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Sol Sauce is a "mineral" sunscreen. What does that mean?

The active ingredients in sunscreens (the component that provides the UV protection) fall into 2 main categories: “chemical” and “physical/mineral”. Chemical sunscreens work by penetrating deep into your skin and provide protection by reacting with sunlight. Physical or mineral sunscreens function by sitting on top of the skin and reflecting UV.

There are 2 types of mineral active ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. All other active sunscreen ingredients are chemical.

Are all zinc sunscreens good?

Zinc oxide has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. As such, many sunscreen brands prominently display that a product contains zinc oxide. The sad thing is that this is often done in a misleading and deceptive way by using a small amount of zinc in an otherwise typical chemical formula. Many people choose a zinc sunscreen for its safety and effectiveness, and may be tricked by these labeling practices. The solution is to check the "Active Ingredients" section on the label which is required by law on sunscreens. If it lists anything except zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, it contains chemical UV blockers. 


Why should I use a mineral sunscreen?

There are several reasons, the first being safety. Believe it or not, despite having been used in products for decades the effects of chemical sunscreens on the body and environment have barely been studied.

Recently, there have been more studies being conducted and have revealed the disturbing reality that some of these ingredients are toxic to people and the environment, especially marine ecosystems. Perhaps the fact that several popular tourist destinations around the world (including marine parks in Thailand) have banned certain chemical sunscreen ingredients is a testament to the potential dangers. Chemical sunscreens are designed to go deep into the skin and actually enter the bloodstream. These chemicals have been detected in various concentrations in blood and, more alarmingly, breast milk. 

An anecdotal example...


Areas where certain chemical sunscreen ingredients have been banned

Sol Sauce Sunscreens was born in Phuket, Thailand where we enjoy world-renowned marine destinations in our backyard. One such spot is Maya Bay, which was made famous in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "The Beach". The bay and surrounding area would see hundreds of boats everyday ushering thousands of tourists, most of which would don a mask and snorkel to enjoy the colorful corals and vibrant ecosystem. Then the reef began to die. It was literally being loved to death. It should have come as no surprise. When snorkeling there you could see a sheen of sunscreen chemicals on the surface of the water along with a strong smell, and you sometimes you could even taste it. The response was to close the area entirely for about 1.5 years to allow recovery and, in a forward-thinking and welcome move, ban certain sunscreen chemicals in all marine parks in the country. 

SPF explained

Many have thought, "hey, why aren't all sunscreens just SPF 100​"? It's a valid question, let's look at why that is.

The meaning behind SPF (sun protection factor) is a bit convoluted and misunderstood. SPF doesn’t necessarily refer to how well a sunscreen protects you, but for how long. Yes, it's a bit of tricky semantics.

SPF 30 means that  it will take 30 times longer for your skin to burn as as it would take without sunscreen.

Consider the example below:

Let’s say that your unprotected skin will start to get sunburned in 10 minutes (depends on the individual)

SPF 30 X 10 minutes = 300 minutes
SPF 40 X 10 minutes = 400 minutes
SPF 50 X 10 minutes = 500 minutes

Now you're probably thinking, "that's great, but what sunscreen stays on for 5 hours (300 minutes) or more?" Therein lies the problem. 


To put it into the words of the Skin Cancer Foundation, “...there are problems with the SPF model: First, no sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication.

What is arguably more important than the SPF number is whether or not the product is broad spectrum (protects from UVA and UVB effectively), stays on, and that it is reapplied when necessary. 

The current scientific literature supports the fact that high-concentration zinc oxide formulas offer the most thorough protection while maintaining optimum safety for people and the environment.

Finally, big name-brand sunscreens (probably the ones you're thinking of) have been proven by independent labs to wildly exaggerate/lie about the actual SPF rating of some of their products. 

Do your sunscreens leave a white tint?

So let's say hypothetically you're not a fan of the '1980s Australian lifeguard look' with the opaque white nose. While we do think this style is making a comeback (maybe?), some aren't huge fans. 

You can read more about UV blockers HERE, but what you need to know now is that mineral UV blockers reflect light, and chemical UV blockers absorb it. The white cast is that reflection in action. Generally, sunscreens that are completely clear are either of the chemical or nano-particle variety. Nano particles are so small that they penetrate your skin and enter your bloodstream. They have also been shown to have negative effects on some marine species and should not be considered reef safe.


Our sunscreens all use 25% non-nano zinc oxide. Our natural/untinted products will leave a white cast, but it is minimized by rubbing the product in thoroughly which also ensures it will stay on longer. Otherwise, our tinted sunscreen paste and sunscreen lotion have a neutral beige color which is quite unnoticeable on a wide range of skin tones. 

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