The final word on mineral vs chemical sunscreen

A (very) quick and (very) easy crash course.

By Team Cosmo
24 November, 2022
The final word on mineral vs chemical sunscreen

First, some facts: all sunscreens are designed to protect skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure, and all sunscreens use either chemical or mineral active ingredients to get the job done. Chemical SPFs absorb UV rays, soaking them up sort of like a sponge and converting them into heat that is released from your skin (yes, science is magic). Mineral sunscreens do the same thing in addition to creating a protective shield that reflects and scatters harmful rays. 

Now, some more facts: despite plenty of chatter that chemical sunscreen is unsafe (‘It causes cancer!’ , ‘It messes with hormones!’, says the Internet and probably a lot of people in your feeds), the FDA—and plenty of dermatologists—are so far unconvinced. “At this time, we cannot definitively say that chemical sunscreens are any less safe than mineral ones,” says New-York based Rachel Maiman, MD. What we can definitively say instead is that not using any SPF at all puts you at risk for premature skin ageing and, more seriously, skin cancer.
TL;DR: there’s no right or wrong choice. People with hyperpigmentation or sensitive and/or acne-prone skin may prefer gentler mineral options. Those who dislike heavierfeeling or visible SPF might prefer supersheer chemical versions. The most important thing is that you pick a broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher formula that you like enough to actually put on every single day. Take it from Dr Rachel: “The safest sunscreen is one you will use diligently and reapply without issues.”



Earth Rhythm SPF 50 Matte Mineral Sunscreen - Phyto Shield, `675

Sunscreen 1

Re’equil Sheer Zinc Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 PA+++, `895

sunscreen 2

The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 With Antioxidants, `950

sunscreen 3

Belif UV Protector Multi Face Sunscreen + SPF50+, `2,990

sunscreen 4


Avène Very High Protection Fluid Sunscreen SPF 50+, `1,800

sunscreen 5

LISÉN Soothing Shade SPF 50+ PA +++ Sunscreen, `1,200

sunscreen 6

Dr. Sheth’s Ceramide & Vitamin C Sunscreen, `499

sunscreen 7

Laneige Watery Sun Cream SPF50+ PA++++, `1,650