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  • Sol Sauce Team

What's the Deal With Chemical and Mineral Sunscreens?

chemicals in sunscreen
There's an easy way to avoid the potentially harmful effects of chemical sunscreens – don't use them.

When it comes to sunscreens they all fall into two main categories: chemical and mineral. The composition and function of these products that many people use on a daily basis is not necessarily common knowledge. That being said, we are entering a bit of an enlightened era (get it? sunscreen...enlightened). Public concerns about sunscreen ingredients – and all cosmetics for that matter – as well as how they affect our bodies and our environment are finally starting to be voiced. So what exactly is going on here?


Inside Tip:

When we are referring to sunscreens being of a chemical or mineral nature, we are talking exclusively about the active ingredient(s). The active ingredients are what protects you from the sun. Although a particular product may use a mineral active ingredient, it can still contain other types of chemicals. But not Sol Sauce – we only use naturally derived ingredients that are good for you.


coral bleaching
Some chemical sunscreens have been proven to be toxic to coral reefs.

Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens comprise the majority of sunscreens currently found on store shelves. These products contain active ingredients that penetrate deep into the skin and protect you from the sun by chemical reaction – by converting UV light into heat for example. There are many different types of these used in sunscreens. Because they are designed to go deep into your skin, they will enter your bloodstream. There are a variety of ways they affect your body from producing free radicals to disrupting hormone levels. Some of these chemicals negatively impact the environment, especially in the ocean where they are proven to be toxic to coral reefs.

Some examples of chemical sunscreens' active ingredients

  • Octocrylene

  • Oxybenzone

  • Octinoxate

  • Octisalate

  • Avobenzone

  • Homosalate


Mineral Sunscreens

non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen
Non-nano zinc oxide is one of the safest and most effective active sunscreen ingredients in use.

Mineral, or sometimes called physical, sunscreens use minerals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as their active ingredient. Whereas chemical sunscreens rely on their unique reactive properties to convert sunlight once absorbed into the skin, mineral sunscreens simply reflect UV rays away from the skin. One of the main benefits of this physical reflection is that the mineral ingredients sit on top of the skin rather than penetrating deeply.

*These minerals in their nano-sized particles can make it deep enough to enter the blood stream. Learn more about nano sunscreen ingredients HERE.

There are several reasons why chemical sunscreens are the most commonly available on the market. Perhaps one of the main reasons is the stigma attached to zinc oxide about the white tint it leaves on your skin – think of lifeguards and surfers back in the 80's with white noses. Since those days, more advanced formulas have been created and the white tint has become much more subtle.

Sol Sauce lotion and face paste both contain 25% non-nano zinc oxide. Even so, if you take a little extra time rubbing it in, there will only be a slight white tint. This is the tiny price we pay for having a very effective sunscreen that doesn't pose a risk to our children's health or that of the environment.

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