New to Mineral Sunscreen? Read This First

Mineral Sunscreen v Chemical Sunscreen

Congratulations on making the switch to mineral sunscreen! It’s a great option for you, your family, and the planet because mineral sunscreen is safe and effective.

If this is your first summer using mineral sunscreen, it’s helpful to review some basics before hitting the beach.

Using sunscreen isn’t complicated, but it’s important to understand how it works. And remember the best sun protection includes sunscreen, seeking or creating shade, wearing protective clothing (including a big floppy hat and sunglasses), and using common sense.

As mentioned in the chart above, mineral sunscreen works by sitting on top of the skin. This means that if you do not apply enough, you are not going to get the protection you expect. And a lot of people under-apply mineral sunscreen because it leaves a white cast on the skin.

No sunscreen can provide 100% protectionnot even SPF 100. So if you’re planning to spend the day at the beach, then find or create shade, or take a break inside during peak sun hours of 10am and 2pm.

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Mineral sunscreen (also known as physical barrier sunscreen) uses only zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to protect you from UV rays. The minerals sit on top of the skin to deflect, scatter, and absorb UV rays. And they work differently than sunscreens with active ingredients like oxybenzone, which absorb into the bloodstream. (See the handy chart above – right click and save for future reference!)


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How you apply sunscreen is the biggest difference when switching from chemical to mineral sunscreen.

Here’s a great blog post on applying mineral sunscreen. When it comes to applying sunscreen, less is not more!

Reapplying sunscreen is equally important. At the beach, where water and sand are reflecting extra UV rays onto your skin, reapplication should occur at least every two hours.

Towels, clothing, and water can remove minerals from the skin, so you should reapply immediately after swimming and towel drying.

If your skin starts to turn pink, your body is signaling that it has had enough sun. Once the burning process starts, no sunscreen can reverse it. So take the hint and pack up the beach bag for the day.

What makes mineral sunscreens so safe?

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Zinc oxide, the active ingredient in Badger’s sunscreens has been used safely on the skin for hundreds of years. The non-nano variety that Badger uses is the same stuff that is used in diaper creams and calamine lotions. Non-nano refers to the size of the mineral particles, which when applied to the skin in a lotion or cream-based product, do not get absorbed into the body, do not enter the bloodstream, and are not a threat to human health.

In addition to being the safest for you and your family, mineral sunscreen is safe for the environment. Certain chemical sunscreen ingredients have been scientifically proven to cause coral reef bleaching, which disrupts the delicate ocean ecosystem. Conversely, there is no connection between zinc oxide and coral bleaching. But just to be extra sure, Badger’s water resistant sunscreen creams have been tested and approved biodegradable!

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Frequently asked questions

Can I mix makeup with mineral sunscreen?

No. If you mix anything (makeup, lotion, water, coconut oil, etc.) into mineral sunscreen you dilute the minerals. If you dilute the mineral concentration you will not get the SPF you expect, and can potentially get sunburned.

If you are looking to offset the white cast from mineral sunscreen, try a tinted sunscreen or apply mineral powder makeup once the sunscreen has set on your skin.

Why doesn’t Badger make higher SPF sunscreens?

SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. As the SPF numbers get larger, the margin of improvement gets smaller. Sunscreens with really high SPFs, like SPF 50, SPF 75, or SPF 100, can provide a false sense of security, encouraging people to spend more time in the sun, which can lead to getting burned. The Environmental Working group has a great piece on the dangers of high SPFs.


Why are mineral sunscreens more expensive?

It’s all about the ingredients. Minerals are more expensive than synthetic chemicals, and zinc oxide is the most expensive. However, zinc oxide provides the best protection, which is why Badger uses it.

If you are concerned about the cost of sunscreen for your family but are also concerned about synthetic chemicals in sunscreen, consider UPF clothing. If you frequent the beach, the initial cost of the UPF clothing is offset by the amount you’ll save on sunscreen over the summer. A rash guard on your little one means applying sunscreen only on exposed skin, the best protection there is.

Remember, common sense rules when it comes to sun protection.

If you are making the switch and still have questions, leave them in the comments below!

7 comments on “New to Mineral Sunscreen? Read This First

  • Ifi use spf 50 sunblock, can i still get tanned? I am looking for sunblock that does not make me tan. What criteria should i look for in a sunblock?And what does PA mean? I see some sunblock products has PA ++++ on it. How come badger does not have PA rating? Thanks

    • Badger Balm

      Hi Lisa!

      Apologies for the late response. To answer your questions:

      If you apply your sunscreen correctly, you should not get tan. This means paying close attention to the application directions for that particular sunscreen. Here’s an article we wrote about applying mineral sunscreens.

      That being said, no sunscreen will block 100% of UV rays coming in contact with the skin. So if you are trying to avoid tanning, I suggest UPF clothing as your first line of defense, shade as your second, and sunscreen as the third.

      Look for a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. SPF will tell you how much UVB protection you are getting, but does not tell you if you are getting UVA protection. Here in the states, if an FDA regulated sunscreen (has a drug facts panel on it) passes the UVA protection test you will see “Broad Spectrum” somewhere near the SPF.

      PA is the Japanese UVA rating system. (PA = “protection grade of UVA”) We used to carry that logo on all of our sunscreens, as they offer outstanding (PA+++) UVA protection. However, the testing is expensive, and since the US introduced updates to the sunscreen monograph – including being tested for UVA protection – we felt it no longer necessary to use the PA system.

      Most importantly, find a sunscreen you are comfortable wearing so that you wear it consistently. I believe that correctly applying sunscreen daily should keep you from getting tan. I am not a doctor however, so take that with a grain of sale!

      Hope this helps,

  • Jay Jorgenson says:

    I’ve never heard of mineral sunscreen before in my life but now that I have, I am very interested in it. The part of this article I really appreciated was how it talked about how you can offset the white cast of the sunscreen with a tinted sunscreen. I think I am definitely going to look into this seriously.

  • I always seek out mineral (non-nano) sunscreens. And Badger is my very favorite brand when it comes to body products! I love your sunscreen. The only hard part is the cost. If you need around 1 ounce of sunscreen for the average adult body – and need to reapply every 2 hours – then you could easily need one whole 2.9 oz tube of Badger sunscreen for one person for just about 6 hours in the sun. And I have four children to cover as well. And we spend lots of time out-of-doors year round. Even with a sale that adds up so quickly. I wish you all would make “bulk sizing” – like a big pump version at a discount for large families.

    • Badger Balm

      Hi Callie,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. You are correct in your math around application of sunscreen, and I totally understand how this can be cost-prohibitive (especially when you’re protecting the whole family!).

      First I want to assure you that the price is based on cost of ingredients. We do not “prestige price” our products based on market research, and our goal is to make safe, effective sunscreen available to all. We don’t currently make bulk sizing, but we are considering it! Unfortunately, because of the cost of zinc and organic ingredients, there might not be much of a price break (which is why we haven’t offered it yet).

      One way that I’ve cut the cost of my sunscreen usage is by making sure I’m covered up as much as possible (while still being comfortable). The less skin exposed, the less sunscreen used! Depending on the age of your kids, you might want to consider investing in UPF sun protective rash guards and other clothing. It’s reusable, making it worth the investment (I think), plus it takes the pressure off you to make sure everyone is amply protected all day long. 🙂

      Just a thought! Thank you again for the feedback, and please let us know if you have any other suggestions. We’re always here for you.


  • I too like your products but the cost is prohibitive. Needing to reapply every time I dunk in the water, lay on a towel or sweat is even less appealing. And I don’t see how one can spread about 2 tablespoons of zinc oxide all over a regular sized adult body. The zinc doesn’t spread easily and I have found that I need much more than that small amount to cover. A bigger tube would also be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Badger Balm

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for your feedback. I totally understand what you are saying, however the frequency of reapplication is common for all mineral sunscreens, because they must sit on top of the skin to protect you. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do to improve the spreadability beyond what we’ve already done in our formulations.

      Considering that sun protection is so important, and application being one of the most critical elements, I hate to say it but our sunscreens might just not be meant for you. 🙁 I only say that because we care about you, and don’t want you to get burned because of the inconvenience of application/reapplication. And that’s ok! We understand that our sunscreens are not for everyone. But if you ever want them, they’ll be here.

      Have a beautiful day,


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