Mineral vs Non-Mineral Sunscreen

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How do both sunscreen types help protect us from the sun?

We all love sunshine. It gives us Vitamin D, helps boost our mood, and strengthens our immunity. But we also want to make sure that we’re doing our best to protect ourselves and the people we love from the harmful effects of damaging UV rays.

Applying and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day can help reduce the risk of skin cancer as well as premature skin aging, which is awesome, but how do we even decide on what type of sunscreen is best for us to use? Do we go for Mineral or Non-Mineral? Oh, and what the heck is the difference between those anyway? Well, we created a little break down to help make some sense of it all—we hope.

Is one type of sunscreen “better” at protecting us than the other?

Both Mineral and Non-Mineral sunscreens provide Broad Spectrum protection from harmful UVA/UVB rays, they just use a few different ingredients to do it—more on all that a little later.

Both types of sunscreens are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and go through intensive screening processes to evaluate the safety and efficacy of each product, ensuring that they are generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) by the FDA.

So, what we can say (in a nutshell) is that neither type is “better”—it really just comes down to personal preference.

Sun Bum sunscreens are cruelty free, reef friendly, and hypoallergenic

Mineral-Based Sunscreens

Let’s talk about Mineral. Mineral sunscreens use physical active ingredients (Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide) to create a sunscreen barrier on the skin that blocks UV rays by absorbing and reflecting them away from the skin (absorbs approx ~90%+ of UV rays, reflects ~5%+).

Back in the day, mineral sunscreens left a thick white residue that made us look like we just saw a ghost (no thanks). Since then, technology has gotten A LOT better, allowing us to make a collection of premium formulas (including our Mineral, Signature and Baby Bum SPF products) that can all be applied and re-applied with minimal “ghosting” effects (yay).

Mineral Sunscreen Products

Our Mineral-based sunscreens with Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide are gentle, lightweight and non-greasy. Check out our lineup of Mineral sunscreens below and see which Mineral sunscreens we make just for our kids who have extra sensitive skin.

Sun Bum mineral-based sunscreens

Non-Mineral Sunscreen

Now let’s talk about Non-Mineral. Non-Mineral (also referred to as “synthetic”) sunscreens use non-physical active ingredients (Homosalate, Octocrylene, Octisalate, Avobenzone) to absorb UV rays by converting them into heat and sending them right back out to where they came from (absorbs approx ~95%+ of UV rays). Our Non-Mineral sunscreen formula (aka our Original sunscreen line) has been our go-to sunscreen for our own families since day one. It feels good, smells good and makes us and our kids actually want to put sunscreen on every day—which is really what’s most important to us.

Non-Mineral Sunscreen Ingredients

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about two of the synthetic actives that have traditionally been used in a lot of Non-Mineral sunscreens: Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. In 2018, Hawaii passed legislation (Bill 2571) that bans the marketing and over-the-counter sale of sunscreens that contain Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, as of January 1, 2021 because of their presumed negative impact to coral reefs.

All of our U.S. sunscreen formulas (Original, Mineral, Baby Bum, and Signature) meet Hawaii’s regulation and are Reef Friendly (Oxybenzone & Octinoxate free).

Sun Bum non-mineral sunscreens
Girl applying sunscreen to her face on the beach

Apply and Reapply Your Sunscreen

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about both Mineral and Non-Mineral sunscreen types and how they both work to protect us, we wanna make sure that whichever option you decide on, you remember to REAPPLY. Even though our sunscreen products are Water Resistant for 40-80 minutes, do yourself (and your fam) a favor and make sure that between jumping in and out of water, toweling off or chasing your grom around the park for hours, you slather on another layer of the good stuff.


Apply and Reapply—Repeat:

  • Apply liberally 15 minutes before sun exposure to maximize protection
  • Reapply at least every two hours
  • Apply more often after swimming/sweating or toweling off
  • Cool down after a day in the sun with our after sun care products to help hydrate and restore the health of your skin

We don’t care if you use ours, just use sunscreen.

Trust The Bum®

XO, SB