All Sunscreens Aren’t Created Equal: What You Need to Know

Last Update: September 28, 2022

The sun didn’t used to be scary. Glossy magazine covers featured dark tans, using tin foil to catch rays was standard practice, and bodies greased down with baby oil were a common sight at the beach.

Oh, the halcyon days. Back then, we didn’t know that golden glow comes at a price. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., affecting nearly five million people every year. These days, wearing an SPF sunscreen is a no-brainer.

But it’s not just about the number on the bottle. You also need to consider whether you want to use a chemical sunscreen versus a mineral formulation.

What’s the difference? Classic sunscreen is created synthetically from chemicals, while natural minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide do all the work  in mineral sunscreen.

These two kinds of sunscreen also work differently. Mineral sunscreen essentially creates a physical barrier on the skin, which explains why it is better known as sunblock. Unlike the more common variety of sunscreen, sunblock doesn’t absorb into the skin. While synthetic sunscreens are designed to absorb and dissipate UVA and UVB rays, mineral sunscreens scatter and reflect them.

Another difference between classic and mineral sunscreens is timing: Classic sunscreens take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to give true protection, while mineral sunscreens start blocking the sun’s rays as soon as you slather them on.

Before you dive into sunscreen shopping, take a look at Environmental Working Group’s guide. They’ve broken down sunscreens by the safety of their ingredients, and how well they actually work. Once you’re ready to buy, check out our quality, nontoxic sunscreens and sunblocks at Thrive Market.

Now get outside and enjoy the sunshine!

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Magda Rod

Magda Freedom Rod is a certified yoga instructor, health & lifestyle guide and founder of Visionary Lifestyle and Conscious Eating 101. She helps people activate their highest potential through conscious eating, yoga and sustainable lifestyle guidance. Visit today to join her mailing list and receive recipes and healthy lifestyle tips!

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