3 Reasons Why Mineral Sunscreen Is Best For Sensitive Skin

by Gio
3 reasons why mineral sunscreen is best for sensitive skin

“Ouch! Why do all sunscreens sting SO much?”

Summer’s tough when you have sensitive skin. You can’t skip sunscreen, but every single one you try breaks you out in a nasty rash or makes your skin burn like you’ve been stung by a hundred bees.

Like, wasn’t this thing supposed to save your skin? Instead, it’s ruining it. Your holidays, too. While all your friends are playing beach volley clad in tiny bikinis, you stay under the shade, your body hidden by layers of protective clothing and huge sunglasses. *sighs*

Are all your summers going to be like this?

Nope. Sunscreen doesn’t have to be another enemy that makes your skin freak out. It can be your BFF. You just have to pick the right one. Not all sunscreens are created equal…

Mineral Sunscreen VS Chemical Sunscreen

Let me jump on my soapbox for a moment, ok? Thanks!

ALL sunscreens are technically chemical. Anything that’s made of matter is a chemical, including water. You just can’t make a sunscreen without chemicals.

But, in recent years, chemical has become synonym with “made in a lab” or “synthetic” as opposed to “derived from nature (even if it’s then so heavily processed in a lab it’s not natural anymore)” so that’s how I’ll use the term here, ok?

Good. Now we’ve sorted that out, let’s move on. There are two types of sunscreens:

If you have sensitive skin, mineral sunscreen is the kind you want. Here’s why:

blissoma phototonic facial sunscreen + daily moisturizer SPf 25

1. Mineral Sunscreen Is Gentler On The Skin

Chemical UV filters, such as Avobenzone and Octocrylene, are known to cause allergies and irritations. If you’ve reacted badly to sunscreens in the past, chances are one of these guys were to blame (click here for the full list of irritating chemical UV filters).

Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, on the other hand, are pretty inert, so there’s less chance they’ll react with your skin to trigger a negative reaction.

WARNING! Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide can cause a negative reaction. But, only if you’re allergic to these minerals. Luckily, these allergies are pretty rare.

2. Mineral Sunscreen Provides Stable, Broad Spectrum Protection

Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are multitaskers. Zinc Oxide protects, on its own, against the entire UV range. Titanium Dioxide defends you from ALL UVB and MOST UVA rays. Pretty impressive, huh?

Chemical UV filters, on the other hand, are (with the exceptions of Mexoryl and Tinosorb, which aren’t available in the US, anyway) one trick ponies. They either protect from UVA or UVB rays.

Avobenzone, for example, protects only from UVA rays. But, it’s very unstable and degrades quickly when exposed to sunlight. So, it needs something to keep it hard at work. And provide protection from UVB rays, since it’s useless against those.

Enter Octocrylene. It stabilizes Abovenzone and provides protection against UVB rays. But its UV fighting capabilities are weak. It needs a helping hand to keep all those rays away.

Enter Octinoxate, a more powerful UVB filter.

You see where I’m going with this?

You can use only Zinc Oxide. But, you can’t use only one chemical UV filter. You need 5 or 6 of them to do the same job. That’s 5 or 6 opportunities for your skin to break out in a rash…

badger balm zinc oxide sunscreen cream spf 30

3. Mineral Sunscreen Is A Skin Protectant

Zinc Oxide is a FDA-approved skin protectant. 

What does that mean? A skin protect protects injured skin from harmful stimuli, and provides relief to it.

Or, put simply, it protects skin from irritations. If your skin is already irritated, it’ll soothe it.

Compare that with chemical UV filters. They can irritate your skin and soothe nothing.

What Are The Best Mineral Sunscreens?

Titanium dioxide is a good nice-to-have in sunscreens, but it’s zinc oxide the one you want. Here’s where to find it:

  • Badger Balm Unscented Sunscreen SPF 30 ($15.99): available at Iherb
  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($36.00):available at Sephora
  • EltaMD UV Pure BroadSpectrum SPF 47 ($24.50): available at Dermstore and Walmart
  • Niod Survival 30 (£25.00): available at Beauty BayCult Beauty and Feel Unique
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50 Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00): available at  Nordstrom and Ulta


The Bottom Line

Just because you have sensitive skin, it doesn’t mean you have to hide under layers of clothing or be tucked away indoors. Get yourself a mineral sunscreen and enjoy the sun safely!

Have you already made the switch to a mineral sunscreen? Recommend your fave one in the comments below.



Minn July 5, 2017 - 6:51 pm

You are so right! I love zink oxide.
Last autumn/winter I was using a sunscreen with Tinosorb S and M, irritant free, no alcohol or fragrances. You would think, nothing could go wrong here? Those filters are safe, right?
But at that time I used to get red spots on my face when the sun was shining (very little uv tho, index 2 or 3 max). They even burned a little, felt quite similar to sunburn. A few hours after I was out of the sun they disappeared.
I’m not sure what that was. But I changed nothing in my routine, only the sunscreen. I changed to a zink oxide one and never had those spots again.

Gio July 7, 2017 - 11:20 am

Minn, Tinosorb is often used with other chemical UV filters. Maybe it was their combination that triggered the problem? Anyway, much better to stick to zinc oxide. It’s the gentlest UV filter of all. 🙂

Daryl Reed November 16, 2017 - 5:35 am

Derma e has a new formula that is the best I’ve found, and I’ve tried nearly 100 over the past 10 years after having surgery for basal cell carcinoma on my nose. I am fanatical about zinc-only sunscreens with at least 20% zinc. Derma e not only fits the bill, but it rubs in clear—really, and I have olive skin—and has a nice finish. It is moisturizing, not tacky and dries to a dewy finish. I use the “Baby” formula but there is also a “Body” version and an oil-free “Face” version.

Gio November 26, 2017 - 2:41 pm

Daryl, somehow I had missed this. Thanks so much for sharing, it sounds wonderful!

Vana January 13, 2019 - 10:09 am

Dear Gio,

do you recommend The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants?

Thank you

Gio January 24, 2019 - 7:03 pm

Vana, yes I do.

Vana January 25, 2019 - 8:02 am

Dear Gio, thank you so much for your reply.
I would be extremely happy if you could tell us your opinion about Balea products, as well.
Thank you in advance.

Gio January 25, 2019 - 11:14 am

Vana, I’m not really familiar with Balea products as they’re not available here. Is there any product you’re considering buying?

MH March 17, 2019 - 6:00 pm

Wondering if you recommend the Paula’s Choice RESIST Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30? I like the tint and lightness but want to make sure I’m properly protected etc. P.S – love your website 🙂

Gio March 21, 2019 - 2:02 pm

MH, yes, that’s one of my faves. 🙂

Deb May 3, 2019 - 6:39 pm

I really like Australian Gold Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen. It doesn’t leave the skin feeling greasy and the tint is perfect. My skin feels so soft and ready for foundation when I use it.

Gio June 4, 2019 - 4:53 pm

Deb, thanks for the recommendation. Glad to hear you’ve found a sunscreen that works for you.

Christine September 6, 2019 - 2:16 am

I love MyChelle Sun Shield Liquid SPF 50 with a tint. It can even take the place of your foundation if you don’t need a ton of coverage. Goes on matte not greasy at all. It’s the only mineral sunscreen that does not make my skin burn or itch when I start to sweat.


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