Sun damage is the number one reason for aging of our skin. Not genetics, smoking or even age itself, but harmful UVA and UVB rays. Not to mention it can cause a host of more serious concerns such as skin damage, burning and cancer.

A study from Australia showed “the skin of daily sunscreen users aged a full 24% less than that of occasional wearers”. Feeling panicked? Hopefully enough to wear sunscreen every day to protect your skin, even in winter!

image of woman applying mineral sunscreen

UVA, UVB – What’s the difference?

If you’re not sure of the difference between UVA and UVB, UVA rays can harm us regardless of the time of day or season. They penetrate deep through the skin’s thickest layer, leading to skin damage and premature aging. UVB rays are the ones that burn us in summer, and hit the top layers of our skin. This is why you need constant protection even during winter, and even if you work inside (as UVA can penetrate through windows!).

Chemical or Physical Sunscreen – What’s the difference?

With so many sunscreens on the market it’s hard to choose the best one, especially when many of them leave a thick, sticky or greasy finish on your face, and the feeling that this layer of chemicals can’t be good for you. The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of sunscreen, “Chemical” and “Physical”. This is how they differ:

Chemical Sunscreen works by using a chemical reaction, with “absorbers” which penetrate the top layers of the skin and actually soak up rays like a sponge. They take ultraviolet light radiation and neutralise it, converting it to heat. Some examples of common chemical sunscreen ingredients are oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone.


  • Chemical sunscreen is usually lightweight with a thin consistency, so are less likely to feel heavy, and spread more easily.
  • Less is needed on the skin, so your bottle will probably last longer.
  • Usually a clearer consistency so won’t look as white on the skin or rub off.


  • Not all chemical sunscreen prevents UVA rays, meaning your skin could still be damaged in ways other than burning.
  • Requires about 20 minutes after application before it starts to work.
  • Studies have shown some of these chemicals are absorbed through the skin, which have raised concerns about their toxicity when it was revealed they are damaging coral reefs.
  • Protection doesn’t last as long, so you’ll need to reapply frequently

Physical or Mineral Sunscreen contains mineral ingredients, usually either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which work by sitting on top of the skin to physically block and deflect UV rays like a shield. Remember the bright pink and green neon “zinc” people used to wear on their nose in the 80’s and 90’s? Thankfully zinc oxide is now available in a less thick, sticky or colourful version!


  • Protects against both UVA and UVB rays (not just burning, but also wrinkles and sun spots).
  • Generally better for sensitive skins, and for children, since they deflect heat and energy and rarely cause irritation.
  • The sunscreen lasts longer on your skin (unless it’s wet), and has a longer shelf life.
  • Protects from the sun as soon as it’s applied, no waiting needed.
  • Zinc oxide is a safe and healing mineral, used for conditions like dermatitis, rashes, burns and infections. And it’s been around forever, one of its first known mentions was written before 500BC!


  • Some versions of physical sunscreen can be very thick and white.
  • Some modern mineral sunscreen has been made chemically with their “nanoparticle” form (tiny particles), which has raised concerns of skin absorbing these.
  • Protection won’t last as long when the skin is sweating or wet, as it can rub off, so reapplication will be needed in summer when swimming.

O Cosmedics Mineral Pro

At O Cosmedics we use a physical mineral sunscreen (20% zinc oxide) in our SPF 30+ moisturising product Mineral Pro, to work as a shield for the skin and protect against burning as well as signs of ageing such as wrinkles and sun spots.

Mineral Pro is also lightweight, fast absorbing and dries to a clear finish (without using nanoparticles) and comes in both a clear or tinted version. As a bonus it also protects skin with resveratrol, a conditioning peptide, and has a delicious natural vanilla fragrance.