How Much Sunscreen to Use & What Kind is Really Enough Protection

Hi sunshine! 

Let’s talk sun & sunscreen!

By now I’ve hopefully engrained into you the importance of using sunscreen every dang day! This post isn’t to teach you about all the amazing, beautiful benefits to wearing sunscreen daily. No, I’m assuming you already know that. 

What I do want to talk about today is what kind of sunscreen you should be using when. Yes, there are different forms of sunscreen and not all forms are always equal. First let’s dive into how sunscreen works (a little chemistry for you here so bear with me). 

How Does Sunscreen Work? 

By first understanding how sunscreen works to protect you from the harmful rays of the sun you’ll be able to better grasp the different types. There are two types of sunscreen and they work differently to protect you from the sun. 


Chemical sunscreen works by allowing your skin to absorb UV rays by converting them into heat which is then released by your skin. Your skin is still absorbing the sun but at a smaller amount so it’s less harmful to you than if you were to be wearing no sunscreen at all.

Your skin is absorbing the product (the sunscreen) and allowing small amounts of UV rays to seep into the skin’s surface which creates heat that is then released by your body. Chemical sunscreen does not become immediately active since your body has to absorb the ingredients so it typically takes 20-30 minutes to reach any level of sun protection. 

Got that? Ok. You might be thinking so why do we wear chemical sunscreen at all if I’m still absorbing the suns rays? 

Chemical sunscreen is great for a lot of purposes for daily use. It layers great with makeup so can easily be applied as a base layer to heavy foundation. It also contains little to no white cast that sunscreen can be famous for. So it’s perfect for those who want to wear sunscreen daily. 

Shop Chemical Sunscreen 


There is only one difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen and it’s two ingredients. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. That is the only difference in ingredients but the level of protection is vastly different. 

Mineral sunscreen gives your skin instant protection to the sun with no wait time. It sits on top of your skin’s surface and is not absorbed deeply into the skin. 

Mineral sunscreen protects your skin by physically blocking the UV rays so there is no absorption into the skin. The sunscreen blocks and reflects UV rays away from your skin before they even reach the surface. Think of it as like a shield in the bright sun with rays creating a physical reflection back to the sun. 

Mineral sunscreen is the best protection your skin can get from the sun. It works to block the sun from even touching your skin’s surface. 

Shop Mineral Sunscreen 

What Sunscreen to Wear When 

Not all sunscreen was created equal! 

Now that you know the difference between the two types of sunscreen. Let’s talk about what sunscreen you should be wearing when. 


Pool, Lake, Outdoor Run, Walk, Sports, Biking, Hiking, Tanning, Sunbathing 

Mineral sunscreen!!! Any time you are outside in the sun doing any type of activity I would recommend using a mineral based sunscreen. Yes, always. If you’re going to be sweating in any capacity you should be wearing mineral sunscreen. It is the best level of protection you can offer your skin. If you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time I would use a mineral sunscreen. 

I use a mineral sunscreen more than any other type. My favorite is this one and this one or this one for a more affordable option. 

When I am doing any sort of outdoor activity, on a boat, by the pool, walking the dog, etc. I’m wearing  a mineral sunscreen. I reapply it every two hours or after my face gets wet. 


Working inside, workout out inside, driving in the car, rainy days, grocery store, errands

Chemical sunscreen! You can still wear mineral sunscreen for these types of activities but I’ll walk you through when I prefer a chemical sunscreen vs a mineral. 

I use my chemical sunscreen daily. It’s one of the first things that touches my skin everyday after my vitamin C and moisturizer. When working from home, I’ll wear my chemical sunscreen because you can still have sun exposure when sitting by windows. Driving in the car running errands, I’ll use a chemical sunscreen. 

But the second I walk outside and plan to lay by the pool, walk the dog, get on a boat, I’m wearing a mineral sunscreen and I just apply it over the chemical I put on that morning.

I alternate between a few chemical sunscreens. I love this one, this one, and this one

Key Takeaways 

Be your own advocate! I’ll sometimes see brands or other individuals promoting the use of a chemical sunscreen on a beach or by the pool and a chemical sunscreen is not recommended for that kind of use. Your skin needs a mineral sunscreen for prolonged outdoor activity with direct sun exposure. 

Read labels of any product you’re purchasing just because it says sunscreen doesn’t mean that’s the level of protection you might think you are getting. 

Look for the two active ingredients in chemical sunscreen zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Zinc is the more important of the two ingredients and only some mineral sunscreens contain both. You’ll want a zinc level of anything over 6%. The sunscreen I favor has 9% but beware because some mineral sunscreens only have 2%. 

Understand the difference in marketing and know how to read ingredients to get the best level of protection for YOU! 

I hope this post was helpful. I know when I learned this a few years ago I was blown away at the difference between the two types. I know this isn’t heavily talked about so if you have any questions I’d always ask your doctor. Disclaimer: This post is not to be taken as medical advice and you should consult with a physician. 

Happy to share!! 



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