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Mineral or chemical sunscreens - what's the difference?

Anyone who tends towards a more natural and environmentally friendly alternative when it comes to sun protection should buy mineral sunscreen. But many wonder what the difference is between mineral and synthetic - colloquially also chemical - sunscreen. In our blog post we have summarized the most important differences for you.

Content :
1. Which UV filters are there?
2. How do they differ in their mode of action?
3. What does this mean for your health?

4. What does this mean for the environment?

Which UV filters are there?

There are two types of UV filters in sun creams: organic filters, also known colloquially as "chemical" or "synthetic" filters, and inorganic filters, better known as "mineral" or "physical" filters. [1]

How do they differ in how they work?

Sun creams with chemical UV filters are absorbed by the skin, absorbing the sun's rays and converting them into thermal energy. Mineral filters (eg zinc oxide or titanium dioxide), on the other hand, lie on the skin and reflect the sun's rays; they form a physical barrier and prevent the UV rays from penetrating the skin cells in the first place. [2] [3] [4]

Due to the filter particles, some mineral natural cosmetic sun creams leave white residue on the skin. However, the formulations have become so refined in recent years that there are now mineral sunscreens without the so-called "whitening effect".


Note: Excessive exposure to strong sunlight increases the risk of skin cancer (UVB radiation) and accelerates skin aging (UVA radiation). That is why we should protect our skin, and especially the skin of babies and children , which still has to develop its own UV protection, with sufficient sunscreens . [3] [4] We also recommend protective UV clothing and avoiding the midday sun .


What does that mean for your health?

Some chemical filters are suspected of having a hormonal effect, since this mode of action has been partially proven in cell and animal experiments (e.g. ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, octocrylene). [4] [5] According to the current state of knowledge, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has so far classified a chemical sun protection factor as harmful; however, a re-evaluation of approved UV filters at European level is being discussed. [6] The advantage of mineral  Sunscreens in contrast to chemical ones is that they protect immediately after application without exposure time, interact less with the skin and are hardly allergenic. [5]

What does this mean for the environment?

On many mineral sunscreens you will find the information "coral friendly" , "reef friendly" , "reef safe" or "biodegradable". This is because, in contrast, some chemical filters can have a lasting impact on the environment. The chemical UV filters oxybenzone and octinoxate, for example, have already been banned by law in Hawaii and Palau because they contribute to coral bleaching and thereby affect marine life with unclear long-term effects. [7] [8]

For this reason, it was important to us that our mineral sunscreens are good for you and good for the environment. Our mineral sunscreen is free from the chemical filters oxybenzone, octocrylene and octinoxate. You can find more tips about sun protection for you and your little ones in the blog article by founder and doctor Michaela.


Sources :

[1] Serpone N. et al. Inorganic and organic UV filters: Their role and efficacy in sunscreens and suncare products . Inorganica Chimica Acta, 2007, 360, 794-802

[2] Meinhard, E. Service: Testing sunscreens . For ARD | DasErste.de, 2018. Online at: https://www.daserste.de/information/politik-weltgeschehen/morgenmagazin/service/service-Sonnenschutzmittel-Test-100.html (05/28/2018)

[3] Regensburg University Hospital, sun without sun protection? 2014, online at : https://www.ukr.de/service/aktuelles/03828.php (06/18/2014)

[4] glückskind magazine, sunscreen for babies and children – 7 questions and 7 answers. https://www.dm.de/glueckskind/magazin/sonnencreme-kinder-c488332.html (06/01/2019)

[5] Throl, C., Thomas, K. Testing sunscreen: what sunscreen we recommend for the skin . In: ÖKO-TEST June 2018, 2018. Excerpt online at: https://www.oekotest.de/kosmetik-wellness/Sonnencreme-im-Test-Welchen-Sonnenschutz-wir-fuer-die-Haut-empfehlen_111085_1.html ( 05/24/2018)

[6] Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), information, tips and recommendations on sunscreen products, 2005. Online at: https://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/343/information_tips_und_Suggestions_zu_sonnenschutzmittel.pdf (08/22/2005)

[7] n-tv, Hawaii bans UV filters: Sunscreens harm marine animals n, 2018. Online at: https://www.n-tv.de/wissen/Sonnencremes-schaden-Meerestiere-article20497528.html (06/26/2018 )

[8] n-tv, holiday paradise protects corals: Palau bans most sunscreens , 2018. Online at: https://www.n-tv.de/wissen/Palau-verbietet-Grossteil-der-Sonnencremes-article20701373.html ( 02.11.2018)

Our favourite

Our mineral sun care

🌿 Vegan, natural & certified

☀️ Pure mineral zinc oxide UV filter

🕑 Protects immediately without any exposure time

🪸 Compliant with the Hawaii Reef Act (without the chemical UV filters oxybenzone, octocrylene & ocitonoxate)

🧴 Scented or unscented for sensitive skin

For sun care
Mineralische Sonnencreme von das boep

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