaneously absorbing radiation, then deflecting it3.

Although still chemically engineered in a lab like chemical sun creams, mineral sun creams are typically less irritating on the skin and protect against the sun for longer4.

Benefits of mineral sun cream

Mineral sun cream is good for you and the planet. Here’s why:

  • They work immediately. Mineral sun creams protect you from the sun directly, unlike chemical sun creams, which can take as long as 20 minutes to be absorbed and become useful5.

  • May be suitable for sensitive skin. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide may be a suitable choice for those with sensitive skin, including children6.

Potential risks of mineral sun cream

Mineral sun creams must be reapplied more frequently than chemical sun creams when swimming or sweating, as they wash off easier. Another thing to bear in mind is that you need to apply more of a mineral sun cream to work effectively7. Shop Natural Suncream & Suncare

Last updated: 9th February 2021

Expertly reviewed by:


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Doaa Al Mosawi

Doaa Al Mosawi,
International Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Mar 2019

BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science

After completing her BSc in Biomedical Science, Doaa worked in Research and laboratory for 3 years. Doaa was also a member of a product development team in a manufacturing company specialising in sun care and personal care products, researching and providing regulatory advice regarding international regulations.