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What is the difference between a Mineral Based Sunscreen and a Chemical Based Sunscreen?

Living on an Island that receives almost 24/7 bright Sunlight can cause long term effects to your skin.  Besides the UV damage that it can cause, the Sun’s rays can also cause your skin to age faster.  We all love a good tan but at what cost is it to us and the environment? Luckily there are alternatives in Sun Protection and we at Eco Living Aruba carry one, a Mineral Based Sunscreen with an SPF of 30. So let’s talk a little bit more about the differences between a Chemical Based Sunscreen and a Mineral Based Sunscreen.

Chemical based sunscreens use chemicals to prevent UV rays from entering your skin by absorbing the rays with a chemical reaction.  One of these Chemicals is Oxybenzone.  Oxybenzone is a synthetic organic compound (based on carbon, oxygen and hydrogen) that absorbs UV rays. This filter mainly absorbs short UVA and UVB radiation, which are responsible for tanning but also for sunburn and skin cancer. Researchers have discovered that sea anemones, which are similar to corals, make the molecule oxybenzone water-soluble by tacking a sugar onto it. This inadvertently turns oxybenzone into a molecule that, instead of blocking UV light, is activated by sunlight to produce free radicals that can bleach and kill corals. Each time a UV ray causes this reaction, the molecule of chemical sunscreen is destroyed.  This is why you need to reapply Chemical Sunscreen since the Sun’s UV Rays have destroyed the Chemical Sunscreen molecules.  

Mineral Sunscreens do the same thing, but they use mineral particles, such as Non Nano Zinc Oxide, to prevent UV rays from entering your skin with a combination of absorbing, scattering, and reflecting the rays.  Non Nano Zinc Oxide is a powdered mineral that sits on top of the skin which acts as a physical sunblock.  Non Nano means that the mineral particles are just big enough that they will not get absorbed by the skin.  Chemical Sunscreens need at least 15 minutes to bind to your skin where Mineral Sunscreens can be used right away.  The other added benefit of using Mineral Sunscreens is that there are no Chemical reactions.

Are Mineral Sunscreens Safer for the Coral Reefs?  There has been some research that suggests that Non Nano Zinc Oxide is no safer than Oxybenzone for the Corals.  However, being that Non Nano Zinc Oxide is a mineral rather than a Chemcial there is no reaction that takes place that can cause the bleaching of Corals.  Walking on Coral as well as dust from residential construction near the ocean can also cause damage to Coral. There is more research taking place as well as new products from other manufacturers on the way that try to address these issues but we aren’t quite there yet.  

As mentioned earlier Eco Living Aruba makes a Mineral Based Sunscreen, but we also use Oils that help block out the Sun’s Rays.  We use Raspberry Seed Oil in our Sunscreen which works very well in blocking the UV Light from your skin and till now hasn’t been shown to affect Coral.  We also use Coconut Oil to help repair the skin.  We also use a Cocoa based powder that is closer to a natural skin tone that has no effect on Coral Reefs.  Our Mineral Sunscreen comes in two sizes, 1oz and 2oz, for easier carrying and convenience.  It is important for us at Eco Living Aruba to create products that are organically based but also limit the long term effects to the environment.  Our goal is to provide alternatives that are safer and healthier for you but also to the environment.  We are always updating our recipes to better suit the needs of our consumers and our local Aruba environment.  

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