Record-high temperatures around the nation have swimming pools bustling, which makes sun-protection a particularly hot topic this summer (pun intended). Many of my patients have been wondering whether there’s any benefit to switching from the time-honored chemical sunscreens to the relatively new mineral sunscreens. Even more of my patients have never heard of the latter. Here’s the lowdown.

When it comes to sun protection, neither type of sunscreen has been proven to work better than the other. They just work differently: Chemical sunscreens actually absorb the UV rays, while mineral sunscreens create a physical barrier and reflect the rays away from the screen. (Imagine having your skin covered in billions of tiny little mirrors.) If you have very fair skin or tend to break out, I do suggest using a mineral sunscreen. Some great ones are Glytone and Anthelios 50, which was the 2011 Allure Best of Beauty Award Winning Sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens are also the better choice for people who tend to break out with traditional sunscreens, too, because there’s no oily residue.

Some of my patients have requested mineral sunscreens based primarily on worries that the chemicals from chemical sunscreens could enter their bodies. No need to worry. The FDA actually tested the nanoparticles in chemical sunscreen about a year ago. Their tests showed that these chemicals go no farther than skin deep! So, yes, chemical sunscreens are still a go if they’re your preference.

More important than which sunscreen you use is just making sure you’re always, always, always wearing sunscreen when you’re in the sun. Always.